Is ESP a good guitar brand? Do ESP guitars sound good? Are ESP guitars durable? Where are ESP guitars made? Is ESP better than Ibanez, Gibson, Jackson, and other guitar brands? If you are very knowledgeable about the guitar brand, then good for you; however, I believe that there are still many who are curious about ESP, which is why I decided to give some light on the topic.
There are very many guitar brands, but there are just a few of them that are made for a specific genre, and ESP is one of them. I believe as a guitar player, it is good that you also have some knowledge of some guitar brands, as there is a chance that you will need them in the future, especially if you are trying to buy a new guitar.
So, what is ESP, and how did it all start? ESP is a Japanese company that is known for manufacturing electric guitars and basses. The company is based in Tokyo and Los Angeles and has its own specific product lines based on where the guitars were made. The most popular product lineups from ESP Guitars are ESP Standard, ESP Custom Shop, Navigator, and Grassroots.
The founder of the company, Mr. Hisatake Shibuya, started a shop in 1975 and named it Electric Sound Products, located in Tokyo, Japan. The shop provided custom replacement parts for guitars, but at the same time, it all started to manufacture guitars under the name brands ESP and Navigator, sold in the Japanese market.
It was in 1983 that ESP started to introduce its replacement parts in the US market. It also began manufacturing custom instruments for some local New York musicians between 1984 and 1985. It was also almost at the same time that ESP first introduced its 400 Series as its debut product line in the US market.
Aside from making guitars and replacement parts, ESP also started to manufacture guitar bodies and necks for the guitar brand Kramer Guitars, while the company also became an original equipment manufacturer for Robin Guitars, Schecter, and DiMarzio. Even today, you can still notice the similarities between the guitar bodies of ESP and Kramer Guitars. Another feature that remained in the ESP guitars from being an OEM is Tom Anderson’s shaved bolt-on neck heel that it usually manufactured for Schecter guitars in the past.
George Lynch, a famous heavy metal guitar player, discovered ESP while he was on tour in Tokyo in 1985 and decided to purchase a replacement neck from them. After knowing that ESP also built custom guitars, George ordered one, and this resulted in his famous ESP Kamikazee. This became his first signature model. Other ESP product lines introduced at this time were the M1 Standard, Horizon Custom, and MI Custom.
After the company opened its headquarters in New York City in the 1980s, ESP decided to move to Los Angeles in 1993 and discontinued its replacement parts business as it started to focus on manufacturing guitars and basses. In the same decade, the company began to introduce its entry-level products made in Korea and Indonesia.
Best Examples Of ESP Guitars
ESP Snakebyte Camo
One of the most expensive ESP guitars on the market, this James Hetfield signature guitar is one of the best electric guitars ever made for playing metal. Metallica’s rhythm guitarist, James Hetfield, has also been considered one of the best guitar players of all time, and one factor that contributed to all of his success is his famous guitar, the ESP Snakebyte Camo.
The guitar comes with a Mahogany body and set-in Mahogany neck, giving the guitar a balanced shape, which results in a very comfortable playing time. This is the reason why it is one of the most sought-after guitars for metal guitarists. The guitar comes with an Ebony fingerboard, adding darkness to its tone, and it has 22 extra jumbo frets.
Working together, Metallica and EMG were able to come up with pickups that would perfectly suit to be played in the modern metal scenes these days. There was only one goal in mind when they made these pickups, and it was to create a pair of active humbuckers that could match the clarity and output of the 81 and 85 pair of Hetfield in the past but can also produce the nuance, punch, and dynamics you hear in passive pickups.
The guitar comes with a Kuiu Camo Satin finish, and all its hardware is in black. It has a set of Sperzel locking tuners for exceptional tone stability, and it has TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece. This guitar is excellently made in Japan, so if you are looking for high-end guitars for metal, the Snakebyte Camo is one that you should consider.
ESP FRX CTM
Another top-end quality guitar from the ESP is the ESP FRX CTM. Belonging to the ESP’s 2020 FRX Series, the guitar has a unique look that every person will notice. If you are serious about being a metal guitar player, this guitar should be one of your options to secure in the future.
Handcrafted by one of the best luthiers in Japan, the FRX CTM’s beveled body is made of Mahogany with a burled Maple top. It has a set-thru 3-piece Maple neck, and its fingerboard is made of Ebony, adding some warmth and darkness to the guitar’s tone. The guitar has a magenta blue burst finish, while its hardware all comes with a black finish.
The guitar comes with a set of humbucker pickups: a Seymour Duncan Sentient in its neck and a Seymour Duncan Nazgul as its bridge pickup. This pair was purposely matched to give the guitar searing highs, grinding mids, and tight bass tones, which are needed in playing metal today.
The ESP FRX CTM also comes with top-quality guitar parts, as it has an original Floyd Rose bridge and a set of Gotoh locking tuners for additional tone stability.
Top ESP Guitars Artists
Being the vocalist, the main songwriter, and rhythm guitarist of one of the most famous metal bands of all time, Metallica, James Hetfield has been banning the ESP flag since the 1980s. James also has lots of own signature guitars from ESP since they started making one in the 1990s.
Another guitarist from the legendary metal band Metallica, Kirk Hammett’s lead guitar playing has always been considered one of the best in the world. One of its most famous signature guitars, the Zorlac under the KH series, is an electric guitar to die for. If you are a heavy metal player, you should know everything about Kirk Hammett’s ESP guitars.
Another legendary guitar player on the list is no other than Rolling Stone’s guitarist, Ron Wood. Ronnie is one of the longest endorsers of ESP Guitars. Known for his slide-playing technique, Ron’s guitar riffs can never be forgotten in history with the help of his ESP guitars. Ron also has its own signature guitars under the company.
So, is ESP a good guitar brand? For a metal player who is considering getting a guitar, the ESP is a great guitar brand, and I highly recommend it. Their guitars are made explicitly for playing metal, which is nice as there is a lack of market for musical products that are purposely made for specific genres.