Price paid: $ 179.99
Purchased from: American Musical Supply
Sound — 7
For the sake of ease, let's keep this in the mindset of someone looking for a decent beginner guitar. Now for me, personally, I play a blend of rock, hard rock, metal, and even some country. The pickups give a good a rock/hard rock sound no problem. For your Standard metal tone, it's lacking a bit, but again, for an inexpensive beginner's guitar, it's fine. And obviously for country music, it's going to lack that famous twang of say a Strat or Telecaster. When I received this guitar I was using it straight into a Crate GT212 combo amp. It served it's purpose well enough, but my current set up involves a Peavey Valve King head, with a BBE Sonic Maximizer and Furman power conditioner, and it makes this guitar sound considerably better. This guitar has NEVER given me that undesirable 'buzz' that most cheap guitars seem to produce, or at least not enough for me to notice; it's fairly quiet. All in all, despite the slight dullness of the pickups, someone looking for a decent, inexpensive straight up rock sound should have no problem with this guitar.
Overall Impression — 9
My first guitar was an Ibanez GRX20. At the time, I thought it was a great guitar for it's price. The M-50 was my second guitar, and compared to it, the GRX20 is nothing. Had I known how well the M-50 would serve me over the years, I wouldn't even have the GRX20. Again, I play a bend of rock, hard rock, metal and a little country. I would say I mostly play hard rock and this guitar serves it's purpose well. If it were lost or stolen, I would definitely get another, hopefully if they're still making them like this one. I bought this guitar without knowing really anything about it and I'm glad I did. This guitar has even built up sentimental value to me. It's withstood my abuse, crappy playing conditions and has not failed me yet. Whether you're looking for a beginning guitar or just a guitar to thrash around on, this one is a great choice.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Now this is where this guitar speaks to me. It is damn near a tank. Will it withstand a gig? No problem at all. This guitar has been dropped probably a dozen times, fell off a guitar stand at least once, and has withstood all the abuse I have put it through. For live playing, it's been my best friend. Regardless of even being a cheap guitar, it stays in tune fairly well, surprisingly. The strap buttons are good, but regardless, I advise anyone who plays live to invest in strap locks. They're definitely worth it. I have two mid-level range guitars that are conceivably much nicer than this one (in looks and sound), but I still use this one as my main guitar. It's rigid and sturdy and I can always depend on it. I've played many shows with this guitar without a backup. And when I do play with a backup, it's just to cover me when a string breaks. Now granted, this paint has some chips and blemishes and the body has a few dents and dings, but mostly produced by my own abuse and idiocy. I've had no problems with the electronics in the 4 or 5 years I've owned this. The bridge seems a little bit rusty in a few spots, but I would suspect if you're the kind of person to keep your guitar fairly cleans, this would be little of an issue. This guitar is my workhorse.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Again, it's been a while since I first got this guitar, so this area is a little fuzzy for me. As well as I can remember, this guitar was set up fairly when I received it. The action was a little low on the high E string, causing some buzzing and muffling on the first fret. I think it's somewhat unfair to judge a guitar on how the action and pickups were adjusted at the factory, considering those are variables that need to be set at the player's own personal preference. The body and hardware had no visible flaws or blemishes. The cosmetic 'issue' this guitar has is the fret marker for the 12th fret on the side of neck; one of the double dots is somewhat lower than the other. Altogether, it was in top notch condition when received.
Features — 6
It's been a few years since I got it, but I believe this either a 2005 or 2006 flat black, alder body ESP LTD M-50 model. I say alder body, because at the time, I think that's what they were using; ESP has since moved to basswood for the 50 series. This guitar sports a comfortable bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard along with 22 extra jumbo frets. The body shape is your Standard strat-style copy. The bridge is a Standard tremolo, but I advise against using it if you want to stay in tune. The pickups are stock passive ESP LH150's, not entirely bad for a low-end guitar. The electronics just have a simple 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob, and selector Switch configuration. And of course the tuners are also just a stock set. All hardware is finished in black chrome.