ESP vs. Caparison? Let me hear some input!

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by RLG167, May 16, 2018.

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  1. RLG167

    RLG167 SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys, I've been an ESP guy for years and while at work today (I work at a music store) I brought in my new ESP Mystique and one of my coworkers was telling me about how his Caparisons played much better and he regrets selling them. I've never actually played one but I've heard great things about them and I'm wondering is it actually worth the big price difference between the two? Do Caparisons actually play that much better? I know Caparisons are considered sort of the top of the top of the line. Again, I don't know a whole lot about them, as I just recently started really researching them. I'd appreciate any input, if enough of you guys tell me Caparisons are really that much better I'll get myself one. Thanks!
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Caparison are much better built guitars than ESP...on opposite day. :lol:

    I've played tons of both and wouldn't ever put anything but the most high end and limited Caparisons on the same level as Standard or Original series ESP.

    The consistency and quality of real MIJ ESP guitars is very, very hard to beat or even meet. I say that as not the biggest ESP fan.

    Caparison and thier dealers have done a good job of selling them as a boutique option, but the product, from what I've seen doesn't usually stand up within the same price bracket.

    Granted, they've come a long way. Ten years ago they couldn't even sell them for $1200.

    In 2018 $2500 to $4000 can get you some downright exceptional guitars.
     
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  3. RLG167

    RLG167 SS.org Regular

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    Yeah I love my ESPs and can't imagine anything beating them, but I know a lot of guys swear by Caparison. My co-worker who was telling me about his said he had the Chris Amott sig and a TAT and loved them. I've really been digging the Horus but it's around 2500 so I want to get a lot of input before I decide on it either way. I definitely like the style of Caparisons aesthetically, I mean they just look like evil shred machines haha
     
  4. Dawn of the Shred

    Dawn of the Shred Witchcraft and Occult Riffs

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    Every Caparison I’ve owned or played just left me underwhelmed.. Just meh at a expensive of price. I would take ESP all day every day over one, but that’s just my two cents.
     
  5. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    They look killer, and until very recently they were pretty difficult to get a hold of, so there's this aura around them.

    I've played an Amott model, that along with the Romeo, and they're probably some of the best Caparison offers, the TAT Special I tried was awesome as well. But you're looking at $3k to $4k for that stuff, and frankly I don't think they're quite worth it.
     
  6. RLG167

    RLG167 SS.org Regular

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    Maybe if I can find a nice one on the used market for under 2k I'll pull the trigger, but without trying one I'm just not sure. What are the necks like?
     
  7. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    They got thier start at the Japanese division of Jackson/Charvel, and that shows in the necks.
     
  8. RLG167

    RLG167 SS.org Regular

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    Okay, I like a nice charvel neck so that would be cool to try. I'm seeing a few of the Dellenger models on Reverb for around 1500, but I really wanted to try the Horus. Do the Dellengers have the same feel? I remember you said you liked the Amott, wasn't that a Dellenger?
     
  9. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I think I'm qualified to answer this - I own two of each brand, and I have played almost every current Caparison model, plus a few of the older ones.

    Short answer: ESP and Caparison are different. You really need to play them to find out what you like. For $4000, you have a lot of options including custom builds. $2000 can buy a lot of guitar too. Never buy a guitar based on stuff written on the internet.

    I disagree with others who say Caparison is overpriced. Trying to assess "value" for these high end instruments is kinda silly IMO. Once you're beyond the intermediate price range where you're paying for extra features, the guitar is worth whatever you're happy paying. And really, there isn't much price difference. An ESP E-II is still a factory production line instrument. You need to compare Caparisons to ESP originals or perhaps custom shop, which are very similar to Caparisons. Caparisons are all handmade, approx 40 guitars per month. Kinda custom shop-ish, but without the ability to customise, haha

    I also disagree that dealers have done a good job of marketing Caparisons. In fact, I think it's the opposite. They are virtually impossible to find in any "normal" stores. The UK has one single store, in Wales (miles from anywhere). Most European countries have none. You really need to go to Japan to find the best selection. Of course, you can find ESP absolutely everywhere with their massive distribution network.

    My thoughts:

    Construction quality. Both of my E-II guitars have some slight, tiny flaws. Neither of my Caparisons (2017 and 2018 models) do. They are literally flawless. I even looked in the control cavity - it's perfect. Apparently they weren't so good 10 years ago. ESP have been awesome for a long time - in fact, many say that they were better 10 years ago.

    Necks. ESP "thin U" shape is a very specific neck shape. Personally, I am very comfortable with them, but it may not be for everybody - a friend of mine absolutely hates that thin U. Caparison necks are incredible IMO. Jackson-esque, but it's quite complicated and changes shape as you move up the neck. It starts thin and flat and then rounds out as you get to the higher frets. Same for the fretboard radius, which is always compound.

    Frets. I love the super rounded, super jumbo ESP frets. Caparison "jumbo" still aren't as tall or wide, and they don't round the edges quite as much. Nor as they as ridiculously shiny as ESP frets, haha

    Pickups. Caparison stocks pickups are pretty cool IMO. They sound different. Many people swear by them. Others think they're shit and change them immediately. They are rather high output, very dynamic, tons of clarity, quite bright. ESP obviously gives a lot more choice of EMG or SD, and even some Fishmans in the latest models.

    To answer your other questions: All Horus models are the Gibson 24.75 inch scale length. Dellingers are 25.5. Brockens are 27.0. That is probably a big deciding factor in which model you might like.

    The Horus has two current models - the M3 and the FX-AM. They are extremely different. The M3 is mahogany and maple, has a Floyd rose, inlays, binding etc. The FX-AM is an ash and maple sandwich and has basically no fancy added features. Same for the standard Dellingers - an M3 and an FX-AM. Older models were WM, which is walnut-mahogany. All those Horus and Dellinger models are bolt-on necks. All Horus models have 27 frets too, whereas Dellingers have 24. Some people complain that the 27 frets alter the position of the neck pickup, making it less fat than usual. Personally, I like the sound.

    I've tried a LOT of Caparisons, and I can tell you that every single one is different. Some are bright, some are dark. I would never ever buy one without trying.

    If you really HAVE to buy blind from Reverb, just buy an ESP. Any E-ii will be good. Any ESP original is almost guaranteed to be great. Otherwise, I think you're insane for spending that much money without trying first. Countless times I've been prepared to love a guitar, only to dislike it almost immediately. I lusted after an ESP Original Horizon which was about $3000, and when I finally got to play one, I was totally underwhelmed. Seems crazy to buy online IMO...
     
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  10. Sogradde

    Sogradde SS.org Regular

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    I haven't played a Caparison yet and I don't own an ESP but every ESP (as in E-II) I touched so far felt pretty high quality, apart from minor flaws like binding spillover etc. whereas I heard quite some horror stories about Caparison QC from certain years.

    As with most guitars, I suppose it's "try before you buy". If you find a Caparison that feels better than your ESP, by all means buy it. Brand loyalty is a silly thing as long as you're not endorsed.
     
  11. Spicypickles

    Spicypickles 8 string Warrior

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    Your coworker sounds like a ballbag, OP. You bring in your new guitar and he waxes poetic about how his guitars played much better.
     
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  12. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Welcome to musical instrument retail. Everyone has something that plays better than what you have...or so they say. :lol:
     
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  13. MatiasTolkki

    MatiasTolkki Burn In Agony

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    I played one of their custom line models recently when I was in Tokyo... And sorry to say this, but, ESP couldn't hold a jock strap to that guitar. Is it downright expensive? Yeah, but the necks are MUCH nicer feeling than ESPs, slightly thinner, very much like MIJ jacksons with a tad extra meat on them. If I had to choose a Caparison or an ESP, Caparison ALL the way.
     
  14. MatiasTolkki

    MatiasTolkki Burn In Agony

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    And even in Japan, Caparisons are hard as shit to find. The only place that has any real stock of them is Musicland Key in Shibuya, which they have the largest number of in stock Caparisons in all of Japan. I did just that since I was in Tokyo a couple weeks ago and if I could afford it, I'd totally buy a caparison blind. I played one of their Custom Line Horus' that are this year's CL model, and holy goddamn shit was that thing amazing. You wanna talk about flame maple tops? That thing, the entire TOP HALF OF THE BODY was flame maple. :eek:
     
  15. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    I have both, and I also have a bunch of other guitars and I'll say this: My ESP is one of the best playing guitars I've ever touched. My Caparisons are nice, unique, and fun. They are great guitars for what they are.

    Flappydoodle did a great job up there with his explanation, so anything else I would add he's already said.
     
  16. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Boutique batch sizes, build speed, and price. Standard production quality.
     
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  17. Viginez

    Viginez SS.org Regular

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    yeah, that's just preference, not a sign of different quality.
    if you are very connected to esp necks you will maybe end up not liking other wider necks at all.
     
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  18. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Yup - Musicland has a decent selection for sure. But still no more Caparisons than your average US or UK guitar store has in terms of ESPs. Shame they usually give you a dual recto which just sounds like mush as low volume. In case you didn't know already, the real best amp is that modded Marshall with a 412 in the corner ;) The other retailer, in PePe department store had 3 Caparisons the last time I was there. And they were all set up horribly, and they give you a shit little 12 inch combo to play through.

    Totally agree about the CL Horus. But it's also the most expensive guitar they have, haha. I also enjoyed the Adam D metal machine (so much so that I have one on order, muwahaha). My friend bought a Dellinger FX-AM, which is also a great guitar. And in Tokyo, they're not horrendously expensive. If I remember correctly, they were only a bit more expensive than Gibsons.

    Also, when people are saying "ESP" I think they need to be more specific. There are so many different lines at different price points. Caparison is equivalent to ESP custom shop or maybe ESP original. E-ii is unquestionably a step below.
     
  19. MatiasTolkki

    MatiasTolkki Burn In Agony

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    The problem is, ESP can be found just about anywhere because of Big Boss stores everywhere, whereas Caparison is so limited that it's hard to even try one. I didnt have time or energy when I went to Key to try other models. I had to try that CL though, and if I had had the money, I woulda taken it home on the spot :lol:
     
  20. FitRocker33

    FitRocker33 My tone is tighter than my hamstrings

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    I had a 2010 Dellinger II that I didn’t feel was equal to the quality of my current EII Horizon.

    Uninspiring neck, cheap plastic veneer on the headstock, the body wasn’t really finished to a level I would have been expected at this price point. Good frets, trem and inlays.

    My horizon was 1600, the dellinger was 2250.
     

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