Purchased from: Bridge of Harmony
Features — 10
Lots of sound options with the 5 way switch. 24 XJ frets, actual Duncan JB/59 humbuckers (no imitations here), string thru mahogany body, TOM bridge, set thru neck and locking tuners. I've had much more expensive guitars that don't give you all that. It's pretty much everything I personally want in a guitar. Not sure on the year but I know it's made in their Korean factory. Doesn't include a case, gig bag or any other fancy peripherals. What you see on the rack is what you're gonna get. I have the blue finish and it looks great, pictures online don't do justice to how deep it is. It looks darker in person and a lot brighter in the pictures.
Sound — 9
I've grown tired of EMG's so I was looking for something with passives this time and the JB/59 combo is awesome. I used to downtune pretty low but my tastes have changed over the years. I don't know how well it will do with super low stuff, but I go down to drop C# at the most and it does that pretty well. Disturbed is about the heaviest I get anymore for example.
I play a bit of a variety for fun, but for my own stuff I'm more along the lines of a Metallica-ish type sound in either standard or 1/2 step down. I know they use EMG's and the JB isn't quite as hot, but it's more dynamic and still has a good amount of output. It maybe has a little less in the high top end and a bit more mids, but it's more responsive to your playing style. It sounds good with cleans, but I usually use the 59 for that instead of the JB and it works great. Duncan does have some other sweet pickups that might sound better (their newer ones like the Nazgul, Pegasus and Black Winters are pretty impressive and would probably suit downtuners more) but the JB/59 combo seems like it will do for me. Lot's of versatility with these pickups.
I'm not in a live band at the moment and I'm also an apartment dweller so my neighbors would kill me if I had loud tube amps. I'm running this through a Helix with Ownhammer impulses and JBL studio monitors. I noticed less hissy/fizzy sounds in the upper frequencies and more punch from the JB compared to the EMG 81 in my other guitars. Not sure how it sounds with the actual amps I use the Helix models of, but I did notice a difference from my other guitars and it was for the better. This sits more where I want it to in a mix without being too bright or harsh and requiring post EQ to fix it.
The set thru neck gives you a lot more sustain than regular set necks do. I've never had a set thru, just set or bolt-on, so this is a real treat for me.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action on this guitar is the main reason I'm writing the review. It's SO low and doesn't buzz against any of the frets. My other LTD's have lower action than all my other guitars and even they can't get this low without fretting out somewhere. The low strings are less than 1/16 off the frets and even when I really dig into the them they still don't buzz anywhere. I can get some of my other guitars to go about this low, but not without buzzing. My picking style is pretty aggressive by default. Very, very impressed with the action, it completely blows my mind how low it is and still not buzz against the frets. The stock whatever gauge strings didn't buzz and neither do the 52-10's I put on it. The nut did need to be widened a little bit for the 52, but all the other strings fit into the stock cuts. Might not be an issue for some but will be for others who like/need thicker strings.
The pickup height did need to be adjusted. They were too high for passives. I think these had EMG's in them at one point (or there was a version that did) so maybe they didn't let the workers know they needed to set these lower. They were about where you would want EMG's so too high for passives. The nuts on the tuners were a bit loose too. Both easy fixes you can do yourself.
The neck is awesome though, not too thin and not to thick. They found a really nice sweet spot with these. Combined with the super low action it's really easy to play.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have a few LTD's and they seem to hold up better than most of my other guitars. I can't imagine this one will be any different. I mentioned before it's make in Korea. I know some people crab about Korean stuff, but with ESP/LTD I've never had a problem. According to my local sales guy ESP owns that factory and has people on site to oversee things and ensure quality. They do make Schecter's stuff there for them too, but would you put more into someone else's brand or your own when that's the situation? Never had any issues with ESP/LTD, but I have had issues with Schecter stuff in the past so there you go.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a lot of classic metal/rock and this guitar is great for that. I've been playing for about 15 years now and with the exception of Gibson and Fender, I've owned at least one guitar from every other major brand at some point. I've always been impressed with ESP/LTD's stuff. They just give you more for your dollar at any given price point than their competition does and I really appreciate that about them. Music gear is expensive and they seem to be one of the few brands that doesn't nickel and dime you at every corner. Other than the few minor things I mentioned in the setup that you can easily fix yourself, this is a great guitar. Very happy, many thanks to ESP/LTD for being awesome as always!