Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Paradise Guitars-Beloit, WI
Sound — 9
Thrash metal: very percussive and bassy. Death metal: very percussive and bassy. Notes are clear. Black metal: can be to bright at times when tremolo picking. I tend to crank down the tone and volume pots. Funeral doom drone metal: very nice. I can make her sound big and spacey. I can get a nice Sunn-O))) sound from it through good delay and distortion. Classic rock: rich, warm AC/DC sound. Neoclassical shred: I really like how clear the notes are. It gets a little crowded around the 19-24 fret range but other than that, soloing is great. Clean: get a Fender or Gibson. This thing can be a little overpowering. Blues: raw sound is great, or I can tone down the pots to get a nice Cream Sunshine of your love sound. Punk: a tab too bassy for HXC. Handles distortion nicely. Metalcore/deathcore: pitiful genres but it can handle them. In essence, the ESP LTD Viper-500 can handle anything you can through at it. Just manipulate your rig to handle the sound you want. Oh, btw, it gets really bassy at high volumes but without the feedback.
Overall Impression — 10
I am into, classic rock, thrash metal, black metal, melodic death metal, death metal, epic prog doom like Amorphis (Thousand Lakes era), funeral doom metal, ambient, fall metal (dude, it's underground stuff), experimental drone metal, neoclassical shred metal, (some) power metal, Children Of Bodom, Dark Tranquillity (greatest band ever), HXC, progressive, blusey, electronicore (stuff is funny as hell), Agalloch style folk metal, Taake, symphonic melodic black metal, orchestra classical stuff, speed metal, sludge metal, old school grindcore, cybergrind, Wolves in the Throne Room, Yngwie Malmsteen, Alexi Laiho, Isahn (look him up), kickin ass metal. The ESP LTD Viper-500 is my pride and joy. I wouldn't consider any other guitar name. In short the ESP LTD Viper-500 is amazing! Go out and discover for yourself!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is meant to get out of your parents house (seriously it's about time you moved) and make a star out of you. In the time I have had it (1 year) it withstood: A puppy attack, breaking my strap and landing on the floor, being banged into a wall during an "extreme guitar hero moment", and being spat on (that sucker paid). After all these things done to my baby, one would suspect that it would show some wear. No, not one blemish except for a few pick/puppy nail scratches. It is gig worthy.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Guitar is set up nicely. Only thing I would change is that the neck seems to dip when I am standing up. Very heavy headstock/neck wise. The wood is idk, but it is amazing. Very bassy when it needs to be, the mid range is scooped somewhat, and the clarity of the treble is superb. The action is a little low, I will be sure to look into that. Electronics are nicely wired. Very quite pickup selector. No loose controls. Basically a very well done job.
Features — 9
24 frets. EMG 81/85s, black satin finish. I got the 2007 edition so there is no cheesy skull. Very sexy guitar, no fret dots. Definetly an upgrade from my previous gitar (LTD VIPER 50). Clean: very warm however, it does get bassy at times. When trying anything acoustic with reverb, the bottom end tends to over power everything a little bit. On clean, I change the bass, mid, treb on my amp and add a little reverb. You do have to tone down the volume/tone knobs on the guitar or the active pickups will become distorted. Marshall Crunch: Very good. I can get a pretty convincing AC/DC sound with little distortion effects. I usually crank the bass and mid and scoop out the treble because the guitar seems naturally scooped in the midrange department. I tone down the tone pot and leave the volume at like an 8. Nice and warm with a aggressive crunch. Lead/Metal/Distortion: This is where the guitar really shines. I usually have to crank off the bass on my amp because the body is so bassy. It seems more suited for rhythm than lead. Around the 19-24 fret range, it gets tight for shredding. Sweep picking is also difficult in the 19-24 range however the 9-15 fret range is great. One thing I'd change: I really don't like the EMG 85 in the bridge, it is too warm and full for my taste. I think I'll just get a Seymor Duncan Blackout for my bridge. the emg 81 in the neck is great though! Stays in tune nicely.