What is the best ESP Guitar for Metal and Hard Rock? (our top pick)
The ESP-LTD EC-1000 Series
While almost the entire ESP lineup is metal-friendly, your best option is likely going to come from the EC-1000 series. There are a lot of versions to pick from, though we like the base black model, pictured here with gold hardware and EMG pickups. If metal is your thing the EC-1000 series is a great balance of price and quality.
The entire ESP lineup is made up of metal-centric guitars, most of which have active EMG pickups installed. There are seven and even eight-string options, as well as signature models from Gary Holt, Stephen Carpenter, Kirk Hammett, and James Hetfield. For the record, Holt used to play guitar for Slayer and Carpenter is the front-man for Deftones.
I assume you recognize the other two.
So if you've settled on this brand, you could close your eyes and point and likely land something that's a good metal option.
But the EC-1000 series has a few perks that lead us to make it our top recommendation from this brand:
- Lots of variations to choose from (Floyd Rose, EverTune, piezo, etc.)
- Tons of colors
- Manageable price points
- EMG pickups (most ESP guitars have these or Fishman Fluence sets)
- Quilted Maple top options
Within the series you have some flexibility, so we believe that the EC-1000 lineup is going to be the best option for the largest number of people. That can change, depending on your situation but we'll provide plenty of context and some honorable mentions.
When we make recommendations, we try to target the best possible option for the largest number of people. That said, there's always context that might make your situation different. Take our "best of" roundups with a grain of salt. Also, note that we use partner links (all the orange buttons) to support ourselves. If you click through and buy something, we might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support.
Compare Section and Honorable Mentions
In this section we've added three other ESP guitars for you to compare to the EC-1000. None of them are from the EC-1000 series. You can add more guitars to the comparison table by launching the search tool below. We're consistently adding to our product database so we may or may not have what you're looking for.
ESP-LTD Deluxe MH-1000
ESP-LTD Eclipse EC-1007
We always try to include pricing resources when we recommend a guitar or any kind of music gear. The apps we use on our site provide pricing from multiple vendors to at least help you get a feel for where retail is settling. Note that we don't have agreements with Musician's Friend or Guitar Center yet, so we can't pull their pricing. However, they're worth checking on your own for additional comparisons.
There's also a price alert tool and price history graph below, which follows the lowest priced option from the additional vendors list.
Note that Amazon products cannot be included in the alert or history tool.
Price Alert (lowest price among vendors)
Price History (lowest price among vendors)
Price History for ESP LTD EC-1000 Electric Guitar - Black
|Current Price||$1,099.00||November 30, 2023|
|Highest Price||$1,199.00||April 6, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$1,099.00||August 17, 2022|
Last price changes
|$1,199.00||April 6, 2023|
|$1,099.00||August 17, 2022|
What other brands are good for metal?
ESP is a brand of electric guitars that is almost entirely focused on metal. However, they are certainly not your only option if you're wanting to explore additional brands and guitar series.
Here are a few brands that consistently put out great metal guitars:
Schecter and Ibanez are more narrow in their metal and hard rock focus, where Schecter is more on the rhythmic and percussive side and Ibanez is focused on the speed side. Both have a lot of metal-focused options to choose from.
PRS and Gibson are different in that they produce guitars for a wide range of styles. Moreover, their guitars are just inherently versatile.
Particularly Gibson Les Pauls and most PRS models can span a wide style range and still be great for metal
Are ESP guitars better than PRS?
Usually, ESP guitars are not better than PRS, but it depends on which two models you're comparing.
The SE series by PRS - an economy line of guitars - is one of the best values on the market. They're a great balance of price and quality. However, most are cheaper than the ESP EC-1000 lineup. Agnostic of price, you would have to say that the ESP EC-1000 series is better than the PRS SE series.
However, once you get into mainline PRS guitars, many of which cost upwards of $5000, they're much better instruments than most of the midrange and high-end ESP electrics.
Do ESP guitars come with other types of pickups?
Like most brands, ESP does have a stock pickup in their cheaper guitars. But in their mid-range and high-end electrics, ESP usually includes active pickups by EMG or - more recently - the Fluence Series from Fishman, which are all excellent pickups.
Note that most of these pickups are active, meaning they use electricity (a 9V battery to project and amplify the string vibrations. Active pickups tend to be more aggressive, smoother, and modern making them better for high gain environments.
To recap, here are your most common options with ESP guitars:
- Stock humbuckers
- EMG active humbuckers
- Fishman Fluence humbuckers
Would you consider the EC-1000 a "versatile" guitar?
To be honest, I would not consider ESP a versatile brand. They are squarely in the metal space and they don't tend to venture very far. Having said that, I think a narrow focus is a good thing and not something to be fussed at. I'd rather a guitar manufacturer be really good a couple things rather than trying to stretch themselves out and be a jack of all trades.
I often say, build vertical and not horizontal.
When it comes to the EC-1000 specifically, it's definitely designed for hard rock and metal.
Blues and classic rock fans should look elsewhere.
Which bridge system is the best?
In the world of ESP guitars you have essentially three types of bridges to choose from:
- Locking tune-o-matic style bridge, usually by TonePros
- Floyd Rose locking tremolo system
- EverTune bridge system
Of the three, I've always been a fan of the Floyd Rose systems, but they're not for everybody. If you don't care about the tremolo bar functionality, the EverTune is also worth looking into.
There's really not a "best" option and it largely depends on preference and how you want to use the guitar.
ESP-LTD is, and always will be, one of the most metal-centric electric guitar brands on the planet. The price and quality of the EC-1000 series likely makes it the best fit for the largest number of people. But - as always - we recommend taking your own context into consideration.
Perhaps other ESP models or other brands entirely will suit you better.
Check the table above for more ideas or hit the comments section below if you have any questions.
We'll see you there.