Yesterday, we did a review on the fancy LTD EC-1000 Koa. Today, we’ll be looking at the ESP E-II Horizon FR-II!

Let’s jump right into it!


  • Mahogany Body
  • Quilted Maple Top w/ Tiger Eye Sunburst Finish
  • Thin “U” Shape 3-Piece Maple Neck
  • Neck-Thru Design
  • Ebony Fretboard with 12” Radius
  • 25.5” Scale Length
  • 24 Jumbo Nickel Frets
  • ESP Offset Block Inlays with 12th Fret ESP Logo
  • Floyd Rose Original Bridge
  • Gotoh Locking Tuners
  • 42mm Locking Nut
  • EMG 57/66 Pickups
  • 3-Way Toggle w/ Vol/Tone Knobs

The first thing I should mention is that the ESP E-II Horizon series is hand-crafted in Tokyo, Japan, making it one of the higher end models that ESP/LTD offers.

Something you’ll immediately notice about this guitar is the stunning Tiger Eye Sunburst on the quilted maple top. Pictures do not do it justice at all.

The thin “U” neck shape is great for players with big hands. (I have smaller hands, but I don’t find it uncomfortable.) I find the ESP “U” necks to be a bit chunkier than a thin “C”, which is commonly found on a lot of shredder guitars. I don’t find it difficult to shred on by any means, but having a thicker neck to wrap my hand around a bit more makes it great for digging into some aggressive rhythm playing.

The flagship Floyd Rose Original model featured on this guitar is definitely one of the most popular tremolo-style bridges in the world. It’s a very stable floating bridge and can hold tuning even while doing aggressive dive bombs.  If you aren’t a fan of floating bridges, you should check out ESP’s hardtail Horizon variant.

(Some people aren’t really fond of the Floyd Rose bridges, so we threw a guide together for some easy mods to do that may improve your experience with one!)


You’re going to get the good ol’ mahogany body/maple top combo on this guitar. The tonal characteristics offered by this combo have a really fat low end with a sweet bump in the mids. The mahogany body and neck-thru build design offer a ton of sustain on this guitar as well!

To help balance out the dark mahogany body, there is the 3-piece maple neck. This super sturdy wood choice offers a ton of brightness to the sound of the guitar, as well as some excellent tuning stability.

Most of us are familiar with the famous (some would say infamous) sound of the EMG 81/85 combo. This guitar features the unique 57/66 combo, which is basically a more vintage, “PAF-like”  play on the 81/85. These pickups feature alnico 5 magnets, offering a ton of great midrange and bite.

It’s somewhat of an urban legend that active pickups lose dynamics and fail to offer a clean sound. The 57/66 combo are the argument to this. While they aren’t the smoothest pickups on the market, they have a great range of dynamics and can offer an extremely clean sound with great sustain and detail.

Thanks to the pickup/wood combinations, this guitar has absolutely no problem playing big, jazzy chords without losing clarity.

Where I found this guitar to excel best is it’s ability to nail an 80’s metal sound. After adding a ton of distortion, the pickups remain uncluttered and clear, while maintaining a tight low end. I will mention that while the guitar was able to show dynamic range for clean sounds, for higher gain applications I found the dynamic abilities to be lacking a bit.

Build Quality:

When I was 16, I bought the first guitar that I had ever paid for on my own. It was blue LTD MH-1000. I still own this guitar today and find the quality to be incredibly good for the price I paid for it. I still find myself reaching for it every now and then.

With that being said, the Japanese ESP E-II series blows it out of the water. These guitars are very consistent and are found with very few flaws, if any.

The finish is outstanding. The gloss is crazy shiny, but isn’t too thick to take away from the figuring on the maple. I couldn’t find any issues with overspray or bubbling, so no complaints here.

If there are any noticeable flaws in the fretwork, they are extremely difficult to find. The Tokyo ESP shop absolutely nails the fretwork consistently.

Final Verdict:

If you are looking for a gorgeous guitar with a great 80’s metal sound and a floyd rose, then look no further. The high quality ESP E-II Horizon FR-II offers all of these great features with impeccable build standards. They aren’t on the cheap side by any means with an average shelf price of around $1949, but they are worth every penny.


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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.

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