ESP LTD EC 256 Review

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Looking for a super stylish guitar without paying a super silly price? You might think that’ll just land you with an ornately crafted piece of junk that can’t hold it’s tone and buzzes every time you fret a note. Not anymore! In this ESP LTD EC 256 review we’ll take a look at the features of this moderately priced work of art. We’ll discuss it’s strengths, weaknesses and provide some final thoughts.

Overview of ESP LTD EC 256

The EC 256 takes it’s styling from the classic Les Paul shape. Although similar to a Les Paul in style, it shares features with the high end ESP LTD EC-1000 model. It’s a significant upgrade on the EC-10 with it’s set neck, magogany neck and body and pickup control system.

The EC 256 is a full scale guitar (24.75″). It comes in three colors, black, satin black and white. All of the colors contrast well with the gold colored pickups. The body has comfort cut-aways allowing the guitar to rest comfortably against your body. The neck is u-shaped for better playability. 

The fingerboard is made from roasted Jatoba. Never heard of Jatoba? It’s a hardwood found in the Carribean, South and Central America. It’s similar to Rosewood, but much more sustainable. It’s harder than rosewood and can sometimes come with a slightly orange hue. 

The fingerboard radius is 350mm and features 22 extra-jumbo frets, so plenty of room for beginners to learn the craft. The key frets are marked with a really cool flag design inlay, which is reflected on the headstock design. The nut is made from molded plastic, which isn’t ideal but is understandable for guitar at this price point. 

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You get two LH-150 humbucking pickups, one at the bridge and one at the neck position. The cool thing about the EC 256 is that the pickups can be split thanks to a push / pull control knob. That’ll allow you to play different variations of the pickup configuration. The LH-150s aren’t bad pickups for the price, but they lack the punch for heavier styles such as metal. They excel for warm, bluesy styles but also deliver enough punch for rock.

The tuning gear is ok. It should hold it’s tuning, but it’s a significant nerf on the tuning gear included on the EC-400 and EC-1000 models. Again that’s to do with keeping the price down. The guitar comes with a set of .010’s. They’re pretty good quality, but you’ll want to swap them out for your preferred gauge / brand. 

The pickup selector switch is in the same place as the Les Paul. There are three control knobs, two for volume and one for tone control. The tone control knob has the push / pull functionality to enable you to split the pickups into single coil configuration. There are strap anchor points in the standard positions.

The EC 256 will come from either China or Indonesia. I don’t think this impacts the quality at all, and contributes to the lower price point. The next model up is the EC-400, which is similar but comes with improved pickups, tuning gear and a different fingerboard material. However the EC-400 is around $300 more than the EC-256.

In terms of set up, dependent on your preferences, you might need to make a truss rod adjustment. The action can be a little high, so it might be worth getting a luthier to take a look and set it up to your liking. That advice really should apply with any new guitar.

Pros

The EC 256 is probably one of the best guitars you can buy in it’s price range. Here are a few of the best bits:

  • Beautifully Designed
  • Comfortable to Play
  • Decent Budget Version of EC-1000

Cons

As with any guitar that needs to make compromises to ensure an affordable price, there are a few issues. Here are the worst offenders:

  • Tuners Could be Better
  • Action May Be A Little High
  • Not So Good For Metal

Final Thoughts

The EC 256 sneaks under the radar, but it’s a top performer. When looking at a guitar in the $400 – $500 range most people will start looking at higher end Fender Squiers or Epiphones, but the EC 256 should be on anyone’s shortlist.  

There’s no doubt that the EC 256 is a good looking guitar. With it’s Les Paul Styling, gold colored pickups and flag shaped headstock it’s definitely one to make you swoon. In terms of tone the EC 256 is great for bluesy styles and will deliver enough punch for rock and classic rock styles. I don’t think it’ll deliver metal right off the bat, but a little help from a distortion pedal will unlock heavier styles.

I also really like the push / pull control that allows you to split the pickups to single coil configurations. It gives you a little more flexibility when you don’t want the full punch of humbucking pickups. Definitely a guitar for someone looking to upgrade from their beginner guitar who doesn’t have a ton of money to upgrade. It’s in the same range as my Mexican Fat Strat but I’d say the EC 256 edges it in terms of dynamism (I hope my Fender isn’t listening!)

I hope you’ve found this review useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatviely you can get in touch using my contact page.

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ESP LTD EC 256

$449
8.7

Features

8.5/10

Design

9.5/10

Materials

8.0/10

Pros

  • Comfortable To Play
  • Beautifully Designed
  • Decent Budget Version Of EC-1000

Cons

  • Tuners Aren't So Good
  • Action May Be A Little High
  • Not Great For Metal