REVIEW: ESP Horizon FR 27

I’ve always been an admirer of ESP’s Horizon body shape, ever since I saw Devin Townsend holding one on the cover of Guitar World when he was in Steve Vai’s band. Part traditional, part sleek modern and, in Townsend’s words, “It looks like Satan,” the Horizon is a great platform for experimentation. The arched, carved top is comfortable and attractive whether it’s finished in a solid colour or a transparent finish over quilted maple, the recessed controls are comfortable, and it can be a wildly different guitar depending on whether you go for a Floyd Rose model or a fixed bridge one, and if you rock active or passive pickups. Part of ESP’s Japanese-made Stan­dard Series, the Hori­zon FR 27 is an alder-bodied super­strat with a three piece maple neck, neck thru con­struc­tion with super-comfortable neck/body carve, snappy 25.5″ scale length, and smoky-looking black nickel hard­ware. The fret­board is ebony, and the bridge is an orig­i­nal Floyd Rose double locking unit.

The neck fea­tures 27 — yes, 27 – extra jumbo frets, although the last one doesn’t quite extend all the way up to the low E string thanks to the curved fret­board edge. The neck pickup is a Sey­mour Dun­can SHR-1n sin­gle coil-sized hum­bucker which slants along with the fret­board, while the bridge pickup is a Sey­mour Dun­can TB-14 ‘Cus­tom’ model. There’s a three way pickup selec­tor switch, a mas­ter vol­ume con­trol, and a mas­ter tone pot which dou­bles as a push-push coil split. Oh and the fret­board is scal­loped from the 12th fret to the 24th, which makes a huge dif­fer­ence to playa­bil­ity but is a sub­tle enough mod­i­fi­ca­tion that you might not even notice it if you see the gui­tar hang­ing on the wall in a store.

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