Wilton Rocking

Wilton Rocking

The Wild Streak in ESP Guitars

When you're looking for a guitar that's finely built but that can withstand the abuse of hard rock, alternative and heavy metal, ESP guitars have it all. Made from the finest woods and finishes with strings and hardware that can hold up to shredding and wailing, ESP Guitars hold their own and have been successfully selling guitars since the 70s.

Though most models of ESP guitars have been prided on being designed or influenced by a well-known and established artist, the manufacturer also provides guitarists with a traditional line of electrics and basses to choose from. It's hardly a wonder why this guitar company has been labeled the number one in heavy duty guitars and instruments throughout the world.

How ESP Began

In 1975 Hisatake Shibuya began selling custom replacement guitar parts for various guitar companies. He called his company Electric Sound Products and it didn't take long for Shibuya to begin making his own Japanese guitars as well. He released his work under the ESP and Navigator brand names but was, at the time, limited to the Japanese market.

In 1983 however, ESP replacement parts were introduced to the states and were immediately recognized as quality parts by local musicians. Right away the buzz about these high end custom parts landed ESP the reputation of custom instrument maker for popular New York artists. Famous guitarists like Page Hamilton, Bruce Kulick and Ronnie Wood came to ESP for parts and wound up with their very own guitars. This new found source of popularity and income allowed ESP to next release the 400 Series, the first of ESP Guitars for the United States.

While enjoying the new found success that ESP experienced in America, the company was still providing services for other guitar manufacturers. For instance, ESP began making the bodies and necks for Kramer Guitars and various other parts for Robin Guitars, Dimarzio and Schecter. From then on out, ESP continued to branch out in many fields of guitar making, including creating custom guitars for many other stars like George Lynch, Kirk Hammet, and more recently, James Hetfield and Matt DeVries.

The early 90s brought some more bright success to ESP Guitars when they expanded their Signature Series and many of their products. The company ceased focus on replacement parts and was now in full swing, a guitar manufacturer. In fact, in 93 ESP opened headquarters in L.A. and in 96 the company opened a sister company called LTD whose parts came from Indonesia, keeping overhead inexpensive. Finally, in 2002, ESP was labeled as one of the music industry's fastest growing companies. Just 3 years later the company celebrated its 30th anniversary and released James Hetfield's Truckster in honor.

The Hottest ESP Models

Currently ESP offers dozens of top notch, hard core machines at mid to high-range prices. Definitely worth every penny, of course, most come with ESP's own Gotoh custom tuners and pickups and many are also graced with gold or black hardware that's attractive and sturdy. Here's a run down of ESP's current, most popular models:

ESP Standard Series

Whether you're getting the Eclipse for some soft, melodic thrashing, the M-II for traditional wailing and jamming, the Horizon for colorful but traditional jamming or the Viper for serious shredding, you're getting a quality instrument with the capacity for endurance. All of the Standard Series guitars come with Gotoh Standard Tuners at the very least and many are equipped with Gotoh Magnum Lock Tuners for more control. Also enjoy the crisp and unique sound of the EMG pickups that the entire Standard Series comes with.

ESP Vintage Series

For a warm, traditional sound, the ESP Vintage Series is perfect. The Vintage Plus, which comes in cream or red, has chrome hardware, Gotoh Magnum Lock Tuners, a Wilkinson Vintage Bridge and Seymore Duncan Pickups. Truly traditional.

LTD Deluxe Series

Wild colors, extreme action and great hardware. Let's look closer:

- EC 1000 Series: Wildly colored and finished, this guitar isn't just a pretty face. This axe comes with black nickel or gold hardware depending on your color choice, ESP Locking Tuners, TonePros Locking Bridge & Tail and EMG Pickups.

- H-1001 Series: Teal, purple or black, this machine comes with black nickel hardware, ESP Locking Tuners, a TonePros Locking Bridge and your choice of EMG or Duncan Pickups.

- M 1000 Series: This pretty, gothic-style guitar comes with a uniquely finished Alder body, flamed Maple top, Maple neck, Rosewood fingerboard, black nickel hardware, Grover Tuners, a Floyd Rose Bridge and EMG Pickups. This is a gorgeous guitar that purrs like a black cat.

Who Loves Their ESP?

To conclude, the long list of well known, hard core rockers that use and endorse ESP Guitars is astounding. They have long been collecting a laundry list of eager players who not only enjoy using standard ESP Guitars but who have also longed for an ESP of their own design. I leave you with those who did finally get their very own ESP design:

Kirk Hammett

James Hetfield

Alexi Laiho

George Lynch

Jeff Hanneman

Michael Amott

Will Adler

Jon Donais

Rob Arnold

Matt DeVries

Richie Sambora

Ron Wood

Stephen Carpenter

Michael Paget

Michael Wilton

Gus G.

Wayne Static

Page Hamilton

Dan Jacobs

Travis Miguel

Richard Z

Max Cavalera

About the Author

My interest in guitars caused me to find the lowest priced guitars for my collection and now I write about my guitars.


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I have noticed that my edges get a little on the crisp side, but I just trim them off. I go around the cake trimming off the entire edge.

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