M-1000 EBONY


M-1000 EBONY
(U.S. Only)
NOTE: Due to ongoing challenges in the global supply chain, instruments purchased from ShopESP that are not currently in stock may take an extended time frame to be delivered.

Guitars in the LTD 1000 Series are designed to offer the tone, feel, looks and quality that working professional musicians need in an instrument, along with the pricing that typical musicians can still afford. The M-1000 is a serious player’s guitar that employs a set-thru, extra thin-U shaped 3 pc. maple neck for the ultimate in shredding on its 24-fret ebony fingerboard. This alder-bodied guitar’s fast feel is complemented by its dual EMG 81 active pickups, with the resulting aggressive tone you need, and a Floyd Rose bridge.

Construction Set-Thru
Scale 25.5"
Body Alder
Neck 3Pc Maple
Fingerboard Macassar Ebony
Fingerboard Radius 350mm
Nut Width 43mm
Nut Type Locking
Neck Contour Extra Thin U
Frets/Type 24 XJ Stainless Steel
Hardware Color Black
Strap Button Standard
Tuners Grover
Bridge Floyd Rose 1000SE
Neck PU EMG 81
Bridge PU EMG 81
Electronics Active
Electronics Layout Volume/Tone/3-Way Switch
Strings D'Addario XL120 (.009/.011/.016/.024/.032/.042)
Case Included N
Luis Kalil: "The Unforgiven" (Metallica Solo)

Luis Kalil: "The Unforgiven" (Metallica Solo)

Here's a rare moment where we get to show you the incredible skill of an virtuoso guitarist who plays ESP as well as Takamine Guitars, which we distribute in the USA. Luís Kalil became the youngest-ever ESP endorsee at age...

LTD M-1000 E

First of all, a little context, because I don’t think I’m a typical LTD customer. From what I can tell, ESP is a company primarily aimed at Metal players when it comes to electric guitars and that isn’t really me. Yes, at 56 years old, I am very much a child of 80’s Metal, but I would describe myself as more of a Heavy Rock player with a Blues influence, though the tone I tend to go for is certainly 80’s Metal. Iron Maiden is probably about as far into Metal as I’m going to go and Adrian Smith is my favourite guitarist so take from that what you will. I’m also not a particularly fast player and in fairness, shredding for the sake of shredding holds no appeal to me at all. My last few guitars have all been PRS SE ‘Floyd’ Custom 24 models and they were all superb. Before that it was a Jackson Soloist, which was also good but I preferred the PRS. Basically, as a guitarist I like a superstrat and I guess I always will. I decided to change from PRS because I wanted a more classic superstrat tone, so ideally an alder body with a maple neck. I also REALLY disliked the positioning of the selector switch on the PRS as it made quick pickup changes far more difficult than they should be. To my mind, the selector switch is positioned perfectly on a Stratocaster and a Les Paul so if a guitar uses any other option, it’s not as effective. The M-1000 E uses the Stratocaster position for the selector switch so for me, it’s perfect.

Needless to say, my search for a new guitar took me to an LTD M-1000 E and this is my first LTD guitar. This is my experience so far.


If I were to have my ideal guitar built for me, this would be the guitar body I’d choose. The alder body is well weighted and broadly speaking has the dimensions of a Stratocaster, it’s just a slightly more modern take on the Stratocaster with less rounded edges. This slightly more modern design suits the guitar really well and the white finish looks classy. I love a beautiful quilted maple finish on a guitar but there’s something about a snow white guitar that you just can’t beat. In an ideal world, I would have loved it to be a quilted maple snow white finish but that’s a VERY minor point and I’m not that bothered either way. The body contours aren’t overly pronounced, but they are enough to make playing the instrument a comfortable experience, either sitting or standing. If you’re going to make a superstrat, alder is the way to go in my mind, so it’s surprising how many use mahogany instead these days. I couldn’t fault the body on this guitar at all.


Once again, my ‘superstrat’ wish-list is met with a 3-piece maple neck and ebony fingerboard. I wouldn’t want to change either of these options and the ebony fingerboard really does make it look classy. Ebony is super-smooth to play, feels great under the fingers and is the perfect match for the black hardware. A special mention must go to the inlays on the fingerboard as they’re very effective. I ideally wanted something more interesting than dots but at my age, I also didn’t want something like sharkfins. The arrowhead design used here is simply superb as I find it unusual enough to be dynamic and interesting but restrained enough not to dominate the aesthetic of the guitar. I’d never thought of this design before but I absolutely love it.  

The neck is an extra thin version, so 19mm – 21mm, making it pretty much the same as the neck on a Jackson Pro Dinky. Technically it’s a U shaped neck but I find that by the time the neck is as thin as this, it doesn’t make too much difference and you adapt easily. It doesn’t feel quite the same as a PRS or Jackson because of the shape, but it is very similar and after an hour of playing there’s no problem. I find Ibanez necks too thin but this one, like the Jackson, is perfect.

The radius of the fingerboard is 350mm, which I believe is 13.75”, so somewhere between a modern Stratocaster 12” radius and the really flat 16” profile of an Ibanez. In many ways it’s a great compromise as it’s comfortable to play for quite a long time, while being flat enough that the strings don’t choke during bends, even with a low action. The action I use is usually 1mm – 1.25mm as a reference. It works very well, but it’s one of the few things I would change if I could as I find the 12-16” compound radius on the Jackson to be better. Every guitar comes with its own compromises and this is one of three I made with this guitar and in fairness, it’s the smallest of the compromises I made. This isn’t a big deal and shouldn’t put anyone off buying the guitar, but in my opinion, a 12-16” compound radius would improve the guitar.

When I started my search for a new guitar, I assumed that to get an alder superstrat, I would probably have to get a bolt-on neck, like the Jackson Pro Dinky. I knew I didn’t want a neck-thru guitar because when I had a Jackson Soloist, I found that having maple running through the entire length of the guitar made it very difficult to find pickups that really worked well. With pickups, it’s mostly about the wood they’re mounted on and Jackson illustrates my point beautifully if we take the classic JB/59 set as an example. With a Pro Dinky, the pickups are mounted onto the alder body and the JB especially sounds absolutely godly it’s so good, but on a Soloist, the same pickup is mounted on maple and it sounds dead in comparison. A set-thru neck is a fantastic compromise because you get all of the benefits of a neck-thru while still having the pickups mounted onto the wood of the body. Admittedly a bolt-on neck is slightly brighter and has more snap than a set neck, but to me, the upper fret access you gain from a set-thru design makes it the best option. I’ve seen a number of reviews of the M-1000 E claim it is a neck-thru construction but it’s not, it just looks that way and it’s an important distinction to make. To me, a set-thru neck really is the best of all worlds and it was one of the main reasons I decided to live with the compromises I had with this guitar. The only guitar maker I can think of with a better solution is Ran Guitars, as their bolt-on neck is contoured so much and so skilfully that it’s essentially the same as the LTD set-thru design.

Finally, as far as the neck is concerned, we come to the headstock and as trivial as it may sound, this was easily my biggest compromise. I really don’t like a guitar that screams ‘Metal’ so I MUCH prefer a 3+3 headstock. If really pushed, I would grudgingly accept the standard LTD pointy headstock, but this reverse pointy headstock I really can’t abide. I actually dislike it so much that I hesitated on buying this guitar for two weeks and I had initially dismissed it out of hand, entirely because of the reverse headstock. If I was a teenager I’m sure I would feel differently about it, but at 56 years old, I really don’t want a guitar where the headstock looks like it was designed by a twelve-year-old! I totally accept that this is an entirely personal preference and if you like it, I’m pleased for you, but it does divide opinion and as a result, you will notice it if/when you come to sell your guitar. Guitars with pointy headstocks suffer heavy depreciation and guitars with reverse pointy headstocks will drop like a stone in terms of value. A few years ago I wouldn’t have touched this guitar, regardless of how good it was, entirely because of the headstock, but at 56 I’m getting to an age where I no longer care what people think and I’m not likely to change the guitar again so resale value doesn’t particularly concern me.


Everything on this guitar is quality when it comes to hardware. The Grover tuners feel great and do the job perfectly. I find their inclusion a nice touch as with a Floyd, I rarely care much what the tuners are like, as long as they work. I started my search for a new guitar knowing I wanted a Floyd Rose 1000 bridge so I really scored with this one as it’s the SE version with the upgraded stainless steel screws. This really is a very good bridge and is always totally reliable. I’ve owned many Floyd 1000 equipped guitars and even with heavy abuse, they never let you down. The black hardware on the guitar looks really classy and is the perfect contrast to the snow white paintwork. If I was being very picky indeed, I think the bridge should have been all black, as it used to be when the guitar just used the normal Floyd 1000 instead of the SE. I guess LTD just wanted to show off the fact that it had stainless steel screws as an upgrade, but it’s an aesthetically poor choice as it breaks up that simple black and white colour contrast. The older version looked better with all black parts but this is a very minor point indeed.


This was my other big compromise as I really dislike the EMG 81 pickups that come as standard. If you’re playing hard Metal with a mass of gain, they’ll be great, but other than that, they’re largely useless, being far too compressed and tonally I find them to be completely sterile. I did think about switching them for EMG Retro Actives, but eventually concluded that I might as well rip out all of the electrics and install my favourite passives. I change pickups on most of my guitars but the stock active pickups here just made the job more complicated and more expensive. I can’t help thinking that as active pickups tend to polarise opinion more than passives, LTD would be better off installing decent passive pickups as standard. This is especially the case as the overall design follows the traditional superstrat formula so why not fit a classic superstrat set of pickups, like the JB/59 set or a Super Distortion/PAF Pro set? That would make far more sense to me as they would be completely in keeping with the superstrat design. The choice of an EMG 81 set is absolutely bizarre in this particular guitar. In other models that are more obviously aimed at a more modern interpretation of the superstrat, fair enough, but in an alder superstrat design with more than a passing resemblance to a Stratocaster? No, I don’t think so, and ESP/LTD need to think about this again. The pickups I’m going for will be handmade for me by Jaime at The Creamery because he makes the best pickups I’ve ever tried. I used to use Bareknuckles but these are both cheaper and better. I’ll use a Classic ’83 in the bridge and the neck pickup will be a hot PAF made to my own specification and while I’m on, I’ll fit a push/pull to move from series to parallel. Classic 80’s Metal passive pickups in a great 80’s Metal superstrat design – now that’s how it should be done; ESP/LTD take note!


So why buy this guitar when it has features that really don’t fire my enthusiasm? In my mind at least, the active pickups, non-compound radius neck and ridiculous headstock are all certainly compromises, and I could easily fix these issues on alternative guitars, but when buying anything I think you need to approach it with a degree of practicality. Realistically, unless I’m getting a guitar custom made for me at vast expense, there will always be some degree of compromise. Had I bought the Jackson, the body would be a bit too small and upper fret access wouldn’t be quite as good and although the headstock would have been the right way around, it would still be a pointy affair. A Charvel DK24 would have been made from mahogany and had gold hardware, that looks great but tarnishes quickly and its maple fretboard shows wear even more quickly. The Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid was awesome but would have the mahogany body and was substantially more expensive everywhere I looked. We can all find something we’d like to change about a guitar if we really try, so compromise is something we just have to accept to a greater or lesser extent, otherwise we’d all own no more than one guitar. I’ve lived perfectly happily with a 10” radius fretboard on a PRS for many years now so I reason that while I’d prefer a 12”-16” compound radius, a 13.75” radius is certainly not going to be an issue. As much as I like the JB/59 set of pickups in a Pro Dinky, I much prefer the pickups I get from The Creamery so I may well have still changed them regardless of the guitar I bought.

That just leaves the silly reverse pointy headstock, and is that really a good reason to not buy a guitar that is so perfect in so many other ways? As much as I hate how ridiculous and childish I find the headstock, at the end of the day, it’s a relatively minor aesthetic detail that has no bearing on the actual performance of the guitar. If people look at it expecting me to shred and I play Blues, who cares? Jimi Hendrix was essentially a Blues player with a reverse headstock guitar and Albert King played Blues with a Gibson Flying V, so why should I care? When it came right down to it, I found I’d rather accept the compromise of the headstock than a compromise on a more fundamental part of the guitar and in all practical respects, this is an awesome guitar.

While many modern superstrats go with mahogany or basswood, the M-1000 E sticks to the tried and trusted formula of alder body and maple neck. It’s surprising how few manufacturers use this formula in their superstrats these days, given how well it works. The LTD offers fantastic value for what you’re getting, with excellent build quality, top quality hardware and a beautiful set-thru construction, all at a competitive price point, so I think it presents a compelling case in its favour. I kept my PRS guitars for as long as I did because I really didn’t think I could get better at anywhere near that price, and I genuinely loved those guitars, but I like this one even better once I’ve installed decent pickups, and would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.

Evan S.

You can really see how ESP has cut costs on these. I got two, both inspected by Sweetwater and ESP and both judged to be fine. First one had off center nut and separated clear coat around the binding and nut. Paint run on the neck. 2nd one had a hair in the paint and a run! Large patches of visible grain all over. They also cheaped out on a battery cover instead of box. 2nd battery cover was impossible to pry out. Ended up working it free with some finesse and cursing. Would not go back in without being forced. Just these little things that should have been rejected or fixed along the way. 

Fundamental problems with this turn towards cost cutting include awful trem routes in both guitars. Splinters and grain just painted over and extremely visible. No more model number 12 fret inlay. Those points on the inlays? Theyre only routing em out in one stage that is too big for the points. Every point on those inlays has visible black filler. Easily remedied by a two stage process but gosh that might cost ESP a nickel more per guitar. Instead of model number inlay you get it on this chintzy plastic truss rod cover that is sorta embossed but it just looks god awful in person.

The painted necks are another cost saving measure. Painted necks feel awful and everyone hates em. You'll notice browsing through ESP's catalog that you only get that on $1600 LTDs and above. It's a compromise and I'll live with it but know why they're doing it. Probably hiding some real awful looking maple hackjobs too. They're also going with cheapo mini pots on these and about three miles of excess wiring lazily shoved in there. Tone pot on 1st one did absolutely nothing. Who knows what was wrong with wiring. 

Don't think ESP is gonna do anything but continue to cut costs as all large companies do so instead of buying this buy used Korean LTDs. 


Hell they don't even give you a printed manual or any sort of literature whatsoever. You get a zip lock with allen keys and a trem arm. That's how cheap they are. 


Hi Evan : Had some similar QC there and happy to see i'm not alone. I've a lot of LTD and i must say i'm really surprised by the drop of quality control for the M 1000. My  Indonesian EX 401, M 400, MH401QM, EC 401 were all indonesians and really well made. My MH1000 is Korean and it's really a great guitar, of the highest standard. But why for this model it's a matter ? Check these links also :




Evan S.

I guess they do have an $1100 (hardtail) set thru with unpainted neck so forgive me!

Carl N.

Sorry you feel that way Evan, while we do work to produce quality instruments on occasion there are a few that escape our quality control process...and it would appear to have gotten through Sweetwater's as well.  If you feel there is an issue with your instrument you can always work with your dealer to resolve the matter, or you may reach out to our customer service team if you would prefer to deal with us directly.  They can be reached at customerservice@espguitars.com. In regards to the manual, this is available online in the form of a PDF.  We feel it is better to save the waste of paper manuals by providing this digitally.


Evan S.

Eh I've been through 2 of em, I'm living with the 2nd one issues aside. Don't have much time to keep trying to get a good one. The issues are fundamental as opposed to just one or two guitars. You really should move 1000 level production back to Korea. 

Nick C.

@Evan S.  - sry to read you went through this.  At $1k for  guitar this is unacceptable.  I have an E-II Japan Eclipse, and the build quality is phenomenal, but I really wanted to try out an LTD.  no thanks!

Carlos H.

Since i saw the Deluxe M-1000, i´ve been thinking that this incredible guitar deserves a seymour Duncan JB version...

Carl N.

currently offering a few M series instruments with Duncan pickups, though you could always add the pickups of your choice later, not very difficult.

Carlos H.

Yeah, i was thinking the same, not a big fan of EMG hehe. Thanks a lot for your time! 

adam b.

You are so right on man- That's exactly what I'm doing right now...lol..-but with the black deluxe model with those trick inlays..  Goin for the Pegasus and Sentient, tricked out with gold hardware, etc   I just got a guitar with emgs- and umm....yea  They actually sound cool for certain things, but man, they are just missing something?  I'm still trying to keep an open mind about em' but there is a sterile , kind of generic quality to them..  High output passive humbuckers have those dynamics that u just can't beat-  Duncan's are funky-clive bra!!-  

Jason Andropolis

Does anyone know if this is an R2 or R3 sized nut? I currently own this guitar and am upgrading to an Original Floyd Rose but I can't tell what the actual size is. 

Carl N.

This will use an R3 nut, this will usually be stamped onto the bottom of the nut for reference.

Kelly B.

Wants amps does everyone use for esp 

Carl N.

I use Orange and Darkglass, might be something you'd be better off posting within our forums instead of the comment section

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