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E-II Standard - An ESP by any other name?

Posted by Rockshop on 10 December 2013

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e iihero

Did you want to buy an esp standard series guitar? too late. okay, now that i have your ATTENTION, LET'S TALK.

Ed Lim is the founder of www.sixstringsamurai.co.nz, a
New Zealand based guitar website and an all-round great guy.
We asked him to check out the all new E-II Standard guitars by ESP.

For decades now, the ESP Standard Series has been a beacon of kick-assery - pick up any ESP Standard guitar and it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be picking up a finely crafted, high performance instrument that’s always ready for face melting antics and riffer madness. These guitars have always been glowing testament to the sheer level of craftsmanship and design prowess that ESP are capable of - they’re packed to the brim with high-end tonewoods, hardware and electronics and yet they don’t cost an arm and a leg.

However, earlier this year, ESP released some news that sent shockwaves through their legions of loyal fans - the ESP Standard Series was being discontinued. Panic ensued as guitar players the world over wondered how in the blue blazes they would be able to afford having to shell out Custom Shop dollars every time they wanted an ESP creation…

Good news! It’s actually NOT too late 

Strange as it may seem, despite all the hullabaloo, all ESP have really done is rejig their product branding a little! The ESP brand name is now being reserved for the Original Series (Japanese domestic models) and Custom Shop guitars, and the now defunct ESP Standard Series has been reborn as... 

E-II STANDARD (EC-II QM)

e II ec2qm rdb

The EC-II QM is a little bit like a Les Paul Custom on steroids - it takes a tweaked single cutaway body shape, adds the requisite multi-ply body/headstock binding and beautiful inlays and then takes it to the next level with a beautiful, 3D quilt maple top. As is the norm with ESP guitars, the inlays are cut with extreme precision (you won’t see filler around these flag inlays!), and the fret edges are nicely rolled so that straight out of the box you get a superb playing experience without having to worry about a setup. Gotoh Magnum Lock locking tuners complete the package so you don’t ever have to worry about your G string going out of tune when you’re doing the mad Zakk Wylde vibrato!

Tonally, the EMG81/60 set never fails to provide that distinctive tone favoured by rock/metal players the world over. To be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve owned or played an EMG loaded guitar… I just didn’t think it was my “thing” anymore, but I may have just had a change of heart! There’s nothing quite like a set of EMGs to make a big sonic impact when you’re playing hard charging rock or metal.

E-II STANDARD (HRF NT-7B)

hrf nt7b

The HRF NT-7B is, in simple terms… a behemoth. Both visually and tonally. Its sleek, matte black finish with multi-ply binding and ebony fretboard just has a sort of understated menace that had me hooked from the moment I opened the case. Now, I’m not a hardcore 7-string player (though I’ve dabbled now and then), but this guitar just made me want to make sweet, sweet downtuned music. 

What does it play like? Well, personally I really dig the feel of satin finished necks. I just find them a little slinkier and that little touch quicker than a painted/heavily lacquered neck - and this one is no exception, so if you’ve been put off by sticky necks in the past then maybe this is the one for you! 

Oh man, and the TONE. I put the HRF into Drop A and was instantly in downtuned heaven. There’s just something primal about the extreme low end of extended range guitars, and the HRF definitely captured that feeling... and subsequently inspired me to annoy my neighbours with hours of chuggy/sludgy riffs, hahaha! 

Same awesome specs, same affordable prices

Has anything actually changed? 

I was lucky enough to spend a fair bit of time with these two new E-II guitars and based on previous experience with ESP Standard Series guitars that I’ve personally owned, I can safely say that the level of quality and tone that was implicit in the Standard Series has been carried through to the new E-II Standard line, one hundred percent. If you’ve been lusting after an ESP Standard, you should have absolutely no hesitation in picking one of these up instead. After all, E-II Standard is the new ESP Standard - literally!

So, what are you waiting for? Full range here

Easter Egg

Everybody loves Game of Thrones these days. What’s more epic than the Game of Thrones theme music? That’s right - the GoT theme music rocking E-II Standard and LTD Elite action in three \m/ flavours of metal! Check it out below.