LTD Viper-200 FM review by ESP

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (64 votes)
ESP: LTD Viper-200 FM

Price paid: $ 360

Sound — 8
I play a variety of styles (primarily metal and blues) and this guitar does each surprisingly well. I play through a DigiTech DF7 into a Blackheart 5w head with an Epiphone Valve Junior cab (they're still out of the BH cabs as far as I know, and I find both to be a good match). The pickups are about moderate output and are very clear. I'd prefer a bit hotter but I find the lh301s still do the job nicely enough (especially with both engaged). The split coil sounds very nice for cleans and almost acoustic-like in the middle, and without the split distortion sounds great in the bridge or neck position.

Overall Impression — 9
This plays every style I throw at it nicely (although style is more focused in the fingers). I've been playing guitar for about 5 years but only 16 months with an electric. I own an Epiphone SG Special (big step up from that) and an Alvarez 70's 5014 acoustic. I did wish it wasn't made of agathis at first (after the first one) but it sounded completely different from the crap agathis in the other one. I'll probably end up replacing the pickups for better ones later but for a guitar in this price range I find it to sound pretty damn good. If I lost it or it had been stolen I would try really hard to find it. If that fails I'd try to buy a better guitar but would really miss this one. Again, one of the best playing guitars I've got my hands on.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Everything was set right when I got it, with exception to a loose tone knob that I ended up overtightening causing the tone pot shaft to crush into itself. Stupid thing to do. The hardware is tarnishing a bit, the strap buttons hold very nicely and are balanced well (I don't get any neckdive from mine), and I would depend on it as I'm a bit rough with my guitars, bumping into doors and walls, accidently dropping it, ect and so far it's withstood the punishment. It'll withstand live playing as long as you don't do anything stupid. Finish seems a bit thin but only on the back.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I love how this guitar feels! Smooth, thin neck (perfect for my hands as despite my average height I was cursed with really small hands, really good for the higher frets though), everything on properly, no jagged edges. The only other guitars I've liked the feel of more was a Fender '72 Thinline (poor thing was in a state of disrepair though). Slight bit of tuning issues until I increased the string gauge to .11s. It seems to be built for the higher gauges. Other than that no flaws that I didn't make besides a slight raising of the action (a few millimeters to get rid of a tiny amount of fret buzz).

Features — 9
Early 2008 made in Indonesia, 24 extra-jumbo frets on a rosewood fingerboard, 24.75" scale. Neck wood is mahogany. Body's a "melted" SG type shape made of agathis topped with flamed maple covered by a see-through black cherry finish. Black nickel hardware, Tune-O-Matic bridge and tailpiece. ESP LH301 passives in H-H configuration with a split coil push-pull pot on the one tone control (one volume and three way Switch as well). ESP tuners and graphite nut. I originally had an '07 model with ESP-EMG lh300s (the guitar was abnormally bad: red lines through the body, Switch cutting out, pickups very little output, body virtually non resonant (big difference between bad agathis and decent agathis), strings cutting through the frets). I returned it and received the one I have now. Don't regret it though.

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