The reason why I'm asking opinions is because I don't have immediate access to the guitars I'm talking about, AND I know a lot of your guys are as particular as I am regarding fretwork and I'd appreciate your input. Skip to the end if you don't want the back story.
My only job for the last 6 years or so has been teaching guitar out of a music store in a regional Australian town. The highest quality brand this store stocks is ESP, more to the point, the only equipment they let teachers use in lessons associated with the store are brands they stock. This is understandable, and not really an issue since I love ESP guitars and think they're an extremely consistent product.
Just recently I've been invited to join a group of other musicians in a touring musical production visiting schools in other regional/remote areas within say, 50 to 350 kilometers. The tour is taking place throughout August and will be the first time I've ever participated in such an event. I've been asked to keep the nature of the performance quiet, being that it's tied to an album release in this country with the next 5 - 7 months.
I can say, however, that it's a production which relies a lot on visuals. The band has been asked to keep clothing plain and keep all equipment neutral colours. The clothing isn't a problem, what IS a problem is that NONE of my guitars are appropriate for the tour, as they're all either too bright, multi coloured or not high enough quality/playability.
I've bought and traded used gear for years. Some of it mint, some of it beat up. Some of it great value, some of it barely balancing out. I don't want to commence such a tour with anything other than an extremely reliable, highly playable instrument....So I've decided to buy my first new ESP.
I need something which plays really really well. I've never owned a guitar which has just played perfectly. Due to inconsistencies in fretwork, or fret wear in general, I've never had that one guitar which plays itself and is always ready to go. I'm hoping I'll get exactly this with a well set up ESP M-II. It also needs to be something I can use in lessons before and after this tour. I'm really looking forward to having this guitar become my best, main guitar.
For comfort reasons, the M-II shape just works for me. I need an OFR, preferably neck thru, ebony or maple board, matching headstock, needs to be all white or all black, and have excellent playability. Don't care which pickups, I'm comfortable replacing them if need be.
After much research, I've narrow it down to 2 options.
My first option is the ESP M-II CTM STD in black.
It ticks all boxes, and I know of at least 3 that I can get my hands on immediately. I'd love the white version of this, but apparently it's a 4 - 6 month wait for it to be built in Japan, and I have 2 + 1/2 months tops. In fact, I need it asap for rehearsals, and lessons (I'm selling my ESP M-II Deluxe in Mystic Dream tomorrow, actually.)
Another option is the ESP M-II/M EMG (Maple, EMG's)
I know it's not neck thru, but it IS awesomely white and has a matching headstock, which the M-II/M SD (duncans) doesn't have.
From what I understand, the CTM stands for Custom Shop, and refers to a slightly more luxurious model in general compared to the normal ESP standards which lack the title CTM. Any corrections here would be greatly appreciated.
Would the CTM have substantially better finish and fretwork than the ESP standard? What other differences in quality would there be?
Thanks in advance, Nick.
Honestly man, you will not go wrong with either guitar. ESP are VERY high quality guitars, especially for the price. I own two LTD's (an EC-1000 and M-1000) and they are sturdy, high quality, great sounding, great playing guitars.