ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Review & Prices

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ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Review
  • From ESP E-II's 2021 Horizon series
  • Made in Japan
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Quilted Maple top
  • Mahogany body
  • 3pc Maple neck
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: EMG 57TW (Humbucker/Active)
  • Neck pickup: EMG 66TW (Humbucker/Active)
  • Floyd Rose Original bridge
  • 1 volume and 1 tone Dome knobs
  • 3-way Switch
  • Thin U Neck-Through neck
  • 24 XL Jumbo frets
  • Gotoh Locking tuners
  • Retainer bar
  • From ESP E-II's 2021 Horizon series
  • Made in Japan
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Quilted Maple top
  • Mahogany body
  • 3pc Maple neck
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: EMG 57TW (Humbucker/Active)
  • Neck pickup: EMG 66TW (Humbucker/Active)
  • Floyd Rose Original bridge
  • 1 volume and 1 tone Dome knobs
  • 3-way Switch
  • Thin U Neck-Through neck
  • 24 XL Jumbo frets
  • Gotoh Locking tuners
  • Retainer bar

Verdict: is The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II a Good Guitar?

Made in a country with top quality control, which means you should get a high-quality instrument made with good materials and excellent attention to detail. It's a guitar with good playability. It comes with excellent pickups with good sound and provides tons of sustain. It favors playing solos more than chords. In general, it offers a good amount of features for the price. Overall, an excellent guitar if Heavy Metal or similar genres are your jam.

Final Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 83
Sound 84
Build quality 86
Value for money 74
Overall Score 84
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II
  • Locking Tuners
  • Made in Japan
  • Expensive Wood
  • Locking Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Neck-Through Build
  • Coil Split Pickups
  • Tremolo
  • Retainer Bar
  • Strap Lock
  • Stainless Steel Frets
  • Compound Radius Fretboard
  • Weight Relief
  • 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • Luminescent Inlay

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Prices

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Is the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II a Good Deal?

Its average competitor's price is $2980, which means that the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II is around 6% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all guitars in our database with 6 strings and Double Locking bridge that are made in Japan.

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II was released in 2021 and is part of the Horizon series. It is made in Japan We'll be taking a look at its build quality, tone, playability, versatiliy and some extras to determine how 'good' this guitar is. We'll use these aspects to determine a final score for this guitar, which you can see at the top of this page.

But since we know that this isn't always possible, we'll try our best at reviewing this guitar for you.

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How well is the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Built?

Where is the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Made?

Knowing where the guitar is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive guitars are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II is made in Japan. You should expect a high-quality guitar with excellent quality control. It can be compared to guitars made in the US, which is why they're also expensive.

Now, let's take a look at the quality of the materials used to build this guitar.

Quality of Wood Used in the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II

As an electric guitar, type of wood won't affect the tone and sustain much. Instead, the hardware will be much more important. However, wood is still important for the look and feel of the guitar in general.

These are the types of wood used in the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II:

Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Body
Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple Neck
Ebony wood pattern used for guitar building
Ebony Fretboard

The body is made of Mahogany. This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

The neck is made of Maple. This is one of the most popular types of wood used in all kinds of guitars. It's heavy, strong and compact, which makes it great for necks. However, it's also used for fretboards, bodies and tops due to its light color, resistance and beautiful patterns. When it comes to tone, it highlights the mid and high frequencies.

Finally, the fretboard material is Ebony. This is one of the most expensive woods there is, which is why it's mostly used for fretboards. It is dense, heavy, highly resistant and comes in a really dark color that gives any guitar a classy touch. Tone wise, it helps the high side of the spectrum and provides good sustain.

Bridge

The bridge is a Floyd Rose Original. With this type of tremolo bridge, you'll be able to perform dive bombs and pinch harmonics without getting out of tune. This type of bridge gives you the best versatility, but it also makes it harder to set up your guitar correctly, especially when changing your strings.

Tuners

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II comes with locking tuners, which helps with tuning stability and makes changing strings a lot faster and easier. As long as they're high quality, these are the best tuning machines you can have. The only disadvantage is that they are a bit heavier than normal tuners.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure the guitar stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II has a Locking nut. Instead of the typical nut, this nut locks the strings in place and will make them stay in tune even after heavy tremolo use. This type of nut provides the best tune stability, but they also make the guitar more expensive.

It also comes with a retainer bar for the locking nut, which is a helpful addition. Without it, the strings would change pitch once you lock down the nut, so you'd have to make more micro-adjustments at the bridge to tune it correctly.

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Neck-Through neck joint. Many people believe a neck-through build delivers the best sustain because some of the vibrations from the neck aren't lost like with other neck joints. However, no one has been able to prove this. What we know is that a neck-through build is usually the most comfortable when playing the upper frets because there's nothing on your way at the neck-body joint.

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 68
Features 95
Quality Control 95
Build Quality 86

Does the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Sound Good? Tone Analysis

Like we already wrote, wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar. Instead, we'll take a look at the hardware used—mainly the pickups—to determine what kind of tone you can expect.

Pickups

The first step to choosing an electric guitar should be deciding what type of pickups you want. There are multiple configurations and each offers different advantages.

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: EMG. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

We found the same or very similar pickups available for purchase online:

These are active pickups, so you can expect a lot of output with a highly compressed signal that will give your tones more distortion while retaining a clear, defined sound, which is what many Heavy Metal guitarists need. However, they have the disadvantage of lacking a fully clean sound when playing without distortion.

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's configuration is HH. With this pickup combination, you'll get warmer tones and more output than using single coils. Humbucker pickups cancel the noise that single-coil suffer from, which also results in a warmer tone. This pickup combination isn't only for high-gain music like Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. Their warmness is also popular for Jazz, Indie, R&B, Blues and more.

Next, we can take a look at the quality of the pickups. Some brands like to build their own pickups, but it's preferable when they feature a specialized pickup brand like Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, EMG, etc. Unless we're talking about Fender or Gibson, since they build excellent pickups too.

More guitars with the same pickups

24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
EMG 57TW Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Fixed Bridge
EMG 57TW Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Fixed Bridge
EMG 57TW Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Evertune Bridge
EMG 57 Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
EMG 57TW Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
EMG 57TW Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
EMG 57TW Bridge Pickup
EMG 66TW Neck Pickup

Versatility

Let's evaluate how much freedom this model gives you to play with more tones, playstyles and genres. We'll take into account things like coil split, fret number, tremolo and the pickup combinations you can have.

Let's start with the switch options. It comes with the popular 3-way switch that is present in most guitars. For more versatility, guitarists tend to prefer a 5-way switch, although it all depends on what you want to use your guitar for.

It has a Coil Split option. It allows you to 'split' or turn off pickup coils to get even more tones in combination with the pickup selector. When used with humbucker pickups, it'll reduce the output and increase their clarity, turning them essentially into single-coil pickups.

Here's the diagram showing the different pickup combinations you can get out of this guitar model:

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II pickups switch and push knobs diagram
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's switch options

What music genre is the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with HH configuration and Active pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Heavy Metal or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this kind of guitar.

Sound Score

Pickups 85
Sustain 85
Versatility 70
Tuning Stability 95
Sound 84

Is The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Easy to Play?

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II meets 4 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not bad for beginners, but it could be better. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

Now let's take a look at the most important measurements and features that will determine the playability of a guitar:

Nut Width

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Nut Width
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Nut Width

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II has a nut width of 42mm (1.654''). This is narrower than the typical 43mm (1 11/16") found in electric guitars. This means that this guitar will have a narrower string separation at the nut, which will affect your fretting hand.

If you are a player with big hands, you might find it difficult to play chords without muting strings. However, this is good for players who have smaller hands, as it will allow them to reach each string much easier at the nut.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's 25.5" scale length compared to other common sizes:

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Scale Length Comparison
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the same scale length used in Stratocaster guitars, and it's one of the main reasons they have such a bright sound. It's considered a long scale when compared to most non-baritone guitars.

Since the distance between bridge and nut is relatively long, you'll need to give the strings more tension to get them in tune. This higher tension will allow for a couple of things. First, you can get a lower action (get the strings closer to the fretboard) because the strings won't 'wiggle' too much when pluck and won't cause fret buzz. This can allow you to use lower tunings without increasing your string gauge, and it will make it easier to press down the strings fast.

However, the frets will also have a wider separation between each other, which can make it harder to play, especially if you got small hands. The higher tension will also make the strings feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength.

Neck Profile

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Neck Profile
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

In this case, the measurements of the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's neck is a thickness of approximately 0.787'' (20mm) at the first fret, and 0.866'' (22mm) at the twelfth.

These measurements were taken either from the official ESP E-II website, or, in case this information wasn't provided, by researching multiple online marketplaces and forums where owners of this model have posted their measurements.

It has a U type neck. This shape usually has more 'shoulders' than a C neck. It's great for guitarists who love the feel of a vintage neck. Most of them are thick, which makes it better for people with big hands. However, some of them can be thin like a C neck but with more mass to the sides for a better grip.

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II has a fingerboard radius of 12". Here's an image comparing this guitar's fretboard radius to other popular choices:

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's fretboard radius compared to other guitars

This is the same radius that Gibson uses in most of their guitars. When compare to the other popular radius of Fender Stratocasters, you can see that it's a lot flatter. Guitars with this radius are usually made to bring a good balance between single-note and chord playing.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II has the same radius across the board.

Playability compared to main competitors

25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
Super Wizard Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
17'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
Super Wizard Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
17'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's construction is balanced for most hand sizes.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Balance
Small hands

Frets

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II has 24 frets. A lot of people mistakenly believe that having more frets will always be better because it gives you a higher octave. This is certainly an advantage, but there's also a disadvantage to this.

Since the fretboard will be longer, the neck pickup will need to be placed closer to the bridge. And as you may know, the further away the neck pickup is from the bridge, the warmer it sounds. This means you'll have a brighter-sounding neck pickup when using a 24-fret guitar, even if you use the same pickup on a 22-fret guitar.

Finally, these are nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you'll need to replace the frets after a few years.

Fret Size

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Fret Size Comparison
ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II's frets are XL Jumbo size. These are extra-large frets, which are perfect for people who truly want the least resistance for techniques like vibrato, bending, tapping, and just playing fast in general. You won't be able to feel the fretboard with these frets, so if you press too hard you'll get the notes out of pitch. It might take a while to get used to them because of this.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 80
Chord Playability 80
Solo Playability 90
Playability 83

Most Popular Comparisons With The ESP E-II Horizon FR-II

ESP E-II Horizon FR-II Specs

General
Brand: ESP E-II
Year: 2021
Configuration: HH
Strings: 6
Made in: Japan
Series: Horizon
Colors: Tiger Eye Sunburst, See Thru Black Cherry Sunburst
Left-Handed Version: Yes
Body
Top: Quilted Maple
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Mahogany
Bridge: Floyd Rose Original
Neck
Neck Joint: Neck-Through
Tuners: Gotoh Locking
Fretboard: Ebony
Neck Material: 3pc Maple
Decoration: Offset Blocks
Scale Size: 25.5"
Shape: Thin U
Thickness: 1st Fret: 0.787'' (20mm) - 12th Fret: 0.866'' (22mm)
Frets: 24 XL Jumbo
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Nut: Locking
Nut Width: 42mm (1.654'')
Electronics
Switch: 3 Way
Knobs: Dome
Pickup Mods: Coil Split
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: EMG 57TW (Humbucker / Active)
Neck Pickup: EMG 66TW (Humbucker / Active)