Hands-on review: ESPís LTD EC-1000 Deluxe BLK
(John Gorbe | Posted 2011-06-26)
This past week I got to test drive an LTD EC-1000 Deluxe electric guitar at my studio. I sat down with it for 6 days and got a good feel for the instrument. I couldnít miss it when I walked in because the first thing that pops from this guitar is all the abalone inlay around the fingerboard, headstock, and body. What sets off the guitar even more is that the body is finished in gloss black. Well, you know I couldnít let this LTD alone. I reached up, took it off the wall and it went to my studio for 6 days of analysis.
First, letís cover the specs on the EC1000. The guitar features a mahogany body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, set-neck construction, 24.75Ē scale, 42mm standard nut, thin U neck contour, 24 extra jumbo frets, Gold hardware, ESP locking tuners, Tonepros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece, EMG 81 & 60 active pickups, Black finish, 3-way toggle, 2 volume knobs and a master tone knob.
The guitar was well balanced and wasnít too heavy for a mahogany Les Paul style body. The action was very good and didnít require a setup before I plugged her in. LTD is certainly doing very well with their quality control department. The frets were nicely dressed and the fingerboard was straight with just enough relief given to the neck for a very fast fingerboard - no buzzes anywhere to be found. Iím not a big fan of extra jumbo frets but the feel didnít bother me at all. This may have been because the U-neck contour was flat and seated nicely in my palm so there werenít any issues with the feel of the neck.
The ESP locking tuners did a nice job of keeping the guitar in tune after several crazy bends and wide vibrato. The gear ratio doesnít feel like itís the smoothest on the market but the knobs responded gradually to my touch and worked just fine. In the area of performance I need to mention how easy it was to re-string the EC-1000 Deluxe. What happens to the bridge and tailpiece on a Les Paul style guitar when you take off the strings to clean up your guitar and re-string it? If you forget about the hardware...it falls off! This possibly nicks your hardware or your guitar. Who needs that!? LTD uses Tonepros locking bridge and tailpiece so this doesnít happen. It makes me wonder why more companies making Les Paul-style guitars donít use this locking system.
The volume and tone knobs were very clean and tapered pretty nicely. Executing volume swells worked fairly well although with the volume all the way down I had to be careful to gradually turn the knob up or it stuttered a bit using one pickup. This happened at a very low volume setting on my amp so I donít see this being a problem in a band setting. The best results for volume swells was achieved using both pickups. I simply set the volume of both pickups where I wanted them and turned one all the way down and eased it back up. This worked like a charm!
The first test in the sound department was on the neck pickup, the EMG 60. This was bold, creamy and perhaps my favorite setting. I ran the guitar through a Blues Jr. with just a small amount of reverb for some space. The tone knob was musical but I didnít feel that I needed to touch it with the ď60.Ē Leaving the tone wide open just produced a warm sound for a variety of situations. I used a Maxon RTD800 for overdrive/distortion and decided to use a little ďdirtĒ on the 60. The guitar has nice sustaining properties already and when I kicked in the overdrive it sang. I was driving the amp pretty well and it was just breaking up to the point of hearing some subtle harmonics dripping from the guitar. The ď60Ē was at home here.
My attention quickly turned to the EMG 81 in the bridge. I left the overdrive settings alone and struck a power chord. The 81 certainly delivered a more biting sound but it was actually a little harsh compared to other humbuckers Iíve heard in the bridge position. There was plenty of volume so if I wanted to cut through a band for a solo I would be fine. I hesitate to say that itís as good as the 60 is in the neck though. I feel like the quality of the 60 should be met with the same expectations as the 81 in the bridge. Itís only one pickup and for what youíre getting, itís not much to complain about. The bones of this guitar and most of the hardware are good. Period.
There is a silver lining to my disappointment with the EMG 81 - the middle position! Placing the 3-way toggle in the middle produced a very cool mid-range hump and just enough of a metallic twang to sound great for funk or even Country. Yea, I know it sounds funny but the draw back of the 81 by itself made for a nice useable sound when working in tandem with the 60. This is a very good thing if you donít constantly use the bridge pickup.
The Bottom Line
The LTD EC-1000 Deluxe oozes class, quality and will turn heads at any gig. With a couple simple upgrades this guitar could last you a long, long time. It has solid bones and is very easy to play. You can pick one up for $799 USD. For that price, you could be considering an LTD as a future purchase.
Find out more about LTD at www.espguitars.com