Thursday, March 12, 2015

2014 ESP LTD M-10 Electric Guitar Review

Hi there!

I have always been kind of a guitar snob, so I have not really given LTD guitars much of a thought until recently , as their parent company, ESP, builds some of the best production instruments on the planet. Well, I was wrong, and the LTD M-10 we are looking at today is a smoking deal for the money.

In case you are not familiar with ESP, this Japanese company has been building amazing instruments wince the 1980s, and are the favorites of guitar gods such as Kirk Hammett and George Lynch. Unfortunately these guitars are ungodly expensive, so they introduced the LTD line to make their popular models more affordable for us common folk. The hardware, electronics, and wood are a little cheaper, and the labor costs are a lot lower as they are put together without using Japanese labor – this LTD instrument was built in Vietnam.

At first glance, the M-10 looks like a metal machine with its pointy headstock and bright red finish, but looks can be deceiving. It can do metal fine, but without the prerequisite locking tremolo (or any tremolo at all, actually) it ends up being a better blues or rock guitar.

This LTD is a bolt-neck instrument with a basswood body that has fairly aggressive angles and cutaways. The maple neck has a surprisingly well-figured rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets sunk into it. The neck has a flat U profile, and it measures about 42mm at the nut.

The nickel hardware includes LTD-marked sealed-back tuners and a tune-o-matic style bridge that actually strings through the body. The electronics are simple, with two ESP LH-100 humbuckers that are wired through a 3-way switch and master volume and tone pots.

This is a simple guitar design, but it has a very nice look to it, and it is put together exceptionally well, particularly when you consider the price point. The fretwork is good, the neck is straight and the finish is nice and even. The neck pocket edges are a bit ugly, but I have seen worse on new Fender instruments. It came with a good set-up right out of the box, too.

It plays well, and its 25.5-inch scale length makes it play a lot like a Stratocaster. The neck is very fast and there is good access to the upper frets; I did not find any buzzing or dead frets. It sounds good enough, though the humbuckers seem a bit dry and brittle. This guitar sounds better with a touch of processing, and would really come alive with a set of EMG 81/85 pickups, which would cost more than the guitar did in the first place.

As an added bonus it weighs in at a mere 6 pounds 10 ounces, so it will not kill your back. There is not much to complain about here, the LTD M-10 is a solid guitar that will get the job done!

The ESP LTD M-10 is one of the best entry-level guitars out there with a list price of $284 and a street price of $199, which I believe includes a nice gig bag (the one that showed up here did, anyway). We are truly in the golden age of affordable guitars that play well and sound good, so if you are looking for a first instrument or a solid backup, this should be near the top of your list.



  1. Hi I have the original one made in Korea..yes these r built like a tank like the made in Korea Ibanez....just want to know are these pickups ceramic or alnico?

  2. After 30 years of buying/selling gits....(over 300 easily) I found myself with just a couple of basses and an acoustic git. Had never played an ltd...but always loved mij gits. Found this m10 in a pawn for 100 bucks and was kind of blown away x 100. Put a chicom p90 in the neck pickup and it never ceases to amaze me how the fretboard has no sharp edges (looking at you gibson...up to your $1200.00 gits). And the fretboard is laser-level straight with no intonation problems.....a freakin' amazing git for the money...though I did drill out the body for some lightness...still....plays as well as an early version PRS I once owned....that sold for near 2k! Value for $$? A+
    Oh...I did cut the headstock to be squared off....seems less likely to injure a kidney.