Review of ESP LTD M1000 M Guitar -
ESP's M Series has been a hit with high-tech Rock and shred
players since the 1980s. It takes a lot to keep a guitar near the
top of the heap in such a demanding market, so how does today's LTD
model stand up? Tom Quayle flexed his fingers and prepared to find
The ESP 'M' series has been a staple of the brand since the mid
'80s, appearing in a number of guises and price points over the
years with many notable users and champions. When the Korean made
LTD range was released in 1995, aimed at the burgeoning US market
where cost factors were starting to make high-end Japanese made
instruments less attainable, the M series soon became an essential
production model that has proven to be massively popular. Sitting
at the top the LTD 'M-series' is the M1000 model featuring specs
and construction that come very close to the more expensive MII
'Standard' version but at a more wallet friendly price.
The M1000 is a striking looking 'super-s' style guitar with deep
cutaways and a pointy headstock, harking back to the 80's shred
style but with a softer sculpt on the horns than more modern
designs. ESP loaned us an M1000M model finished in white with a
maple fret board as opposed to the M1000FM that ships with a flame
maple top and rosewood fret board but, other than that, both models
are identical. The body is alder with a maple neck and maple
fingerboard constructed using a Set-Thru design that differs from a
traditional neck-thru or set-neck, in that the neck is routed about
half way into the body as opposed to bisecting the entire
structure. This is meant to add the sustain benefits of a neck-thru
design but with a brighter top end and less expense than a
neck-thru construction. In practice I didn't notice a great deal of
difference but if it keeps the costs down and gives the benefits of
a neck-thru design then it works for me!
The neck is an extra thin U shape (think somewhere between a C
and D shape) with 24 XJ or extra jumbo frets and proved supremely
easy to play with a profile that was comfortable and fast thanks to
the 25.5" scale and large fret size - perfect for modern,
technically demanding styles! Shark tooth style inlays enhance the
technical look of the instrument and the M-1000 logo inlaid at the
12th fret adds an element of class to the aesthetics. Hardware is
all high spec with ESP tuners, locking nut, official Floyd Rose
bridge and a pair of EMG 81 pickups in bridge and neck positions. A
three-way switch is accompanied by volume and tone knobs with all
hardware finished in black nickel, contrasting very nicely with the
Snow White finish on the body and matching headstock.
Construction was supreme throughout on our sample, with no flaws
to speak of and a very well designed neck joint at the 16th fret on
the upper bout and 23rd fret on the lower. Fret access is therefore
fantastic and adds to the fast and easy playability of the guitar.
The fretwork is equally good, matching many really high-end
guitars, with no harsh fret ends or fret lifting/buzzing. Over all,
the general build quality came very close to the Standard series
guitars with only slight corners cut in terms of hardware verses
these more expensive instruments. My only complaint was that the
guitar shipped with a very low action that gave some significant
buzzing on the higher strings but this was very easily sorted by
adjusting the treble-side bridge height to compensate, so is
nothing to worry about.
Plugged in, the M1000 LTD is an impressive performer thanks to
those high quality EMG 81 pickups. Clean tones are surprisingly
dynamic and interactive with a sound that belies the cliched
clinical tones sometimes associated with active pickups. Whilst
definitely not in the vintage category, these pickups are
responsive to pick attack and give very good definition for chords,
producing a tone that helps you play at your best rather than
picking up every minute nuance of your playing.
With overdriven tones, the EMGs really start to sing and are
fantastic for all heavier sounds, whether chugging through rhythm
parts or playing fast lead lines. Faster passages are produced with
great precision and power chords sound super-tight and responsive.
Lower gain tones were good too, but perhaps lacked some life
compared to more vintage pickup designs - but then again, who uses
an ESP M guitar for low gain sounds?!
Korean produced ESP LTD guitars have a great reputation for a
reason and the M1000M is no exception. Whilst it may not be for
everyone aesthetically and it obviously won't appeal to the vintage
crowd, the M1000 knows its market and caters for it with
aplomb. Guitarists looking for a high-tech instrument with
quality hardware, or those looking to upgrade from a budget shred
guitar to a more sophisticated instrument for less than a four
figure sum could do very much worse than checking out the LTD M1000
series by ESP!
Check out the full review inc. video of the ESP LTD
M1000 M by Tom Quayle featured in
Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 17.
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