Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here once again, to bring you your usual dose of Guitar and Gear reviews. In today’s blog, I got a chance to sit down with, and look over another great piece from our friends over at ESP. Now typically, I wouldn’t do one brand for two blogs straight in a row, but today’s blog is all about one specific guitar, the Bela Lugosi Limited Edition Guitar.
Initially, we only had one of these, and it sold out so quick I didn’t even get a chance to get decent pictures taken of it, let alone do a proper blog about it. Let me be blunt, even though the guitar itself is a rather good guitar with some pretty standard, albeit very player friendly appointments, the big selling point for this is Bela Lugosi himself. Bela might not be a name that is known to anyone who isn’t either a film buff, or a horror movie fan, but he is the man who played Dracula in the early days of motion pictures, and the man who created the now rather stereotypical accent that Dracula has been known for all these years, even though it was just his natural accent.
Luckily for you guys, we received two of these guitars from ESP rather recently, when initially we had only been promised one. ESP only made 325 of these guitars for the entire world, and they only sent them to a few select stores, and artists world wide, lucky us. All of the art work was done by comic book artist Kerry Gammil, and is based on his artwork for the Tales of The Grave comic books, which to my understanding; uses Lugosi’s likeness with the permission of his estate. These guitars are just amazing to look at, as the graphics are vibrant, and really powerful, albeit sort of creepy to look at across the room.
Now that I’ve talked about it as a piece of art, lets move on to the fun part, talking about it as a guitar. The guitar itself features a pretty dense piece of alder, I say dense because it is a bit heavier than a typical alder guitar, the guitar isn’t heavy mind you just heavier than your typical alder bodied guitar. The neck is ESP’s Thin U contour neck, which has a nice even feel all along it, and would be just perfect for fast runs and quick riffs. The one thing that must be addressed is the absolutely brilliant inlay work on the fretboard, as it was fun to look at; It’s also perfectly smooth, and very, very cool. The hardware is pretty bare bones, with a string through body, a black TOM style bridge, and a single EMG 81 humbucker in the bridge.
I’m a fan of single pickup guitars, they have a raw-ness to them, they’re the meat and potatoes of what an electric guitar really is. No extra tones to jump to, no extra tricks, just you, a guitar, and your amp (and a couple of pedals for good measure). Now this being said, I have to admit I was a little confused by it only having a single EMG, as I’ve never played a single pickup guitar with EMGs and I honestly didn’t know how it would fare. So plugging this guy into our new test amp, the Marshall DSL 40C, and turning up the lone volume knob I was shocked to find that this guitar was pretty par for the course when it comes to single pickup guitars.
Sure it had a little more output, some extra power in the low and highs, and a little bit more attack to it, but this guitar still felt and played like a standard lone pickup equipped guitar, which I just loved. Clean the Bela Lugosi was a little menacing, the darker sort of cleans I’m used to from an EMG were no where to be found, this wasn’t a bad thing just not something I was used to, I blame this on the rather Spartan wiring scheme. The brighter clean tone sounded very strident and was useful on some slower passages, and had an almost country flair to them when I played up higher on the neck. Even on the clean channel, this guitar had a lot of sustain, and resonance to it. The fundamental of the strings stayed around for quite a while, and this mean that chords had an almost pad like quality to them.
This cool, long even sustain was even more evident when I switched over to the dirty channel of the amp, and really saw what this guitar was made of. The real power of this guitar, and I’m sure the real point of this beast, is to play heavy music. It is set up to be a straight ahead metal guitar, and its looks surely help to fuel this fire. The good news is, along with its big powerful sound, and its very bold image, this guitar also takes low tuning very well, I was able to get down to a C# with very few intonation issues. Playing in such low tunings is just too much on this guitar, and it was almost hard to resist playing brooding Black Sabbath style grooves, and big chugging BLS style rhythms as the feel of this guitar almost craves for horror movie style riffs played on it.
Sure you could play this guitar on just about anything if you really worked at it, but a guitar covered in zombies, bats, a hazy moon off in the distance, and the giant floating face of Bela Lugosi, with what could possibly be, one of the most powerful stares in history… it would be a shame to use this guitar for anything less than some properly horrifying music. Placing the guitar back into its equally impressive coffin case, with the silhouetted face of Bela himself, I am confident that this guitar will go down as one of my favorite to review, not only was it amazing to look at, and amazing to play, this guitar felt like it belonged to go somewhere, like it should belong to a rock star, not be sitting in a warehouse, being reviewed by me. This guitar feels fit for a rock star, and there are very few guitars that right away strike you with that feeling, and for that fact alone this guitar scores itself a solid 10 out of 10.