If you opened this review and found yourself confused, we wouldn’t be surprised. ESP LTD is a brand best known for its affordable range of solid body metal and rock focused guitars, so seeing that they also produce acoustic guitars might catch you unawares.
It might be even more surprising to learn that the model in question, the ESP LTD TL-6, has been around since 2014, when it was unveiled at NAMM. During the launch, ESP LTD showcased three versions of this thinline acoustic model, a nylon strung version, a 12 string model, and the guitar we picked as our top pick in our roundup of the best thinline acoustics, the 6 string version.
Taking their vast experience in building stage ready guitars, ESP LTD put together one of the best performing electric acoustics on the market, and in this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be taking a closer look to bring you all the details.
Keep on reading if you’re in the market for a thin, comfortable acoustic that’s ready for stage or studio right out of the box.
Who Is This For?
The ESP LTD TL-6 is a fantastic choice for players of all abilities. If you’re a newer player with a decent budget, this guitar offers excellent playability; it’s extremely comfortable and very forgiving.
If you’re a more advanced player or even a working musician, you’ll appreciate the quality construction, the superb high volume performance and feedback resistance. This makes it an ideal guitar for both on stage and in studio use.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The TL-6 shares its silhouette with the ever popular Eclipse series, which, as you may know, is heavily inspired by the Gibson Les Paul. It has a single cutaway and a rounded lower bout. The soundhole is quite unique and looks like the guitar has been mauled by some kind of velociraptor claw.
Construction wise, it’s very similar to a semi hollow electric guitar. There’s a center block under the bridge for stability and a pocket to support the neck. It had a mahogany back and sides, and our test model had a natural finish spruce top. It’s also available in Aqua Marine Burst, Purple Sparkle Burst, and Black if you want something a little more eye catching.
On the topic of the neck, it’s extremely similar to the necks ESP LTD uses on their solid body electrics. It had a thin U profile and was topped with a roasted jatoba fretboard. It had 22 jumbo frets, which we found to be very well finished.
As far as body depth was concerned, it was only marginally thicker than an ESP LTD Eclipse, so it felt very familiar to hold – we think it’d make a great guitar for anybody transitioning from electric to acoustic for this reason.
The electronics were another strong point for this guitar. It was equipped with a full Fishman setup, with a Sonicore under saddle pickup and a TL-3 preamp. The preamp included a built in tuner, 2 band EQ, and a volume control.
We loved the hardware selection, which included Grover tuning machines, a Graph Tech NuBone XB nut and saddle, and a lovely jatoba bridge.
Considering the price point, the TL-6 delivered some really fantastic tones. One of the biggest downsides of acoustic electric guitars is their tendency to feed back in an uncontrolled way when being played at high volume, but we found that the TL-6 was practically immune. It had tons of body and a big old lower mid punch.
When played acoustically, it didn’t have the most impressive projection, but then again, that was entirely expected, given just how thin it was. With this in mind, we think it’s really designed specifically as a guitar to be used with an amplifier.
Plugged in, we found that the Fishman Sonicore transducer delivered a really nice, organic sounding tone. One of the biggest concerns we have when it comes to guitars like this is that they end up sounding more like an electric guitar than an amplified acoustic, but that wasn’t the case with the TL-6.
As mentioned, it was quite full through the mids – particularly the lower end, and it had some really gorgeous shimmer at the top.
We thought it was exceptionally comfortable to hold and play, and the factory set up was spot on. It felt great right out of the box, and there’s nothing about the action, or neck relief we felt we’d need to change.
Tuning stability was excellent, thanks to the Grover machines. They also let us fine tune with ease – something not easily accomplished at this price point. The overall build quality was excellent, and it was fantastic to have an integrated tuner.
Other Guitars to Consider
While we’re confident we made the right choice when it came to our top pick for the best thinline acoustic in the ESP LTD TL6, we do understand that it’s still good to have options. For that reason, we’ve picked a couple of what we think are the best alternatives to the TL-6 and highlighted them below.
The Ibanez FRH10NBSF Thinline is one of the latest offerings from this Japanese icon, and they’ve really hit it out of the park. This is a Telecaster inspired design built with playability and great tone as its primary goals. This is a nylon strung guitar, so it delivers the smooth, mellow tones of a classical style instrument but with solid body electric playability and comfort. It features an Ibanez T Bar undersaddle piezo, for fantastic tones with huge range and versatility, and like the ESP LTD, it offers fantastic feedback prevention.
The Martin OMC-X1E is a more traditional style choice if you’re looking for regular acoustic looks and feel (although it still has a very comfortable, slim body). This is an all HPL guitar, which makes it ideal for amplification thanks to its predictable tones, and this also makes it incredibly durable – so anybody looking for a travel or campfire guitar will likely find this option very appealing. It boasts Fishman MX electronics and even includes a really nice Martin gig bag.
Final Thoughts on the ESP LTD TL-6
We found that the ESP LTD TL-6 was absolutely phenomenal value for money. It offered the kind of tones we usually hear from guitars at twice the price and was so incredibly well made across the board.
The playability was beyond compare at this price point, and of course, it was incredibly comfortable. ESP LTD did a great job with the factory setup, and we think this will appeal to players of all abilities.
We had a ton of fun playing this guitar. We got proper acoustic tones when amplified, but the looks and feel of a regular electric guitar. We think it’s perfect for open mic nights and live gigs alike, and even for just noodling in front of the couch without disturbing anybody else – it’s perfect.