Purchased from: Sam Ash
Sound — 10
The 81's are perfect for that chugging distortion and squealing pinch harmonics that everyone loves, and it picks up on everything with pin-point accuracy. The 85 is superb about bringing out your leads. What is weird on mine, my 85 almost gives a bluesy kind of tone to it, and I don't mind it one bit. But if you are unsatisfied with the 81 though when you play in some settings (which I don't know why you wouldn't be in the first place), just Switch it the pickup selector to the middle. You'll get the punch of the 81 while delivering a bass-driven sideswipe of the 85 for a great rhythm sound (but you lose some harmonic abilities). The 81's are so sensitive, you can p.h. on nearly any fret you want, it can get annoying for other people sometimes, but I don't mind it for the most part. Battery life on this baby is pretty good. When I first got it, I didn't have to worry about changing the single 9Volt battery until about a year later. If this guitar ever starts sounding bad, like it doesn't put out enough volume, it's sound with distortion is weak, etc., just pop in another battery, and watch as your baby is brought back to life. I swear, when I played it after changing the battery, it was like I had just bought it new. So if you want an average life span for the battery, I'd give it 8-12 months, depending on how much you play, if you gig every night, etc. I play rock, hard rock, and metal, and this guitar delivers. If you want simple, but powerful, Lamb Of God dist., done. Any kind of hard hitting distortion that you want, it'll take care of it. But it handles the classic overdrive sound of the greats (Hendrix, SRV, and everyone else we all know and love hearing) that you would want from a guitar. People say EMG's aren't versatile, I just think they haven't experimented with these pickups and tried changing their playing slightly. One note on this guitar, you can, like any other guitar, set the pickup height to what you want. While it seems insignificant, give it a shot and tinker around with the heights of your pickups. You won't believe how great you can make it sound, or the fact that you can even improve on your sound. But, it implies the same inversely, so if it sounds bad, bring the height back up.
Overall Impression — 9
Like I said, I play rock, hard rock, and metal. And this guitar fits every single one. Plus, it can still harken back to the days of AC/DC, Sabbath, Hendrix, SRV, and anything in between and/or around. I would kick anyone's ass that tried to steal this guitar, then hit them with it. And then buy another one, just cause I like it. But I'd probably go with the custom model or something, or at least put an FR trem. on it, only because I've never had an FR-equipped guitar. And maybe trade the 85 pickup out for the 89 just to see the different sounds. EMG pickups are just pop and plug-in pickusp, as I've heard, so the 85-89 switch may be the only thing about it. I only wish for a few things about this guitar that are minor, but somewhat vital complaints. That it comes with a case. I shopped at Sam Ash, so they actually gave me a huge discount on a case (I think it only cost me about 20-30 dollars extra for a pretty good case). So if you buy this online, make sure it's got a case! The guitar might outlast the case when it comes to damage, but I know you wouldn't want to hurt your guitar before you can even play it. The balance of the headstock gets fixed. If ESP had cured this ailment, I would've given this an 11/10 with ice cream on the side. Other than those, I don't see many faults with the guitar. The action is clean, the finish is beautiful, the sound is amazing, and it is a very high-quality instrument for the price. Go ahead, give it a shred. You're bound to like it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is built to last, seriously. The strap buttons will endure, no questions asked. Unless you want to let your guitar fly around you, then I wouldn't worry about investing in locks. Live playing isn't even a question. I gig without a backup of this thing, that's how sure I am of it. But that's also because I'm not pulling Benjamins out of my nose, so if I could have a backup, I really would. But only because of a random act or an insane person possibly trying to start something. If anything, I would just have the backup in case, and hit anyone Who comes at me with my original. Then keep on playing in tune. Thanks Earvana.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The paint on this is amazing. I've owned this for nearly 2 years, and I've only got one small chip in it, and I don't even remember where it came from. This guitar has fallen so many times from sucky guitar holders, but it still keeps in tune and still looks great. The See-Through Black Cherry is one color option to seriously take a look at, I have that one, and it is beautiful. The pictures online don't do it justice, and once you Shine it up a little, it gets even better. The action when I got it was great. And now, after I get it re-adjusted is great. Low for doing those pinch harmonics, and I've adjusted the pickup height on my own in order to bring out some distortion and leads. Still great though. This guitar is a bit top heavy, and by that, I mean the headstock is a bit disproportional to the rest of the guitar. Normally hanging the guitar from a strap around ya (which, by the way, doesn't really need strap locks unless you want to throw this around... which, it can stand it, but I'd rather keep my baby near me) and bring the headstock near your head leads it to slowly swing back to regular horizontal position, and then lower. This can be an extreme discomfort for some people, I realize that. Personally, I hardly let go for the guitar, and when I do, I've found a way to keep it up in my own playing style. It takes practice to do, but I'm sure you can find a remedy.
Features — 9
Everyone has mostly covered all of the stats of it, so I'll go to what I like. This 24-fret beauty has some of the best sounds from a guitar in this price range that I've ever laid my hands on. With an EMG81 in the bridge and an EMG85 in the neck, you are ready to assault your amp with every kind of sound that you want. The Earvana nut, while it seems insignificant at first, is probably one of my favorite parts of the neck, considering it keeps the intonation and the tuning of the guitar in check, and does a great job of it. The Grover tuners help out and well, and keep my tuning locked in while jamming out. I've had to tune a bit too much at times, but I think I may have screwed up some of the action on my own while trying to get my own feel for the guitar. The body of this guitar, obviously, is like a Gibson SG, but this guitar, imo, is like the SG v2.0. It is much slimmer, much lighter, and it's very form-fitted to being an Agile beast. The woodchoice of this guitar was perfect, nearly everything about it is perfect.