Hey guys it’s Brian here with World Music Supply again and today I’m going to talk a little bit about ESP guitars. ESP, which means Electric Sound Products, was founded by one Hisatake Shibuya in Tokyo in the mid 70’s making replacement parts for guitar. They eventually relocated to the US in the early 80’s and quickly made a name for themselves by making custom guitars for the likes of Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and George Lynch. Since the early days ESP has prided itself on making beautifully crafted instruments at reasonable prices, and they keep this mind set in all of their products. Today I’m going to cover a few models from their LTD line, the VIPER 300, the EC1000, and the MH327.
The VIPER is a classic ESP shape, a modified, and heavily sculpted variation on an already classic double cutaway design, the VIPER 300 fits you like a dream. Its odd asymmetrical shape gives it a cool stylistic edge, and its powerful EMG Pickups provide it with a heavy sonic edge like no other active pickup can provide. The heavily flamed top gives it a nice classy look, and the flag inlays help to give it a very high class look.
Sitting down with the VIPER 300 and running it through its paces was revealing. The first thing I always notice about guitars with EMG pickups is how big and dark their clean sounds are, and this guitar is no exception. With big dark tones, which are almost jazzy in tonality, I was able to run through some slick changes with a very musical tone, and with its 24 frets, I was able to travel a lot further through these jazz runs than usual.
Cranking the gain on my amp up a little bit resulted in deep, full saturation. The EMG 81 and 85 Pickups provide big tone at any range, pulling up far more frequencies than their passive counterparts. This ability to pull up frequencies means that your tone has all of that sparkle that you get from compressors, but without the lack of dynamic control. The VIPER played smooth across its whole length, and with its thin U profile neck and its XJ Frets meant that it was also super fast across its whole length, and super easy to play lightning fast shred lines for hours without ever having to slow down.
The VIPER 300 is a fantastic guitar, with more than enough power to play even the darkest, heaviest metal, or even the most mellow of jazz licks. The VIPER 300 is a great guitar for literally any collection, and it gets a 10 out of 10, as its classic looks, powerfully versatile sounds, and handsome flamed top all add up to one monster of a guitar.
Next up on the chopping block is the EC1000FM specifically the Aged Vintage Sunburst which features Seymour Duncan pickups, Tonepros locking TOM style bridge, and Sperzel locking tuners. This guitar features a very handsome take on the classic LP style body shape, with a sharp looking florentine cutaway and stunning abalone inlays and binding all over the guitar.
Plugging the guitar in, I was confronted with some very powerful tones. This guitar practically cried out to play classic rock riffs, with its classic pairing of a mahogany body and a flamed maple top, and its powerful Seymour Duncan pickups, this guitar screamed. On clean settings it dazzled me with some of the most pristine cleans possible, able to be both bright and chimey and yet mellow and full all at once, and on a dirty setting it was able to bark and shout with the best of them. Like the last guitar, the EC1000 also features a Thin U neck contour and 24 XJ frets, which means that it still is a lighting quick shred machine. Now while this fit great with the more metal stylings of the VIPER 300, it seems a tad out of place with the classic rock stylings of the EC1000, but it does give the EC1000 a very modern, shred friendly feel.
I personally love the EC1000, with its stunning good looks, and tones that just don’t stop, it’s no wonder that the EC series is one of ESP’s most popular models. For its ability to play almost any style of music and still look good doing it, the EC1000 gets a solid 9 out of 10, as while it is amazingly handsome, its flamed maple top might keep it from fitting in with some of the heavier genres of music, who tend to shy away from guitars that aren’t flat black shred machines.
Last up is the MH327, which has some rather unique qualities to this list of guitars, first off because it is the only one in this list which has a Floyd Rose tremolo, but more importantly, because this guitar has 27 frets. That means you can climb all the way up to a high G on the high E string without ever having to bend up to a note, when will you ever need this ability? I don’t know, but I want to find out. This guitar features the familiar Mahogany body with a flamed maple top that all of the other guitars, and it also features Seymour Duncan pickups like EC1000, however these pickups do differ from those on the EC1000, in that they are Custom 5 in the bridge and a Hot Rail in the neck.
The guitar sounded fantastic when plugged in too, with bright spanky mids, and a big full bottome end. I quickly found this guitar also had one final trick up its metaphorical sleeves in that, it also features a coil tap. This means that this guitar has more features than a swiss army knife, a floating double locking tremolo, a 27 fret neck, and the ability to sound like a big bold humbucker equipped guitar, or a bright, chimey single coil equipped guitar. The clean tones on the humbucker setting were full and fat, with enough body to be useful in any situation, and in single coil mode, it had a very convincing strat style tone.
Dirtying up the tone a bit, this guitar yielded some amazing shred worthy tones, with quick attack, and big powerful sustain. Playing within the key of G the extra frets proved worthy by allowing me to glide all the way up to that 27th fret without having to bend my way into that high G. The 27 frets however proved more useful when I dropped the tuning a full step and realized that I hadn’t lost any of the standard range of a 24 fret guitar in the process, and thanks to its Fender style 25.5’ scale length, I could drop my tuning without the strings feeling loose, or uncomfortable. In this dropped tuning, the MH327 loosed powerful metal tones left and right, and its Floyd Rose let me dive bomb and scream to my hearts contents.
The MH327 is one amazing machine, with more frets than almost any production guitar on the market today, and the fact that it comes stock with Seymour Duncan pickups which can be coil split, as well as a Floyd Rose, means this really is the swiss army knife of guitars. For its astonishing versatility and bold powerful tones, the MH327 snags a well deserved 10 out of 10.
so as you can tell, ESP produces some amazing guitars, all with their own particular style, voice and purpose. With the razor sharp looks of the VIPER, the vintage styling of the EC1000 or the futuristic design of the MH327, its clear that with so many styles, there is bound to be one that fits your specific need, and fits your personal budget, and their all available right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!