ESP's EC range of guitars has become one of the most popular choices for those looking for a modernised Les Paul spec.
As seen in the EC-401 vs EC-1000 comparison, ESP have proven the high quality of their guitars right across the price spectrum.
But the Gibson USA benchmark is a tough one to match. Does the significant difference in price, with the Studio being nearly double the cost of the EC-1000, represent a significant difference in quality?
|Neck||3 pc. Mahogany
Thin U profile
|1 pc. Mahogany
|Inlays||Abalone Flags||Acrylic Trapezoids|
|Pickups||EMG 60 (neck)
EMG 81 (bridge)
with Push/Pull Coil Tap
Chrome Plated Zamak
From the table above, we can immediately see several spec differences. Let's take a closer look at what these differences mean in practical terms...
The EC-1000 can be seen as a sleeker, modernised Les Paul cut, with a flatter cutaway to help you reach those extra two frets (24 vs 22).
Its optional abalone binding and gold hardware may not be to everyone's taste, but ESP have clearly made the conscious decision to depart from the more traditional, reserved spec the Gibson Studio retains.
One of the most loved cosmetic features of the Gibson Les Paul, is the wood grain effect of the maple top. ESP have instead opted for a pure, "topless" mahogany body.
The first point goes to the EC-1000 for the locking tuners, which locks the string on to the tuning post, preventing it from going out of tune due to slippage. It also saves time when re-stringing, as there are no winds to worry about.
The ESP also boasts the branded (and considered by many superior) TonePros Tune-o-matic bridge, as opposed to the generic version on the Studio.
But the Gibson gains some points back for the single piece mahogany neck compared to the 3-piece neck on the ESP. A general rule of thumb is the less glue required on the wood, the better, mainly for sustain.
The absence of the traditional maple top on the EC-1000 is not only cosmetic. It'll also round off much of that high-end snappiness associated with the classic Les Paul tone.
The EC-1000's "thin U" neck profile is just ESP's own name for Gibson's equivalent "slim taper". Both offer a fast, comfortable neck even for those with smaller hands.
With extra jumbo frets on the ESP, the lead players among us should find those large bends easier to execute. There are also 2 additional frets (24 in total) to play with, again, making the EC-1000 a favourable axe for the soloists and shredders.
It's all quite predictable...
The active EMG 60/81 pickups make the EC-1000 an overall hotter, more metal-ready axe than the more classic sounding Studio. Overall more gain/overdrive will be attainable on the ESP. At maxed-out amp/pedal settings, power chords sound massive and lead positively screams.
The maple top gives the Studio slightly brighter overtones, a touch more bite and crunch vs the smoother, darker expression of the EC-1000.
The Studio also now offers a coil tap feature, meaning you can get single coil-like tones from your humbuckers at the pull of the volume knob. So the Studio wins in terms of sheer tonal variation, even though it's perhaps lacking at the more extreme end.▲ Compare Sound
It partly boils down to your playing style. The ESP is clearly designed for the modern rock and metal player, whereas the Studio, although itself with some nicely modernised features, will satisfy more traditional tastes.
But we can't ignore the hefty price difference here. The Studio isn't necessarily a "better" guitar for the money, and the ratings go some way to confirming this.
The beast that is the EC-1000 can be tamed somewhat, so we feel there'd have to be something very specific about the Studio that would make you want to fork out an extra $700.