Price paid: $ 610
Purchased from: guitar center
Sound — 10
This is definitely a guitar for distortion. It doesn't matter what type, as long as its distorted. I play thrash metal and any sort of rock I can get the music for. I am playing it through a Vox vt 30 modeling amp which has a couple of pretty dang harsh and heavy distortion channels that this guitar just rips through. The guitar is not noisy. The only thing is that some metal (like Metallica) has mellow intro's with that awesome steely clean guitar, but even on the clean channel its hard to keep this guitar completely clean. This guitar also does a great job with picking up harmonics, including pinch harmonics.
Overall Impression — 10
As I said before I play metal and I have been for over six years now with an awesome instructor. I have a Vox vt 30 (love that amp) and also a mexico made Strat with the bridge mounted humbucker. I would buy this guitar again and again if I had to (and had the money) and it is definitely a great guitar for the money, especially because guitar center gave me about $150 off because I had a coupon and they didn't have it in the store, but I ordered it there and they had it shipped to the store where I picked it up. I love everything about this guitar, hate nothing, and my favorite thing is the sound. (one thing, the strings seem a tiny bit stiffer on this guitar than on my strat, but easy to play still) my favorite feature is the sound ( I know its not really a feature), but it is anyway. I chose this one over others( especially the other ESP Ltd. Xxx 1000 deluxe modes (which are all vers similar except shape and pickups)) ecause of the way it looked (the neck is really long and the whole thing looks mean) and the way it played and the way it sounded.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I don't play live or with a strap much so I wouldn't know anything about the strap buttons except that they feel very solid, just don't know how well they hold a strap, bu I guess that also depends on the strap. The hardware (except from the minor corrosion spots on the tuners, which could most likely be avoided by cleaning every once and a while) has been very solid.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The finish on this guitar was perfect except for the teeny tiny scratch I mentioned earlier. The guitar was set up well as I remember it, (it was two years ago) I think I adjusted the bridge height slightly, but it was pretty spot on. One thing I did and recommend is that you hold down the 24th fret on both E strings and then turn the two round headed screws on the the plastic part that holds the pickup to raise the pickups as close as you can get them to the strings (all while holding down the 24th fret, that is key) without the strings buzzing. This will give you a more evil and awesome sound. (if you plan on using a clean tone sometimes his isnt for you) Other than that I don't remember changing anything, except the strings it came with were crap.
Features — 9
You can easily see all the specs from guitar center.com and other reviews maybe. The black nickel hardware looks great and on mine it was flawless except for one tiny scratch on the bridge. I've had the guitar for two years and the only problem I've had with the nickel is that some parts, especially parts you touch, develop tiny spots of corrosion that are hard to see but easy to feel. It has active pickups so there is a battery in that back which is easy to get to with the screwdriver. I have not had to replace it yet and its been over two years since I bought it. (I'm am fairly sure that unplugging the cord from the guitar and maybe setting the volume knob to zero when you let it sit helps with the battery life) The locking tuners are great, especially if youve never had them before, you don't need to wind the strings around a million times when re-stringing, but beware with the high strings, especially the b and high e, because when you cinch down on the string with the locking mechanism, it can actually damage the string to the point that it will shear right at the edge on the gripper, inside the tuning peg, so I recommend stringing the high strings as if they were on standard tuners, but lock them anyway.