The name might be as sexy as damp slippers, but the EC-401FM represents the lofty peak of the LTD range. If James Hetfield were reading this, he’d shout, "Hell, yeah!" and send his butler out for one immediately.
On paper, the only lame thing about the EC-401FM is that we’ve paid £849 and it still doesn’t say ‘ESP’ on the headstock (despite a spec that mirrors ESP’s Eclipse-II range.) The ‘FM’ stands for ‘flame maple’ (as in the cap that sits atop the mahogany body) but it could equally mean ‘For Metal’, with EMG 81 and 60 active humbuckers.
All evidence suggests LTD has this model down as a Les Paul-beater, perhaps for the player who fancies Zakk Wylde’s signature Gibson, but doesn’t own a goose that lays golden eggs.
It wouldn’t kill LTD to make its models look more original, but the EC-401FM stands out from other Les Paul wannabes with a significantly lighter mass and a dead-thin neck that gets your fingers firing. But its relatively slim dimensions won’t compromise your tone.
Thick and buttery when clean, this guitar is dark, malevolent and dripping with sustain under distortion, with the neck ’bucker supplying a dense crunch and the razorblade sneer of the bridge meaning you won’t miss your precious PAFs for a second. Granted, this model doesn’t exactly break new ground, but it’s the perfect choice for bursting ears and cracking skulls.
Pros: Savage EMG tone, easy to play.
Cons: Derivative looks and format.
BUY: ESP LTD EC-401FM currently available from Andertons Music Co., Thomann and PMT Online