ESP Viper
ESP Viper

Viper, SG-Shaped Guitar from ESP in the Viper series.

tjon901 08/11/2011

ESP Viper : tjon901's user review

« ESP Viper with a Jeff Hanneman type finish »

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The ESP Viper is their SG style model. It has a body similar to that of an SG but the horns are a bit offset to give you better upper fret access. This is a full label ESP. This means it is made in Japan and has custom shop level fit and finish. The guitars you see labeled LTD are still ESP guitars and they have the same specs but they are made outside of Japan so the quality is slightly lower. This guitar has a mahogany body with a mahogany set neck and an ebony fretboard. The fretboard has 24 jumbo frets with ESP's flag inlays. The neck and headstock are fully bound for a classy look to complement the Urban Camo paintjob. They do not skimp on the hardware on this model. This guy has a set of active EMG 81 pickups. The controls are a master volume and a master tone with a 3 way toggle switch.


This is a top spec ESP guitar and plays like it. The guitar is not heavy and has a neck that feels superb. It has a nice thin profile with a nice flat radius neck. The frets on it are super big and let you really dig into notes. Locking tuners mean you stay in tune. This guitar is a set neck but ESP calls it a set-thru neck. This just means that the neck is set deeper into the body like almost half a neck through guitar. This means there is very little heel to get in your way. With 24 frets and a 24.75 scale the upper frets can get pretty crowded. With the active pickups you need a battery to power them but ESP helps you out by adding a quick access battery pack so you can change the battery on the guitar without opening up the entire control cavity.


The dual EMG 81 set is an alright set. In my opinion the 81 is not a good neck pickup but it is a great bridge pickup. The 81 in the bridge is very common. It has a nice sharp voicing to it. It has a good high end crunch to it. If you have heard any Metallica record in the past 20 years you have heard the 81 in action. It does not have the right voicing for the neck position though. Kirk Hammett uses them in the neck and I dont think anyone would say he has a good neck position tone. The pickup has too much high end to be used well in the neck position. It has kind of a harsh tone in the neck position. It is not smooth like you want in a neck position pickup. I would recommend swapping in an 85 in the neck position. It has a smoother voicing which provides a better tone for high gain neck position leads.


This is the current model of the Viper. It seems that they are only making these high end versions now. The old LTD versions use to be a great value. The Viper 400 also came with EMG pickups and were only around 400 dollars. Those were great guitars. This is a great guitar as well but being a full ESP it is pretty expensive. If someone is looking to buy an ESP at the shop I always try to get them to try out some LTD ESP's first. The specs usually are pretty much the same and any playability differences can easily be taken care of with a proper setup.