ESP is great at making guitars, but not so good at giving them catchy names. So, when you look at this stonking instrument, forget about the bland clutch of letters and numbers that it's been saddled with, and instead try to think of the 'SCT-607B' as the LTD version of Deftones axeman Stephen Carpenter's signature seven-string.
"LTD may well be ESP's budget range, but it's hard to see where the corners have been cut"
LTD may well be ESP's budget range, but it's hard to see where the corners have been cut with this model. All the hardware is high-grade pukka stuff, from the adjustable bridge to the locking tuners. Locking tuners means less string wrapped around the tuning peg, so it should be less prone to slippage and stay in tune better. They're not cheap either, so you don't tend to see them on bad guitars, which means that it's a very good sign that LTD has included them on the SCT-670B.
What's more, ESP has used the same materials as on its big-budget brother, with an ebony fingerboard, alder body and maple neck. This is a whole lot of guitar for your money.
The maple neck runs all the way through the guitar's body, with the rest of the body glued either side of it. This means that the strings are anchored at both ends to the same piece of wood, so there's no neck join to sap tone and sustain.
ESP describes the SCT-607B's 686mm (27-inch) scale length as 'baritone', but it arrived with us tuned as a standard-scale guitar, with the seventh string providing an extra low B (from low to high, that's BEADGBE). That's just as well, because the low B seemed a bit slack, even in standard tuning; if we were to tune down to F#BEADF#B, we'd definitely want to put on thicker strings to compensate for the reduced tension.
The SCT-607B sports a pair of EMG 81 active humbuckers (in its seven-string EMG 81-7 incarnation), for which we thank the gods of gain. It's easy to see why EMG 81s are loved by metallers: even set fairly clean, the SCT-607B pushes your amp hard, crackling it into distortion that renders clean tones pointless. If you have the headroom, you could probably get a pretty convincing country twang, but we'd have to report you to the metal police.
"With the gain turned up, the EMGs cope masterfully"
With the gain turned up, the EMGs cope masterfully, kicking out a crisp, sharp tone that never seems to get muddy, no matter how much dirt you dial in. Low-down riffing sounds as good as you'd expect from a Deftones man's axe, but what surprised us was how good it is played as a normal six-string.
With no neck heel and 24 frets, it's a licence to shred, even if we did get lost a couple of times due to the lack of fingerboard inlays. We're torn over this: the completely black fingerboard looks cool, but the unfamiliar scale length means we'd appreciate at least a marker at the 12th fret.