ESP LTD MH-103QM

With LTD, the size of your wallet needn't dictate the size of your crowd…

If you've salivated over top-shelf ESP electrics but find your wallet sadly lacking when it comes to making a purchase, we'd urge you to check out the LTD range, launched in 1996 to put ESP styling and performance within the reach of the erm, more financially challenged guitarist.

The MH-103QM is near the bottom rung of a range that spans from £269 to £999, but all things considered, it's certainly well-appointed. ESP-branded pickups and tuners, a double locking Floyd Rose-style vibrato and a quilted maple top – almost certainly a veneer – all feature, along with recessed controls.

Basswood may not be the sexiest timber, and the thru-necks of the pricier MHs are absent, but this still represents a bargain on paper.

Okay so the body outline might be derivative, but we love the vibe of the MH-103QM. It's functional, comfortable, aggressive without scaring off non-metallers, well-appointed without coming on like an eighties superstrat and nicely built by LTD's Chinese production line - albeit with untidy solder wire in the pickup cavities.

The MH-103QM has neither the look nor the performance of an entry-level electric. The slick two-octave fretboard and the U-shaped neck profile make this a fast and satisfying performer.

The jagged headstock and floating vibrato imply shred, but this baby has soul too, responding well to weeping blues licks and sliding barre chords.

Sounds

Some would prefer the active EMGs of the ESP range, but we welcome the versatility of the MH's configuration.

The bridge unit is tailor-made for scything through a rhythm section, and the middle single-coil offers a clipped, funky tone with shades of a good Strat copy.

Our only issue is that we'd prefer the tonal weight of a second humbucker in the neck. But let's not dwell on that. Practice hard enough and this could be your ticket from the bedroom to the O2 Arena.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Ballsy performance. Impressive spec for the money.

Cons

Some players may prefer a neck humbucker. Derivative design.

Verdict

Cheap thrills for discerning rockers.

Country of Origin

China

Available Controls

5 Way Lever Pickup Switch Tone Volume

Available Finish

Trans blue

Bolt-on Neck

Yes

Bridge

Double-locking vibrato

Features

Quilted maple top

Fingerboard Material

Maple

Guitar Body Material

Basswood

Neck Material

Maple

No. of Frets

24

Pickup Configuration

HSS

Pickup Switching

Five-way lever

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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