Price paid: C$ 600
Purchased from: B-Sharp Music
Sound — 9
Now this will sound cliche for a review on here but I play a wide variety of styles, albeit mostly rock based. I play through a Mesa Express 5/50 and a myriad of effects. All things considered I really love the sound. Now the Hot Rail may not be the most preferable neck pickup for smooth rich cleans, but it does work, having the coil tap option really helps a clean sound. For distorted neck pickup soloing the Hot Rail is absolutely great. The Custom 5 has a little more beef than most bridge pickups that I prefer. More bass than a JB for a nice thick sound. May not have the craziness required of a bridge pickup for the heaviest of metals but I can cruise through most classic metal sounds with it. With the coil tap engaged and both pickups selected, it almost gives a second position Strat sound (bridge/middle), not quite, but sufficient.
Overall Impression — 9
The guitar is one of my favourites and the Custom 5 is rapidly becoming a favourite pickup of mine. I like a guitar I can pickup and play Van Halen, Metallica then coil tap it and play something more mellow without touching anything other than volume and maybe a little more or less drive. I essentially bought the guitar because I thought it looked sweet and I was given a few days by the store owner to try it out and decide if I liked it. Anyway been rockin this for almost a year already and it still feels like a guitar I just bought and I'm always excited to play.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've played the guitar live a couple times with great results, no noise issues and a lot of compliments. The hardware is solid as are the strap buttons. I don't think I've ever gone to a gig with less than 3 guitars for sounds and backups. I've had no reliability issues with it. Maybe if I really started abusing it would wear faster, but that's just not me.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Setup was ok, but the guys at the shop gave me a free setup so its set exactly the way I like it. No flaws in anything on this guitar, looks and feels great. My only gripe is I prefer a maple neck with just an oil finish, but I'll live. The only thing that I wish it had was the Original Floyd Rose, it just feels smoother than the special.
Features — 8
This stunning 2011 model made in Korea. As the model name suggests it has 27 frets. Well it tapers off to 25 on the lower strings but 27 frets for soloing. There is an extra bevel cut into the body to allow easier access to the high frets. The Strat style body is a mahogany with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The frets are extra jumbo. The neck is what ESP calls 'Thin U' which is ok, but I would prefer a little more beef. Hard to go wrong with a sexy black finish with a sparkly-creame binding. It has a Floyd Rose Special bridge, one master volume and master tone with a push/pull pot for coil tapping. The pickups are Seymour Duncan Hot Rails and Custom 5 in the neck and bridge respectively.