Epiphone Alnicos (from a G400). Both neck & bridge were very muddy. Not much to say. They simply aren't good.
Ibanez INF4&3 - The INF3 was fairly decent, but the INF4 was very harsh and shrill. Kind of like a "screamer" pickup that just tried way too hard and went way over the top. By some sorcery, this pickup happens to be muddy at the same time. Shrill and muddy. Awful.
ESP LH-301 - These sound similar to EMG H4s, but have a little less output and are a little more muddy. The coil tap feature is pretty useless. It sounds nothing even resembling a single coil, just sounds like a very weak humbucker (in a bad way).
ESP LH-150 - These are surprisingly good. Better than the 301s for sure. I'd say that these are the best budget in-house pickups I've ever heard. They are balanced, there is no excessive mud or shrill. The neck has a reminiscent cream, while only being slightly muddy. The bridge is pretty powerful and focused, again just a little muddy. Not bad.
EMG H4 - Worth less than it's price tag. Too muddy to believe that it's an aftermarket pup. Lacks balls. Generally just sounds weak.
EMG H2B/N - These are surprisingly nice. As far as HZs go, I really like the H2N. It is nice clean and has a very bluesy feel. The bridge is very moderate, so it doesn't suffer like pickups that are too high output and not designed well. As a result it actually handles gain better. Not a bad choice for low-mid gain stuff.
EMG 81 - The 81 is very direct. It has balls, and it's not afraid to show them. This is the pickup for modern metal rhythm. The only downside is that if you're not careful with your EQ, this pickup can become too shrill, and that's just nasty. EQ accordingly, keep the shrill away, and the 81 is simply a monster.
EMG 60 - People who say that EMGs suck for cleans have never bothered with a 60. This is one of my favorite clean pickups, believe it or not. It is powerful, so it balances well with something like an 81 in the bridge. That can be a problem with passives when you're trying to get a balance between a metal bridge pickup and a clean neck pickup. The distorted tones are too dark for riffing, but it's fairly good for soloing high up.
BKP Miracle Man - This pickup is high output, but it doesn't really sound like it. It is very dynamic, and works well for multiple situations. It handles high gain well, and it also sounds good clean. Not too bright or harsh unlike a lot of bridge pickups. It was too dark for my tastes, but if you were playing straight up rock and EQ'd accordingly, I would recommend this.
SD Custom - This pickup is the bridge between vintage and modern. It can hold it's own for most types of metal, and it can also calm down for rock and blues with an roll of the volume knob. This is a viable candidate for a studio type guitar, if you don't know exactly what you'll need to be doing.
SD '59 - This pickup has a good and somewhat unique clean sound. My experience with it is that it is too dark, so you may need to EQ accordingly. It doesn't handle modern high gain very well, but it shouldn't really be expected to - it's a PAF.
I buy and sell gear relatively frequently, so I'm making this blog before it's too late to try to keep track of all the gear I have owned. This list will be in chronological order, to the best of my knowledge.
First Act ME301 (Destroyed) Silvertone 10W amp (Sold) Fender 15W amp (Sold) Epiphone Goth G-400 (Sold) Boss DS-1 (Sold) Peavey Vypyr 15 (Sold) Dean Vendetta XM (Sold) Ibanez RG120 (Sold) LTD M-200FM Peavey ValveKing Royal 8 (Sold) Boss MT-2 (Sold) Peavey ValveKing 212 (Sold) Boss NS-2 (Sold) Boss GE-7 (MIJ) (Sold) Boss OS-2 (Sold) Ibanez RG320QS
Boss FS-6 (Sold) LTD V-50 (Sold) Yamaha CG101A Rocktron Reaction Compressor (Sold) Boss GE-7 (Sold) Hardwire HT-2 (Sold) Peavey 5150 212 (Sold) LTD H-301 Ibanez TS-7 Peavey MS412 Boss HM-2 Peavey Vypyr Tube 120H Peavey Sanpera II LTD EC-1000 Peavey JSX Boss TU-3 Boss CS-3 Boss SD-1 Ibanez S420
EDIT 2: This blog is a bit outdated now. I will rewrite and revise when I feel up to it. There is a new line, LTD Elite, which I haven't had a chance to play yet. The general rule of thumb to note above everything else is Korea & Japan are good, Indonesia, Vietnam & China are questionable, generally good at best. (March 25, 2013)
Updating this to be more informative and detailed (Aug 9,
There is a lot of misconception about the quality levels of ESP, and much moreso LTD. I'm writing this to help
people better understand ESP/LTD quality
ESP recently changed their site, and
there aren't pages for specific lines now. So here's all the guitars from
ESPUSA, including LTD:
1. ESP ESP comes in 3 levels: Standard,
Original & Custom.
All ESP guitars use OFRs and Gotoh/Grover/Tonepros
A) The easiest way to identify an ESP Standard is by seeing the "ESP" inlay on the 12th fret of
the guitar. In general, most other types of ESP's do not have this. Aside
from that, an ESP Standard will also have a seal on the back of the headstock which
identifies it as a “Standard Series”, and it should also say “Made In Japan”.
Standards usually range in price from $1400 to $2000 for non-sig models, and
all the way up to $3700 for sig models.
Quality wise, ESP guitars have extremely consistent QC. It is very rare to find a
"bad" one ("bad" here meaning one with problems in the
construction, fretwork or the finish). A common question is "Why
should I pay more for an ESP when I can get an LTD with the same specs for half the
price?". It’s important to keep in mind that specs only mean so
much, and really only give you a rough guideline to what a guitar will really
be like. What you're paying for on an ESP is superior tonewoods, attention
to QC and detail, and better overall construction. These two things are
impossible to quantify on paper, and need to be experienced in person.
This is usually also true for any "expensive" guitar.
B) The Original series is Japan exclusive. The Original
models are superior to Standard models, and are proportionately more
expensive. Generally you are looking at $3000-$7000 for a non-sig model,
and up to a shocking $24,000 including sig models) new. With the Original
series, you get even more attention to detail in the QC, as well as again,
superior tonewoods. http://www.espguitars.co.jp/original/
C) ESP Custom, is as stated
Custom. These guitars can easily cost over $10,000 if embellished
enough. I don't know if there is a difference between the order forms of
the USA site or the JP site. http://www.espguitars.com/customshop.html
Edwards guitars are best described as "the bridge crossing the gap"
between ESP and LTD. Their quality is closer to
ESP Standard guitars than to LTD Deluxe guitars. They
generally cost between $1000 and $1600. The wood is cut in China, and the guitars are assembled
and finished in Japan. Aside from typical ESP models, Edwards also has a lot of
“lawsuit” type guitars that look and are built like traditional Gibson/Fender
3. LTD LTD is ESP's budget line. They come in
two levels: Standard, and Deluxe. The 100X models are Deluxe models,, and
Standard models are any guitars with a number below 1000.Models under 40X use ESP branded hardware.40X models typically use a combination of Grover/Gotoh/Tonepros
and ESP hardware.100X models used to use all
Grover/Gotoh/Tonepros hardware, but now they also use ESP hardware as well (as of 2011ish).
A) A newer line of guitars, the lowest bracket for LTD is the 1X series. These are
mostly starter pack guitars, and are on that level. I would avoid them, unless
that is absolutely the max of your budget. They go for $100 to $170.
B) Next are the 5X & 10X series. There is no quality difference
between these; the only difference is that the 100's have a flamed or quilted
maple veneer top. They generally run between $200 and $300. These
guitars can occasionally have sharp frets, or poor finish jobs. I
recommend trying before buying here, to make sure you don't get one with
C) Here we have the 2XX series. These guitars are notable for having high
end features, such as neck through/set neck builds, as well as nicer finishes
and slightly better pickups. They still have low quality tonewoods,
however. They generally cost between $200 and $400.
An exception to the typical 2XX model are the "Distressed"
models. There are also a few other misc. odd 2XX models, like the
EC-256P. The pickups they use are the same as found on the 50/100 models,
but they have slightly higher quality tonewoods. The "ST"
models use actual alder, and the EC & VP models use actual mahogany,
instead of baswood or agathis. (Note that these grades of alder/mahogany
are not what you would find on an ESP or an LTD Deluxe.)
D) The 30X models use higher end woods and have typically better construction,
but have EMG HZ or Duncan Designed pickups and ESP hardware.
E) The 330 guitars were recently released. I have yet to play one of
these, but they have ESP's new house brand active pickups. Something to note
is that all have bolt on neck construction, disregarding whatever would be the
traditional construction for a particular model. Spec-wise, these seem
similar to 200 models - a mix of high end and low end features. They run
between $400 and 500.
F) The 35X models are essentially the same as the 30X models, except that they
use Seymour Duncan or EMG pickups.
G) Older 40X
models use a combination of ESP and Grover hardware, while newer
40X models tend to use more if not all ESP haredware.They all have SDs and EMGs.
In regards to 3XX through 40X in general, there is a sort of trade-off between
hardware and tonewood. Older models had hardware that wasn't particularly
great, but from what I have observed, had better quality tonewoods. Later
models have poorer tonewoods, but sort of made up for the money spent with nice
hardware, such as Grover tuners, and the relatively new Floyd Rose Special
(opposed to the no-name LFR used before). Most recently though (2010 or
2011 and on), there seems to be a lack of both quality hardware, and quality
H) LTD Deluxe models, AKA 1000 models, are the highest end guitars LTD makes. These guitars are
very good for the money, rivaling even low end Ibanez Prestiges and low end
Gibsons. They used to use all Gotoh/Grover/Tonepros/FRT hardware but recently it appears
that ESP is creeping up, replacing the
name brand hardware with their own. An LTD Deluxe will set you back $750 to
$950, up to $1100 for a sig model.
4. Grass Roots
Grass Roots guitars are a Japanese line of budget guitars. Their quality
is generally somewhere between the LTD 200 and 300/400 range. They
offer some shapes and finishes that LTD doesn't, but they generally have
low end features. They generally cost between $450 and $750. http://www.espguitars.co.jp/grassroots/index.html
5. Quality Over Time
Another thing that is important to consider with ESP is that quality has changed over
time. ESP guitars have gradually improved over time, so generally the newer
model of ESP you get, the better. Conversely, LTD models have gotten worse over
If you're looking into getting a used LTD, you might want to look for a
pre-2006 model, between 300 and 1000. You can usually tell what year a
certain model is by the first two digits of the serial number. Even
though the pickups and hardware won't be that good on 30X models, those things
are easily changeable, and if you choose to do so, even with a 300 model,
you'll end up with a guitar vastly superior to any LTD Standard guitar being made today,
and, in my opinion, on par or superior tonally with a current LTD Deluxe model, potentially for
less money. Tonewoods, unlike hardware, are not changeable.
I suspect that a lot of this change has to do with LTD moving their production, and ESP wanting to maximize their profits
in general. Pre 2006, everything LTD 300 and up was made in Korea. After that, from
2007 onwards, there
seems to be a mixed bag.There could be
a 40X made in China and a 40X made in Korea sitting right next to each other
in a store. I'm not saying anything negative about any quality of workmanship
with those countries obviously, but for whatever reasons, you’re almost always
going to get a higher quality guitar from Korea than from Indonesia or India or China. Also, it seems that
coinciding with these production changes, the quality of LTD has decreased, and it only takes
a side by side comparison between an old model and a new one to see this for
So, my CD collection is growing really nicely. I'm going to list it here, for anyone interested - I've not really found anybody who has really similar tastes to me though. Anyway...
(I'll exclude singles and things like that, so it's just full length albums and EP's. I'll also exclude anything not worth mentioning, like different editions of the same album, etc.) You should listen to the ones. They're my favorites. I tried to narrow it down, anyway.
Album - Artist. Sorted alphabetically, then by release date.
EDIT: Updated. (Jun 26 '12)
Greatest Hits - Aerosmith Sing the Sorrow - AFI Decemberunderground - AFI Crash Love - AFI The Fall of Ideals - All That Remains Overcome - All That Remains With Oden On Our Side - Amon Amarth Volume 1 - Ana Kefr The Burial Tree (II) - Ana Kefr World's Collide - Apocalyptica Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses - Atreyu The Curse - Atreyu A Death-Grip On Yesterday - Atreyu Lead Sails Paper Anchor 2.0 - Atreyu Congregation of the Damned - Atreyu Sounding the Seventh Trumpet - Avenged Sevenfold Waking the Fallen - Avenged Sevenfold City of Evil - Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold Live In the LBC & Diamonds In the Rough - Avenged Sevenfold Nightmare - Avenged Sevenfold 1 - The Beatles Cexcells - Blaqk Audio Nightmares Made Flesh - Bloodbath Unblessing the Purity - Bloodbath The Fathomless Mastery - Bloodbath Consent to Treatment - Blue October History For Sale - Blue October Foiled For the Last Time - Blue October Approaching Normal - Blue October The Poison - Bullet for my Valentine Scream Aim Fire - Bullet for my Valentine Fever - Bullet for my Valentine The Second Stage Turbine Blade - Coheed and Cambria In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 - Coheed and Cambria From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness - Coheed and Cambria No World For Tomorrow - Coheed and Cambria Year of the Black Rainbow - Coheed and Cambria Vempire or Dark Faerytales - Cradle of Filth Dusk and Her Embrace - Cradle of Filth Cruelty and the Beast - Cradle of Filth From the Cradle to Enslave - Cradle of Filth Midian - Cradle of Filth Lovecraft & Witch Hearts - Cradle of Filth Bitter Suites to Succubi - Cradle of Filth Damnation and a Day - Cradle of Filth Nymphetamine - Cradle of Filth Harder, Darker, Faster: Thornography Deluxe - Cradle of Filth Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder - Cradle of Filth Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa - Cradle of Filth Musique Vol. 1 - Daft Punk The Nightmare Before Christmas OST - Danny Elfman The Dethalbum - Dethklok The Dethalbum II - Dethklok Miss Machine - The Dillinger Escape Plan Death Cult Armageddon - Dimmu Borgir In Sorte Diaboli - Dimmu Borgir Abrahadabra - Dimmu Borgir Yes, Virginia - The Dresden Dolls Be Mine, Valentine - Drop Dead, Gorgeous In Vogue - Drop Dead, Gorgeous Worse Than A Fairy Tale - Drop Dead, Gorgeous The Hot N' Heavy - Drop Dead, Gorgeous Opheliac - Emilie Autumn The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem The Eminem Show - Eminem Encore - Eminem Relapse/Refill - Eminem Recovery - Eminem Origin - Evanescence Fallen - Evanescence Anywhere But Home - Evanescence The Open Door - Evanescence Evanescence - Evanescence Reach - Eyes Set to Kill The World Outside - Eyes Set to Kill Broken Frames - Eyes Set to Kill From Under the Cork Tree - Fall Out Boy The Rising Tied - Fort Minor Demon Days - Gorillaz D-Sides - Gorillaz American Idiot - Green Day Pirates of the Caribbean OSTs - Hans Zimmer Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 - HIM Razorblade Romance - HIM Dark Light - HIM And Love Said No - HIM Venus Doom - HIM Digital Versatile Doom - HIM Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice - HIM Colony - In Flames Soundtrack to Your Escape - In Flames Come Clarity - In Flames Sounds of a Playground Fading - In Flames Sexless Demons and Scars - Jack Off Jill Covetous Creature - Jack Off Jill Collision Course - Jay-Z/Linkin Park Greatest Hits - Journey Sawdust - The Killers The Fame Monster/The Fame - Lady Gaga New American Gospel - Lamb of God As the Palaces Burn - Lamb of God Ashes of the Wake - Lamb of God Sacrament - Lamb of God Wrath - Lamb of God Hourglass - Lamb of God Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park Meteora - Linkin Park Minutes to Midnight - Linkin Park A Thousand Suns - Linkin Park Portrait of an American Family - Marilyn Manson Smells Like Children - Marilyn Manson Remix & Repent - Marilyn Manson Antichrist Svperstar - Marilyn Manson Mechanical Animals - Marilyn Manson The Last Tour On Earth - Marilyn Manson Holy Wood - Marilyn Manson The Golden Age of Grotesque - Marilyn Manson Lest We Forget - Marilyn Manson The Nobodies - Marilyn Manson Eat Me, Drink Me - Marilyn Manson The High End of Low - Marilyn Manson Born Villain - Marilyn Manson Black Holes and Revelations - Muse Harvest - Naglfar Angels Fall First - Nightwish Century Child - Nightwish Once - Nightwish Highest Hopes - Nightwish Dark Passion Play - Nightwish Imaginaerum - Nightwish Broken - Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails Further Down the Spiral - Nine Inch Nails The Fragile - Nine Inch Nails Things Falling Apart - Nine Inch Nails Still - Nine Inch Nails With Teeth - Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV - Nine Inch Nails The Slip - Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine (Reissue) - Nine Inch Nails Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children OST - Nobuo Uematsu Watershed - Opeth Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd The Wall - Pink Floyd The Division Bell - Pink Floyd Kezia - Protest the Hero Fortress - Protest the Hero Scurrilous - Protest the Hero Absolute Greatest - Queen The Best Of - Radiohead The Sufferer and the Witness - Rise Against The All-Star Sessions - Roadrunner United Hellbilly Deluxe - Rob Zombie Past, Present & Future - Rob Zombie 2112 - Rush Disclaimer II - Seether Communion - Septic Flesh Life Story - The Shadows She Wants Revenge - She Wants Revenge We Are Pilots - Shiny Toy Guns Season of Poison - Shiny Toy Guns Iowa - Slipknot Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses - Slipknot All Hope Is Gone - Slipknot Slipknot (10th Anniversary Edition) - Slipknot Three Days Grace - Three Days Grace One X - Three Days Grace Life Starts Now - Three Days Grace Ember to Inferno - Trivium Ascendancy - Trivium The Crusade - Trivium Shogun - Trivium In Waves - Trivium They're Only Chasing Safety - Underoath Lost In the Sound of Separation - Underoath Disambiguation - Underoath Artwork - The Used Deep River - Utada Hikaru Ultra Blue - Utada Hikaru Heart Station - Utada Hikaru This Is the One - Utada Hikaru Be Not Nobody - Vanessa Carlton Nightmare Revisited - Various Artists Sweeney Todd OST - Various Artists Underworld OST - Variou Artists Underworld Evolution OST - Various Artists Underworld: Rise of the Lycans OST - Various Artists Mother Earth - Within Temptation The Silent Force - Within Temptation The Heart of Everything - Within Temptation