My New 7 String Guitar: ESP E-II Horizon FR-7

By Jason Stallworth

August 20, 2018

I’ve been going back and forth on this for a while now – whether to down tune my 6 string guitars – or bite the bullet and buy a 7 string guitar.

This became an issue for me as I wanted to start recording the songs for my new melodic death metal album. I wanted…actually, I needed a heavier sound for this album. A standard tuned 6-string just wasn’t going to cut it!

I knew I wanted to stick with ESP guitars. I’ve recorded all of my albums up to this point with my ESP LTD M-1000 Deluxe. I absolutely love that guitar because the neck is super fast and effortless to play.

So I needed a 7 string guitar that was comparable to its playability.

I ended up buying the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7.

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

7 string guitar ESP E-II Horizon FR-7

You may ask ‘Dude, what made you choose the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7?

There’s a lot of 7 string guitars to choose from, that’s for sure!

As I mentioned, I was getting ready to record the rhythm guitar tracks for my new album. I needed that that extra heavy B string. And I didn’t want to mess with the pains that come with down tuning a 6 string guitar.

Without debate, I needed a guitar with a fast neck. I’ve played a few other 7 string guitars (I won’t name the brands here) but they seemed difficult to play. I needed something that played as effortlessly as my LTD MH-1000 Deluxe.

I also wanted a 7 string guitar that came equipped with EMG 707 pickups. Why? Because Jeff Loomis is known to use these pickups. I love Jeff’s style and tone. And EMG 707’s are built for my style of melodic death metal.

Lastly, I’ve never bought or owned a super high-end guitar. Well, I’m calling it that anyway (dude, this thing was like $1900 – to me, that’s a big price tag).

Now, I didn’t want to pay a high price just for the sake of paying a high price. I wanted high quality, and I did my research of ESP guitars made in Japan. At that point, it was a no-brainer on what 7 string guitar to buy.

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 Specs

Alright, I know you can look this up on Sweetwater, but I wanted to include some of the specs of my new 7 string guitar.

Here’s a rundown on all the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 specs that are important to me:

  • neck-through-body construction (this gives you massive sustain!)
  • EMG 707 Active Humbuckers (pickups for metal!!)
  • Fast neck
  • ESP built in Japan (extremely high quality)
  • Contoured alder body (my preference)
  • Floyd Rose Original bridge/tailpiece **

**I had actually purchased another ESP 7 string guitar without a Floyd thinking I would like that better. Let’s be fair, the Floyd can be a hassle when changing strings! But I found out very quickly how much I missed the Floyd Rose, so I exchanged it for the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7. Crazy eh?…I’ve never sent anything back for an exchange! Oh well, I ended up spending more $$! 

Best Guitar for Melodic Death Metal

Jason Stallworth and hi 7 string guitar

The first album I recorded with this guitar is Masterpeace. This album called for a heavier sound because it has death metal vocals. So this guitar was perfect for the album!

I’ve also recorded most of the guitar solos, which are plentiful on this album. So on those notes (no pun intended!), I’ve had a bit of experience with my new 7 string guitar.

With playing melodic death metal, there’s a lot of riffing. I’ve never been a fan of just playing chords. I want that intricate and sometimes complex fret-work. You’ll hear this on all of my metal albums.

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 has a super fast neck. That was the biggest must-have for me in a 7 string guitar. I was able to play my rhythms effortlessly.

This guitar also gives a lot of clarity in the notes. This is extremely important for melodic death metal or any fast-paced music with a lot of riffing. You want to hear those notes pronounced.

Of course, much of this has to do with the amp and EQ. But the guitar plays a large role as well in having the tone and sound of clarity versus muddy.

Final Thoughts On My 7 String Guitar

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the ESP E-II Horizon FR-7. Although I haven’t played many 7 string guitars, it blows away the ones I have played. Like, seriously, there’s no comparison!

I’ve actually considered getting another as a back-up. But I won’t do that unless I start playing out more (I’m a solo artist and spend most of my time in the studio!).

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 many of my future albums!

Keep it Metal,


Jason Stallworth

About the author

Melodic death metal with a side of thrash is what my music is all about. My goal is to deliver quality metal music you!

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