Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 10
Mahogany body with a set neck and ebony fretboard. I have the black satin finish one and it looks really cool. 22 XJ frets with a TOM bridge and locking tuners. EMG active Het Set pickups with one volume and one tone control. I really dig the explorer style body, I always wanted an explorer so that was the main motivation to getting this. They actually give you a case with this guitar too! That is becoming few and far between so I really like that. Says it's made in Korea but I don't know what year.
Sound — 10
The combination of the explorer body and Het Set pickups is what I've always been missing in a guitar. This thing sounds amazing. I have 81/85's or 81/60's in most of my other guitars but I am sold on this Het Set. It sounds so full and alive compared to the other EMG's that sound sort of lifeless. I'm using this with the Helix and with those two pieces of gear combined I have been able to hit any sound I've been going for with ease.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The setup out of the box was pretty close to perfect. I had to adjust the intonation on the D & G strings ever so slightly and raise the bridge pickup a tiny bit at the lower strings. Other than that the action was spot on to where I like it. The fret work was really nicely done and there were no other flaws in the finish or hardware that I could find. It looses a point because of those minor things but overall I was happy with how it was setup.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've never had any issues with ESP/LTD in the past, can't imagine this will be any different. The strap buttons seem pretty solid, I'm not worried about it slipping off or anything like that. I think the only issue people will run into is not being aware of how much life is left in the battery for the pickups, but that's your own fault if you let it run out. I think you'd be ok not having a backup guitar if you went out to gig with it.
Overall Impression — 10
I mostly play '80s/'90s metal but I dabble a bit. I'm on about 15 or 16 years of playing and in that time I have never played a guitar that feels and sounds this good. I've owned roughly 15 guitars in my time of playing and this one is on a whole different level than my other ones. I'm so impressed that I might have to pick up the snow white version as well. Why did I wait this long to get an explorer? My hat is off to Hetfield and the good people over at ESP/LTD!