The best electric guitar for metal guitarists who want to keep their tone
So I’ve had the good fortune and great pleasure to be able to try out this ESP LTD EC-1000.
I’ve been playing it for a couple of months now and compared it to some other comparable guitars, like the Schecter Hellraiser C1 which also has EMG pickups.
And I must say I really did think that this guitar came out on top and that’s for a few reasons.
Let’s get the specs out of the way first. But you can click on any part of the review you’re interested in.
- Construction: Set-Thru
- Scale: 24.75″
- Body: Mahogany
- Neck: 3Pc Mahogany
- Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
- Fingerboard radius: 350mm
- Finish: Vintage Black
- Nut width: 42mm
- Nut type: Molded
- Neck contour: Thin U-shape neck
- Frets: 24 XJ Stainless Steel
- Hardware color: Gold
- Strap button: Standard
- Tuners: LTD Locking
- Bridge: Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece
- Neck Pickup: EMG 60
- Bridge pickup: EMG 81
- Electronics: Active
- Electronics layout: Volume/Volume/Tone/Toggle Switch
- Strings: D’Addario XL110 (.010/.013/.017/.026/.036/.046)
I like the size of the neck. It’s thin, set-thru for great sustain and you’re also able to set the action of this guitar quite low.
That’s a must for me playing a lot of legato.
I’ve adjusted the factory settings because the action was still a bit high. Put on Ernie Ball .08 Extra Slinky strings (don’t judge me, it’s what I like) and adjusted it a bit and it’s great for those fast legato licks now.
The body wood is mahogany. A warm tone while still being affordable. Though not as loud as other materials, it offers a lot of warmth and clarity.
The only disadvantage is that mahogany doesn’t offer many lows. Not a deal-breaker for most guitarists, but something to consider if you’re looking to get into dropped tuning.
There are quite a few different sounds it can produce by using the switches and knobs.
It’s got a three-way pickup selector switch to select between the 2 humbucker EMGs. Those are active pickups, but you can buy the guitar with passive Seymour Duncan’s as well.
The pickups are either a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker paired with a Seymour Duncan Jazz humbucker, but I would advise you to go for the active EMG 81/60 set if you’re planning on playing metal.
With the selector switch, you can select between them so the bridge pickup is a more trebly sound and the neck pickup for a slightly darker sound.
I like to use the neck pickup for solos when I play higher up the neck.
There are three knobs for the volume of the bridge pickup and a separate volume knob for the neck pickup.
This can be quite handy, and some guitarists use that for:
- a slicer effect where you turn one volume pot all the way down and switch to it so the sound gets cut off completely.
- as a way to instantly have more volume for a solo when switching to the bridge pickup.
The third knob is a tone knob for both pickups.
You can also set the pickup selector to the middle position, which gives it a slight out-of-phase sound.
It’s a nice feature, but I didn’t really like that twang sound of this guitar. If you’re playing with a twangy sound then this is not the guitar for you.
It’s got quite some gain because of the active pickups, but it’s not as versatile as say a Fender guitar or guitar with humbuckers that you can coil split. Like the Schecter Reaper I’ve reviewed.
There’s no coil split in this guitar, and I do like to have that option for different styles of music.
If you’re playing this for metal then it’s a great truly great guitar, and you can also get a few good clean sounds out of it as well.
It comes with locking tuners. Those make it really fast to change strings. A nice option to have, especially if you’re playing live and one of your strings decides to break during an important solo.
You can quickly change that out for the next song. These locking tuners should not be confused with locking nuts though. They’ll do nothing for the tone stability.
I find Grover locking tuners to be a bit more stable than these LTDs, but that only mattered when really chugging down on the strings.
You can get it with the EverTune bridge which is one of the greatest invention for guitarist who bend heavily and really like to dig into the strings a lot (also ideal for metal), but you can also get the stoptail bridge.
It is available in a left-handed model, although they don’t come with the Evertune set.
Also read: the 11 best guitars for metal reviewed
It’s a great quality build with attention to detail. The binding and MOP inlays are just beautifully done.
I don’t care much for binding and inlays. Most of the time, I think they can make an instrument look tacky, to be honest. But you can’t deny this is some great craftsmanship and elegantly chosen color scheme with the gold hardware:
The main selling point, however, is the guitar’s superb tonal stability with standard Grover locking tuners and optionally a factory EverTune bridge.
I tested this one without Evertune Bridge and it is certainly one of the most tonal guitars I’ve ever known:
ESP has taken that quality to the extreme by also making a model with the Evertune Bridge to fully claim their steady status.
Unlike other tuning systems, it does not tune your guitar for you or provide modified tunings.
Instead, once tuned and locked in, it will simply stay there thanks to a series of tension calibrated springs and levers.
You can try anything you can to make it fly out of tune and detune it: huge three step bends, wildly exaggerated strings stretching, you can even put the guitar in a freezer.
It will bounce back in perfect harmony every time.
Plus, a guitar that’s perfectly tuned and voiced up and down the neck seems to play much more musically. I am also not aware of any compromises in the tone.
The EC sounds as full and aggressive as ever, with the softer notes of the neck EMG being pleasantly round, devoid of any metal spring tone.
If it’s important to you never to go out of tune, this is one of the best electric guitars out there.
Also read: Schecter vs ESP, what you should choose
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe