Sound — 5
I play a lot of harder rock and metal. The guitar, as with all ESP's, is definately built for these styles of music. I've playe it through a variety of amps, a Marshall JCM-800, another Marshall practice amp, a Crate bass amp, Line6 Spider II 30, and my current amp, Line6 Spider III 75. It sounds decent, but not the best I've heard. I'll take Seymour Duncans over any other pickup made (not saying they're better, I just prefer their sound), but mine just has too much treble at the bridge, and it's too "muddy" at the neck. The volume is affected when the selector Switch is in the middle position, as the guitar sound very quiet. I think if I change out the pickups it would make a world of difference, but I would have to stick with a single coil or stacked humbucker at the neck because that's the way the body is cut, and there is no pick guard. The sound could use some work.
Overall Impression — 7
I play hard rock and metal, and anything else surrounding those styles of music. The guitar was definately built for these styles, though I think ESP could have made better pickup choices. I've had the guitar for at least 5 years now and I've played guitar for 11 years. I'd never give up the guitar because you can only order something similar through the custom shop. Well, you could probably have one re-made through the custom shop if you had all the original specs for it. I'm still trying to get those through ESP. This guitar has loads of potential, it's just not there yet. I could compare this guitar to the lower end Horizon or Mirage models (like the '50s or '100s) that ESP makes, anything else and you'd be moving up in category. Great guitar for those guitars Who yearn to shred or play some thrash or speed metal. I wish it came with actual Seymour Duncans, not just Duncan Designs, and I kinda wish it didn't have the rail pickup. Otherwise, great instrument. I would recommend it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've had this guitar for around 5-6 years and it's held up fine. I've never used it Live, but have done quite a bit of jamming with it with a few friends. It can hold it's own up against some other mid to low grade guitars. Once you start getting into the higher end LTD's (1000 series) or actual ESP models, it's gonna lose. I have a hollow body Schecter that I prefer playing over this guitar, and it sounds a lot better. I still wouldn't get rid of it for anything. The construction is solid. The finish is not wearing at all, the hardware is not rusting and nothing is broken on it after the years. I would definately use it gigging, had I any gigs to play, after I change out the pickups.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The initial setup was fine, though I didn't really have much to compare it to when I bought it. I only had 2 other guitars, a Strat and ESP H-50. The action is great, though there is a tiny bit of buzzing when playing on the lower frets. It's great for playing leads. Some minor adjusting wouldn't Hurt. As notated above, the sound could use some adjustment in the form of replacing the pickups. The top is bookmatched fairly well, though the bottome half a tad bit darker than the top. I'm pretty sure the frets are extra jumbo now that I'm holding the guitar looking at it. The fretwork is good, but it looks sloppy with the binding along the top edge of the neck. I have a problem with tuning the g and b strings, but I don't usually have a problem keeping it in tune once it's there.
Features — 8
Unknown what year this guitar was made, but I'm looking into that. It was made in Korea, as it says on the back of the headstock. It has 24 frets, I don't know whether they're jumbo, ex-jumbo or what. The neck appears to be maple with a rosewood fret board. The body appears to mahogany with a flame maple top and natural binding on the body only. The neck and headstock have white binding. Mine is Orange colored, like the one in the picture on the review page. The body style is super Strat. It has a tune-o-matic bridge with sring thru body design. Mine came with duncan design pickups (unk what model #'s). It has a regular humbucker at the bridge and a stacked rail humbucker at the neck. It has 1 volume and 1 tone control and a 3 way selector Switch. The tuners are your run of the mill ESP Standard tuners. The headstock is the pointy one and it's finished in black. It came with a Mars gig bag.