Which amplifier and/or effect(s) do you use with this guitar?
So far, as I’ve already sold my previous amp and still have to get a new one, I’ve only used it with a virtual guitar stack, plugging the guitar straight into my audio interface. I may edit this review some day when I’ve tried it with an all-tube amp and my Blackstar HT Metal distortion pedal .
What playing and musical style(s) do you play with this guitar?
I play big metal rhythm ala Pantera, Doom, Death – well, all kinds of hairy metal in fact! :D. I use large-gauge strings (11-54) to go down to Drop C# (like Drop D, but half a step lower).
What are your thoughts on the workmanship, electronics, and finish of this instrument?
The body and through-neck are made of mahogany and the fretboard of ebony. The guitar features ESP locking tuners and a string-through bridge. It’s well-finished, with no lacquer leakage, the control knobs are sturdy and stay in place, I like the fretboard binding which reminds of "Bullet for My Valentine" (the band of Michael Paget, who gave his name to this signature model). Mine has a sticker on the back that says "Checked in USA" with a reference, how relieving
Regarding the electronics, the guitar features two active EMG humbuckers which can’t be split: a neck alnoco 85 alnico and a bridge ceramic 81, each featuring its own volume knob (a cool thing for sure), with a 3-way switch (bridge only/bridge+neck/neck only) and an overall tone control. I’m used to this set of pickups so I feel at home, it sounds “active EMG” – straight, fat, with little dynamic though which for rhythm parts is still a lesser evil.
How is its intonation? Does its neck, touch, feel, shape, etc complement your playing style?
Thanks to the ESP locking tuners and set bridge, the guitar stays perfectly in tune and only important temperature switches couls alter the intonation once the strings are a little used. The neck is rather thin (though less flat than my Ibanez RG 2570’s), and entirely painted like on all ESP/LTD models. No problem to handle, the painted finish lets the hand slide at will. I feel a slight difference with the medium frets and ebony fretboard compared with a jumbo/rosewood setting, it’s still very playable and most important your string gauge will make all the difference (especially for bends :D ).
Yet, the “flying V” shape forces you to stand up while you play, but the body/neck balance is excellent, it doesn’t move on one side or the other with a leather strap thanks to the guitar’s rather light weight.
Do clean, crunchy and distorted sounds adapt well to different microphone positions? Are the guitar's different frequencies and sounds well-balanced?
I’ve only played extremely overdriven/distorted sounds with it, as that’s what this guitar was designed for. The mahogany wood and neck-thru construction induce a rather huge sustain. Tuned down to C#, huge palm mutes seem to come back from the dead – defined, with great-sounding harmonics, a real pleasure with a slow rhythm. On faster rhythms, the sound is still defined, though I’m sure better pickups (Seymour Duncan ? SP Custom ?) would be a great choice to get even more from this guitar.
What are the pros and cons of this guitar?
+ : stays in tune, wood and construction, two volume knobs, the price for which I got it (new at a local shop whick was destocking).
- : the flying V shape, which forces you to stand while playing, get a special soft bag, a special guitar stand and so on. The same guitar with a superstrat shape would have been perfect.