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Kirk Hammett, George Lynch, and the late Jeff Hanneman of Slayer are just a few of the legendary metal names that use ESP guitars. While not all of us can afford a super premium ESP, such as the James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte, the Japanese brand’s budget subsidiary LTD offer affordable versions of their classics that don’t compromise on style, quality or sound. The LTD EC-10 is an excellent example.
The EC-10 is a dark, sleek beauty, which is heavily influenced by ESP’s higher-end Eclipse model. This affordable guitar features the familiar Les Paul style single-cutaway body shape which is slim and well-contoured across the face, making it comfortable to use and aesthetically very pleasing. The 24.75″ scale-length body is made from solid basswood and finished in a glossy menacing deep black. One thing that’s quickly apparent is that the EC-10 is built for speed, as it sports a bolt-on maple neck with a fast-playing thin U-shaped profile, while the 24 extra-jumbo frets on the rosewood fretboard make string bending simple.
For a guitar that comes in at well under $200, the hardware is understandably quite minimal although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It still features a good quality tune-o-matic style bridge and stopbar tailpiece, which will keep your tuning stable and allow for good sustain. At the other end of the guitar you’ll find six ESP-designed tuners in a 3+3 configuration, as well as a molded nut. So, nothing that screams premium, but all solid enough.
The EC-10 comes loaded with two ESP-designed passive LH-100 open-coil humbuckers at the neck and bridge positions, which offer a good output for the price and will certainly appeal to the more rock-inclined player. The list of controls for this affordable beauty is very short and will please those looking for simplicity, as it features just a single master volume and master tone control knob, as well as a three-way pickup selector switch to choose between the humbuckers.
At under $200, you can’t expect the world when it comes to sound. However the two humbuckers do provide a good output and are powerful enough for everything from chugging rock riffs to frantic tapping solos. They are also pretty silent when it comes to background noise and feedback, which is a big plus. As you’d expect from an ESP guitar, it’s tailored mostly for rock and metal playing, with good aggression and plenty of rasp – especially when played through a good quality amp. However, played cleanly it also shines and is very articulate, with a naturally warm tone.
This super-affordable EC-10 from ESP is a real winner when it comes to style and rock attitude, and – with decent pickups and a fast, comfortable neck – it gives guitars twice the price a run for their money. While it may not be the answer for stage performances, it’s a great tool to have at the ready for practicing and jamming sessions, whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced guitarist.