LTD MH-1000FR review by ESP

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.7 (38 votes)

Price paid: C$ 800

Sound — 9
The MH-1000FR has a mahogany body, and combined with the classic EMG 81 and 85 pickups, this results in a very full, but still articulate tone. Whereas EMGs can sound overly bright or harsh in alder, basswood and other brighter woods, mahogany complements them excellently, leaving behind a very balanced tone. Obviously, with its dark stylings, this guitar is geared towards metal and rock, which is what I primarily use it for. I play my MH-1000 through a Peavey 6505+ 1x12 Combo with the speaker swapped for an Eminence Swamp Thang, often boosted with a GFS Greenie Classic (Tube Screamer copy). With the speaker swap, the guitar is powerful and is able to produce a really great, articulate growl when played at high gain settings that is ideal for all sorts of metal, save perhaps the most Traditional types. For leads, it's equally capable, especially using the neck pickup to play smooth, soaring leads or fast two-handed tapping parts. Although many players tend to dismiss most metal guitars as, well, only capable of metal (doubly so for those equipped with EMGs), looks aside, the MH-1000FR is actually very capable of warm and dry jazzy tones, as well as classic rock, blues and lead playing. Cleans are also sparkly and extremely clear, especially when paired with reverb or delay. While I would not pick this guitar for pop music, funk, blues or anything requiring a more Vintage tone, it works extremely well for just about anything else. As EMGs tend to be a bit more clinical than other pickups however, you may need to tweak your amp settings or your technique to get the tone you want.

Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing for close to tend years and am at an intermediate level, doing my own recording and songwriting although not much live playing. As I play primarily metal, this guitar looks, feels and sounds the part. It is a very solidly built instrument and a very good value at under $900 CAD, and is capable of achieving the tones I want no problem. The MH-1000FR, on a personal level, is also an extremely comfortable guitar. The ESP Horizon body style is a standard super Strat shape (less aggressive than some out there), however, it also features an arch top similar to some PRS models. This gives it a really nice contour that is just comfortable to play on. Unlike the M-1000 (ESP M-II style), the guitar overall is just slightly bigger than your typical Ibanez, enough to fill your hands and rest comfortably on your leg, but also by no means bulky or heavy. The neck profile is classic ESP: thin, fast, accessible, with excellent upper fret reach, nice and flat high up, but a little rounder and thicker near the headstock for playing chords. Although I like the speed of super-thin necks from Jackson and Ibanez, that thinness doesn't always translate into comfort over the long term. I can play my MH-1000FR for hours and my hands never get fatigued, and it just sits right in my hands no matter what I'm trying to play on it. The fingerboard radius is about 14 inches, which is very flat for a six-string guitar. As I have shorter fingers than some, the flatness makes it easier for me to stretch for hard-to-reach notes. Overall, when I set out to buy a new guitar early this year, I was looking for something capable of metal tones, precise, articulate and playable, but with additional warmth typically not found on bolt-ons, and high-quality features absent from a lot of other models in the same price range, like Ibanez. The LTD MH-1000FR has not disappointed me, and while there are flaws with it that betray the fact that it's still ultimately not a top-end instrument, I have seen very few in the same price range that look, play, or sound as good. If it were stolen, I probably wouldn't get another one, however, only because I'd get something a little nicer at this point. For intermediate players who want to step up from a cheaper instrument to something more fully-featured and that doesn't require lots of tweaking to get playing well, the MH-1000 (or any 1000-series LTD) is an excellent choice. For professional musicians looking for a solid workhorse guitar with good quality control and a little bit of "bling", the MH-1000FR also delivers. There are better guitars out there, but I am definitely satisfied with mine.

Reliability & Durability — 8
The 1000-series guitars, as I've said, are professional-quality instruments. While they might not match real ESPs or stand up to $3000+ Suhr or Tom Anderson guitars, they are more than capable for both live use and recording situations, and are very much a "working musician's" instrument. The MH-1000 is no exception in this respect - I would trust it for just about any application. As mentioned above, the Floyd Rose-1000 bridge is not a real Floyd, though it is made to high specifications and is definitely a step above your average licensed Floyd bridge. From all I have heard, as far as tuning stability and performance goes, they are as capable as Original Floyd Rose bridges, however, we'll see if that's the case in 20 years. The dark grey finish on the saddles has begun to wear off on mine, which is apparently a common problem. If I experience further issues, I might replace it with a Gotoh Floyd Rose from Floyd Upgrades down the line. Last, no stainless steel frets. These are uncommon even on high-end instruments, but I don't expect the frets on my MH-1000FR to stay perfectly level, or to last for 50 years before re-fretting is required. But, this is a complaint that can be made of instruments two or three times the price as well.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The 1000-series LTDs go through significantly more quality control and setup work than the lower-end models, and as such they tend to be far more consistent out of the factory. My MH-1000 was set up for very comfortable play right out the box, once it was tuned up, despite being shipped halfway around the world. Action was low, though not quite as low as some guitars, and there was virtually no fret buzz. I have since set the guitar up a few times to suit my preferences for a lower action, and even with the action at around 0.25mm at the 12th fret, I get almost no fret buzz - the neck is straight and set very well in the body. Pickups were set high, as is common with active pickups like EMGs, but not too high as to kill the tone or provide unmanageable output, and have not required any further adjustment. Frets were leveled well from the factory, and intonation and tuning have not been a problem. The remaining fit and finish - binding, inlays, paint, gloss, etc. - is all impeccable, save for a few very minor flaws in the binding edge which are no doubt the sorts of things that would be eliminated on a more expensive ESP. There were no faulty input jacks, loose switches or knobs, dirty pots, etc. Although slightly unconventional, I really like the "side block" inlays, as they are still highly visible but let the very dark, smooth grain of the fretboard come through. There are two main complaints I have with this guitar as far as finish goes. The first is the top. The guitar uses a pretty obvious veneer instead of a real maple top, and the result is a quilt that lacks a true "3D" look. Instead, it comes across as a slightly cloudy, grey-purple sort of texture which is only really visible in bright lighting. It doesn't look bad per se, however, if you are expecting a stunning quilt top, you won't get one here. However, considering this is ultimately a budget guitar, it's comparable to other guitars I've played in the same price range. The second major problem is the Floyd Rose-1000 licensed bridge. It holds tuning as well as a real Floyd, and is very durable and reliable. I have used licensed Floyds in the past and have not been impressed, as all of them have had tuning issues that I was never able to fully correct. The 1000 series bridge is built to Original Floyd Rose standards, except in Korea instead of Germany, and I expect it to last a long time. However, it uses the new style tremolo arm, which does not fit snugly in the threads and tends to vibrate and come loose with use (a problem even on real Floyds). Additionally, the dark metal finish used on the bridge has begun to wear off less than a year after purchasing the guitar, especially where I rest my palm on the sixth string saddle. While ultimately a cosmetic blemish, it's a problem I didn't expect to have with the guitar and is a pretty strange omission given the top-quality components everywhere else. Final note - the abalone is not really to my liking, and is a bit tacky and excessive while probably adding to the guitar's cost. I'd like to see this toned down in future models.

Features — 8
The LTD MH-1000FR is a Korean-made guitar built in the semi-famous World Instruments factory, which is responsible for the higher-end budget lines of many guitar manufacturers, including Sterling by Music Man, Charvel, and others. Features include: - Mahogany body & set-in 3 piece maple neck - Thin, flat, comfortable U-shaped neck, 24 jumbo frets - Dark rosewood fingerboard - Quilt top veneer, cream binding & abalone inlay work - Super Strat body type (modeled after the ESP Horizon) - Clear gloss finish - Floyd Rose 1000-series licensed tremolo bridge & locking nut - Active EMG 81 & 85 pickups (bridge & neck) - Single volume & tone knob, 3-way blade switch - Grover tuners - Comes with manual & wrenches for bridge adjustment The MH-1000, like all LTD 1000-series instruments, is extremely well-built and has a number of high-end specs. Although spec-wise it is very similar to some cheaper guitars, the quality of the build, woods used, finish and setup is much better than what you would find in a lower-end Ibanez, LTD etc. The 1000-series are professional-quality and would easily stand up to any touring or gigging, though on the grand scale they are not built to the same exacting standards of "real" ESP guitars. The MH-1000FR definitely holds its own, however, next to an ESP Horizon the difference in build quality and tone is apparent - whether it is worth 2-3x the price is another matter. Small downsides include the lack of an Original Floyd Rose bridge, although the 1000-series is excellent, and the veneer, which lacks the 3D look of real quilt tops.

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