BECAUSE MY COMFY TEENSTER WORLD WAS
changed forever by seeing Mick Ronson, Pete
Townshend, Jimmy Page, Marc Bolan, and others
slinging a certain iconic guitar, I have always
been attracted to models that pay homage to
the Les Paul. But working for a guitar magazine
as an adult is a lot different than giving up
16 magazine and Herman’s Hermits when David
Bowie, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, and the Who blow
your fragile little mind. What happens is that
the older, more experienced reporter in you
starts wondering if the universe needs yet
another facsimile of a classic guitar design.
Then, the new EC-1000 MGO totally obliterated
every molecule of my cranky cynicism.
In my experience, to transcend the historical
biases associated with basing a new guitar
on a seminal design, the guitar in question
must prove—without a doubt—that a savvy
manufacturer indeed delivered far more than
a clone with a few cosmetic embellishments.
The workmanship must be exquisite, of course,
and the tones just different enough from the
original guitar’s formula to establish the new
guitar’s sound. The guitar must also inspire the player to take all the tricks, tones, and licks
they’ve utilized on the classic machine and
push them to the next level using the newbie.
Finally, the whole package has to feel like it
belongs in your hands. For me, the Korean-made
EC-1000 nails every single one of these considerations.
It’s simply a brilliant guitar that
does a lot of things superbly.
The design, for one, certainly evokes the
Les factor, but the “unfurled flag” fret markers,
wavy-top headstock, sharp cutaway, and
supermodel-slim profile are striking artifacts
of a modern burner. The build quality is magnificent.
The review model’s gold finish is flawless,
and the high-gloss lacquer is as smooth
as a just-Zamboni’d ice rink. All hardware is
battened-down tight—the pickups don’t rattle
in their mounts, and there are no buzzes or
wonky knobs. Ergonomically, the pickup-selector
switch and Volume controls are positioned well
for rapid, mid-performance adjustments,
although it takes a bit of a reach to manipulate
the Tone knob while riffing. The frets are
polished and rounded in perfect little “hot dog”
ends. Basically, everything about the guitar
screams that you paid a lot more than $799
street for it. We’ve certainly seen much more
expensive models come through GP Central
with slightly less-outstanding craftsmanship.
I tested the EC-1000 at a couple of band
rehearsals and in the GP sound room through
a variety of amps, including a Mesa/Boogie
Stiletto, a Club Amps combo, an Orange Tiny
Terror, a Marshall JVM 210H, and a Kendrick
20th Anniversary Bass Ass Man. I also occasionally
brought out my own 1976 Les Paul Heritage
Standard—as well as a Gibson Custom
Shop Standard—to compare what the EC and
the LPs could coax out of the same amp setup.
First off, the EC-1000 mated with each amp
immediately. No matter where the amp controls
had been set previously, I could plug right
in and get a useable sound without any diddling
around—whether that was a clean tone,
saturated, semi-distorted, gronky, overdriven,
or edgy. Of course, it’s not a bad thing to “tune”
a guitar to a specific amp. Some fabulous guitars
I’ve played needed a bit of amp tweaking
before the guitar and amp combo really sang.
But it’s also nice to just pop in the plug and
smile without touching any knobs.
Amplified, the EC-1000’s foundational tone
is what I’d call “poppin’.” Notes seem to snap
off the strings with a round, articulate attack—
kind of like a Duane Eddy tone on steroids.
Go for the bridge pickup alone, and that pop
has an obvious spike to the treble without
being strident or overly bright. The combinedpickup
tone is rounder, with a hollow-sounding
resonance that’s quite sexy clean, and very
vocal-like when distortion or overdrive is
kicked in. The neck pickup has a good amount
of chunk, but the low end never gets muddy
or otherwise indistinct—even if you get all
psychedelic with a fuzz pedal. Pretty much
everything you can play—from complex arpeggios
to bass-string riffs—is rendered with a
warm, but clear attack that always puts the
emphasis on the notes you’re playing. I was
impressed that, even with stupid amounts of
saturation from amp-and-pedal combinations,
the EC-1000 wouldn’t spazz out and produce
blurry, vague, or hazy sounds. Not every guitar
can make that boast—which is why dualhumbucker
players should definitely check
out an EC-1000, as well as why I feel it deserves
the ultimate GP recommendation of an Editors’
SPECS | ESP Guitar Company, (800) 423-8388; espguitars.com
MODEL LTD EC-1000 MGO
PRICE $1,142 retail/$799 street
NECK Mahogany, set
FRETS 24 super-jumbo
PICKUPS Two Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro humbuckers
CONTROLS Two Volume, master Tone
FACTORY STRINGS SIT
WEIGHT 7.06 lbs
KUDOS Exceptional build quality. Poppin’, articulate tones. Slim and light.
Great value for price.
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