World Music Supply | ESP Ltd VIPER 256

Hey guys its Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog I got to check out some cool goodies from our friends over at ESP.  We here at WMS have a special place in our cumulative heart for ESP, they’re cool looking, they don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they sound great no matter what you throw at them, and when it comes to guitars you just cant do better than that. So lets get down to business with the center piece of today’s review, the Viper256.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

The Viper256 comes in two rather attractive finishes, the see thru black cherry, and my personal favorite, black with gold hardware; you just can’t get classier than that. This guitar is a work horse, a solid chunk of Mahogany, 24 big easy playing frets on a fast Thin U shaped Mahogany neck, topped with a nice looking Ebony fretboard. The Tonepros TOM bridge is nice, straightforward, easy to intonate and get working. The part that I really loved about the 256 is the ESP designed LH-150 humbuckers, they have a bold sound with lots of midrange and lows, with just enough high end cut to get you through the mix, but not treble-y enough to cut your head off. The LH-150’s are also coil-tappable by pulling up on the tone-knob, which means you get rich, full sounding humbuckers, and with a flick of your wrist, you have sparkly, shimmering single coils, amazing.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

Clean, this guitar sounded very big, it really has a ton of low end body to it, which I love in a guitar, the mids were thick, and really filled out the area you would expect a guitar to, and the highs were just cutting enough to really sculpt the sound out, not too bright, it left enough room for a band, but more than filled out all of the area a guitar should. With the single coils engaged, you of course notice a tiny drop in volume which I compensated for with a little help from my Electro Harmonix LPB-1. The tone was slinky, it had a lot of Tele style tones to it, but without the high end twang you typically get from a Fender scale length, bolt neck guitar. This meant it had a lot of jangly, almost acoustic sounding vibe, and I really dug the funky kind of bite I could get out of it.

Distorted, this guitar was down right animalistic! The distorted growl of the bridge pickup was very rich, and had a great lead and rhythm tone to it, without having to fiddle with the tone or volume knobs, and I didn’t even have to mess around with any pedals, the bridge pickup was so balanced sounding that it just did everything. The middle position was a tad bit more tame sounding, with a warmer low end, and a little less high end cut, and the neck position had very warm, very bluesy tones hidden in it. Shred work was easy, the shorter 24.75 scale length and the big frets on an ebony board made this guy super fast. The single coil tone had quite a bit of vibe to it; it had that clarity of a single coil with a lot less hum, and not as much treble response. I personally loved this guitar, it looks cool, it feels nice, it plays great, and the sounds it made were pure rock star. I would have to be crazy to not award the Viper 250 a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | ESP Bela Lugosi Limited Edition Guitar

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.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric 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.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

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.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

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.

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

Esp Ltd Limited Edition BELA LUGOSI Electric Guitar

World Music Supply | ESP Guitars

Hi guys, its Brian from World Music Supply here again, to bring you another healthy dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have a few guitars from our friends at ESP. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, 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, mainly their more aggressive and out there models, specifically the AX50, and the F100FM.

The ESP AX50 in Black

The ESP AX50 in Black

These guitars are designed, and built from the ground up to play hardcore, low down, metal. This aspect is reflected not only in their tones, but also in their modern styling. First up on the chopping block today is the AX50-BK, which is their most oddly shaped guitar to date, and looking at it, with its X shape, with plenty of rounded curves and macho vibe, it’s clear that this guitar was designed with the modern shredder in mind. The guitars circular back cut out strangely reminds me of a sci-fi flick, or a battle axe from a horror movie, and its tones match that description pretty well. Plugging into a Randall RT503H, this guitar was rather impressive, its clean tones were smooth and soulful, which I wasn’t expecting out of a guitar that looks like you could slay demons with it. The bridge pickup is gritty and biting, but it isn’t so trebly that it stings when you slam into it on a clean setting, the middle position was warm and airy, with an almost acoustic flavor, and the neck pickup was round, and rather jazzy…another happy yet unexpected sound.

But, lets be honest, this guitar will probably never run through a clean amp on purpose, guitars that are shapes like this are meant to do two things, play metal, and look awesome, and this guitar does those two things well. Playing on a slightly overdriven setting this guitar had a nice classic rock vibe, with plenty of warmth, and some old school punk style bite. Cranking the gain stage some more, this guitar started to really get into its element, and after dropping the tuning a whole step, and really letting this guitar take off, it becomes readily apparent that this guitar is capable of some serious grind. The two octave range of the thin neck, with its flatter fingerboard radius, and jumbo frets meant that I could really climb up the neck, and pull out some serious shred tones, but still have all of the girth and chunk available at the other end of the board, where the real ferocity of this beast lives. This guitar has a pure, aggressive tone, with some shimmer and sparkle on tap, if the need for it ever arises, and its that kind of jack of all trades ability that I love when it comes to guitars, however, this guitar does look like a giant battle axe, and that mark alone will keep it out of the hands of many guitarists who would need that kind of versatility. So at the end of the day, the AX50-BK earns itself an 8 out of 10 for many guitarists, but if metal is your forte, the AX50-BK easily snags a 10 out of 10.

The ESP F100FM in See Through Black

The ESP F100FM in See Through Black

Next up to bat, is the F100FM-STBK, which is a part of the now infamous ESP F series of guitars, which are like Stratocasters, if the Strat had been designed by a Transylvanian warlock rather than a radio repairman from southern California. The heavily beveled body, and roaring tones of the F series have been a trademark of everyone from big touring metal acts, to local shredders who are just starting to cut their teeth in the music biz. It’s that kind of universal reliance that has made the F series so well known, and after plugging this bad boy in, it’s clear the rumors are true.

Clean tones are sparkly and spanky, just like you would expect from an instrument that bares even a passing resemblance to a Strat. However, this is a double humbucking guitar, meaning it has a much beefier foot print than its three single coil equipped cousin, which means that its snappy tones are fatter, and its round tones are rounder still. However, like the AX50, this is a guitar that thrives on distorted settings, and after a few minutes playing this guitar clean, I decided I had waited long enough, and switched to the Overdrive one stage of the RT503H, and turned the gain up to what I would consider an obnoxious setting, and just let this guitar loose. The shear power that this guitar exhibits is astonishing, there is some real muscle behind this thing, with plenty of punch, but a nice round low end, even with all of the blistering distortion that was caking up around it. This guitar just has tone for days, and the comfortable shape of the neck, with the 24 jumbo frets, all made for one amazingly playable, amazing sounding guitar. The F100FM has a far more mainstream shape than the AX50, however it still falls squarely in metal guitar territory, meaning even though it sounds so good, with tons of tone on tap, the F100FM-STBK can only score a 9 out of 10, because even though it sounds almost perfect, it doesn’t seem like something you would see on stage with say, a country act. However, as with the AX50, if you are a shredder, or metal is your area of expertise, than the F100Fm-STBK than this guitar easily gets itself a 10 out of 10.