What can really be said about this guitar? There is a degree of notoriety that follows this one around.
I’ve had one of these for quite a few years now. And I do like me some ESP. I started as a Kramer fanatic at a time when they were getting their parts from ESP. So when Kramer took a dive and I checked out some ESP models, the feel was very familiar.
This model has a slightly oversized solid maple body, so it’s a bit of a beast. A 25-1/2″ bolt-on maple neck with a 22-fret rosewood board mounted with an easy access joint. Nice big frets and 1-3/4″ at the nut. Yeah, that’s pretty wide. And check it out, a reverse non-tilt headstock.
Mine is a little older, so it has the German Floyd Rose. I do not know if it currently comes with the German or the Korean OEM 1000 series. The trem is recessed. I think some of the very early models might have had top-mount, but don’t quote me on that.
They used to come with a familiar brand of pickups, but for about a year now this line has the Arcane Inc. pickups as OEM. If you look further down the page, you’ll see my review on the Arcane Brownbucker model. The humbucker pickup in this model is on my short list. For now, I do have a custom wound bridge humbucker in there that is quite appropriate for this model (maybe we’ll discuss that one down the road).
Enough of that, you say…how does it play? Man, I like it. All that wood delivers a good sounding rock guitar. Comfortable neck and easy to reach controls. The neck joint allows easy access to the higher register and the big frets transport you to 80s hard rock nirvana. It sets up like a champ. I’ve had the action all over the place on this one over the years and it can take it just fine. The one hassle is that the truss rod access is in the heel of the neck. Sorry, ESP, but I have to shoot you the raspberry for that one. Otherwise, the neck is nice and straight and can deliver a nice low action without string buzz, if that’s your ticket.
Get this….you say you dig the classic single hum design of the 80s, but you need a better clean tone without doing a tap dance on your pedals or hitting multiple switches? No sweat, daddy-o… pull the volume knob and you get the neck single coil. Simple…. full on humbucker or nice glassy single coil. No toggles. No fuss. No muss. The single push/pull pot takes up the least amount of space, allowing for the more wood for more tone.
The original ESP case is well-fitted and very plush inside. And I mean plush as if I’d take a nap in there if I could. lol!
Sure, it screams 80s. But so what? It’s cool. It’s a straight-ahead rock machine that keeps it simple while adding practicality.
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas