You don’t get any prizes for guessing where ESP got the inspiration from for its new LTD Phoenix 200 model. For those of you still scratching your head, the Phoenix 200 pays close tribute to a ‘60s classic, the Gibson Firebird.
Knowing ESP, however, the Phoenix will turn out to be a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Underneath the gloss black exterior lurks a thoroughly modern rock guitar. The maple neck extends through to the base of the body and has a pair of basswood wings glued to it.
Basswood is the timber of choice for anyone looking for a lightweight body that produces excellent tonal qualities and sustain, and this Phoenix pumps out sustain by the bucketload.
The sizzling clarity of the bridge humbucker makes it the pick of the litter in light of the neck unit’s slight muddiness when overdriven. That said, you’ll find useable tones in all three positions on the selector switch.
There are quite a few Firebird-inspired models available at the moment; the Epiphone and Tokai models immediately spring to mind. While it also echoes the original, LTD’s guitar isn’t a straight clone. It comes over like a hot rod version of the ‘60s model, those pickups being happiest when they have plenty of gain to feed on. This Phoenix might ruffle the feathers of the vintage freaks but rock and metalheads will love it.
Pros: Cool looks, modern rock tones.
Cons: Muddy neck ’bucker.