ESP LTD AW-7 Alex Wade Signature Model

Discussion in 'Guitar Reviews' started by The Only Factor, May 30, 2012.

  1. The Only Factor

    The Only Factor Banned

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    After spending some quality time with my new AW-7, I guess I can do a little review of it so everyone else who's looking at or expecting one knows what to expect when they get it...

    Specs:

    • Neck-thru Construction
    • 25.5" Scale
    • Mahogany Body
    • Flame Maple Top
    • Maple Neck
    • Ebony Fingerboard
    • 48mm Standard Nut
    • Thin U Neck Contour
    • 24 XJ Frets
    • Black Hardware
    • ESP Locking Tuners
    • 7-string Fixed Bridge
    • DiMarzio D-Activator 7 B & N pickups
    • 3-Way blade-style switch
    • Master Volume
    • Master Tone
    • Finish: Blood Red Sunburst (BRSB)
    Price paid: $962.99 w/ tax from Guitar Center - Special Ordered

    Pros:
    I'm sure a lot of you are probably wondering about the neck on this thing... It has the same feel and contour of all the other ESP 7-strings. A very happy medium between the Ibanez and the Schecter. In fact I find it to be about the same as the M107, H207, SC207 and the EC407 I have. Very comfortable and very easy to play. In all honesty, it feels a little bit narrower (width-wise) than my other ESP 7, but it's actually the same 1 7/8" as the rest of the LTD 7-strings.

    The body is as thick as a normal M-series body, and weight-wise it's about the same as a normal Gibson Les Paul. Compared to an M107, the body is slightly smaller compared to it, but it's not by a lot and barely notice-able unless you put one on top of the other to compare them like I did.

    The hardware is solid and sturdy as I've come to expect from ESP. The ESP locking tuners are just as good as the Sperzels and stay in tune just as well also - then again I've never really had any problem with tuning even with the normal ESP tuners either. The bridge is just as solid and sturdy too. I know a lot of folks were hoping for the Hipshot bridge on this, but I will agree with Alex Wade himself and say that the bridge is definitely NOT a deal breaker for this guitar by any means. In fact, it's kinda cool because you can more than likely still use the GraphTech String Saver saddles on this bridge and stil be just as good and comparable to the Hipshot.

    A HUGE plus that it comes with a hot and aggressive set of DiMarzio pickups (D-Activator 7's...), so other folks may want to swap them out for BKP's or Duncan's if they don't like the DA7's. I have used the DA7's since they were introduced and have had countless positive experiences with them.

    The frets and fret ends were filed nicely, the ebony fingerboard has a nice color and grain to it. The flame maple top on the body and headstock are just amazingly beautiful, and the color is just as amazing. Seeing this guitar in person is much more gratifying and justifying than seeing pictures of it. Because the color is such a deep Blood Red, it's hard to get really good pics of it. Was glad to see that ESP is still making some of their models in Korea still, which means a much better quality of craftsmanship, materials used and overall quality for the value. The guitar speaks for itself and is far more superior than any picture will ever be or do it.

    Cons:
    So far the ONLY con I have found with it is the D-Activators seem to be really dark and overall the guitar has a LOT of low-end response to it. Am having a difficult time trying to get it tweaked and a channel set on my Line 6 Vetta HD head, but I'm sure I'll get it more and more with time and more tweaking. If worse comes to worse, I'll try running an external EQ thru the effects loop for this guitar when I play it. I'm not sure if it's the pickups, or due to the neck-thru combined with the massive slabs of mahogany for the body, but it's by far the darkest guitar tone-wise I've ever owned.

    The only other thing would be the 3-way switch... Swapping it out for a 5-way would be much more beneficial. I got a DiMarzio multi-pole 5-way for inner coil split on position 2 and outer coil split on position 4, so this will be something new to try for some new and different tones. I'm also going to rewire the tone pot as the neck pickup volume to blend the 2 pickups together volume-wise for those sweet spots on positions 2, 3 and 4. I'll do this during the first string change and breath new life from this monster.

    By far, the pros exceedingly outweigh the cons, hands down.


    Final thoughts: :yesway::yesway:
    I've had more than enough guitars in the nearly 16 years of playing, and have always wanted a Strat 7, but it had to be the right one. After seeing this announced before NAMM and just after taking home my EC407, I couldn't help but jump right on this one and have THE perfect Strat 7. With the only con being really dark and low-endy, it's well worth the money and well worth waiting for if you're looking at one of these. Like any guitar, pickups and stuff can be changed and it be an even better axe. I know some would have preferred passives, but for what it is, I can't argue that fact that this thing is ultimately bad-ass.

    Like also mentioned, the stability, durability and playabilty are top-notch for the money. And as here all know and can attest to, the LTD stuff is well worth the money and is unlike anything else out there. Yet another rock solid and awesome guitar added to the line-up, and an awesome piece to add to any arsenal, line-up or collection. I've yet to be disappointed with an ESP/LTD, and this one is another testament to what we have all come to know and expect from ESP.

    Thanks and hope you all enjoy as much as I do!!!

    :wavey:
     
  2. Moltar

    Moltar SS.org Regular

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    I've heard that 250k pots can make D-activators dark and anything higher than them will really bring them to life. I am going to try this on my guitar soon and see if it is true. Just a suggestion :)
     
  3. L1ght

    L1ght Truth Over Triumph

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    Great review.

    In your final thoughts section, I believe you meant active pickups, as the D-Activators are passive. I'm sure you are well aware of this, but I believe you just made a typo.
     
  4. krsp

    krsp SS.org Regular

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    Informative review! I'm expecting my own AW-7 in a couple of weeks. I was excited, now after your review I am REALLY excited! Thanks again for the review!
     
  5. The Only Factor

    The Only Factor Banned

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    @ L1ghtChaos: Thank you for pointing it out! I hadn't noticed it until you made mention of it, but yes it IS a typo. Thanks!
     
  6. SuRTiFy

    SuRTiFy SS.org Regular

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    How Can I order this?
     
  7. The Only Factor

    The Only Factor Banned

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    Ordering one is easy. Just go to any music store that is an authorized ESP dealer and order one. You'll most likely need 50% to actually get the order placed and in to ESP, but once it's in, the only thing you'll be waiting on is a delivery date.

    I ordered mine in February from Guitar Center and was originally told that delivery was gonna be mid to late April. My delivery date was then pushed back to July 3rd due to a large order of 100 of these. However, mine showed up the first week of May. And from what I was told, there were 12 AW-7 models on the first initial batch over, and I got one of them. So unless the rest of them have sold already, I have no idea when ESP plans on having the next batch available...

    These seem to be just like the Ibanez RG7620 was when it was released... Everyone wanted one and backorders for them grew to a waiting list of a year or more. I know these are hot and in high demand, so good luck. Just stay on top of the dealer and ESP to find out any changes in your delivery date. But I can and will tell you that the wait will be well worth it for this thing!!!
     
  8. whatupitsjoe

    whatupitsjoe SS.org Regular

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    If it didn't come with 250k pots with D-Acs that would be strange, the Dimarzio site itself says 500k should be used.
    Anyway guitar seems promising, good luck
     
  9. The Only Factor

    The Only Factor Banned

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    Thank you, and it did come with the 500K pots in it. I don't think ESP would have shipped these with the wrong pots, and I would have noticed it when I re-wired it for the 5-way and the 2 volume controls.

    But like I said before, it's a keeper and mates perfectly to my EC407!!! :agreed::metal:
     
  10. LeAdEr

    LeAdEr SS.org Regular

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    What a beautiful 7 string, one of the prettiest out there.
     
  11. nolanm

    nolanm SS.org Regular

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    im plannin to get one.....just wanted to knw hw the guitar sounds on clean....
    i play alot of cleans and stuff...
     
  12. HellGamer666

    HellGamer666 SS.org Regular

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    Nice review. I used to own an AW-7, but it was just too dark and I couldn't tweak a good sound out of it, since my gear is pretty bad. @nolanm: the AW-7's clean sound was actually pretty impressive. Not a WHOLE lot of character from the DAs, but it's pretty chimey and chords sound great.
     

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