As ESP undoubtedly realized their mistake with calling their new mid-line Made in Japan "ESP-branded" instruments "LTD Elites," they summarily discontinued all of them, then reintroduced the models as "E-II" (and increased the prices about $200 across the board).
Luckily, there are still a few LTD Elites floating around at heavily discounted prices, and I couldn't say no to this set of specs and that color.
So, here's my new LTD Elite ST-1.
Two Duncan STK-S4 stacked "noiseless" singles and a Duncan Custom bridge, five-way selector, volume, tone, Floyd Special. Not sold on the STK-S4s, and may want to try a different Duncan in the bridge (Perpetual Burn, maybe?), but it sounds pretty freaking fantastic as is.
The quilt top/veneer is pretty shitty, honestly (it gets overwhelmed by the color and doesn't have much chatoyance) but the color is fantastic, and the natural binding (looks like a quilt veneer on top of a 3/8" maple drop top) is very classy.
24 frets and a spoke wheel truss rod adjuster
Also an interesting (and pretty comfortable) side output jack setup, which keeps the cable out of the way, seated and standing:
Ahh, the branding. Such a weird, weird decision by ESP. Love the color and the matching headstock, though. Strangely, the fingerboard itself is finished in gloss, and the neck itself is finished in a very slick satin.
Swamp ash body, and a lot of contouring around the bolt joint make it pretty comfy to get up there (although I still hit the lower horn somewhat when playing on the highest frets on the lower strings):
Gotoh tuners and that all-important MIJ sticker:
As I've been ending up more in Gibson-scale land these days, this was a bit of a departure. But, with a narrow neck that's just deep and round enough to be comfy and a really versatile pickup layout plus Floyd (haven't owned a guitar with a locking trem for years now) means that this is just a blast to play.
-Spoke wheel truss rod adjuster
-Full set of "real" Duncans
-Great sound and feel
-Excellent tonewood choice
-Excellent hardware and electronics
-Good access to the upper frets
-Quality is VERY good; I paid less than a high-end Korean Schecter, and about as much as an American Strat, and I'm very, very happy with the overall quality, playability, sounds, and looks relative to other guitars in the price range.
-STK-S4 "single coils" are a little "dead" sounding compared to what I expect in a single-coil
-Would prefer an alnico bridge pickup, I think
-Quilt veneer is bleh, but luckily hidden by the awesome coloration
-Seriously, what was ESP thinking with the branding on these?
-For some reason, they put a Floyd nut on this (and all the others that I've seen) that is narrow relative to the nut shelf. There's about a millimeter of shelf on each side of the locking nut
-Wish it had a reverse headstock
Really surprised Shannon didn't pick one of these up on clearance, seems right up his alley.