Sound — 9
Sounds really great, especially for stoner rock, QOTSA, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Sabbath (well... It is the bastard cousin of the Gibson SG!) It has a really solid sound (bassy, as the guitar is quite heavy) It's not just for distorted rock though..it would be good for any style, jazz etc, really, but chug/death metal is "primo" on this guitar. This is my first ESP/Ltd guitar. I have only used it through a Vox Pathfinder 15R (great little amp for a SS), but tried one in the shop through a Hughes & Kettner 20 watt valve head which sounded good to me ears. Have yet to play it through a 50/100 watt valve amp... Reckon that's what it needs though. The ESP pickups are very quiet and "balanced" sounding.
Overall Impression — 9
I have pretty varied taste in music (Ween, stoner rock (as mentioned above), Tinariwen, metal, death metal, early metal, psych rock, reggae, etc. Have been playing (good and bad) for 20 years. I have played Stratocasters, Mustangs, and this guitar rates very highly. I have an '80s Japanese Stratocaster, and I don't really want to put a humbucker in the bridge position.It is very different to a single coil pickup guitar (they both have their uses). I really like the way it is a contemporary take on the Gibson SG. I tried a few SG copies then realized this guitar was better than most of these, and a quarter of the price! The only slight criticism I would make is the position of the strap button on the horn makes it a bit neck-heavy. You could move it though. There are a lot of great instruments coming from places other than the US these days, this guitar is proof of that.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Have only had the guitar for a couple of weeks so time will tell. To me it seems like a much better built and finished guitar than others costing 4 times the price.I hope the guitar will get some nice character dents etc. With time and usage.I may put strap-locks on it as it is a weighty little sucker. Overall, I have seen used ESP/LTD's that have held up really well to a lot of playing and abuse, having said that, I don't have a case for the viper yet. I use the cardboard box that it came in. You can always paint something with timber paint if ya want to... really.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Really well made and setup guitar from the factory, SIT strings it came with are great too. I am really impressed with the overall quality of this guitar! It has a "resonance" to it, as any quality guitar will have. Very SOLID. I love the tiger stripe finish under the lacquer! The red finish is also really nice.I found no floors, only one height adjust screw for the front pickup was wound out... No problemo. All the hardware is top notch too... Tuners feel good, solid etc. All this on a guitar that was only $359!
Features — 9
2013 model, beautifully made in Indonesia (I am amazed at the quality of this guitar... And the price!) 24 fret/2 octave neck, same scale length as Gibson SG? Pretty sure it's a maple neck, attached with 4 screws and and asymmetric plate with "ESP" on it, rosewood fingerboard, has a heel near where the headstock starts, neck is really nice and thick. Body is Basswood, 2 piece, SG style only offset and thicker, dressed away on the upper side. Transparent Black finish with Tiger stripes underneath the lacquer, almost greenish in the light. Gibson SG style body only offset (still a bit neck heavy, but you get used to it... :) Tune-O-Matic bridge with stop tailpiece (all the hardware is smoke finish). 2x Passive ESP humbuckers (no batteries - I like it) 3 way switch: back/middle(both)/front. Maybe the tuners are Gotoh? I don't know. Came well packed in a cardboard box ie. Foam blocks supporting the neck, body etc. 2x allen keys, 1 for truss rod and small one... Not sure?