NAMM 2010: New ESP-LTD models

Here’s a little peek at some new ESP/LTD models for 2010. There’s a lot of cool stuff here (including the incorporation of the Xtone line into the LTD range) but for me the ultra mega standout is the ST-203FR S-style axe with distressed finish, bridge humbucker and Floyd Rose. I’m also pretty psyched about the 7-string MH-417 and the EC-1000 in Silver Sunburst. Here’s info from ESP/LTD.

LTD Deluxe
ESP is showing six new models in the LTD Deluxe line, and we have some seriously cool guitars this year. The LTD EC-1000 is being offered in 2010 with two new finishes: Silver Sunburst (SSB) and Metallic Gold (MGO). The guitars offer a comfortable single-cutaway mahogany body, and mahogany neck. The SSB model offers a 24-fret ebony fingerboard and EMG 81 (bridge) and EMG 60 (neck) active pickups, while the MGO model has a rosewood fingerboard and Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups.

More major updates to the LTD Deluxe line also include completely redesigned versions of the H-1001 and the new H-1001FR. The new models now incorporate ESP’s “F Series” headstock style, and the guitars’ binding is now black with abalone purfling. The new H-1001 is available in Black (BLK), as well as See-Through Black Cherry (STBC) with flamed maple top. The H-1001FR, available in See-Through Black Cherry over quilted maple, includes a Floyd Rose original style double-locking tremolo. Rounding out the updates to the LTD Deluxe line is a new finish for the MH-1000NT, now offered in See-Through Blue (STB).

LTD Standard
The latest range of new LTD Standard Series models includes the 300 Series, which all use a neck-through-body or set neck design. New models include the FX-360, the H-351NT, the H-351FR, the MH-327, and the Viper-300M. The FX-360 adds EMG active pickups and a new Padauk Brown Satin (PBS) finish. The new H-351FR, available in Black (BLK) and Snow White (SW) finishes, changes the former H-Series design to LTD’s F-Style headstock, includes a Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo, EMG active pickups, black pearl binding (Snow White model); white pearl binding (Black model). The LTD line also expands with the H-351NT, a guitar with setthrough construction that comes in See-Through Black Cherry (STBC) and See-Thru Black (STBLK) over its flamed maple top. It offers black binding with abalone purfling. The new Viper-300M comes in a Vintage Brown Satin (VBS) finish with black nickel hardware, rosewood fingerboard, and EMG pickups.

A special new model in the LTD Standard Line is the MH-327. This unique guitar offers 27 frets, with a neck-thru-body design. A Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo is included as well as Seymour Duncan Hot Rail and Custom 5 pickups w/push-pull coil tap. Two finishes are available: Black (w/ White Pearl binding) and See-Through Red (STR) w/ White binding on a flamed maple top. Both models offer a mahogany body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard.

A new 7-string LTD model is being added to the LTD line at Winter NAMM 2010. The MH-417 has a 25.5” scale mahogany body with a black satin finish. A maple neck, 24- fret rosewood fingerboard, Grover tuners, Earvana nut, TOM bridge with string thrubody design, and EMG active pickups complete this powerful guitar.

Supplementing the ESP line at NAMM 2010 are the new ST-203 and ST-203FR guitars. These classic-shaped models both have distressed finishes: the ST-203 offers a Three-Tone Sunburst (3TB) finish and rosewood fingerboard with three single-coil pickups, while the ST-203FR comes in Black (BLK) with maple fingerboard, as well as a Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo, and one humbucker and two single-coil pickups.

Also new at NAMM, the LTD EC-256, an affordable set-neck single-cutaway guitar that’s been a popular seller in the ESP line, now comes in a new Aged Vintage Gold (AVG) distressed finish. (For my review of the EC-256, CLICK HERE)

Xtone: Now Part of LTD!

We have some cool news about our Xtone line: we’ve merged these killer hollow- and semi-hollow bodied into the LTD line, so they’ll be even easier to find at ESP dealers. We also have a new model for you to salivate over: the LTD Xtone PD-1 Paramount Deluxe is a solid-body guitar that offers high-performance components such as EMG 81/60 pickups, a Set-Thru neck joint for ultimate access, a TonePros TOM bridge w/ string-thru-body design, black binding, abalone purfling, pearloid/abalone inlays, and a 24-fret neck. Three finishes are available: Black (BLK), Pearl White (PW) and See-Through Black Cherry (STBC) on a flamed maple top.

More more photos, go here!


Aah, the relicing issue. Not since ‘tone is in the fingers’ has a topic generated such heated debate on guitar forums, in guitar stores and in dimly lit bars after gigs. Whether you like the idea of buying a brand-new bashed up guitar or you think it’s an abomination and an affront to real vintage guitars everywhere, everyone’s got an opinion. One way to look at it is: whether you’re into the look or not, a pre-aged guitar by its very nature has a few features that should make it a little nicer to play in some respects than a pristine off-the-shelfer.


ESP has had a few goes at offering aged finishes at various price points, including the James Hetfield Iron Cross and Truckster models (the latter of which was available in ESP and LTD versions), the George Lynch’s GL-56 and, most recently, the LTD EC-256 AHB. Based on the company’s Eclipse model, this relatively inexpensive axe is of the classic twin humbucker, set neck, mahogany body variety. It’s given ESP’s own distinctive touches, of course, including subtle curving of the top (instead of all-out carving), a volume-volume-tone control layout, and a sharp cutaway which seems to say “Some of this guitar is traditional, but your grandad never would have played this back in the day.”

The first thing to look at on a guitar like this is the relicing. Does it look authentic like a real beaten up guitar that’s been mishandled or loved on stages up and down the country? Nope. The sanding marks are pretty obvious, and the tri of dings on the treble side of the lower bout look quite contrived. Some rough sanding marks on the headstock look more like scratches from an unfriendly gig bag than a few decades of knocks from a succession of feisty roadies. But that’s all somewhat beside the point, because after a few years of regular use the ‘shininess’ of these manufactured blemishes is likely to be dulled by and intermingled with real-life ones, and it will truly become the dinged up but well-loved instrument that it was designed to look like. The most important thing about the EC-256 for me was that the back of the neck felt comfortably aged and friction-free, which made for a very pleasant playing experience. It’s also worth noting that the thin finish of the top allows the sound to breathe, opening up the treble and adding a little depth to the guitar’s amplified tone.


The EC-256 sounds best with mild overdrive playing relatively dark music (Tool fans take note). It doesn’t seem to want to be a high gain screamer, although the natural tone seems to work really well with lowered tunings. It’s just that the guitar’s natural character is best represented by more subtle distortion levels. There’s a coil split on the tone control which extends the guitar’s personality and adds versatility while maintaining the guitar’s own character. Again, the neck pickup in single coil mode doesn’t really like to be distorted: it’s more at home with some light bluesy overdrive. If you dig the visual vibe and the way it plays but you need gutsier tones, a pickup upgrade might be in order.


Despite the aggressiveness of the cutway, which suggested a heavier musical orientation, I don’t think this is a guitar for those who play blazing solos over metal riffs. It’s much more at home with crunchy rhythm sounds and bluesy double stops. Whether you like the relicing or not is up to you but this is a guitar that will find its fans for what it is, rather than what it tries to be.