If you are looking for a guitar that will really allow you to show off your technique but won’t cost you the earth then the ESP LTD M-103FM might be the guitar for you.
ESP, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, was founded by Hisatake Shibuya. The firm started out as a retail outlet called Electrical Sound Products (ESP) with a repair shop in the back. The shop quickly gained a reputation for the quality of their parts and repairs that they soon moved into crafting their own guitars. From these early beginnings the Japanese guitar firm have built an enviable reputation for producing some truly inspiring guitars. They have also gathered a talented array of some of the World’s most famous guitarists to demonstrate those inspiring guitars. But for many years ESP guitars were only available for those guitarists who had quite a bit of spare cash lying around.
The ESP LTD range was introduced in 1996 to provide all the quality and style of ESP guitars at a more affordable price. In essence ESP guitars were too expensive for beginner guitarists or more experienced guitarists who were looking for a high spec guitar at a reasonable price. So the LTD range was introduced to provide the ESP experience to the likes of you and me. Since 1996 the LTD range has gained momentum because guitarists recognised that they were going to get everything that they would expect form a high end ESP guitar at a fraction of the price. The LTD range comes in lots of shapes and sizes but the single common element that links all the guitars is the quality.
That brings us to the ESP LTD M-103FM. If you are looking for a top quality super strat, with a high end spec, at a very decent price then this maybe the guitar for you.
So what can you expect from the ESP LTD M-103FM?
Well yes it is a super strat so that gives you a very good idea of the target market for this guitar. The body is basswood and is cut very simply with very little contouring, but it is still a comfortable guitar to hold, wear and play. The basswood body has a flamed maple top which, with the see through black finish looks amazing and really gives the guitar a touch of class. The bolt on maple neck has 24 frets and is cut with the ESP extra thin U profile which makes it a very easy neck to play with a low, light action and is lightening fast. If you like your fretboard antics fast then this is certainly the neck for you.
The guitar is armed with the classic rock pickup configuration of humbucker and two single coils in the bridge, middle and neck positions. The humbucker is an ESP LH-150B and the single coil in the neck position is an ESP LS-120N. Finally there is an ESP LS-120M in the middle position. The pickups can be selected through a 5 way selector switch and there are volume and tone controls. The bridge is a Floyd Rose Special allowing for some serious whammy bar antics without de-tuning the guitar.
So far so good. Pretty decent spec and a very tasty looking guitar, so on paper all looks good. But how does the ESP LTD M-103FM play and does it sound good when it is put through its paces?
The simple answer is yes the ESP LTD M-103FM delivers everything that its looks promise. Plugged in the guitar has a great tone and the neck is beautiful to play. Played clean the tone is nice and warm but you can also squeeze out some nice crisp funk sounds. However, turn it up and switch to the humbucker and the guitar really starts to warm up, this truly is a rock guitar which oozes spandex from every fret.
To sum up the ESP LTD M-103FM is a very good guitar. It looks amazing, is great to play and sounds fantastic. With a rrp of around the £350 mark it is not the cheapest super strat in the world but for the money you get a very good guitar. If you are looking for a guitar that is built to shred then the ESP LTD M-103FM could well be the guitar for you.
Currently you can buy the ESP LTD M-103FM for £308 through Gear 4 Music.
If you are looking for something a little bit more spicy at an even better price then look at our review of the ESP LTD M-17 7 string guitar in our article on the best budget 7 string guitars.