ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Review & Prices

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Review
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  • From ESP LTD's 2020 Black Metal series
  • Made in Indonesia
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 13.78" Fretboard Radius
  • Mahogany body
  • 3Pc Mahogany neck
  • Macassar Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic (Humbucker/Active)
  • 1 volume and 0 tone Dome knobs
  • Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece bridge
  • Thin U Neck-Through neck
  • 22 XL Jumbo frets
  • LTD Locking tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 78
Sound 73
Build quality 67
Value for money 73
Overall Score 73
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal
  • Locking Tuners
  • Expensive Wood
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Neck-Through Build
  • Multi-Voicing Pickups
  • Luminescent Inlay
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • Made in Indonesia
  • No High-Quality Nut
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $850, which means that the ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal costs around 29% more than the competition. It might be due to it having additional features, but know that you can find cheaper similar alternatives. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in Indonesia.

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Neck profile shape

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Is it Easy to Play?

The ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal meets 6 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's a good guitar to start with as a complete beginner. 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.

New Player Friendliness

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Locking tuners
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Short scale

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

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
Small Hands

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 LTD Phoenix Black Metal's 25.5" scale length compared to other common sizes:

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Scale Length Comparison
ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal'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.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Neck Profile
ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal'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.

The ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal's neck thickness is approximately 0.787'' (20mm) at the first fret, and 0.866'' (22mm) at the twelfth.

These measurements were taken either from the official ESP LTD 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.

More for different hand sizes

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 LTD Phoenix Black Metal has a 13.78" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal's fretboard radius compared to others

This makes it more similar to Gibson guitars (12'') than Fender (9.5''). It's slightly flatter than most modern Gibson fretboards though, which makes it more comfortable for single notes, bendings and vibratos, but less comfortable for chords.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Nut Width
ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Nut Width

The ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal has a nut width of 42mm (1.654''). This is considered a narrow width for a 6-string guitar. 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 more easily at the nut.

Frets

The ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal Fret Size Comparison
ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal'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 LTD Phoenix Black Metal'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.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 85
Chord Playability 70
Solo Playability 80
Playability 78

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

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

Mahogany Body and Neck: 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.

Ebony Fretboard: 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.

More made with the same wood:

Pickups

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

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 players need. However, they have the disadvantage of sometimes lacking a fully clean sound when playing without distortion.

The ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal's configuration is H. A single humbucking pickup will give you all the space you need for picking, and it might give you a bit more sustain since less magnetic fields are messing with the strings' vibrations. However, you won't have the same versatility as with other guitars with more pickups. It's recommended if you want to use it mainly for high-output riffs.

More with the same pickups

22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Bridge Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Bridge Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Bridge Pickup
24 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Bridge Pickup
24 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Bridge Pickup

Versatility

Naturally, the ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal doesn't come with a pickup selector because it's a single-pickup guitar. These instruments have less versatility, but they're good for practicing. Besides being cheaper, limiting yourself to a single-pickup guitar can help you improve by learning to control the tone with your technique and playing style. Things like playing further away from the bridge for a warmer tone, or plucking the strings fast for a snappy sound can help you become a better player.

It has a Multi-Voicing option. This means the pickups can change their output, tone, or sound. Piezo, Fishman and similar are considered multi-voicing pickups.

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with H 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 particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 90
Sustain 85
Versatility 42
Tuning Stability 75
Sound 73

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument 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 instruments 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 LTD Phoenix Black Metal is made in Indonesia. Many people prefer the quality of an Indonesian guitar over a Chinese. Respectable brands like Epiphone, Ibanez and Schecter are building in this country because of the great quality and lower price. Some people like to compare them to the ones built in Japan during the 80s, when Japanese guitar makers made a name for themselves.

Bridge

Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

More with the same type of bridge:

Tuners

The ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal 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 it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal has a Plastic nut. This is a low-quality nut that you might want to consider upgrading soon. Bone and TUSQ nuts are the best for guitars with a fixed or simple tremolo bridge.

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.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 46
Features 80
Quality Control 75
Build Quality 67

All Specs

ESP LTD Phoenix Black Metal
General
Brand: ESP LTD
Year: 2020
Configuration: H
Strings: 6
Made in: Indonesia
Series: Black Metal
Colors: Black
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Mahogany
Bridge: Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece
Neck
Neck Joint: Neck-Through
Tuners: LTD Locking
Fretboard: Macassar Ebony
Neck Material: 3Pc Mahogany
Decoration:
Scale Size: 25.5"
Shape: Thin U
Thickness: 1st Fret: 0.787'' (20mm) - 12th Fret: 0.866'' (22mm)
Frets: 22 XL Jumbo
Fretboard Radius: 13.78"
Nut: Plastic
Nut Width: 42mm (1.654'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs: Dome
Pickup Mods: Multi-Voicing
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic (Humbucker / Active)

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