ESP Horizon NT-II review

  • £1540
  • $1659
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Our Verdict

The NT-II has got to be the closest the Superstrat has got to evolutionary perfection.


  • Unbeatable pickup pairing (plus a coil split), immaculate presentation and great neck profile.


  • High-gloss finish doesn't mix too well with sweat.
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The Horizon NT II s shape will be instantly recognisable to many shred conoisseurs

The Horizon NT-II's shape will be instantly recognisable to many shred conoisseurs.

ESP Horizon NT-II

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Some may find the headstock a bit crowded

Some may find the headstock a bit crowded.

ESP Horizon NT-II

The ESP Horizon series has proved an enduring victory for guitar design.

Introduced in 1986, it has aged well. That dagger-shaped headstock casts an instantly recognisable silhouette, with a level of threat, too.

"Five minutes with the NT-II is long enough to recognise the appeal that it has with metal guitarists"

Yet the NT-II is clearly reaching for the gentrified shredder and wears its quilted maple livery and antique Dark Brown Sunburst well - an ebony fretboard with a minimum of pearloid fills out an enigmatic guitar that reeks of class.

The NT-II comes well-equipped with a Seymour Duncan SH-4 (Jeff Beck model) in the bridge, and SH-1 ('59) in the neck. It's a classic pairing.


The punch, attitude and expressive high-end of the SH-4 makes it one of the finest high-output passive humbuckers in the business. Even in high-gain scenarios, the SH-4 won't go shrill on you; it articulates your rhythm and lead work perfectly, complementing rather than compromising your playing.

The SH-1, as you'd expect, is channelling a vintage PAF tone. When selected, it provides log-fire levels of warmth with just the right amount of break-up, and is perfect for smooth, creamy overdrive. And where the SH-4 has the bite, an abundance of presence even in clean tones, the SH-1 is that bit more civilised.

Part of the raison d'être of the shred double-cut is versatility, and in the warm, spongy tones of the SH-1, the NT-II has an expressive range of cleans, aided and abetted with the coil-split for some single-coil subtlety.

Five minutes with the NT-II is long enough to recognise the appeal that it has with metal guitarists who want a guitar that has all the dynamics to handle clean, chimey arpeggios and ill-tempered, overdriven riffs alike.

The U-contoured neck, with a neck-through construction for added stability and tone, is slim without being so emaciated that your hand cramps after thirty minutes. The high-gloss finish does have a tendency to gum up with sweaty hands, but this is our only minor gripe.

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Tech Specs

Available Controls3-way Pickup Selector Coil-split Tone Volume
Available FinishDark Brown Sunburst (pictured), Black Aqua, See Thru Black Cherry, Reindeer Blue, See Thru Black
Bolt-on Neckfalse
Guitar Body MaterialMahogany
HardwareBlack nickel, Gotoh tuners
Left Handed Model Availabletrue
Neck MaterialMaple
No. of Frets24
Scale Length (Inches)25.5
Top MaterialQuilted maple
Pickup TypeSeymour Duncan SH-4 (bridge), Seymour Duncan SH-1 (neck)