ESP LTD EC256FM Electric Guitar Review

I recently was in the market for a new electric guitar. I wanted something with a classic feel, midrange in budget terms, and versatile in tone. I found the ESP LTD EC256FM, and it fit my needs perfectly. In this post I'll explain its pros and cons and analyze its value.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Electric Guitar

Electric guitars have a few key characteristics that you should keep in mind when you are reading about them online. The biggest is the electronics. The woods for an electric are not the main determinants of the tone. Instead, the pickups, wiring, any onboard preamps or other modifiers, and so on all affect the sound.

The ESP LTD EC256FM Electric Guitar

ESP is a lesser-known guitar company that doesn't have the brand recognition of Gibson or Fender, but they produce excellent instruments all the same. Their LTD EC256FM hovers around the $400 price point depending on the finish. It has a narrow waist and a cutaway at the base of the neck. 

Pros

  • Sharp cutaway for easy access to top frets
  • Coil-splitting is for both pickups
  • Set-in neck also provides longer lasting sustain

Cons

  • Light buzz on low-E string that can be fixed by adjusting the bridge
  • May need to upgrade the pick-ups depending on playing style

Features and Benefits

Electronics and Controls

ESP LTD EC256FM Electric Guitar

The 256FM has a lot to recommend it. To start with the electronics, the core of the tone, this guitar comes with ESP-made double humbucker pickups. The guitar has a three-way switch to toggle between the neck pickup, the bridge pickup, or both, and each one has its own volume knob. There is also a master tone knob. The guitar has ESP LH-150 tuners and a Tune-o-Matic bridge for stable tone.

Build Quality

The build quality and design are excellent. The finish is clean and smooth, and all three options look very good. The rosewood fingerboard is fast and thin, and the cutaway makes the top end more accessible. One potential concern is the fact that it has 22 frets rather than the full 24 for the extra octave.

Construction

The 256FM is made of mahogany in the body, which is a fairly good tonewood if this was an acoustic guitar. More importantly, it is a good wood for weight and balance. The top is maple with the laminate finish placed over the top. The neck is set-in, which is the second best construction aside from neck-through.

Value

The value of the 256FM is very good. It is definitely not an introductory guitar with a $400 price point, but it plays like a guitar in the $800 neighborhood. For this much money, you should expect the instrument to have a significant amount of hands-on work, and that's evident in a few places like the carefully filed-down XJ frets. This guitar stands out because of a few nice features like the independent volume knobs and the great tone.

Rating

Design

4.5

Performance

4

Construction

4

Value for the Money

4

User Satisfaction

4.5

Alternatives

ESP LTD LMH100QMNT

ESP LTD LMH100QMNT

For about fifty dollars less, the LMH100 from ESP provides a similar package of features with a different body style. There are a few areas where ESP shaved off some features for a lower price: the neck is bolt-on instead of set, the body is basswood, and there is just one master volume rather than a neck and bridge pickup volume. However, it uses the exact same pickups and has a full 24 frets with the same neck and bridge.

Comparison

ESP LTD LMH100QMT

Price- $350

Pickups- ESP LH-150 x2

Controls- Master volume

Construction- Bolt-on neck

ESP LTD EC256FM

Price- $400

Pickups- ESP LH-150 x2

Controls- 3-way split and separate volume

Construction- Set-through neck

ESP LTD MH-350FM

ESP LTD MH-350FM

This is a significant step up at $700, but it's a good example of what an upgrade brings. The build is now a neck-through with a thinner neck. It has improved electronics as well. The two pickups have been replaced by an EMG 85 in the neck and an EMG 81 at the bridge. These are both active pickups, so they need batteries, but they are both more powerful and more detailed in tone. The Floyd bridge, 24 frets, and South Korean manufacture mark this a professional-quality guitar.

Comparison

ESP LTD MH-350FM

Price- $700

Pickups- EMG 85 and EMG 81

Controls- Master volume

Construction- Set-through neck with 24 frets and Floyd Rose bridge

ESP LTD EC256FM

Price- $400

Pickups- ESP LH-150 x2

Controls- 3-way split and separate volume

Construction- Set-through neck

Schecter Guitar Research Omen Extreme-6 FR

Schecter Guitar Research Omen Extreme-6 FR

Schecter is mostly known for metal guitars, much like ESP, but in another parallel to ESP, their pickup and wood choices allow for many different styles of play. The Omen Extreme-6 has Schecter in-house humbuckers, a bolt-on neck, a Floyd tremolo bridge, a full 24 frets, and a price point of $450. If this interests you, try to get an in-person or recorded comparison of the pickups to help you distinguish their tones.

Comparison

Schecter Guitar

Price- $450

Pickups- Schecter Diamond Plus

Controls- Master volume

Construction- Set-through neck with 24 medium frets and Floyd Rose bridge

ESP LTD EC256FM

Price- $400

Pickups- ESP LH-150 x2

Controls- 3-way split and separate volume

Construction- Set-through neck

Final Thoughts

The ESP LTD EC256FM is one of the best midrange guitars because of the tone and extra features like the split volume knobs. Its value makes it an exceptional deal, although it is not the only good guitar at this price. ESP is a less established brand but they have produced a fairly balanced, clear tone. The 256FM delivers at an accessible price point.

Stephanie Su
 

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