I am decently satisfied with my LTD EC-257 7-String. It plays pretty well and was nicely set up out of the box. I really enjoy the coil tap pick-ups allowing for a single coil sound (which can get pretty gnarly on a 7). I've become quite the fan of LTD for my more affordable mid-price range guitars (I now own 3 LTDs: TE-200, EC-257, and JR-208). I will say the biggest drawback on this guitar is that it is only 22 frets. I'll be completely honest, I may not have bought it had I known (at the time of purchase, there was very little on the Specs Tab), but I'm glad I did get it ultimately as it plays very nicely for a sub-$500 guitar. It's a decent shred guitar (though if you're pure shred, I'd go with a slimmer neck like an Ibanez), but I really enjoy the crunch out of the stock pick-ups and it is a good all around guitar for multiple styles. The finish is nice and smooth despite being matte. My other matte black guitars tend to have a bit more texture, but this one feels very smooth (almost like my stealth black EBMM JP7 from a few years back). The hardware is pretty standard as far as tuner and bridge. It gets the job done, and work for the price. Overall, this guitar is worth the buy for jamming around the house and doing some at home recordings. If you're a serious gigging musician, I may spend the extra $50/100 and get a little bit nicer guitar that might have a little better hardware to stand up to nightly abuse.