ESP is the leading maker of metal guitars nowadays. They pretty much have two brands of guitars, the ESP line and the LTD line. The LTD line is what you see mostly. These guitars are made all over the world and have really nice specs and are sold at a reasonable price. The ESP line is what you see in the hands of real enthusiasts. These guitars are made in Japan only at the ESP custom shop. Every one of these eSP guitars has custom shop quality. They make look the same as the LTD models but if you have played one you know the difference. Sometimes the price difference isnt worth it but sometimes it is. This is the hardtail Horizon with EMG pickups. This is an old school shredder pretty much. The body is made of alder with a neck through maple neck. The neck has an ebony fretboard with 24 jumbo frets. Up top you get locking tuners and a Gotoh bridge. The pickups are a set of EMG's in the old Metallica setup with an 81 in the bridge and a 60 in the neck. The controls are simple with a volume and tone with a 3 way switch.
There is nothign wrong with the playability on this guitar. The fretwork on these Custom Shop level ESP guitars is pretty much perfect. The neck is super thin and fast. The big frets on the ebony fretboard means it is almost effortless to play. Being a hardtail you get rock solid stability and the locking tuners up top just help this out even more. The only thing I do not like on this guitar is the pickup selector placement. It is really close to the volume knob and kind of makes the controls look cluttered. When I am adjusting the volume sometimes I hit my fingers on the pickup selector. If I was designing this guitar I would have used a 3 way blade switch instead of the toggle switch. I have a similar problem with 6 inline headstocks. When I am tuning I always hit my fingers on the tuners next to the one I am tuning. I might just have big fingers.
This guitar is a real screamer. Every part on this guitar builds on every other part to help make this guitar really cut through any mix. The alder body with the maple neck through neck naturally gives a pretty bright tone. I have found neck through guitars to be the brightest typically. This combined with the screaming EMG pickups means this guitar never sounds muddy. The 81 in the bridge has a buzz saw sound. It has a high end grind to it that makes your riffs laser sharp. The 60 in the neck is a great compliment to the 81. While the 81 is great at riffs it is so not great for leads and cleans. The 60 has as bit lower output and a bit smoother sound so it is better for clean tones and lead playing. It sounds nice and smooth playing both.
while these guitars are some of the best metal guitars on the market I find them hard to recommend because the ESP LTD line is so good itself. If you find a good LTD example and have it professional setup and dressed it will play every bit as good as an ESP Custom Shop model. The fit and finish might not be as good but the playability will be there. I have friends that will only play made in Japan ESP guitars. I guess they like the consistancy of knowning that every made in Japan ESP they get will be good. You dont get that kind of consistancy with LTD. But LTD guitars can be good too if you try them out first and have them properly setup. I would recommend trying some LTD ESP guitars before shelling out the big bucks for a made in Japan ESP.