Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ESP LTD GL-200K George Lynch Signature Model Guitar Review


I still have a soft spot in my heart for one of the most ridiculous guitars I have ever owned. It was a gorgeous ESP custom shop George Lynch Kamikaze 1 guitar. Remember dreamy George from Dokken or the Lynch Mob? I do…

It was a one-trick metal-god riding pony, so it did not stick around long. But it had looks that made the girls’ knees go weak, and when it is plugged in it made babies cry and old ladies faint. Besides, these are really expensive guitars, with a list price of $6398 and a street price of $3999. That is right, four thousand bucks.

Well, there is a route that will get you pretty close for $3600 less, and that would be the LTD GL-200K George Lynch Signature Model. In case you are not familiar with the brand, ESP is a Japanese company that has been building amazing instruments since the 1980s, and is the favorite of guitar gods such as Kirk Hammett and George Lynch. As these guitars are ungodly expensive, ESP 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 China.

As we go through the construction and features I will point of the differences between this LTD and the real deal. The body shape and graphics are the same, which is good as this the only reason I want one. The LTD is made of light and soft basswood, instead of hard and heavy maple, and the edges of the body seem a little more radiused. The bridge is a Floyd Rose Special that is considerably sloppier and lighter than the real Floyd Rose that comes on the ESP.

The maple neck and headstock have the same profile, and that is good as I love the really fat “U” feel to the back of the neck and the 13.7-inch radius fretboard (rosewood in this case, not ebony). There are still 22 extra jumbo frets and the scale length is still 25.5 inches. There is a 1.693-inch wide locking nut and really cheap LTD logo tuners in some sort of black chrome.

The electronics package falls far short of the original, which for the Japanese models is a super-intense Seymour Duncan Screamin’ Demon at the bridge, and an ESP SH-100 single coil at the neck. This LTD guitar comes with an “ESP Designed LH-150 humbucker” at the bridge and an LS-120 single-coil at the neck. More on these in a minute. As with the original the controls are simple: there is a single volume knob that has a push-pull switch for pickup selection.

How does it all work? Pretty well for the money, honestly. The finish on the body and headstock is good, and the neck feels the same as my old ESP. The frets are pretty well done too, and it came out of the box as a playable instrument. I am not happy with the feel and operation of the tremolo and am even less impressed with the electronics. They serve up a very weak-assed sound and there is one hell of a pop when using the push-pull part of the volume knob.

But it is totally worth the money, and I am toying with the idea of adding in the correct electronics and tremolo, and I would still be way ahead of the game as long as these guitars are cheap. Cheap, as in $499 street price (list is $713), and the sale price at Musician’s Friend is $366.77 right now. That is the bargain of the century.

By the way, I had the opportunity to meet George Lynch at a trade show a few years back. He was very personable, and was nice enough to spend some time chatting with me. And he is still a damned nice-looking man!


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