Price paid: $ 160
Purchased from: Pawn Shop
Features — 8
2004 model, made in Korea. Basswood body, humbucker in bridge and a double rail strat sized humbucker in neck. Maple neck, 24 frets, rosewood fretboard, tune-o-matic bridge strings through body. One volume and one tone control, 3 way selector switch. The pickups I believe are stock LTD pickups. The shop threw in a gig back when I bought it. Standard LTD tuners, which are easy to work and hold the guitar in tune quite well. The bridge is a tune-o-matic and strings thru the body. The body is an exaggerated strat style, in the cutaways, and being basswood, it is solid, but a little lighter than mahogany.
Sound — 9
I like classic rock, power pop, blues and a little country, so when I bought this guitar, I figured it would be more for metal as that is ESP's reputation. After doing some adjustments, I was surprised how well this guitar sounded. On clean, the bridge pickup is very bright and trebly, surprising for a humbucker, with a slight nasally quack which I like. It is also very percussive sounding which I like. The bridge pickup is what really surprised me. Again on clean, this pickup had a real pleasant clarity and percussive sound, but really contrasted the bridge pickup. In the middle position, again I got a clean, clear blend of the two pickups. Playing open chords with all settings gave a "ringy" type sound, with some jangle, very surprising. When I used distortion or overdrive, I got blown away, very articulate, keeping its tone. I was expecting some muddiness, but no, this guitar had a really good distorted sound. Maybe because of the basswood used on the body, it is a little more treble sounding than I expected, a little Tele like which I am digging. The guitar is great for classic rock and the other styles I like. One thing this guitar has made me realize, is that the Duncan Designed on my Schecter C-1 Plus are not as good as I had originally thought, great clean, but muddy when distorted, loses some clarity.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I bought the guitar used, but it is in great shape, a few scratches but nothing real obvious. It is painted gold, nice finish on it with black hardware which looks cool. It is a 24 fret neck, and the strat styled body, albeit, radically changed gives excellent access to all the frets. When I bought it the string were set too low, so after adjustments, and adjustments to pickup height to balance them out, it was plug in and rock out. The neck, body and hardware are top notch. I have learned, having owned ltd guitars before, that they are well made, Epiphone, Squier and a lot of other manufacturers could learn a lesson from ESP, even the strap locks are solid as a rock. I like the stringing thru the body, really helps with the sustain.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Right off, I have to say, for being a 9 year old guitar when I bought it, it is still solid as a rock. The hardware, hell even the strap buttons are solid, and fit and finish are top notch. No complaints. I also have a Schecter C-1 Plus and while the guitar is set neck, bound body and neck and listed for about 400 more, the overall fit and finish are relatively on par. I would say this guitar would handle live playing without any problems, safe enough for use without a backup. Even though the tuners are ltd tuners, they are holding the guitar in tune without any problems.
Overall Impression — 9
When I bought this guitar, I figured I would probably be replacing the pickups as this guitar had a reputation for being a metal guitar, but I don't know, the pickups that are on this guitar are much brighter, more tele like than I thought, very quiet with great definition, especially distorted, and very comfortable to play. If it were to be stolen, I would be very p-ssed, as they only made this guitar for a year and they aren't very common. I have been playing for 20 years and currently have an Epiphone Special I with Soapbars, (a cheap guitar that's cool, and sounds cool), a Frankenstrat, and a Schecter C-1 Plus that I really like, but after buying this guitar, the C-1 will be the one getting a pickup change (the Duncan Designed are too muddy distorted). I guess what I like about this guitar is how comfortable it is to play, the access to all the frets, and the variety of clear sounds it gets, clean and distorted. After buying this guitar, I have changed my opinion of how basswood sounds.