A beautifully resonant guitar with excellent sustain and balanced, full tone; the evertune bridge is fantastic; the pickups really are the only issue with this guitar for me.
Use: This is intended for live or for studio use. The evertune system has a lot to offer in either scenario. I play extreme metal.
The guitar is very resonant; despite the evertune bridge, single notes and chords ring out for an exceptionally long time. I was concerned over anecdotes about the evertune system hampering sustain. However, it's simply not a problem here though. It sustains far longer than my neck-through big brass block original floyd guitar, for example. Overall the tone is balanced and full.
The EMG pickups are the reason for 4 stars. I've used various EMG's in past years, 707's in the early 2000's and several 6 string 81's and 85's over the years. All that I've owned previously have irritated me with their tendency for the internal op-amp to clip. These pickups take it to the next level. Maybe it's because of the extra signal and string mass from the low B, but it was never quite this bad on my 707's. They clip, horribly, and it sounds messy and ill defined, especially on distorted barre chords. I tried a fresh battery, still no better. Some claim you can alleviate this somewhat by lowering pickup height (contra to EMG's own reccomendations) or trying the 18v mod, but it's always there to some extent. Lowering the height too much leaves you with a tone reminiscent of a low output pickup in parallel which is certainly not desirable.
If you're used to EMG's and you don't mind the clipping this may not bother you. They (the 6 string versions at least) have been an industry standard in metal since the late 80's for good reason. Your mileage may vary. I see now though why the 81-7 especially has such a bad reputation. I had a pretty good Idea I'd be swapping them out either way, so no big deal to me.
The evertune bridge is fantastic. I can't speak highly enough of it. It does everything it claims to, and is actually really simple to use, having the simplest and easiest string height and intonation tweaking I've ever experienced. String changes are as quick as any hardtail; if you stick to the same string gauge, tuning up is actually way quicker. It's a real quality of life improvement.
The tuners are of good quality, smooth and accurate. I don't feel compelled to add locking tuners thanks to the evertune.
The guitar is all mahogany. It's listed here as having a maple cap. According to ESP, it does not. It's not really a big deal, but it's worth knowing.
The guitar comes strung with 9's as advertised. Not ideal for me, but swapping to 10's was easy enough with some evertune tweaking, which is very quick and nowhere near as painful as balancing and intonating a floyd for a new gauge.
The fretwork is excellent, I'd say by far the best I have seen on a guitar of this price point. There's not a single sharp fret end; the ends are beautifully rounded and there are no dead frets, corrosion, loose frets or anything of the like.
The binding is also probably the best I've seen on a guitar of this price. It's far from perfect, with some visual imperfections and slight scuffs here and there, but they are only discernable with very close inspection. The rest of the finish is pretty much flawless, even around the neck-body join.
Action, neck relief and fretboard condition were all fine straight out of the box.