You've probably heard the saying, “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And while this notion is consistently true for many common-sense things, it appears this doesn’t apply to the insane amount of Superstrat designs being churned out year after year.
Without sounding cynical, I’m always floored as to how electric guitar builders have been able to turn the idea of a Superstrat “over and over again” on its head with undeniably impressive results. This is very much how I felt upon seeing the LTD Deluxe SN-1000HT Fire Blast, part of ESP Guitars' “New for 2022” collection of instruments.
As a certifiable Superstrat addict, I requested this guitar because of its intense looks, so yes, I totally “judged a book by its cover” – to coin yet another phrase – before I was even able to play it. But after spending time with it, I can say the LTD Deluxe SN-1000HT Fire Blast is as wickedly tremendous as it appears in both sight and sound.
ESP has an outstanding reputation in superb craftsmanship for instruments built for speed, and their LTD series of guitars is no exception. Here, the LTD Deluxe SN-1000HT Fire Blast, which is part of their SN Series, continues in the ESP tradition of exceptional build quality, setup and tone.
The first thing you’ll notice (and feel) on the SN-1000HT is its stunning sandblasted three-toned Fire Blast finish blended over a swamp ash body. It flat out looks captivating, and what’s most appealing is that it has an almost raw-wood feel throughout its deeply grooved and textured body.
The bolt-on roasted maple neck combines a sculpted heel for easy upper-fret access along with a compound radius that encourages speed and instant comfort. It also has a beautifully dark Macassar ebony fingerboard that includes 22 extra-jumbo stainless steel frets (an absolute premium addition), mother-of-pearl dot inlays and – for the inner shredder in you – scalloped frets from the 17th fret to the 22nd.
Top-shelf components on the SN-1000HT Fire Blast include a black bone nut, a brushed black pickguard, dome control knobs, LTD locking tuners and a Hipshot hardtail bridge for a string-through-body design.
I’ve been a big fan of Fishman Fluence pickups for a while, and here, for the utmost sonic boom, I’m thrilled that the guitar comes loaded with Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers (an alnico in the neck position and a ceramic in the bridge), with a push-pull at the tone control to activate each pickup’s second voicing, plus a three-way blade switch.
I’ve never experienced an ESP or LTD model that wasn’t well-made or set up perfectly right out of the box, and the SN-1000HT Fire Blast follows in that same fashion. Still, somehow, everything about this aggressive-looking guitar feels extremely robust, as if it’s prepared to take a pounding.
It’s so good that you’ll forget it’s a hardtail design, and you won’t miss not having a tremolo. The extra-jumbo frets are polished to perfection and gazing toward the end of the fretboard makes you want to sweep pick all over the scalloped frets, which feel glorious under your fingers. And I can’t omit the fact that the uniformly comfortable neck profile is geared toward wide interval stretching and fatigueless playing.
The Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers have been lauded for being noise free and for their ability to clearly accentuate note articulation and pick attack while also capably executing a spectrum of tones that range from fat-sounding cleans to high-definition, high-gain crunch.
Generally, you’d hear these in a set-neck guitar but here, in a bolt-on design, the Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers sound bellicose and even more articulate. It screams so loudly that you can’t help but want to burn notes all day long on this guitar.
- PRICE: $1,299
- TYPE: Solidbody electric guitar
- BODY: Swamp ash
- NECK: Roasted maple, bolt-on, Thin U profile
- FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony, 300-400mm compound radius
- FRETS: 22 extra-jumbo stainless steel, scalloped between 17 and 22
- ELECTRICS: 2x Fishman Fluence Humbuckers
- CONTROLS: Volume, Tone with push/pull, three-way pickup selector switch
- HARDWARE: Hipshot with string-thru bridge, LTD locking tuners, blackl.
- FINISH: Fire Blast
- CONTACT: ESP Guitars (opens in new tab)