This is one of the few variants ESP got to make of Dave Mustaines signature guitar before he left to go to Dean. A lot of people were switching guitar makers back then. Mustaine went from Jackson to ESP to Dean all in a couple years. It seems now that he is sticking with Dean. I liked his ESP models better than the current Dean models. The Dean models are just copies of these with some strange cutaways on them. This guitar is basically a Jackson King V with an ESP tag on it. It has a mahogany body with a neck through mahogany neck. The neck has an ebony fretboard with 24 jumbo frets. It has dot inlays apart from the large 8 ball inlay on the first fret. The later ESP signature models and the current Dean models feature Daves Signature Livewire Seymour Duncan pickups but this is an early model with a set of passive Duncans in it. It has a JB in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck which is a classic combination. The pickups are controlled by a set of volume controls with a master tone and a 3 way switch. It has locking tuners up top and a locking bridge at the bottom. The SE stands for special edition and it has a cool finish. Its like a sunburst mixed with a quilt top its pretty cool.
These guitars play pretty well. They have a old school sort of Jackson Charvel neck shape to them which is cool. The V design lends it self to pretty decent upper fret access. Even with the wide body on this guitar you can get at the upper frets pretty well. The ebony fretboard with jumbo frets is great and lets you get a really easy action. This helps since the guitar has a Gibson scale lenght neck so the upper frets can get a bit crowded.
The pickups in this set give this guitar ultimate versatility. The guitar really has a Gibson like tone with the shorter scale and the classic Duncan pickups. The Jazz in the neck is like a slightly brighter Duncan 59. The 59 is a classic neck pickup with a super smooth open sound. The Jazz just adds a little high end to that sound for a little more clarity for fast solos. The JB in the bridge is a real rock and roll pickup. It can do just about anything. It has a tight low and but a pretty smooth top end. You can do chugging riffs to classic rock with this pickup and it wont miss a beat. I have never played Daves Livewire pickup set. It is one of the early active Duncan sets and no one made a big deal about them back in the day. If they are anything like the Duncan Blackouts they will sound similar to EMG's but with a ton more low end.
Being the Special Edition version of the Mustaine signature you get more cool points for having one of these. This is up there with the old custom shop Jackson King V's in terms of quality. You get great tone from the Duncans and great playability from the ESP build and setup. When Dave left for Dean ESP took his name off these guitars and just made it a normal model. This shows how good the model was and how popular it was. If you are looking for a nice ESP V and the normal version isnt bling bling enough for you the Special Edition has the special finish which im sure some people think make the guitar sound better.