Price paid: $ 450
Purchased from: doug terror (esp endorsee)
Sound — 8
Despite having EMG active pickups, this guitar retains a lot of the character of the Gibson SG. A very very dark midrange dominated sound. The sustain is definitely on par with that of an SG and the neck profile is also similar to that of a slim taper Gibson 60s neck profile, which is to say it is of a substantial size, but not so large that it gets in the way of playing leads/solos. I play primarily hardcore and metal. I a run a 2nd Mesa Single Recto and a Marshall 1960a 4X12 cab. The heavy low end sounds this guitar is capable of is truly amazing. For a brutal powerchord driven sound (think Hatebreed) I could not honestly think of a better guitar. I find myself turning up the treble on my amp more than I do with most other guitars, because this guitar is very dark sounding. Not say it is inadequate for leads, just not as inclined as others. I also find the EMG81 in the neck to be useless. I do not like it as a neck pickup for any guitar, and it seems to be the worst in this one. This guitar by nature has a very fat warm sound, on top of the fact that the EMG81 is more of lead oriented pickup, the neck position is simply an overkill, as the lower frequencies become too "boomy" to really be used for anything I would like. I plan to Switch it out for an EMG60 which I would use for clean sounds, as EMG81s are just not inclined to clean sounds.
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar is a great blend of modern and old school features. Definitely geared towards rock/metal oriented sounds. Whats nice with ESP are all the great brand name products you get stock on many models. This one in particular, the EMG pickups and earvana nut. If you are a hardrock or metal guitarist, and leaning towards Gibson, I highly recomend considering ESP/LTD instead, as they are a much better value and much better suited to the style.
Reliability & Durability — 6
This guitar is built just as strong as any other set neck/stop tail guitar out there, so make sure above all else you dont ever drop it!
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The fit and finish is excellent, save for a very small region of neck binding which extrudes out just a tiny bit too far. It is slightly noticable on your fretting hand, but not enough to make it really detrimental to the playabillity of a guitar.
Features — 8
2004 Viper 400. Korean made. 24.75" scale. 24 jumbo frets. Mahogany body. Mahogany set neck w/rosewood fretboard. Bound neck and head. Transparent red finish. Body is a variation of the Gibson SG double cut style. Dual EMG 81 active pickups w/single tone and volume knobs and 3 way Gibson style selector. All standard Viper 400 features plus sperzel locking tuners dunlop straplocks installed by the factory.