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ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000T CTM review

This classy modern update on the classic solidbody singlecut welcomes multi-voice Fishman humbuckers to the party

ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000T CTM
(Image: © ESP Guitars)

Our Verdict

With its “just right” combination of classic and contemporary features, the LTD EC-1000T CTM is a versatile solidbody that combines classic looks with modern playability, comfort and expanded tonal variety.

For

  • Classic looks and modern feel.
  • Versatile set of tones.
  • Very playable.

Against

  • Nothing.

The classic LP-style single-cutaway, dual-humbucker, mahogany-with-maple-cap solidbody design was introduced nearly 70 years ago, which has given guitar builders a lot of time to come up with refinements and modifications. 

The challenge with updating such a beloved classic is finding the right balance between traditional features that players consider essential and modern upgrades that many of today’s guitarists prefer. LTD strives to do exactly that with the EC-1000T, which is designed to satisfy even the most Goldilocks-like players by offering a blend of classic looks and specs with enhanced playability and versatile electronics.

We looked at the new LTD Deluxe series EC-1000T CTM, which is available with either a see-through Black Cherry gloss finish (as tested) or Tobacco Sunburst satin finish.

Features

Let’s start with the traditional features first. The LTD EC-1000T CTM is made completely from traditional tone woods: a mahogany body with flamed maple top and three-piece mahogany neck with Macassar ebony fingerboard.

ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000T CTM

(Image credit: ESP)

The body is full thickness, meaning it does not have any additional contours such as a belly contour on the back or forearm contour on the front. The neck has a 24.75-inch scale length and 22 frets, and the three-way pickup switch selects bridge/both/neck settings.

The modern upgrades are more numerous, but they don’t overwhelm the model’s classic appeal. The body is chambered for weight relief, and the set-through neck design provides the tonal characteristics of a set-neck design with the smooth, seamless feel of neck-thru-body construction along with unrestricted access to the uppermost frets. 

The frets have a jumbo profile and are stainless steel to resist wear and tear. Thanks to the “thin U” neck profile, 42mm nut width (comparable to a Strat instead of a traditional LP’s 43mm nut width) and flat 350mm (about 13.75 inch) radius, the neck delivers the fast playability many players prefer today. Hardware includes gold-plated LTD locking tuners and TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece.

The expanded tonal range provided by the Fishman Open Core Classic humbuckers elevate the EC-1000T CTM to a level of versatility well beyond the traditional LP-style dual-humbucker guitar

Perhaps the most radical upgrade is the electronics. The pickups are a pair of Fishman Open Core Classic humbuckers (with custom black nickel pole pieces), which each provide three distinct tones. The bridge pickup offers vintage PAF, classic hot rod and slightly overwound single-coil tones, while the neck pickup features vintage PAF, clear airy chime and vintage single-coil tones. 

The different pickup voices are activated via push/pull potentiometers – pulling up on the master tone control activates the PAF tones (Voice 1), pulling up on the neck volume knob activates the single-coil tones (Voice 3; which overrides all other voice settings), and both down access the hot rod/airy chime setting (Voice 2; the default position for hotter output at the bridge). The three-knob control configuration also includes a bridge pickup volume control.

ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000T CTM

(Image credit: ESP)

Performance

The LTD Deluxe EC-1000T CTM truly lives up to its “deluxe” designation with its gold-plated hardware and multi-layer binding surrounding the top, back and headstock. The craftsmanship is exceptional, with the smoothly polished frets and rounded edges where the neck binding meets the fingerboard providing outstanding feel and playability.

The expanded tonal range provided by the Fishman Open Core Classic humbuckers elevate the EC-1000T CTM to a level of versatility well beyond the traditional LP-style dual-humbucker guitar. The PAF setting delivers as promised, with that “just right” balance of body, warmth and clarity. 

The hot rod bridge/airy chime neck setting was my favorite, providing a fat, harmonically rich growl at the bridge setting ideal for vicious power chords and vivacious solos, while the “airy chime” neck pickup excelled at rich clean tones with an alluring blend of body and upper midrange cut. The single-coil setting is the real deal, providing bolder, more aggressive single-coil tones than the usual split-coil settings of a full-size humbucker.

If you prefer the look, feel and tones of an LP-style single-cutaway guitar, but also need to access bold, blazing single-coil tones, the LTD EC-1000T CTM is the perfect choice for players seeking a do-it-all main ax.

Specs

  • PRICE: $1,149 / £1,299 (inc hard-shell case)
  • BODY: Chambered mahogany (full thickness), with maple top
  • NECK: Set-Thru, 3-Piece Mahogany, Thin U-Profile
  • SCALE: 24.75"
  • FINGERBOARD: Macassar Ebony (350mm radius)
  • FRETS: 22 XJ Stainless Steel
  • NUT: Molded (42mm)
  • PICKUPS: 2x Fishman Fluence Open Core Classic Humbuckers
  • CONTROLS: 3-way toggle switch, volume and tone (with push/pull functionality for alternate voices)
  • HARDWARE: LTD Locking tuners, Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece (black)
  • FINISHES: See Thru Black Cherry (as reviewed), Tobacco Sunburst Satin
  • CONTACT: ESP