ESP LTD EC-256 Review: Shredding the Sound Barrier

If you’ve landed here to explore the ESP LTD EC-256, you are in luck! I have spent some time with it and have the insights to guide you through. Over my years of experience with various guitars, the EC-256 has consistently captured my attention.

Originating from ESP, a brand predominantly known for catering to heavier genres, this model showcases major versatility. It’s not just tailored for rock or metal, but can gracefully transition into blues or jazz settings.

Many reviews praise its impeccable finish, versatile sound range, and swift playability, especially for genres demanding more drive.

However, some critiques point out that its sound might not resonate with everyone, and its price is a notch above beginner guitars.

But my opinion? The ESP LTD EC-256 offers significant value. While it’s more affordable than high-end instruments, it encapsulates a slice of ESP’s renowned quality and is a great purchase for any guitarist! Read the rest of my review to learn all about it!


Let’s take a look at some key features of the ESP LTD EC-256 guitar.

  • Mahogany body.
  • Mahogany set neck.
  • Roasted Jatoba finger board.
  • Les Paul style body shape.
  • 24.75 inch scale with 21 frets.
  • ESP LH-150B humbuckers.
  • Thin U neck profile.

Who Is This Guitar For?

The LTD EC-256 can be used in many different music styles. I found that I was able to get rock tones as well as metal sounds with ease. Being an ESP LTD model, this guitar was designed for heavier music styles. But I found it also did great cleans and some harder-edged vintage tones.

I would suggest that players who are into hard rock or metal look into this guitar. It’s perfect for beginners and even intermediate players. It’s a great guitar with good construction and excellent playability.


ESP LTD EC-256 Guitar.
ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar

An ideal option for heavier styles of music. But versatile enough to satisfy many! The EC-256 is a well-built guitar and also offers good playability. ESP is known for great guitars, this one is no exception!


  • Quality materials and design.
  • Versatility in tone.
  • Feels great to play.
  • Good pick-ups and hardware.
  • Many different colors to choose from.


  • A set-up may be required out of the box.
EC-256 Score
  • Build Quality
  • Aesthetics
  • Sound
  • Playability

Sound Performance

While the body shape makes it look like a Les Paul, the ESP LTD really does have a sound of its own.

I was rewarded with some crazy modern metal tones with almost no effort. I found the pickups to be pretty good and provide a full sound. This was when used with the Revv Generator MK3 guitar amplifier.

When switching to the clean channel, I found the EC-256 to provide pristine tones and a full bass sound. ESP has put in its own quality parts and given the guitar some crazy versatility.

The push-pull coil tap will allow you to play metal and quickly switch it up to get some bell-like strat tones. And while the sound does get thinner like a single-coil, a little bit of noise appears as well.

If you are not sure what a coil tap is, it basically just restructures how the pickups are used. A humbucker can be transformed into a single-coil by turning off one side!

I recommend the ESP LTD if you are looking for a guitar that looks a bit harder-edged. But can give you great versatility in sound when you need it.

For a beginner, this guitar is amazing in what it has to offer. It’s the full package of sound and looks And because you can get it in different colors, that sweetens the deal. Check out this video to hear how it sounds:

Body and Construction

ESP LTD EC-256 guitar Body.
EC-256 guitar rear.

This solid body electric guitar is composed of mahogany. It’s known as their “Eclipse” shape and is similar to the Les Paul.

This single-cutaway design makes it easy for players to reach the higher frets. It also has set neck construction, which means there is no heel at the joint. Further, contributing to upper fret access and great sustain.

The body features a carved top with a beautiful flamed maple veneer finish. This comes in several color options including black, satin and snow-white. Add to that a slightly curved top and white binding, and you have a great looking instrument!

The guitar’s body is also equipped with a Tune-o-Matic bridge and tailpiece. This contributes to the solid intonation and tuning stability.

But also adds to the guitar’s overall aesthetic appeal. It’s a classic looking guitar. And as such, it’s a great choice for both beginner and experienced players.

Mahogany Neck

ESP LTD EC-256 Neck.
EC-256 guitar neck.

The LTD EC-256 electric guitar neck is made from mahogany and set into the body. There is no bolt-on neck here. This is a set neck, which gives the guitar more sustain and deep resonance.

It also provides a sturdier guitar that will not flex or move where the neck meets the body. It also makes it easier to play the upper frets.

The fingerboard is made from Roasted Jatoba and has a 24.75-inch scale and 21 jumbo frets. The neck is a thin U profile that is very comfortable and easy to play. It has a 1.65-inch guitar nut and a plastic truss rod cover on the headstock.

LTD Flag fingerboard inlays are found on the guitar, which gives it a very custom look. I personally really like this neck, it’s easy to play and feels comfortable.


The EC-256 comes with a pair of ESP Designed humbuckers that deliver a rich, warm tone.

But don’t let that confuse you, they also have a good top-end response that cuts in a mix. They are called LH-150 humbucker pickups and have a decent output level. These are ESP designed pickups.

Their design consist of ceramic magnets, which helps give them their edge. Depending on the neck or bridge position, you can expect between 8 and 14K ohms of resistance from them. These pick-ups are well-made and sound great!

The guitar also features 2 volume and 1 master tone control. Each with top hat knobs and a pick-up selector switch. The electronics also support a push-pull coil tap. This will allow you to forge your sound from blues to metal and everything in between!


ESP machine heads keep your strings in tune and feel good for a guitar at this price point. They are cheaper tuners though and so if you plan to upgrade, this is a good part to change out.

The guitar could benefit from higher quality tuners, maybe even an option that locks them. But overall, the stock tuners are decent.


The ESP LTD EC-256 also has more rock-solid hardware. Parts like a Tune-o-Matic bridge and a stop bar fully adjustable tailpiece.

This is a very simple bridge design, but is effective. The intonation was good on this guitar when I received it, and no adjustment was necessary. The bridge did its job and looks good in plated gold.

ESP LTD EC-256 Full Guitar.


The neck is thin, which encourages a fast play style. It’s a thin U-style neck, but still feels like it’s got a thicker feel.

I immediately began playing the solo from Master of Puppets by Metallica. I do this to try and see if the guitar will produce fret buzz higher up the neck. But it didn’t make any funny noise!

The neck and body are one piece. This really gives the guitar a great feel in resonance and sustain when cranking out some drive. It’s a quality guitar for the price point and a lot of fun!

I also liked the fact that because it’s a set neck design, it’s smooth at the joint and easy to get at the upper frets.

The string height was good, making them easy to press. This was important for playability. I was happy with the quality of the guitar in this area.


The EC-256 is a well-made guitar for this price. Being a set neck design makes it feel very durable. The rigidity confirms this to be a reliable guitar. The neck had a good string height which made it easy to play, but it also felt like it was quality.

The tuners feel good. I had no issues with tuning the guitar, and it held strong. Even after using it for a number of days, it retained the right pitch.

The controls feel good and don’t feel cheap. Overall, I would say this guitar will provide reliability if you decide to use it to gig with.

Similar Guitars To Consider

If the EC-256 isn’t what you had hoped, there are a few others that we suggest.

Jackson Dinky DK2

Jackson Dinky DK2.
Jackson DK2 Electric Guitar

Jackson is another contender when it comes to metal guitars. While more expensive than the EC-256, it also has a better sound and playability. If you have a few extra dollars to spend, this is a great instrument to consider!

A bolt-on maple neck is attached to a sturdy alder body on the Jackson Dinky DK2. It’s a dream to play the neck, especially for leads! The massive tone produced by the high output pickups is ideal for metal and hard rock. As a high-gain player myself, this guitar checks all the boxes in terms of tone.

The double cutaway body shape makes it easy to get to the higher frets. This is intentional and a nice feature from Jackson. They know what we want as players! Overall, the Jackson Dinky DK2 is a high-performance guitar. It’s well-suited for players who demand speed, precision, and versatility.


ESP LTD MH-203QM Guitar.
ESP LTD MH-203QM Electric Guitar

The LTD MH-203QM is another awesome guitar by ESP. This one has a Floyd Rose bridge and locking nut. It’s a different body shape than other models in their line-up. But still sounds incredible for both lead and rhythm playing!

The MH-203QM is equipped with the same pickups as the EC-256. It shares a few features that are the same, but is a much different guitar overall.

It features a Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo system. Allowing for smooth and accurate whammy bar effects without compromising tuning stability.

Other features of the MH-203QM include a 3-way pickup selector switch. Plus, a master volume and tone knob, as well as a sleek black hardware finish. It, too, is an excellent guitar from ESP and similar in price.

Cost and Value

The EC-256 electric guitar, priced at $599.00, offers a remarkable blend of quality, playability, and style.

This instrument is not only visually appealing, but also built with precision to ensure a great sound and comfortable playability. This makes it an excellent choice for players of all skill levels.

Considering the solid construction, sleek design, and superior tonal range, the EC-256 presents an impressive value for money. At $599.00, it competes effectively with other guitars in a similar price range.

Undoubtedly providing a well-rounded option for those looking to upgrade their gear or explore a new sound without breaking the bank.

LTD EC-256 at Sweetwater.

Final Thoughts

There are many great electric guitars for under $500. Many of them play and sound great. The ESP LTD EC-256 is well worth the money and a beast of a guitar! My experience with it was good, and I enjoyed the way it plays and sounds.

The build quality, electronics, sound, and design are pretty good. I was impressed with the playability from this LTD model.

It’s a very versatile instrument and sounds great for the range of options it offers. I particularly liked the look of the guitar, it’s quite sharp and will catch many eyes on stage.

ESP LTD EC-256 Guitar.
ESP LTD EC-256 guitar front.


Is the ESP LTD EC-256 good for beginners?

Yes, the ESP LTD EC-256 is a solid choice for beginners. It offers a blend of affordability and quality, making it accessible for those just getting started.

The guitar has a comfortable design, ensuring ease of play for newcomers. Its versatile sound range is suitable for various music genres, allowing beginners to explore and find their own style.

Additionally, its durable build ensures that the guitar can withstand the learning curve, making it a reliable companion for new guitarists.

How much does the LTD EC-256 weigh?

The EC-256 weighs 8 Lbs. It has a similar shape to the Les Paul. As a result, most players assume that it will be just as heavy.

But it’s not too heavy and is balanced quite well. So wearing it on your shoulder for long periods won’t produce discomfort.

Is the EC-256 made in China?

The ESP LTD EC-256 is made in Indonesia, but don’t let that deter you. The quality of this guitar is very high for the price point, making it great value for the money. If you are going to need a guitar that can do many types of music styles, this is it!

Can the LTD EC-256 be upgraded?

Yes, and if I were to want to upgrade the guitar, the pickups would be the first place to start. The stock pups are not bad, but you will benefit from a good set of Seymour Duncan humbuckers.

This will open up the guitar and give it snarl. I would also replace the nut with bone. These two upgrades would transform the guitar!