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This ESP E-II Viper features:
ESP's humble roots began in Tokyo, Japan as a replacement part shop for stringed instruments. People quickly realized that their parts were a cut above most originals on the market, and ESP became a destination for custom guitar projects and OEM manufacturing. Their custom work launched a frenzy of interest by world-class players, pushing the brand into full guitar and bass production with guitars now made in Japan, Korea and Indonesia (LTD) and USA.
We have a soft spot for the "SG" shape, and the E-II Viper takes that classic profile and stretches it ever so slightly into a very sexy slightly offset profile. The smooth neck joint flows seamlessly into the body, and everything from the hardware to the neat internal wiring screams "quality." The Japanese penchant for quality control is evident everywhere you look, and the E-II guitars are the highest quality "production" ESP's, available.
The pickups in the Eclipse are the EMG 66/57 set with coil split option. When it comes to active pickups, these are some of most "traditionally" voiced out there and this set is designed to appeal to all players, including those who have not broken out of the passive mindset. They are constructed with Alnico V magnets combined with ceramic pole pieces for a classic PAF sound with enhanced attack and clarity. In a way these are active pickups for "passive players". The 66 neck pickup is warm and chewy yet boasts exceptional headroom and clarity thanks to the active electronics. The 57 bridge pickup is certainly vintage voiced for searing highs and tight, punchy low end. With active volume and tone controls that are completely effective throughout the range, these pickups have superb grind potential, but clean up like the best of them. While slightly more "clinical" than true PAF's, 66/57 set proves to be an impressive platform that can excel in just about any genre.
The E-II Viper also allows you to split the individually split humbuckers into single coils using a push/pull function on the volume and tone controls. This is a really nice feature on any two humbucker guitar but we found that the strong, full sound of the active pickups split better than many of their passive peers. You're not going to mistake the tone for a Strat or Tele but it's a nice way of bumping up the chime and articulation out of either pickup. One of our favorite settings was splitting one coil and rocking the other humbucker full tilt. It worked nicely in both directions and really opens up the sonic territory on a guitar with typically "3 speeds".
The neck on the Viper is what they call their "Thin U" profile. It's naturally comfortable and provides good palm support while being thin enough to get a thumb around the neck when necessary. To our precision-calibrated hand it appears to be somewhere in-between a Slim 60 and '59 profile, with 1-piece Mahogany construction, Ebony fretboard and jumbo frets. The body shape makes all 24 frets easily accessible, and if you like to spend a lot of time in the upper frets, this is your guitar.
While most players know ESP it by its hard rock and predominantly heavy metal image, there are many facets to the ESP product lineup that address a wide range of player interests. The ESP Viper is one of those guitars that will change your views on ESP, and for rock, classic rock and blues, the Viper is a finely crafted and very flexible instrument.