Price paid: $ 455
Sound — 9
The sound of the guitar is mostly suited for metal players - it's bright, tight, and meaty sounding, with crisp response under high levels of distortion thanks to the EMGs. Provided the right amplification, however, it can be very versatile indeed. I'm mostly a metal player but I'm also into jazz fusion, which this guitar does well, to my surprise. The tone of the EMGs, while somewhat flat, is very versatile due to their wide and even frequency response. I still prefer a good set of passive pickups, but for me it's not entirely worth replacing the pickups. It's wired correctly, and there is little noise to speak of.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is a good match for my styles of music - that is, metal and fusion, with a smattering of blues. My last 2 purchases have been LTDs - this and an H-1007 - and I've been converted fully to the ESP camp. If it were stolen, I'd probably break down and cry, since this particular guitar has been discontinued in favor of the MH-350NT and MH-350FR, which aren't nearly as nice, due to their place of manufacture not being up to the same standards as the Korean factories are. The only other guitar I compared it to was an LTD M-401, which was selling for a similar price. This one definitely had the edge up on looks - it's a very nice looking guitar. I wish it had a Tremol-No, but that's a simple install whenever I have the money to buy one.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The guitar is very solidly built, a testament to the craftsmanship of the factory workers in Korea where it was made. The remaining stock hardware is in very good condition, even though the guitar is 6 years old and has obviously seen some use. The strap buttons have been replaced with DiMarzio Clip Locks, which are so far holding solidly, and aren't coming loose in the holes they're screwed into. I'd never gig without a backup, because one can never know when a string will break. If I had no other choice, I would with this guitar, since it's very solidly built. The finish is hard polyurethane - it's very hard to wear down, so that's really not a concern.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I can't comment on the factory setup, but the guy I bought it from did a very good job setting it up before he sent it to me - the action is very low, with 10-46 strings on it in standard tuning. The only flaws were caused by the previous owners of the guitar - minor finish damage, nothing that affects the tone or playability of the guitar. The top veneer is actually what appears to be a single piece vacuum pressed onto the carved top, which is odd - getting a large enough quantity of large veneers of figured maple for a large quantity of guitars is expensive, and isn't something you see on budget guitars too often - it's usually a cheaper "photo top".
Features — 9
My particular MH-400 is a 2006 model, made in Korea. 24 Extra-Jumbo frets are in a rosewood fingerboard, glued to a 3 piece maple neck (in the ESP 'Thin U' shape, a lot like a slightly thicker and rounder Ibanez Wizard) set into a mahogany body with a carved top and a gorgeous quilt maple veneer stained a very nice aqua blue. The body has a 2 piece back, much to my surprise (my H-1007 has a 3 piece back and was considerably more expensive). It has a Floyd Rose bridge (I can't comment on the stock one, since mine didn't come with the stock one - the previous owner swapped the stock no-name Licensed Floyd Rose for a Gotoh Floyd Rose) recessed into the body to allow for both dives and raises. The tuners are Grovers, though I'm unsure of the model. They hold tuning fine, although they don't really have to with a Floyd Rose vibrato. The pickups are active EMGs, an 81 in the bridge position and an 85 in the neck (mine had the 85 replaced with an EMG 60), wired to a 3 way blade switch and master volume and tone controls.