LTD Phoenix-1000 review by ESP

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (12 votes)
ESP: LTD Phoenix-1000

Purchased from: PMT Bristol

Features — 8
Typical LTD guitar in terms of the usual far eastern manufacturing. The LTD version of the EC-1000 Deluxe is pretty much identical to its ESP brother, less the nut which is a cheaper plastic on the LTD. But generally its got what you need but for some this may not be enough. For me it's perfect:

  • 25.5 inch scale
  • 22 fret
  • Maple thru-neck
  • LTD "flag" mother of pearl inlays (nice touch)
  • Mahogany wings
  • Hardtail tune-o-matic bridge (I think)
  • Seymour Duncan JB and 59
  • Reverse inline 6 headstock
  • ESP locking MH
  • Gloss black or gloss white... both look awesome
  • 2 x vol (no tone... bothered?)

Sound — 9
With the Seymours this guitar is sooooooo versatile. It works for everything thrash, groove, punk, blues, jazz, whatever you throw at it you can find the sound on this guitar. The maple thru neck and mahogany wings mean that there is plenty of bottom end chug and warm sustain too. The position of the bridge pup is slightly higher than the neck (don't know if this is common on other guitars) which means the neck 59 sounds a bit less punchy (aside from the fact it's obviously a duller tone) but I'm really splitting hairs because its not a show stopper. The JB is suitably bright and performs as well with a tonne of gain as it does clean.

Personally I knew what tone I was looking for and chucked a set of IronGear Hammer Heads (think Seymour Duncan Invader) in it pretty much right away. As a result I have my perfect Down / Lamb of God sludge beast. Through my Marshall JCM 2000 it is faultless. I get a lot of comments about my tone and its simply down to Seymour Duncan and the quality of the Phoenix.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
On the whole the guitar was badly set up from the factory and by PMT Bristol, however after a couple of hours with my tech smoothing the frets and other pointy edges, setting up the bridge and truss rod it was perfect for me! 22 frets on a 25.5 scale means the guitar is a nice length with plenty of room for my fat fingers and with smooth frets and a nice shiny maple neck you can whiz up and down to your hearts content. And in the right hands you can dial in some really low action. I actually had to ask my tech to raise it a bit as I couldn't get my fingertips under the strings on the bends. The plastic nut is rubbish though (you get a better one on the ESP version... obvs!). Its was sharp and stabbed my hand when I was barring chords on fret 1 (lucky I don't barr full chords very often then!). But I will be getting a better nut fitted in time. I play in drop C and D std all the time so opted for a set of Enrnies (52-10s) which it copes really well with; but it did require a little bit of filing on the saddle where the strings sit on the bridge; they jumped out from time to time, but are now perfect. If it is set up properly this guitar is superb (however out the box it was about a 6).

Reliability & Durability — 10
This is my only practice and gig guitar. I play it every day pretty much, and I pick aggressively live. I haven't had it serviced in 2 years (since my tech set it up) although I look after it lovingly. It is either strapped to my body or in a hard SKB case, so its still pristine. As a result, it stays in tune like a boss. Even when I flex the neck to get some dive bomb effects going on it barely needs a tweak on the MH to coax it back in. Machine heads still grip like beartraps and literally nothing has ever gone wrong with it. A perfect work horse (if you set it up right and if you look after it).

Overall Impression — 10
I play groove/sludge metal and do both vox and lead guitar in my band Black Forge. Everything thru a Marshall JCM 2000 1/2 stack, with a permanent (BLS-style) chorus and a bit of extra OD here and there. The Phoenix is PERFECT for it. I sling it lowish which as I like it that way as I play more riffs than widely solos, but I've seen the dude from Krokadil sling his much higher and get on brilliantly with it. It's LTD so it's not in the same league as the Gibsons and the Jacksons for that real build quality but for £750.00 and a good set up this is as good as any £1K instrument. But, there are no bells and whistles on it (which is just fine for me) however some folks may feel they need tone control or a Floyd Rose perhaps... so it probably isn't for them (try the Washburn Preistess... I'm tempted!). Before buying my Phoenix I tried a Gibson Explorer but it was too pointy for me, and Firebird which was horrible to play (really neck heavy) and plus they have crappy little buckers which I really don't like. If my guitar was stolen I'd be heartbroken. I would dearly love another one that I could customize a bit more, for me there is literally nothing else on the market (less perhaps the Washburn) that takes my fancy. Sadly the Phoneix is already discontinued which means they are already getting hard to find.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date