Learn if the ESP LTD EC-10 is one of the best beginner electric guitars for aggressive metal and rock in our ESP LTD EC 10 review.
One reviewer called the ESP LTD EC 10 ‘a pleasant surprise’. That’s pretty much the scheme of things with this budget 6-string electric guitar from the well-known Japanese manufacturer ESP.
The ESP LTD EC 10 is suitable for players of any level but is slanted toward beginners. Other models in the ESP range are favored by such rock luminaries as Kirk Hamnett and George Lynch. Many rock and metal guitarists have had or still have signature lines from ESP bearing their name, and there is no doubt that the ESP LTD EC 10 is first and foremost a rock and metal guitar.
At A Glance
- A great ESP guitar for players of any skill level, but especially great for beginners in electric guitar
- Has a smooth, comfortable, thin U-shaped maple neck for easily getting to chords and scales all over the fingerboard
- Features a well-balanced and contoured basswood body that's good for playing while seated or standing
- The ESP designed LH-100 pickups are great for any genre of music you like to play
- Also includes a gig bag case, making it easier to get to lessons and friend's houses
- For learning, jamming, songwriting and more, the EC-10 is a terrific choice that you can afford today
- Smooth and comfortable design
- Quality hardware with amazing value
- Decent pickups that are great for metal genres
- Beautiful fit with excellent playability
- Stays in tune with strong tones
- Comes with a gig bag case
- Not a great choice for playing blues or jazz
- Engineer wood fretboard feels cheaper
- May need setting up out of the box
- Quality control issues
Popularity Over Time
History And Origin
ESP (or Electric Sound Products, as it was originally known) opened its first store in Tokyo, Japan in 1975. It also had a small workshop to make replacement parts, and from there, ESP has become the internationally known company it is today, supplying guitars, basses, and accessories to some of the world’s best-known musicians.
The company has become famous for its quality products and the limited lifetime warranty which accompanies every instrument. Reviews routinely score 4.5 stars or around 8/10 rating, no matter the model.
To celebrate its 40th year in business, in 2015 the company created a limited edition range of guitars bearing the ESP LTD name. This meant that the guitars were priced at an affordable level, but without compromising the quality on which the company built its name.
Body And Neck
The ESP LTD EC 10 has basswood back and body, with a maple neck. The current product description calls it a satin-finished neck, although comments left by players on various reviews have stated that some models appear to be matte while others are glossy. The body finish is gloss.
The neck is thin and U-shaped which makes it easier to improve technique, while the body is contoured to enable easy playing whether seated or standing.
The guitar is a solid-body flattop with a short scale of 24.75”.
Fretboard And Bridge
The fingerboard is rosewood (but lacks the premium feelings), with a 350mm radius and 24 extra-jumbo frets, rather than the more usual number of 22. The bridge is a stop tail style Tune-o-Matic, which is known for its stability, allows accurate intonation, and enhances sustain.
Electronics And Hardware
The hardware specs for the ESP LTD EC 10 are just as good as you would expect and everything appears to be solidly made. Decked out in chrome, this glossy black axe is ready to rock.
The guitar has two humbucking pickups, one on the neck and one on the bridge, both LH-100 models designed by ESP. The passive settings mean sound is produced by disturbing the magnetic fields between pickups and strings. This is adequate for this guitar and helps to keep the cost low. It has passive electronics with a three-way pickup selector, master volume, and master tone controls. Players can select either pickup or split the difference in the middle.
The ESP LTD EC 10 comes with D’Addario strings. 010 to .046 size and has six tuners in a 3+3 configuration with a molded nut, again well made and able to stand up to a beginner’s handling.
The guitar is available in a black gloss finish with a variety of woods used for the construction. The body is basswood; the neck is maple; the fingerboard is rosewood.
The ESP LTD EC 10 has clean tones and holds its tuning well during our long playing session. Beginners may prefer to take the guitar to their local guitar shop to set it up out of the box, but more experienced players should easily be able to tackle this task. The sound is tailored towards rock and metal styles, with aggression and rasp, but it has a warm side to its tonality as well.
The pickup quality is better than average for the price, with noticeable amounts of output and sustain. Additionally, the pickups have very little background noise or feedback, unlike some cheaper models. A new player is likely to enjoy the experience of learning to play this instrument, while a more experienced musician will find it more than adequate for their needs, especially at this price tag.
Let’s listen to how the ESP LTD EC-10 sounds:
This ESP instrument is a quality guitar at a decent price, with a bolt-on neck and solid body construction. It is well-balanced on a strap but can also be played by a seated musician. Estimates of the weight vary but the packaging tends to state 16lbs.
Using basswood for body construction makes it lighter weight than many similar instruments. It is packed and shipped with care to ensure that the guitar arrives in one piece. The gig bag forms one of the layers of the packaging and all the potentially fragile pieces, like the switches and knobs, have additional protection packed closely around them. The build and sound quality exceeded my expectations given the price.
The EC 10 is available in right-hand orientation.
It is primarily focused on new students of the electric guitar but is also good for other musicians to use as an instrument to compose on. The relatively lightweight construction and good design make it easy to pick up and play with without too much trouble.
The cutaways have been sympathetically done to enhance the playing experience and make it easier for novices to play. There are cutaways on the body, at the neck, and over the strumming arm position, which enhance the player’s comfort levels.
The guitar suits fast players, but it is also a simple instrument for students to learn on, with clean lines and sound. Experienced musicians rate ESP’s entire range for this reason, and repeat that the quality is far superior to what they had expected for the money.
The ESP LTD EC 10 is a versatile instrument despite its simplicity. The pickups lend themselves to many genres of music, and the simplicity means it is a good instrument for learning, jamming, or songwriting. Musicians who normally play other instruments have been known to buy an EC 10 because the model is not only affordable, it’s friendly to use.
As you might expect from ESP, the sound is primarily suited for rock or metal playing, but it can handle other genres of music too. The neck pickup sound suits jazz and funk, while the bridge humbucker with lower tone settings suits blues. A higher tone on this pickup makes the sound more rock-oriented and adding distortion brings a heavy metal feel. This is not terribly good for your amplifier, but it can make you feel like a rock god instantly.
Design & Looks
The instrument has clean lines, two pickups, and only three controls. It is mainly available in black gloss, suitable enough for a rock-oriented guitar. But some reviews have mentioned that it has red and blue options too which I’m not sure about. Black is stylish and sleek, plus the chrome hardware looks good with this colorway.
The U-shaped neck makes for easy playing, and the cutouts are also sensibly shaped for a comfortable playing experience. The choice of 24 extra-jumbo frets on the fingerboard is also designed with the novice in mind.
There is often a gig bag as part of the deal when bought online. The package also includes a warranty. Spare strings can be purchased separately and swapped in as necessary.
As EC-10 is primarily a guitar of aggressive metal and rock genre as those pickups are built with this in mind, it wouldn’t be able to give you the finest output for other genres. So, if you want to stick with it for a long time and think about playing some fun stuff from other genres too, you should probably go for an upgrade in my opinion.
Upgrades to its pickups can be a great move. It will enable you to dive into more versatility in the long run. Before upgrading, you can read our complete guide on the best pickups for electric guitars that you can find online and in guitar stores.
Value For Money
The ESP LTD EC 10 is considered great value for money in my opinion. Even most reviewers and experienced players like the model, because it is simple and easy to pick up and play. The guitar has a high build quality, as is generally the case with ESP instruments.
Because of the price, it is an affordable model for newcomers to the guitar world. It’s also favored by seasoned musicians because of the brand’s reputation and high-profile signature players. It has clean lines and unfussy controls which do what is expected. Once set up, the guitar holds its tuning as well, which is another big plus for beginners.
ESP LTD EC 10 Review Insight
Choose ESP LTD EC 10 If
- You need an entry-level electric guitar for composing or to learn the basics
- You are going to be playing the guitar and sitting down
- You have smaller hands because the thin neck makes access easier
- You are on a budget but still need quality equipment
- You are going to be playing rock or metal styles
Don’t Choose ESP LTD EC 10 If
- You will not be playing at least some rock or metal
- You do not enjoy using pickups in raised frames
- You do not have access to a guitar shop or someone who can initially set up the guitar if you’re not able to do it by yourself
ESP LTD EC-10 Alternatives
- GRX Maple Neck
- Poplar Body/ Quilted Art Grain Top
- Medium frets
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Pearl Dot Inlay
- Body: Poplar
- Neck Material: 1-Piece Maple
- Fingerboard: Amaranth
- Bridge: Jackson HT7 String-Through-Body Hardtail
- Brand: Fender, Color: Brown Sunburst
- Poplar Body, Maple Neck, Rosewood Fretboard
- Guitar Pickup Configuration: Combination
- 6 Steel Strings, Hardtail Bridge, Right-handed
The ESP LTD EC 10 is a quality entry-level electric guitar suitable both for beginners and more experienced musicians with a lower budget. It comes with a gig bag from most suppliers.
It is a comfortable instrument to play, with clean lines, a thin neck, and XJ frets. This will help new players by simplifying the learning experience, but it will also appeal to seasoned musicians who don’t want to spend a fortune on their new instrument.
The EC 10 is primarily for rock and metal styles, but it’s suitable for many genres if you consider a pickup upgrade. This versatile guitar can be used equally well for lessons, jams, and songwriting. It looks like the part and soon, students will be able to sound the part too, thanks to the simplicity of design and quality workmanship.
So, there you have it! That was my ESP LTD EC 10 review for you. Hope this article plays a handy role in making an informed decision before your purchase.
Cornell K. Benson is from Mansfield, OH. He is 30 years old and has expertise in electric guitars and gears. Cornell has a great understanding of electric guitars and their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. He also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of various electric guitar brands.