It was an exciting day at the guitar store today. I tried out a bunch of ESPs and LTDs to see if it was worth picking up one or two, because they have a good look. All the guitars were tested through a Peavey 6505 at pretty generous volume. The guitar store I was at has a "loud room" so you can really crank it up and it was a Sunday so there was barely anybody there and I spent almost two hours there. Did I buy any guitars? Read on... ESP Standard Series Eclipse - vintage black This thing played NICE. Really, really nice. It felt so natural in my hands I wondered if I was born for this guitar... until I got above about the 14th fret. Then things went south pretty fast. Up until that point, it was great though. I am pretty sure it had an EMG 60 in the neck and it sounded awesome. Playing leads on the neck pickup was amazing, sweeps just flowed together and sounded so beautiful I fooled even myself into thinking I was a half decent shredder. There was one guy there who was very impressed, so I started running through the pentatonic scale until he left because I was in danger of being a guitar store hero. I realized again today though that I really don't like set necks. If was a set through like Schecters or some ESPs, it would have been fine, but as it was it had this gigantic hump in it. It started bothering me at about the 14th fret and even though the short scale helped and I could stretch to hit the high notes, my hand position became very awkward and I couldn't really line up on the notes like I am used to with my neck thru Jacksons. Down low, riffing on the EMG 81 in the bridge, it was great too. It had a wicked sound, with a very full body. I was actually quite surprised by how full and rich the sound was because the whole guitar weighed like four pounds. It felt really cheap, and unfortunately, it looked really cheap too. The vintage black finish looks very nice in the pictures I've seen, but in person it was lackluster. The binding looked really cheap and I didn't like the inlays. The fretboard was a pretty nice bit of ebony. The fret job was very good, but there was still a few points where I got hung up a bit on them, so it could have been better and I decided it couldn't even compete with my Jackson SLSMG, but it definitely was better then any of the COWs I have owned. Verdict: If you play rhythym guitar, this is a sweet axe. You can even shred on it like there is no tomorrow in the lower register (which personally, I prefer very much to playing over the 12th fret) and the EMG 60 sounds amazing for that. Its got a great sound to it, despite its cheap feel, but unfortunately the set neck and the less then impressive finishing on it mean I won't be picking one of these up any time soon. Retail price in canadian dollars: $1600. I would pay $1000 at the most. ESP LTD RZK-600 (Richard Z - rammstein) signature model This is the guitar I went to try out. First things first: It looks fucking awesome. Absolutely incredible. I love the unusual body style, the finish is great - in person it is amazing, the pick guard is wicked and I usually hate pickguards, and the inlays are awesome. The headstock is awesome. Cosmetically, it is the nicest looking guitar I have ever seen, although there are a couple snakeskin Jacksons and ESPs that come close. It looked so good I drove an hour just to try it. Too bad it sucks to play, for me. I hate Floyd Roses. I have never owned a guitar with one. I was going to see if I could overlook the pain in the ass of the locking nut, the big bump where the adjustment knobs are, the weird feel of having such a short bridge compared to a tune-o-matic, all that stuff. I didn't know before hand you can't change the tuning on a floyd without needing a complete re-setup. That sucks. That killed it for me right there. As far as it played, the neck was very nice. It was almost 100% identical to my Jackson soloist necks. The fret job was mysteriously better then the ESP Standard Eclipse. Fret access was awesome at all points. Aside from that, not much was good. What follows is mostly the store's fault though. The setup was awful. Intonation was terrible. The action was incredibly low. The pickups were almost flush with the body and with EMGs, that gives a terrible tone. The guitar was very thin and reedy sounding, which was surprising. I've never heard an EMG 81 sound so bad in the bridge before. The EMG 81 in the neck sucked, that is not a good pickup for that position. An 85 or better yet, a 60 would have been much better. Another positive though, is it only has a volume knob. No tone knobs here, which is great. I never use mine. Verdict: As much as I wanted to like this guitar because it is a knock out 10 for looks, it sucked ass. It was a definite beauty queen. If it had played nicer, I would own one right now. I would have overlooked the floyd if it was so annoying otherwise. Retail Price: $1260cad. I would only pay maybe $500, but if it was a tune-o-matic with stoptail, ebony fretboard, had the EMG 81/60 set, I would gladly pay $3600 for it. I'm waiting for my ESP Custom Shop quote to come back on it ESP LTD MH-1000 Ugly guitar. Hideous abalone binding and inlays. Had a Floyd on it. Played better then the RZK-600, which hurt my heart, but it had a Floyd. Fretjob was worse, but all other playability and tonal aspects were much better. Even still, it has a floyd and is ugly. I wouldn't buy it. ESP LTD Viper-407 I was browsing after the major disappointment of the RZK-600 and I saw this giant ugly thing hanging on the wall. My first though was "jesus that thing is fucking hideous, and it is huge." It is about the same size as a lot of hollowbodies. Okay, maybe not that big, but its BIG. Really BIG. The set neck joint was HUGE. But it has EMGs in it and its only $770cad!!!!!! I fired up the 6505 again and started riffing on this thing, and man, it plays nice. It played super well. The finish was actually a lot better feeling then the flat black on the ESP Standard Eclipse, and the neck was a good size. The sound was pretty good too - this is when I really started wanting an EMG 81-7 for my COW again. The bridge felt good against my hand, the neck was nice and slick, and the sound was huge, which I had been hoping for because man this thing was gigantic. The body felt and looked like it was 3" thick. Upper fret access was awful, because of the gigantic set neck joint there. I wish this guitar was a bolt on. Verdict: I didn't play it very long before the salesman said he had a Stephen Carpenter sig laying around, but I definitely like it. For the price, it is unbeatable. It is not a good looking guitar. Really ugly. Upper fret access isn't very good, I don't even think I could have played on the 7th string above the 16th fret without tapping with my other hand. Huge sound though, this thing was savage down low. Retail price: $770cad. I would gladly buy it for this price if I didn't already have much nicer guitars and was shopping in this price range for a new 7 string. Finally, the one you have been waiting for. ESP LTD SC-607B - 2006 model The salesman busted this out and I couldn't hide my surprise and excitement. First impression - this is a good looking guitar. It looks sweet. I would prefer black hardware, but its got a nice carved top on it and the neck through is sweet, the headstock is sweet, the minimal inlays on the fretboard are sweet, and it has 7 strings and 27" scale!!! How did it play? Well, I didn't even notice it was a baritone. I have never played a guitar that is not 24.75 or 25.5 inch scale before, but this was no stretch at all. The neck was nice and thin, I actually much prefer the feel of it over my COW7. The fret job was great, and it played fast. The baritone only bothered me when I starting playing up above the 12th fret and even though it was just a tiny bit of oddness. The weird thing was though, a bit part of the reason I didn't notice is because the strings weren't as tight as I thought they would be. I was wanting a baritone for awhile so the strings would be nice and tight and the attack on the low notes would be really savage and sharp, but it wasn't really. This guitar with its normal factory strings (I think 10-54s) might have actually been a bit looser then my COW7 (standard scale with 12-49 and a .68 7th string) and it wasn't as crisp sounding! I was really disappointed with that, but if this thing had some fatter strings on it I have no doubt it would be sick. The sound was awesome. Usually my guitars are all mahogany because I like the way it sounds, but this one was different in a good way. I didn't like the middle pickup though. The neck 707 in the Viper-407 sounded much better for both gain and clean channels then the middle 81-7 in the SC-607B. It was nice for one thing though, I usually rest my fingers on the side of the neck pickup but my hand sat better and felt more natural with my fingers on the side of the middle pickup. The control location was pretty cool. There was no way you could accidently hit any of them, which is a problem on my Jacksons, where I often will bump the volume knob down a bit when I'm going nuts. The bridge is a standard tune-o-matic which is my personal favorite. It felt great, but I wish it was black instead of chrome. Verdict: Plays awesome, sounds awesome. looks awesome, but for the price... I would still take a COW. The baritone scale didn't improve things in the way I was hoping, but it wasn't a stretch to play on at all. I wish it had an ebony fretboard without SC's name on it, or that they did it Jackson COW style and put his name on the headstock and just left the fretboard blank. I didn't like how the middle pickup sounded and would prefer it moved to the neck instead. Other then that, facking sweet. Neck through 7 strings are awesome. Retail Price: $1170cad! I would pay $1000, but would have no problem paying $1250-1300 if it had an ebony fretboard on it and still was 27" scale. Well, that was quite a tale there. But it was a nice trip to the guitar store, even though I came back empty handed Looks like I'll be sticking with Jackson for awhile longer yet.