Review: LTD TE-200 + EC Black Metal

ESP’s LTD brand offers a very wide range of different guitars for virtually any genre. Today we’ll be looking at two humbucker-equipped guitars designed for the hard ’n’ heavy segment of the market.

The LTD TE-200 (current price in Finland: 339 €) is an ultra-modern rendition of a Fender Telecaster, which offers a 24-fret neck and a pair of chunky humbuckers.

LTD’s EC Black Metal (current price in Finland: 794 €) is a stripped back Metal version of the company’s successful single-cut design, which sports a set-thru neck, a sleek matte black finish and a special Seymour Duncan humbucker.

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The LTD TE-200’s neck is made from three long side-by-side stripes of maple, topped with a bound maple fingerboard.

The headstock is back-angled, and it sports a set of die-cast LTD tuners.

The back of the neck is finished in the same faultless gloss black as the TE-200’s body.

The guitar’s mahogany body has a bound top, comfort contours and chamfered neck joint.

The pickups are coverless LTD LH-150N and LH-150B humbuckers.

The TE-200’s electronics are completely passive, comprising a three-way blade switch, plus master volume and master tone controls.

The six-saddle bridge is LTD’s own sturdy through-body stringing model.

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The LTD EC Black Metal is a stripped back, turbo-boosted version of the LTD EC-1000 Deluxe, made to rock hard without flinching.

This is reflected in the chosen machine heads, too, which are LTD’s excellent locking tuners.

The neck joint is what ESP call ”set-thru” and it combines the best aspects of glued-in and through-necks.

The EC Black Metal’s three-stripe mahogany neck continues in the mahogany body all the way up to the stopbar tailpiece, which means that all the hardware is connected to the neck. The extra-long neck pocket makes it possible to do away with the traditional neck heel, which, combined with the deep cutaway chamfers, makes for one of the smoothest neck joints in the business.

The whole guitar – save for the dark-grey Macassar ebony fingerboard – is finished in a flawless, stealth-style anthracite-coloured matte finish, that is a smooth to the touch as it is pleasing to the eye.

Seymour Duncan is making a special version of its powerful Black Winter-humbucker for LTD’s Black Metal trio, called the Blackened Black Winter.

The EC Black Metal offers you a single volume control, and nothing else.

The tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece are locking units made by TonePros.

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Though it seems a bit silly, LTD calls all its neck profiles a ”Thin U”, even though different models come with different types of necks. Is this meant to avoid scaring young guitarists? I don’t know.

In the LTD TE-200’s case I’d call the neck profile relatively chunky and rounded, giving you something to hold on to and filling your hand out rather nicely.

The overall workmanship – especially the fretwork – and the review instrument’s set-up were excellent. The two-octave fingerboard has a flat 14-inch radius and gleaming super jumbo frets, resulting in a very modern and ”fast” playability. The only slight drawback would be the reviewed guitar’s relatively high weight, which made using a wide strap a good idea.

Acoustically the TE-200 delivers a healthy middle-of-the-road bolt-on sound – not too middly, not too bright.

LTD’s LH-150-humbuckers are relatively powerful, modern humbuckers with a slight tendency to sound a little wooly in the lower mids, which should be easy to reign in with your amp’s EQ, though. The TE-200’s very player-friendly price tag makes this model a real bargain, even if the pickups aren’t as open-sounding as some of the best boutique units.

Here are two audio clips recorded with a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo and a Shure SM57:

In my opinion the LTD EC Black Metal has one of the most comfortable neck profiles available today. It is nicely rounded, but not too fat, and feels very similar to my Les Paul Junior. The gorgeous Macassar ebony feels smooth to the touch, and combined with the 14-inch radius and the excellently-dressed super jumbo frets, it all combines into a shredder’s dream.

The EC Black Metal has an open and balanced acoustic sound with a long and even sustain. Seymour Duncan’s Blackened Black Winter has a very powerful output, but the pickup is also extremely toneful. You don’t need to be a Metal guitarists to be able to appreciate the range of different tones at your fingertips, when the EC Black Metal is plugged into a pro-quality valve amp.

These two two audio clips have been recorded with a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo and a Shure SM57:

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You need a hard-rocking, but affordable modern guitar? The LTD TE-200 should be a strong contender on your shortlist, combining traditional looks with great playability and chunky tones.

In my view LTD’s EC Black Metal is a total killer of a guitar. Despite (or was it because of?) its simple electronics I was completely bowled over by this model’s cool looks, outstanding playability and juicy tones.

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LTD TE-200 & EC Black Metal

Humbucker-equipped electric guitars

LTD TE-200 – 339 €

LTD EC Black Metal – 794 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

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Pros (both guitars):

+ outstanding value for money

+ workmanship

+ fretwork

+ set-up

+ sound

Cons (only TE-200):

– pickups could be slightly more open-soundingSave

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