ESP JAPAN & USA: General Info Thread

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by Ikke, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    Brought to you by the ESP Community, The Fellowship of the String!

    General

    GQ1) Why did you make this thread?

    GA1) Because knowledge is power! Many people have questions about these two brands specifically. There’s a lot of information out there but much of it seems to not be aggregated. So, I just thought this would help. That and ESP has been super inconsistent of the years, so clarification in some areas is probably useful. Ultimately, all the information in this thread is just aimed at helping consumers make more informed purchases. So, please feel free to contribute (facts, criticisms, corrections, updates, etc.).

    GQ2) What if I have more questions that aren’t answered here?

    GA1) Best advice would be to contact ESP directly or through you’re dealer, as ESP will provide the most accurate answer to your inquiry. However, we also have two main ESP communities here on SSO:

    ESP Owners Club: http://www.sevenstring.org/threads/esp-owners-club-show-us-your-esps.187643/

    ESP Custom Shop Club: http://www.sevenstring.org/threads/esp-custom-club.313510/

    I’m sure someone from either of those groups can be helpful to you. And you can always post in this thread or DM (me or whoever else).

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ESP Japan

    Current Production Models: http://espguitars.co.jp/original/

    Through Dealer: Anything you want: old model*, new model, slight variation on an existing model, new shape entirely, etc.

    JQ1) Is ESP Japan a Custom Shop?

    JA1) Yes. ESP Japan is actually multiple custom shops and includes: Kiso, Sado, Takada, Technical House, & Craft House. You can see a breakdown of what each shop does here: http://www.guitarscollector.com/esp-serial-numbers.html

    JQ2) *Will ESP Japan make whatever I want?*

    JA2) Mostly. They won’t make you a guitar with a lawsuit headstock or EXP/MX. Besides those yes, they will make literally whatever you want (even an acoustic!). Average times for completion of a custom order is 8 to 12 months. Times may vary (my custom took 13 months to get to me).

    JQ3) But I don’t see an option on the custom order form to do this/request that?

    JA3) That doesn’t matter. You can either write what you want in the area of concern, or you can put it in the special instructions. For example, the English custom order form, there is no option for a Beveled Archtop carve. No problem! Just write Beveled Archtop in the area where the drop down menu is! Tell ESP exactly what you want and they will accommodate the best they can.

    JQ4) Are all ESP’s that are “Made In Japan” made in the Custom Shop?

    JA4) No. The Order Made (Customs), Original & Exhibition Original Series, Navigator, & Signature/Artist Series are made in the Custom Shops. The now discontinued Standard Series was not made in the Custom Shop.

    JQ5) How do I know if a certain model was made in the Custom Shop?

    Easiest Ways
    • Current Production Stamps: Golden World Stamp with the following writing, “ESP CUSTOM”, “ESP ORIGINAL SERIES”, “ESP SIGNATURE SERIES”
    • Old Production Stamps*: “ESP CUSTOM SHOP”
    • ***Older production Original Series Guitars had no stamp indication. This is how you knew it was an Original Series. Can still be identified by the Serial though.***

    Hard Way: Research

    JQ6) My guitar says, “ESP CUSTOM GUITARS” on the back. Is it from the Custom Shop?

    JA6) Not necessarily.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ESP USA

    Current Production Models: http://www.espguitars.com/espusa

    Through Dealer: M-I (NTB), Horizon

    UQ1) Is ESP USA a Custom Shop?

    UA1) No. ESP USA is not a Custom Shop. ESP Japan’s shops are the only ESP Custom Shops. At the moment, there is only one ESP USA shop and it is located in Hollywood, California, United States.

    UQ2) Will ESP USA make whatever I want?

    UA2) No. See UA1. Additionally, the guitars are made on an "as ordered basis". This means that if a model is out of production, you might have a tough time getting ESP USA to make it again. But, try going through you're dealer to see if something can be negotiated. Both an M-I NTB (was never a production model) and Horizon (was discontinued and then brought back on a "special order" basis) have been special-ordered before. Average lead time for a USA model is 6 months. Times may vary.

    UQ3) How do USA guitars differ from the Japan guitars?

    UA3) From a quality standpoint, they’re very similar, if not the same from all the hearsay. From a manufacturing standpoint, ESP Japan’s guitars are entirely handmade, from beginning to end. ESP USA guitar bodies are CNC’d and then handcrafted afterwards.


    UQ4) The ESP USA Configurator has limited options/won’t allow for the same options as Japan, doesn’t have ESP Japan models, etc. What gives?

    UA4) See UA1. That's being said, things are always being updated and expanded upon. Give it some time.

    UQ5) There used to be ESP guitars that said, "USA Custom". Is the current ESP USA related to those?

    UA6) No.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
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  2. electriceye

    electriceye SS.org Regular

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    Wait a sec. If USA are half-CNC, why are they almost double the $$ what the Japan-made ESPs are??
     
  3. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    They are not. The Japan models are generally more expensive. Unless you're thinking of the Standard Series, which weren't made in the CS.
     
  4. Crash Dandicoot

    Crash Dandicoot » Supra-ise!

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    This is a fantastic summary, Ikke, thanks for posting it! You should make a ESP archive or something - being such a huge company they've been all over the place in terms of branding and production. As a fellow ESP aficionado I've found it's surprisingly hard to get consolidated information on their more obscure, Eastern hemisphere-only ventures (such as when they made guitar under the label "Seymour Duncan" in the early 2000s - I can hardly find any information regarding that).
     
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  5. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    I strongly support this thread. A couple things worth noting:
    From 2016 on, ESP Japan serials follow this:
    My 2016 ESP Horizon Custom is EXXXX162.
    It is also the best guitar I've ever played, which I'm reminded of every time I pick it up:
    [​IMG]

    When it comes to older USA ESPs, there are a couple of different factories and things like that which are worth elaborating on. The 48th Street Customs are the ones I have come across the most, but mine is a 1997 USA custom built by John Gaudesi who is now a Master Builder for Schecter. And it is absolutely top notch.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    Nice info. One update however is that the Craft House no longer has a work shop. It closed a couple of years back, and they now have a museum instead... except the guitars that are in the museum basically used to be hanging on the wall in the shop (at the back).

    They do still have wood samples etc so you can order customs, just no work shop.
     
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  7. Sir Ibanez

    Sir Ibanez SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for info! Helpful.
     
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  8. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    Hey more info on what is or isnt allowed with explorers would be rad!!

    Great thread btw
     
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  9. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    Answers subject to change based on location. One thing is for sure, no one is going to publicly post about back channels were they to exist.
     
  10. JD27

    JD27 ESP Cult Member

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    Because they are not mass produced like the E-II/Standard Series. They are made by a small team, as opposed to a factory line. Hell, they only have one person doing the paint on the whole inventory. They also use higher quality woods. For example, the E-II/Standard Series use maple tops with quilt/flame veneer, the USA series does not.
     
  11. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    ^ this. Also "half CNC" is not a downside. The woods are higher quality and chosen for the guitar. It's not like you throw anything in a machine and the rest doesn't matter. All the parts after the CNC are what counts. It's basically like cutting with a more high tech template.
     
  12. bnzboy

    bnzboy youtube.com/bnzboy

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    Follow some of these guys on Instagram to see some cool work-in-progress pictures! ESP official IG will usually credit/tag these guys for their work.
     
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  13. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    ESP Japan

    JQ2) *Will ESP Japan make whatever I want?* (ELABORATED/INFO NEEDED)

    JA2) Mostly. They won’t make you a guitar with a lawsuit headstock or EXP/MX. Besides those yes, they will make literally whatever you want (even an acoustic!).

    JA2E1) The short version is that ESP cannot sell the MX/EXP, Eclipse I or II, a Lawsuit Blade Headstock guitar (Mirage Deluxe/Custom, Horizon Custom, RR, etc.) in the United States. The key word here is United States, as at least the Eclipse I & II were sold in Europe for a while.

    However, will ESP not make one of the above "lawsuit" guitars for you, even if you custom order one?

    This is a tough questions to answer. The official comment on the ESP USA website is as follows: http://www.espguitars.com/pages/faq

    "Can I still order the old EXP body shape when ordering a custom ESP?
    The body style of the old EXP was retired and a new body style was introduced in 2000. It is now known as the EX model. You may ONLY order the new EX body style - we cannot produce the old EXP shape."

    That being said, ESP have produced some of them post-EOP outside of the USA. Many of them could have been found in the Edwards line or custom orders. For example, this Edwards E-HR-125 was produced in Japan and sold to Japanese market after EOP of the lawsuit blade headstock (not produced anymore). And so does this Technical House custom shop RR made in 2004.

    [​IMG]

    Also, here take a look at this MX below. Notice anything peculiar in the second picture? Well, you may notice it was made very, very recently. It has: The Golden World "ESP CUSTOM" Stamp & Serial K15 (brush up on your serials using the links above if need be).

    This MX was produced in 2015 long after they ended standard production on them. Secondly, the stamp indicates that it was Custom Ordered (not an Original Series or other custom production model). So maybe it's fake? I personally highly doubt that because 1) it's being sold by Meestursparkle who has a very good track record and reputation for finding super rare guitars. And 2) it just looks absolutely flawless. There's nothing suspicious about it. But hey, I could be wrong.


    And even more so, the shape (or something very close to the Gibson Explorer) is still currently produced in the Edwards line of guitars. I took this image straight from the ESP website at the time I'm writing this.

    [​IMG]

    JA2I1) So will ESP Japan make you an EXP/MX or other lawsuit model? I honestly have no clue. I have personally never tried. I don't know if anyone has ever tried actually. If there's an easy avenue towards getting one, it's custom ordering one. If that's not it, then like Feral said, no one seems to be sharing how they got a new one post EOP. The first test would be someone stateside (or maybe just anywhere other than Japan) filling out a custom order form, requesting a quote on one, and seeing what ESP says. But, my guess, and maybe many other's guess, is that they will say no to all lawsuit requests. Doesn't hurt to ask though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
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  14. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    Thanks for positive feedback and help everyone!
     
  15. Flamedmaple

    Flamedmaple SS.org Regular

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    Interesting. Aren't the Japan original series also CNC'd? Do they really hand cut all the body shapes, even those that are not order made?
     
  16. possumkiller

    possumkiller SS.org Regular

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  17. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    As far as I know, have read, and have seen, the Original Series is also made by hand like all of the order made ones.
     
  18. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    Japan Custom shop uses CNC as well.
     
  19. Blitzie

    Blitzie SS.org Regular

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    I would never be able to afford one but I am genuinely disappointed that I can't buy myself my Holy Grail; Hetfield explorer in vintage white.
     
  20. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    I guess maybe I wasn't clear in my original post, so my bad. My assumption when he asked the question was whether they CNC'd the body shape, as that's what I was referring to in my post. I know that ESP Japan will CNC some things, but that seems to be mostly/only some extremely intricate patterns (stuff that will difficult/dangerous to manually maneuver on a pin router), but not the body itself nor the curves/contours on the body.

    Before I wrote what I wrote, I tried watch every ESP video I could find, including the one you're linking. And, if you notice in the video, there is no part, at least that I saw, where they are CNCing the shape of the body. It looks to only be the intricate pattern on the Stream body top.

    Take a look at this video. You can see that he is

    Cutting the FRX body shape by hand (0:18, 0:24)
    Cutting Arrow holes by hand (0:40)
    Cutting the Stream body and contours by hand (0:30, 0:54, 0:58)


    Hopefully this is more clear as to what I meant!
     

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