LTD Viper-200 FM review by ESP

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (64 votes)
ESP: LTD Viper-200 FM

Price paid: $ 250

Purchased from: Local Dealer

Sound — 7
I play a wide variety of music, but I require that my guitars are capable of playing metal well, because metal requires a relatively well built guitar. I installed Bill Lawrence pick ups in mine, and it sounds much better than 1, 000 dollar guitars do when purchased stock... the guitar industry just likes to pick terrible pick ups in electric guitars for some reason. I wouldn't understand it as it is it's one of the most critical aspects of an electric guitar's sound. I use various amps, but with a Boss MT-2 Metal zone pedal, and a Vox ToneLab Preamp... possibly other analog affects at times. With the high distortion effects, it sounds relatively good. It's fretboard sounds as it should, it's not excessively round or flat, it's not scalloped. The sound was icy ass cold when I bought it, now with my pick ups changed out, it's extremely warm. The sustain is impressive for the price, but not unfathomable. It has no Floyd Rose, it's incapable of tremolo vibrato, IE, no dive-bombs. If your hand is more comfortable muting with a tune-o-matic, this is a pretty nice guitar for the price. Again, I will emphasize, the stock pick ups are horrible. There is no style of music I am aware of that cold pick ups are good for easily remedied though.

Overall Impression — 8
I play an extremely wide variety of music, but as I said I require a guitar to be capable of playing metal, because it's the keystone for good sound. This guitar is worthy of this style, but if you are into very heavy, brutal metal, you will want a Floyd Rose bridge. If you don't care for tremolo's this guitar should suit your needs as long as you're willing to deal with the pick ups, as I said before, there isn't such thing as a stock guitar with good pick ups. Even signature models come with crap pick ups, even the ones with the newest active pick ups. The pick ups I installed have more output than any active pickups I've seen within that price range and don't eat batteries. I haven't been playing for very long, but I have been playing rather hard since I've started. I've tested a lot of guitars, and spent a lot of time researching "guitarology" This is a relatively inexpensive set-thru neck guitar. It comes with a coil tap, and it's really more or less worth the money. I reiterate; weak pick ups. If it were stolen, I'd be devestated, but I can't honestly say whether or not I'd replace it. I actually might though.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I haven't gigged with this guitar, and I'm not rough with guitars in any way. You might damage it, mine will be fine. Tuning machines should last a while, but they will be the next thing to go. Pick ups would have functioned just as well as they did, they were appropriately potted, they were just weak. The strap buttons are actually very nice, they have felt washer-guards. However, the forward strap button IS in an awkward position. It resides on the back of the guitar on the top cut-away region. It's the best place it could be in on this guitar, but some people complain. It actually happens to fit the leather strap I have perfectly, so I sorta don't care. It's dependable, it may be my spare eventually, but I will definitely not be getting rid of it, probably ever. It's not a professional quality guitar, but it can be turned into one for a lot less money than you'd have to fork out for a custom. The finish is pretty good, the eyelets in my jeans scrape against it, and leave almost no marks.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action was very low and comfortable when I first played it in the store, since then the neck has attempted to bow forward a little because I've left it in bad temperature conditions... easily remedied as well. The frets are very well fitted and crowned. As I said before, the nut is virtually perfectly set. The pick ups were set a little far from the strings, but they were so weak it would have made no difference. EMG LH-300 are unfit to play on for any style of music, I wouldn't even take a dump on them. Bridge is external, no routed. Bracing was perfect, frets were set and filed perfectly, the finish is actually very well done, and pretty. The wood is actually pretty decent quality. I like agathis, others don't. Truth is wood is not conductive, and has a lot less effect on tone than people think it does. Agathis is mid density, mid weight. There were no factory flaws that I've found, other than the installation of pick ups that are just built inferiorly.

Features — 8
Built in Indonesia in 2004, 24 frets, 3/4 scale, Rosewood fingerboard, with abalone inlays. Solid Body, Set-neck (not solid thru) Flame maple top on an Agathis Body, not sure about the neck's wood compositon, but I assume it's Agathis as well. It's stained a cherry red, with a typical gloss coat over it, that's somewhat resistant to knicks in comparison to other guitars I've seen. The body style is a sort of Spin off of the Gibson SG style, with the top cutaway being more exaggerated than an SG. IE, it's not evenly cut away. The bridge is a Tune-o-matic with a TonePro Tailpiece, not string through body. Passive pick ups in an H-H configuration (dual humbuckers), EMG LH-300's Not Emg HZ's. At least not on any of these models that I've ever seen. The LH-300 pick up is Low Output pick up, IE, if you want to play metal or high distortion, or, well not sound like ass in general, you'll want some hotter pick ups. I've seen this model listed with EMG-HZ pick ups, that's just incorrect. It has a Volume pot, and a Tone pot with a coil tap function, and a 3 way selector. It has the Standard ESP LTD 3-3 tuning heads. They're relatively well sealed, and have a decent resistance... but excessive vibrato bends will probably take them out of tune a hair. These are of course, not locking tuners. The Nut is graphite, and mine is very well set. It came with no accessories as I bought it. All in all, it's a good guitar if you put a little work into it. The pick ups are terrible, but almost all stock factory guitar pick ups are... in fact, all of them are. I still haven't ever even found a high end guitar with good pick ups in them. The tuning keys could easily be replaced, but wouldn't be necessary. People testify that Les Paul's have a greater sustain because of the angle that the bridge slopes to the tailpiece. This is true, it does increase the sustain, however it does sacrifice tone. The strings on a Les Paul will vibrate shorter from crest to trough, but faster. The frequency will be higher, but will not have the duration of a guitar with a slop like this. It's one or the other, you can't have both... and it's so minut most people would never notice. The headstock also tilts back slightly farther than a Les Paul's, so the opposite end compensates a little. The sound isn't much different, honestly. The neck and body are relatively well built. The neck is neither as small as a Jackson or Ibanez, nor as big as a Gibson. I regretted buying it at first, but after putting a small amount of work into it... I'm rather glad I own it. Idiots think it's sexy. The world is 90% idiots.

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