Hands-on review: LTD George Lynch Kamikaze

(John Gorbe | Posted 2011-07-28)

Hands-on review: LTD George Lynch Kamikaze

When you think of George Lynch there a couple of guitars that come to mind. He has been associated with ESP guitars since his Dokken days and the wild, custom painted themes on the bodies of his guitars were always a stand out. One instrument comes to mind when I think of Lynch’s instruments: the Kamikaze.

I had a chance to test drive the GL200 Kamikaze, and here are my first impressions. If you’re a Lynch fan, you’ll find this review of interest. If you’re looking for a metal guitar, you’ll also find this of interest! Let’s start with the nuts and bolts of the GL200K…

This guitar features a basswood body, maple neck mated to a rosewood fingerboard, GL original U-neck contour, bolt-on construction, 43mm locking nut, Floyd Rose Special tremolo, 22 extra jumbo frets, black nickel hardware, ESP tuners, ESP LS150 bridge pickup, ESP LS-120 neck pickup, master volume with push/pull pickup selector, and a 25.5” scale.

The GL-200K played very nice thanks to the satin finish maple neck. My thumb didn’t feel any resistance as I played up and down the fingerboard. The extra jumbo frets were neatly dressed as well and I didn’t snag my hand on one rough edge on the side of the fingerboard. Usually on guitars in this price range, if the neck is not bound I will feel the frets somewhere along the fingerboard’s edge.

The tremolo is a Floyd Rose Special. Now, I’m not a big fan of Floyd Rose trems but I put this one to the test and it did a nice job of keeping the guitar in check. The fine tuners also did a nice job of bringing it back in tune when it did slip slightly.

There is only one knob to control the electronics on the GL200K. It features a master volume for the neck and bridge pickup and a push/pull design to switch between them. Of course, if you’re buying this guitar you will use the bridge humbucker more often than not, so when the knob is down the bridge is engaged – up position and the neck is engaged. I like the idea of a separate selector or toggle for this application as I think this push/pull system would slow me down in a performance setting - maybe not. It just seems like I’d be thinking more about having to pull the knob up to activate the neck. It does take a good pull to toggle between pickups and I don’t feel a solid “click” when I do so. Due to the push/pull also being somewhat sloppy it leaves me a slight tainted in my overall feel of the electronics. This could mean nothing as only a long road trip on this guitar will reveal it’s quality, but this is my first impression.

The LS-120 neck pickup has a nice bright tone that is reminiscent of a Strat. I liked the way this guitar sounded clean playing in every register of the fingerboard. I was playing some blues lines and some other ideas that I probably shouldn’t have been playing on a guitar like this without the hard rock police arresting me…but it sounded good! I flipped to the LH-150 bridge pickup and honestly, couldn’t wait to throw some dirt on my sound because it was so shrill to my ear. This guitar needs distortion on the bridge pickup. So I stomped on my Maxon RTD800 and gave it what it craved…the pickup sounded much better and was finally at home. This guitar was popping harmonics all over the place and I understood why it craved the dirt! I left the EQ flat on the amp and just ran it as it was and got a perfect metal tone. The output of the LH-150 was pretty hot – definitely a few dB boost over the LS-120 in the neck.

Overall, there’s not much to complain about at this price point. I noticed what looked to be some glue residue found on the side of the headstock. I also noticed upon further inspection, some paint overflow onto the fingerboard directly behind the nut and a slightly rough edge where the paint borders the headstock just below the high “E” tuner. These are areas that the beginner to intermediate player may not notice and these flaws are tucked away to an extent from the eye and to an audience. The quality and craftsmanship is where it should be if not higher for a guitar in this price range.

The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a guitar to handle heavy styles of music and need a locking tremolo, you need to consider the GL200K. It’s great for the intermediate player or even a more advanced player looking for a second guitar for stage work. The GL200K retails for $499.00 USD.

To learn more about the George Lynch Series of guitars visit ESP at: http://www.epsguitars.com

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