ESP Ltd F-400 Review
Original Author: Rtb
Weapon: ESP Ltd F-400
Make: ESP Guitars
Model: Ltd F-400
Price: Average Price: $850
From a Local Dealer: $970
Mahogany body w/flamed maple top;
3-piece maple neck;
Custom tribal inlays;
EMG 81 active pickups;
Volume & tone controls w/3-way toggle;
Earvana Compensated Nut;
Tune-o-matic bridge w/string-thru-body;
24 XJ frets
Custom tribal inlays: Alongside with the “F” shape, this is actually the feature that makes this guitar so unique! I absolutely love it! Myself and my band mates were afraid the inlay to be too thick or visually harmful, but in fact it is very well designed. The inlay is made of the same material than the arrow inlays of the F-200… like pearl color, and also changes the coloration a bit, according to the light direction. The overall result is very good, and manages to be somewhat discrete but catching to the eye. Hard to explain… I simply like it. As to playing, It is also not as difficult as I was expecting. You always have the dots on top of the arm, so not a prob. After one week I already now what inlay is the 9th, 12th and 15th frets easily.
Grover tuners: In fact this is the feature I like the least. I know them pretty well because my Washburn N-2 also has them. The “G” string of the F-400 is always getting out of tune, just like the N-2! I do believe it could have better tuners (this guitar is the top of LTD “F” series), but they surely are better than the LTD plastic ones…
24 XJ frets: Are you addicted to the 24th fret? This guitar has it! The XJ fret is a little thicker than others, but the notes come out clearer. I’m already used to it, and I like it a lot!
Tune-o-matic bridge w/string-thru-body: My F-200 has the Licensed Floyd Rose, but I never use it, so the tune-o-matic is quite appropriate for me. It is quite good to be able to tune each sting, and to see it stay in tune if I tune the others. With the F-200, I have to tune all the strings about 3 times (when changing from “E” tune to “Eb” tune) for it to have a good overall tune. Also, it’s good to be able to bend a string, and not change the note of all the others strings! The bridge w/string-thru-body also looks quite cool to me!
Earvana Compensated Nut: Well, I’ve never saw this one before, so I went to search. I don’t really know how it really changes the intonation, or how effective it is, but, here is the link if you are curious: https://www.earvana.com/
Set-thru construction, and mahogany body: Simply marvellous! My F-200 already has Neck-Thru-Body tech, but this is way better!! As you can see in the pick, there are no screws or unions or anything! Just soft wood and a gradual and smooth increase of thickness were the arm meets the body! This has huge effect on the sound, especially the sustain. The sustain of F-400 last more 3 times than the F-200, and I’m not exaggerating! It was actually the biggest difference I saw right from the start, regarding the sound. One other aspect is that the guitar is quite light. Even a bit lighter than the F-200. The only disadvantage is the “shiny” finish of the body…. It is easily scratched, and only by putting a finger it gets stained. Very annoying! In fact, I already made 2 scratches and I don’t know how or when. This a big downside to me… Probably the biggest! More info here: http://www.mcnaughtguitars.com/index15.htm
Volume & tone controls w/3-way toggle: Nothing out of the normal here… I simply think the tone control to be useless, because I always use it on the maximum in the F-200, and as far as I’ve tested, it will do the same in the F-400.
The guitar has EMG 81 active pickups in both Neck and Bridge, and honestly…THEY FREAKIN’ KICK ASS! The sound is much more defined than the EMG HZ of my F-200, especially on “extreme settings”. I will explain…
For example, when playing at home, with low volume, the F-200 gets fuzzy, but the F-400 maintains the high output and excellent definition, no matter the volume.
Also, if I push the bass to a maximum on my POD XT Live, the F-400 still maintains a good definition, but the F-200 sounds “BRUU”. Other tests I made also show the F-400 to maintain a good overall performance.
As for the neck pickup… I’ve read a lot of things about EMG-81 pickups, like not being warm and such, and not being suited for neck position. Well, personally I like a lot it’s sound in the neck position, both clean an distortion! My F-200 with EMG HZ, in neck pickup makes “Blouuung”, so I never use it alone. Only in combination with the bridge one. The F-400 neck pickup does NOT makes “Bloouuung” and has also good definition. I use it a lot now with clean sound, and hard rock riffs. It is true that the sound is a bit sharp, but nothing that worries me! I managed to compensate a bit by changing the sound settings of my ]]POD]] XT Live.
After being used to play the F-400 for a week, my F-200 seems like broken to me. Especially when I play at home with low volume… It was a shot on the dark, but definitely the shot hit its mark! I absolutely love the guitar, and also do my band mates, because they also noticed a good difference (actually greater than expected) on my sound. Now…. I wonder were I can get my hands to an ESP F-STD Sanskrit…