Price paid: € 584
Purchased from: eBay.de
Sound — 8
I play mostly heavy and thrash metal, grunge and blues-rock, it suits that style very well. I plug my guitar into a Randall RX35DM, I use the built-in overdrive and effects. The guitar is a little noisy but it's not hum, only string noise, with the strings muted it is really quiet. The sound is dark, deep and full with warm lows and sharp highs. The clean sound isn't that great, but this guitar wasn't made for classic rock, it's designed for heavy styles, the EMG 81's aren't that versatile, but the high output gives power to your chords, palm-muted notes, even in the neck position it gives quite a crunch, 2 volume knobs is a good option because you can make the killswitch effect. Metallica's Master of Puppets album is a perfect sound demo if you're interested, it's basically what it sounds like.
Overall Impression — 8
I used to play the classical guitar, but I switched to electrics, which I've been playing for 2 years or so. I also own a cheap Ibanez GRG270B and a spanish Roberto Sanchez classical guitar. I play mostly metal like Metallica, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Black Label Society, Slayer, Children Of Bodom, Machine Head and Amon Amarth, although I'm also into grunge like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and blues-rock, mostly polish bands. I'm completely satisfied with this guitar, I knew what I was buying and for the price it was quite a bargain. It had all the specs I was looking for in the middle-price range and it looks so beautiful! If it was stolen and I had the money I would surely buy a new one, or replace it with a more expensive ESP from Japan. The things I love is the looks, the feel while playing and the powerful sound. I only wish the clean tone was a bit warmer and brighter, it doesn't sound as well as a Stratocaster or something like that on my clean channel. I played a few different guitars at my music store, mostly Jacksons, Ibanez and others in a similar price range, but they're nothing compared to this. I haven't played it before I bought it, only a couple guitars with similar features including an LTD Eclipse on EMGs. On Youtube there's a user named dmometalguitar, he's a great guitarist and submits really honest and professional comparisons of guitars, pickups, bridge types and so on and it was good to watch before buying a new guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't played live with it yet, but it looks really solid. The hardware is placed firmly and looks durable. Only thing is you need to look out not to hit anything with the V horns because of their length. The strap buttons are solid and sit in place. You can depend on it for sure. I would use it with back-up only because I'm preventive, also I use 2 guitars for different songs. The finish is really good and I'm sure it won't wear off quickly. The paint might go off on the neck, that's normal for guitars with painted necks, but that's a matter of years though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I was afraid how the guitar would come set up, but I was amazed when I started playing it. The action was low without any buzz (!!!). I lowered it a little though, my fingers just flow on it but I'm getting some buzz on the E and A strings. Frets are perfectly leveled, intonation is perfect too, didn't need to adjust it. The ESP's Vs are better compared to the Jackson Vs because the body is bigger and the jack input is placed at an angle in the horn, so you can place your thigh between the cutaway while sitting down. You need to get used to playing a V, at first it might be a little uncomfortable, but you'll get used to it. On the other hand playing while standing is wonderful. The guitar is quite light (although it's mahogany!), balanced and feels perfect on your body. All the parts are properly routed and placed. No paint flaws or scratches, excellent finish. It was even quite in tune when I unpacked it, just needed to restring it, because the factory strings were poorly strung and didn't stay in tune, they probably do it with a machine. Otherwise than that I was really impressed. Other factories should learn from ESP how to build guitars!
Features — 8
It was made in 2008 or 2007 in Korea. It features 24 extra jumbo frets on a 25,5" scaled rosewood fingerboard, 42mm earvana compensated nut, 3 piece thin U-shaped maple neck set-thru a V-shaped mahogany body, black gloss paint with white binding on the neck and headstock, pearloid Dot inlays with a V-500 on the 12th fret. Grover tuners, tune-o-matic bridge with string-thru body end, 2 active EMG 81's in the neck and bridge positions, 3 toggle switch, 2 volume knobs (1 for each pickup) and a master tone knob with a small pickguard underneath them. Metal parts finished with black nickel. Came with 2 allen wrenches.