ESP LTD EC-1000 Electric Guitar Review

ESP is one of the premier guitar companies in the world. Founded in 1956 in Japan, and currently based in Tokyo and Los Angeles, this company has developed a stellar reputation among guitarists, particularly in the metal genre. Legendary shredders like Kirk Hammet, Vernon Reid, and Dave Mustaine have endorsed ESP guitars at different points in their careers.

ESP created the LTD brand in 1996 to offer more affordable guitars. Today, ESP LTD guitars come in a vast variety of body types and styles and are one of the go-to choices for metal guitarists seeking quality in an affordable instrument. 

The ESP LTD EC-1000 is a solid body electric guitar that embodies all the attributes that guitarists have come to love about the ESP LTD brand. It does a fine job of balancing quality and cost, all backed by the ESP tradition of making great guitars.

Read more about our review process.

Who is this for?

The ESP LTD EC-1000 is for the savvy hard rock or metal guitarist that wants a fantastic instrument at an intermediate price. If you are a gigging musician and need a workhorse of a guitar that can shine when heavily distorted, but also deliver nice cleans, the EC-1000 is a good choice. 

On the other hand, this guitar is also great if you are just starting out and want to invest a bit over a grand in your instrument in order to have fantastic sound and playability from the get-go.


Simply said, the ESP LTD EC-1000 is a gorgeous guitar. The model reviewed here is Vintage Black, with its stylish darkness that looks amazing right out of the box. 

Other colors and finish options include See-thru Purple, See-thru Black Cherry, Violet Andromeda, Blue Natural Fade, and more. In other words, the ESP LTD EC-1000 can most likely please all tastes and preferences. 

The body shape on this guitar is referred to by ESP as “Eclipse” and in this case, is made of mahogany. It is similar to a Les Paul type of body, but we actually found it to be more comfortable thanks to the wider cutaway.  

And just like in most Les Paul style guitars, the EC-1000 features a 24.75″ scale length. This is a shorter scale length when compared to those of other guitars (like Stratocasters-type instruments) and therefore felt a bit easier to play. 

Other features include a nut width of 1.650″ and 24 extra-jumbo frets. This guitar features a Macassar Ebony fingerboard that feels and plays great. Everything from power chords to fast arpeggios feel almost effortless on this neck. Add to that the beautiful Pearloid Flags inlays, a nice touch that kept us playing for a long while. 

It is important to mention that the Black Cherry, Violet Andromeda and Blue Natural Fade models come with a mahogany fingerboard.  

The EC-1000 features a set neck, which aids with sustain and articulation when compared to a bolt-on neck. To offer the guitarist even greater playability, this instrument features a Thin U neck profile and a 13.7″ radius. This all but ensures that you can move around the neck effortlessly. 

To help with tuning, this guitar features locking tuners and a TonePros Locking Tune-O-Matic bridge with a stop bar tailpiece. We found that this greatly aids with staying in tune and is a feature that many guitarists appreciate. 

The electronics on this guitar are also a thing to marvel at. The EC-1000 comes with a legendary EMG 81 humbucker pickup on the bridge position and an EMG 60 on the neck. This is the exact configuration that James Hetfield has used for years and the basis for his EMG signature pickups. 

As far as the controls, this guitar employs two volume controls (one for each pickup) and single tone control. In true Les Paul fashion, the EC-1000 features a 3-way toggle pickup switch on its upper part. 

One thing to consider is that the EC-1000 is a fixed bridge design. In other words, you don’t get a whammy or tremolo bar with this guitar.


Although it is quite beautiful, the most outstanding qualities of the ESP LTD EC-1000 are sound and playability. And it all starts with the pickups. 

The combination of the EMG 81 on the bridge and an EMG 60 covers a lot of ground and is especially attractive to those who lean towards heavier styles of music. Granted, in our tests the LTD-1000 delivered beautiful clean tones that sounded balanced. 

While playing this guitar we dialed in a round and clean neck pickup tone with the EMG 60, and then moved on to a more penetrating bridge clean for shimmering arpeggios provided by the EMG 81. It was fun to mix and match between both pickups to dial in the cleans exactly as we wanted.

That said, this guitar shines the most when plugged into a tube amp and driven. We went straight for the EMG 81 on a fuzz sound and got high output and killer distorted tone that this humbucker is revered for.  Riff after riff, the sound remained focused and powerful. And for single lines, it was quite nice to hear how responsive the LTD-1000 was and the great sustain these pickups provide. 

Simply stated, this guitar excels at unapologetic distorted tones commonly associated with metal. That said, we also paired the LTD-1000 up with some overdrive pedals and got a nice blues tones with softer distortion, using the EMG 60. 

When we dialed in more aggressive distortion, the EMG 60 pickup also delivered a fantastic distorted tone that was a bit darker and not as piercing. In other words, we got our bases covered with this fantastic EMG pickup combination. 

Regarding playability, the low action of the EC-1000 felt great, alot with its thin-U neck profile that had us playing comfortably up and down the neck. Naturally, you can adjust the action to your liking, but this guitar was made to be played with lower action, which in turn aids playability and comfort all over the neck.

Other guitars to consider

Schecter Hellraiser C-1

The name of this guitar says about all you need to know about it. Designed with the metal guitarist in mind, the Hellraiser C-1 features superior sound, playability, and overall features for a guitar that costs less than a grand. 

This guitar comes with a set of EMG pickups (active 81TW for the bridge and 89 for the bridge) as well as a TuneStyle Tune-o-Matic bridge. In other words, a solid choice for hard rock or metal for under a grand.

Fender Contemporary Active Stratocaster HH

This guitar was tailor-made for metal, by taking the best of the Strat and adding a duo of active humbuckers to the trio of single coils, all to provide killer distortion and sustain.

Additionally, the Stratocaster HH features a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo so you can whammy away. In short, a fantastic budget choice, ideal as a backup instrument or starter guitar for heavier styles of music.

Final thoughts

ESP has been a top guitar company for decades for good reason. The ESP LTD EC-1000 is further proof of that. This guitar features fantastic sound and feel at an affordable price. On top of that, it looks stunning as well. 

The ESP LTD EC-1000 offers an amazing cost-relationship benefit, as guitars that are this good tend to cost more. 

If you are a working metal or hard rock musician and need a guitar that will get the job done in style, the EC-1000 is a fantastic option.

  • Rodrigo Sanchez

    Rodrigo is an award-winning songwriter (Best Popular Song Of 2018 for Ibermúsicas), and has worked with the prestigious EMI Music Publishing Latin America. He has production credits on artists such as Descemer Bueno, and has also composed alongside Grammy and ASCAP award-winners such as Sebastián De Peyrecave and José Luis Morín. For over ten years, he's been an editor/writer for Recording Magazine, and spent a year as head of translation for Brazilian magazine Musica & Mercado.