Review: ESP LTD EC-1000 Piezo

The ESP LTD EC-1000 Piezo LTD a tone chef’s delight.
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For years, ESP’s LTD EC series guitars have offered a lighter, and perhaps more shred-ready (thanks to the thin-U necks) alternative for players who dig the classic Les Paul vibe. I don’t have the chops to be a true shredder, but whenever I’ve wrangled ECs on long festival shows or endless rehearsals, I’ve greatly appreciated the near-weightless ergonomics and easy playability, as well as the fact the EC tonal profile can produce much the same roar as my favorite Les Pauls. Now, for the first time in this series, the EC-1000 Piezo adds more practical (and, well, fun) benefits—the ability to switch between magnetic pickups and a mono or stereo piezo system, or even blend the two sonic flavors together.

I’ve always been a sucker for the EC’s modern twist on a vintage form—the sharp headstock angles, severe bout, and “waving banner” fretboard inlays—and the EC-1000P’s striped binding and stunning see-through black finish over a quilted-maple top is even more reason to fall in love with this gorgeous guitar. Construction is flawless, from the rounded fret ends to the quality hardware. The rear bevels—especially the super-comfy incline where the neck joins the body and the carving on the lower bout—make playing the EC-1000P a blissful experience. Nothing hinders riffing away in any position you choose, and, at times, it can almost feel as if you’re not actually holding a guitar.

But the killer app of the EC-1000P is really the addition of the Fishman Powerbridge system, and not simply because it offers acoustic timbres in an electric guitar. That’s a fantastic nod to versatility, of course. Who doesn’t love starting off a song with a beautiful acoustic-style strummed or fingerstyle part, and then exploding into full-on humbucker rage? It’s cinematic. However, I found the ability to blend the humbucker and piezo tones to be even more rewarding. For shredders, being able to dial in a hint of shimmer and clarity to saturated lead tones is definitely a boon—especially if you dig blasting off with the neck humbucker. There are also innumerable and super-cool riff and rhythm sounds available with subtle tweaks of the magnetic/piezo balances. You can go all the way from emulating layered studio tracks to crafting tortured midrange attacks.

The piezo tones do possess a hint of the “piezo quack,” so devising passable acousticlike tones takes some care—you may want to send the piezo signal to a dedicated acoustic amp, which the EC-1000P’s two output jacks allow—but in all other applications, the system offers brilliant tone-blending possibilities that can take your tone out of the boring and conventional, while not traveling so far outside of the norm that you feel as if you’re producing synth sounds. The EC-1000 Piezo is, quite simply, a tone chef’s delight. It’s also one hell of a guitar.




PRICE $1,099 street
NECK Mahogany (three-piece), set, thin U
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 24.75" scale
FRETS 24 extra jumbo
TUNERS LTD locking
BODY Mahogany with quilted-maple top
BRIDGE Fishman Powerbridge
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan ’59 (neck), Seymour Duncan JB (bridge)
CONTROLS Master Volume (humbuckers), Master Tone (humbuckers), piezo Volume (Fishman Powerchip onboard mixing preamp), mini toggle, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario XL110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 8 lbs
KUDOS Super playable. Light. Awesome tonal versatility
CONCERNS The piezo tones can get quacky.