ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 Review: Best Guitar for 7 String Metal

By Jason Stallworth

August 20, 2018


If you’re looking for a 7 string guitar that will handle any type of metal, I may have the perfect guitar for you…

I’m going to give you my personal review of the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7. And just so you’re aware, I own this guitar (so this review is real and authentic!).

In fact, I bought this guitar to record a specific album that I had written. I’ll give you more details on that at the end of this post. And, of course, you’ve seen me play this guitar in countless YouTube and social media videos.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this review…

  • Why I chose this guitar over other 7 string guitars
  • Metal subgenres this guitar works best for
  • ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 specs and features (I go deeper than what you read on other sites)
  • How I almost did NOT get this guitar (crazy story!)
  • What I would change about this guitar
  • How the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 sounds in the full mix and on an album
  • Can the E-II Horizon FR-7 do country? I’m totally kidding…this will not be in this post!

Why I Bought the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7

So, out of all of the 7 string guitars available, why did I pick the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 guitar?

There are two main reasons I bought this guitar…

  1. I already had been playing the ESP LTD M-1000 Deluxe, and I wanted a 7 string that was similar to that guitar and also wanted to stick with ESP
  2. I needed a 7 string guitar that was truly made for a specific style and that would give me the clarity when playing fast riffs

The LTD M-1000 Deluxe is known for its fast neck that feels almost effortless to play. So I really wanted that same feature in a 7 string and the E-II Horizon FR-7 has that.

I did play some 7 string guitars from other brands. I won’t name them because they were great high-quality guitars from reputable brands. But they just didn’t quite feel right to me.

I’ll admit that I was already somewhat biased to the ESP brand, though, because of my love for my M-1000 Deluxe.

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 metal guitar

I also wanted a 7 string guitar that came equipped with EMG 707 pickups.

As you may know, the M-1000 Deluxe has EMGs and they’re just the perfect pickups for metal, in my opinion.

But also, Jeff Loomis is known to use these pickups. Of course, Jeff doesn’t play ESP guitar, but I love his style and tone. So the EMG 707s were something I had decided I wanted in a 7 string.

**I’m going to talk about metal guitarists that play the E-II Horizon FR-7 later!

Lastly, I had never owned a super high-end guitar. Well, I guess ‘high-end’ is relative, but let’s just say the E-II Horizon FR-7 isn’t cheap!

NOTE: Now, I didn’t want an expensive guitar just for the sake of having an expensive guitar. I just wanted the features and playability of a high-end guitar, and I did my research on ESP guitars made in Japan. At that point, it was a no-brainer to press that button on the E-II Horizon FR-7.

Metal Subgenres the E-II Horizon Works Best For

‘Peaceful War’ from Jason Stallworth’s Masterpeace album – recorded with the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 guitar

Here’s something you’re not used to seeing in gear reviews. I’m going to share what subgenres of metal I think this guitar is truly built for.

Obviously this is subjective because it’s my opinion. And it doesn’t mean this guitar won’t work for other metal subgenres or even genres that are not metal.

Melodic Death Metal – I’m mentioning this subgenre first because it’s somewhat my own personal style, which is what you hear in the video above. More importantly, the E-II Horizon FR-7 is absolutely perfect for this genre because there’s a lot of fast-alternate picking with melodic riffs, and this guitar accurately pronounces those notes. With some guitars, this style might sound muddy.

Progressive Metal – Progressive metal guitar is an extremely complex and technical style. This is a case where you need two things: a fast neck and the type of pickups that are going to make every note shine.

Symphonic Metal – This unique style combines elements from the two subgenres I just mentioned. Symphonic metal could oftentimes be described as ‘melodic progressive metal with added orchestration.’ On that note (no pun intended), you need a guitar like the E-II Horizon FR-7 that’s going to sit well in the mix with everything else that’s going on, along with the playability required for this style.

Death Metal – Death metal is another subgenre with much guitar complexity. You need that punch and clarity when playing this style as there are a lot of blasts where you’re playing extremely fast riffs. So the E-II Horizon FR-7 works great for this style a well.

Again, you can use the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 for any style of metal. Even old school thrash and classic metal sound great on this guitar. But I just wanted to highlight why this guitar works so well for these specific metal subgenres.

*If you’d like to learn some interesting facts about metal subgenres, read Metal Mastermind’s post ‘Subgenres of Metal Music.’

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 Specs and Features

Here a rundown of the E-II Horizon FR-7 specs as shown on the ESP website:

  • Construction: Set-Thru
  • Scale: 25.5″
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: 3-piece maple, thin U
  • Fingerboard: Ebony, 305mm
  • Frets: 24 XJ
  • Strap Button: Schaller Strap lock
  • Tuners: Gotoh Locking
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose Original
  • Neck Pickup: EMG 707
  • Bridge Pickup: EMG 707
  • Electronics: Active, Vol/Tone/Toggle Switch
  • CASE: Included!!
Jason Stallworth Metal Music

*I grabbed these specs directly from the ESP website.
**The version the ESP website has the EMG EMG 57-7H, but the one I own came with the EMG 707

Now, I’d like to point out some of my personal favorite features of this guitar…

The fast-neck was my first requirement in whatever 7 string I decided on. Remember, I’m absolutely in love with my LTD M-1000 Deluxe’s neck! So I was happy to get that same style with the E-II Horizon FR-7. I don’t know kind of magical potion ESP puts on their necks, but it works!

I mentioned the pickups earlier but that was also a selling point for me. I love the EMGs on my six-string guitar, and although I had never played through the EMG 707s, I was pretty happy once I got this guitar.

Next in line is a feature that I’ve never had on a guitar before and that’s the Gotoh locking tuners. Wow, this makes changing strings so much easier! In fact, I’ve even upgraded my Takamine acoustic with locking tuners.
*I have another blog post and video on these tuners here: How to Change Strings with Gotoh Locking Tuners.

The strap locks are a nice addition. And the fact that it came with a case was a plus. But if these features didn’t come with the guitar, I’m sure I would have still purchased it.

I Almost Didn’t Get This Guitar

Crazy story here, but I almost didn’t get the ESP E-II Horizon Fr-7. That sounds like total blasphemy, but there’s a reason…

My first 7-string was actually the LTD MH-1007 with the Evertune bridge. Not having a Floyd or any kind of floating tremolo was at the forefront of this decision. And this seemed like a 7 string replica of my M-1000 Deluxe.

When the guitar came in, I was initially excited. I even put a video up on YouTube about it here…

But for some reason, it just wasn’t meshing with me. So I sent it back, ate the return shipping cost, and ended up spending more money to get the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 (about $1,000 difference in price!).

Looking back, I probably didn’t give myself enough time to get used to that guitar, or playing a 7- string, in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love my E-II Horizon FR-7, but I sometimes wish I had just kept the LTD MH-1007.

What you have to understand is that when you’ve been playing 6-string guitars for almost 30 years, switching over to a 7-string almost feels like a new instrument. Because I struggled with the E-II Horizon FR-7 for a while, too.

And that proves that it was me, not the guitar. But I wasn’t gonna send this one back!

**I have a video that has literally helped thousands of people like me who had trouble going from 6 to 7 strings: How to Transition from a 6 to 7 String Guitar.

Things I Would Chance About This Guitar

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 bridge and pickups

So, what would I change about the E-II Horizon FR-7?

Well, there are two things…

  1. I would replace the floating tremolo with something like the Evertune bridge. That’s not feasible to do that to this guitar, but I have decided that my next guitar will not have a floating tremolo.
  2. I wish the neck was just a little thinner. I have an Ibanez RG1570 and really love the thinness of that neck. Granted the E-II Horizon FR-7 isn’t super thick. But if I if it were just slightly thinner, it would be more than perfect!

Those are just my personal thoughts. And if I ever get the honor of having my own custom guitar, those are things I would implement in building out the specs.

How the ESP-II Horizon Sounds

The sole purpose of me buying my first 7-string guitar was to compliment the style of music I was writing for a new album.

Masterpeace was released in September 2019. It’s a combination of melodic death metal and thrash metal, and there are two instrumental tracks. From the words of several fans, it’s Amon Amarth meets Megadeth.

You can listen to Masterpeace on Spotify below – also, be sure to follow me on Spotify!

**Listen/stream on more sources here.

All of the rhythm guitar tracks for the Masterpeace album were recorded with the E-II Horizon FR-7. And the majority of lead guitars were recorded with it as well (I had kept a couple of the older solos that I had recorded with my LTD M-1000 guitar – some of these songs were written with some parts recorded several years prior to the album release).

There are also some ambient parts in this album. These are clean tones with a lot of delay and ambient reverb for those spacey effects. Yep, I used the E-II Horizon FR-7 for those, too!

Final Thoughts on the E-II Horizon FR-7

Jason Stallworth Metal

At first, I had a love-uncertain relationship with this guitar. But now I realize that was more on me and that it took me a while to get used to playing a 7-string.

Look, it can be tough to teach an old dog like me new tricks!

To be completely transparent, I’ve only played a small handful of other 7-strings prior to getting this one. But in comparison, none of those came close to the E-II Horizon FR-7.

Again, I don’t want to mention the names or brands of those other guitars because ‘better’ is subjective to my opinion and what fits me as a guitarist. As you’re aware, both brands and types of guitars are an extremely personal taste.

The wrap this up, the best thing about the E-II Horizon FR-7 is the clarity in the notes. I personally do a fair share of riffing and a lot of fast alternate picking. You want those notes to be pronounced, not muddy.

Of course, much of tone and its clarity has to do with the amp and EQ (and, uh-um, the guitarist ability to play tight!). But the guitar plays a huge role in that as well.

Now, I will get a backup 7-string at some point and I probably won’t fork out the cash to get another one of these. I may pick up the LTD MH-1007 (again!) for that!

I hope you enjoyed my write-up of the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7. You can expect to hear this 7-string guitar on more of my future albums and videos!

**Don’t forget to check out my music here (there are links on this page to listen to my music on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and more): Jason’s Music

Keep it Metal,

Jason

Jason Stallworth

About the author

Jason is a hard rock and heavy metal recording artist, songwriter, and published author. Primarily a guitarist, he's known for his melodic style and positivity. He also enjoys helping other guitarists and musicians excel. When he's not writing music or filming YouTube videos, he's helping others build muscle and get in shape on themuscleprogram.com.

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