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Best ESP Electric Guitar Reviews

ESP (Electric Sound Products) has a very interesting history. In 1975, Hisatake Shibuya and Takeshi Terada started an electric guitar component company in Tokyo, Japan. Shibuya was a professional guitarist, and he decided that he could produce the best ESP guitars, as he wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the ones on the market at the time. So already in 1978, the company released its first ESP Scorpion guitar. Products of this brand quickly won a huge number of fans, taking its place among the leaders. Moreover, some of its models, such as Eclipse, Horizon, and LTD, became iconic thanks to their quality and design.

Our pick
ESP E-II Eclipse DB
ESP E-II Eclipse DB
Best ESP electric guitar
ESP E-II Eclipse DB is powered by a set of EMG 60 (neck) and EMG 81 (bridge) pickups, and it’s ready for everything from deep and contemplative sounds to the most screaming, aggressive tones imaginable. Read the full review.

ESP electric guitar comparison table

Guitar Scale, in/cm Fretboard radius, in/cm Neck joint Detailed review
ESP E-II Eclipse DB best overall 24.7/62.8 12/30.5 fixed Review
ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 for metal 25.5/64.7 12/30.5 fixed Review
ESP E-II Arrow 25.5/64.7 12/30.5 fixed Review

Are ESP guitars worth the money?

ESP electric guitars are very popular. Mainly because of their quality and sound. The instruments are mostly handmade using high-end (premium) components. Quality control is also top-notch, so you can be absolutely sure that you are buying a reliable and long-lasting electric guitar. The brand has a huge range of guitars for all tastes and colors, but models and series of more affordable ranks are also available.

I think the most evident proof that ESP guitars are worth the money is that the most famous musicians use them. James Hetfield of Metallica, Kirk Hammett of Slipknot, Herman Lee of Dragonforce, Stephen Carpenter, Alex Skolnick, Ron Wood, Frank Bello, Tom Araya, and Alexi Laiho play ESP.

Best ESP electric guitar reviews

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ESP E-II Eclipse DB – best overall

Many musicians have long trusted the ESP Eclipse. And in this ESP E-II Eclipse DB review, I will tell you about the model from the E-II series, which replaced the ESP Standard line in 2014. It's something between LTD and USA models; it's quite affordable and made in Japan. But this is not a budget version, and its capabilities speak for themselves. So let's take a closer look at it.

Body

ESP E-II Eclipse DB

The ESP E-II Eclipse DB has a classic look. The Solid Mahogany body has excellent resonance properties. The maple top adds articulation here. In addition to the Black Glossy colorway, there are two other rather unusual Purple Sparkle and Granite Sparkle colors in the lineup that may please many with their defiant look from the stage. The curved top and cutaway make it extremely comfortable.

The hardware is in Gold for the Black color and Black Nickel for the other two. The design certainly looks impressive. True rock at a glance! The Gotoh TOM fixed bridge/tailpiece is of excellent quality and provides a lengthy sound. At the same time, the placement of the knobs is unusual. The separate push-pull controls for each cartridge on the two volume knobs to separate the coils are at the bottom of the body. The Toggle Switch is on the opposite side. Well, it's a matter of getting used to it.

Pickup system

The E-II Eclipse features active, aggressive EMG pickups. They unleash this guitar's full potential. And you won't have to replace them for a long time, the quality is superb. You get the accuracy and distortion you need. Very similar to the vintage PAF hum, sure to please metal fans. But it should be pointed out that the EMG 81 Bridge and EMG 60 Neck will never give you a clean sound like the single-coil humbuckers. This guitar has its own character.

Neck, fingerboard, headstock

Want to play fast and smooth? The 1Pc Mahogany U-shaped neck gives you that. It is attached to the body with a Set-In system. The construction is exceptionally stable when playing, and you get full access to the top notes. Vintage and classic throughout is the credo of the E-II Eclipse. The 24.75" Ebony fretboard has 22 XJ frets and a 12" radius. And there are also Gotoh Locking Tuners of high quality to complete the look.

Sound quality

ESP E-II Eclipse DB photo

This guitar is definitely suitable for those who appreciate Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Guaranteed! But one is not as unipolar as it may seem. It just feels perfect in that genre. Otherwise, the ESP E-II Eclipse DB sounds warm and distinct enough (though not perfectly clean), which means it can handle jazz, blues and R&B, and other directions. It's powerful, sonorous, and gives great sustenance. So go for it, friends; it's a great electric guitar.

Key specs
  • Scale, in/cm: 24.7/62.8.
  • Frets: 22.
  • Fretboard radius, in/cm: 12/30.5.
  • Type: electric.
  • Body material: mahogany, maple.
  • Neck material: mahogany.
  • Neck joint: fixed.

Many musicians have long trusted the ESP Eclipse, and I consider it the best overall ESP electric guitar. This guitar will definitely suit those who appreciate Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Guaranteed. But it’s not as unipolar as it may seem. It just feels perfect in that genre. Otherwise, the ESP E-II Eclipse DB sounds warm and clear, which means it can handle jazz, blues and R&B, and other directions. It’s powerful, sonorous, and gives great sustain.

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 – for metal

I have finally found the time to do an ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 review. At first sight, I realized that this 7-string guitar is capable of surprising. After all, it's literally made for playing Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. It even looks powerful, and its sound is astonishing. Assembled in Japan, it is a model of high-quality construction. I could go on and on in my compliments, but let's take a closer look at the features that make it so special. Here we go.

Body

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7

I love the way this instrument looks. The understated, elegant, yet the eye-catching design is very much in keeping with the guitar's purpose. Its solid alder body comes in Black and Black Turquoise Burst. The streamlined shape plays glossy in the spotlight. And the E-II Horizon FR-7's cream finish makes it stand out even more. With its sharp, signature head, the neck also looks very powerful. So even in the largest of hands, it will feel appropriate. On top of all that, it's pretty comfortable to play. Two notches provide access to the high frets.

The hardware is rounding out the design. As sleek as it is in black, it's almost invisible, but it has premium quality. Floyd Rose Original, Gotoh Tuners, and Master Volume and Tone, as well as a 3-way Toggle Switch, play their part, but more on that later.

Pickup system

When it comes to balancing the guitar, the restrained design is compensated for by the most powerful Pickup system. EMG is one of the leading brands for pickups. They are called "hot," "monsters," and other epithets in that vein. And that's exactly what they are. The two active EMG 707s, specially designed for 7-string guitars, are in the bridge and neck and together create an incredible vintage sound effect. Like all EMG pickups, they won't give you a clean, undistorted sound. But I told you in the beginning that this guitar is made for Metal and Rock. Anyway, I don't think you understand it until you hear it.

The electronics have a simple control that nevertheless can give you a wide range of action. The Floyd Rose Original bridge is premium here, and it's fixed.

Neck, fingerboard, headstock

As I said before, the E-II Horizon FR-7's Thin U-shaped neck matches the image of the guitar. It connects to the body with the Neck-Through system, which is considered the most reliable. The material is 3Pc Maple with a 12" Ebony overlay. The glossy finish makes the neck comfortable and very fast, which is important because it has a 25.5" Scale length and 24 XJ (Extra-Jambo) frets. Offset block inlays and the name of this guitar on the 12th fret are distinctive design features. Impressed? I am. Powercording or Shredding - easily!

Sound quality

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 photo

The ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 sound is impressive. Of course, it's a result of the EMG pickups I described above. Thrash-, death-metal is what you need to play on it. No doubt about it. Incredibly loud, powerful, with super heavy tones, fast, and with such necessary distortion for heavy styles, it's just created for the stage.

Key specs
  • Scale, in/cm: 25.5/64.7.
  • Frets: 24.
  • Fretboard radius, in/cm: 12/30.5.
  • Type: electric.
  • Body material: mahogany.
  • Neck material: ebony.
  • Neck joint: fixed.

The 7-string ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 is the best ESP guitar for metal. It even looks powerful, and its sound is astonishing. Thrash and dead-metal are the things to play on it. Incredibly loud, powerful, with super heavy tones, fast, and with such necessary distortion for heavy styles, it’s just created for the stage.

ESP E-II Arrow

Do you like electric guitars with V-shaped bodies? Then I invite you to a fascinating ESP E-II Arrow review. It is a premium model with a corresponding price that looks unimaginably attractive. Like other ESP guitars, it's made in Japan and has a high level of construction. So let's "take it to the parts" to see why famous musicians like it so much.

Body

ESP E-II Arrow

Its great solid Alder body is in an aggressive offset-V shape. The entire look, the color scheme (Snow White, Black, and Black Silver Fade), the asymmetrical design, the Black hardware, the pointed Headstock, and even the Arrowhead inlays shout that the ESP E-II Arrow is a guitar for rock. The Alder body is lightweight, so it's comfortable to play for long periods standing on stage. The tone of the wood holds up for years, has chic resonance properties, and the extended bass threshold enhances the bass response of the body, providing an aggressive low sound.

Pickup system

Well, rock pickups are the most important components of a rock guitar. After all, you can't get far on looks alone, can you? In the case of the ESP E-II Arrow, they're about as good as it gets. The EMG 85 in the neck position and the EMG 81 in the bridge are an outstanding combination of active, powerful humbuckers that give the guitar that vintage distorted tone so necessary in Metal music. This combination is already a classic. Using the 3-way Toggle and Volume Control allows you to achieve a range from clean to hot shreds. The Floyd Rose tremolo bridge allows you to twist, bend and "dive" with precise intonation.

Neck, fingerboard, headstock

The neck is an essential part of any guitar. And in the case of the Neck-Thru-Body mount, it literally is. The incredibly stable Maple neck with its thin U-shaped fingerboard was created to break through speed barriers. It's three-piece, comfortable to play, and will allow you to play as hard as you want without worrying about the instrument. High-end playability. Isn't that what you need for rock?

The fretboard is made of Ebony and has 24 Extra Jumbo frets. Your fingers glide over the fingerboard, ensuring you get the notes on every fret. The shape of the guitar makes it easy to access the top fret, so you can play any song you want. The tuning is done with Gotoh Locking Tuners, one of the most popular tuners for good guitars.

Sound quality

ESP E-II Arrow photo

You may have noticed that I used the epithet "aggressive" several times. The ESP E-II Arrow sounds exactly like that. The guitar literally screams from the stage. That's why I also noted several times that it belongs to Rock and Metal. So, yes, I think it is a guitar for heavy styles because you get exactly what you expect from it. Of course, its possibilities are wider. But the history of ESP shows that musicians of the styles mentioned above mostly use guitars of this brand.

Key specs
  • Scale, in/cm: 25.5/64.7.
  • Frets: 24.
  • Fretboard radius, in/cm: 12/30.5.
  • Type: electric.
  • Body material: alder.
  • Neck material: ebony.
  • Neck joint: fixed.

The ESP E-II Arrow is a premium model that looks unimaginably attractive and is built for performance. Like other ESP guitars, it is made in Japan and features a high level of construction. The ESP E-II Arrow sounds aggressive, so of course, it will be loved by Rock and Metal fans.

FAQ

What is the difference between ESP and ESP Ltd?

The LTD series is a budget version of the ESP models. Accordingly, the difference is not only in price but also in quality. In addition to being made on a production line in Korea and Indonesia, the LTDs use cheaper hardware, tonal wood, and finish details. On the other hand, ESPs are hand-assembled in Japan and are premium guitars.

Are ESP guitars good for shredding?

Shredding involves sweep, alternate, and tremolo picking guitar techniques; string skipping; multi-finger tapping; slurs, and trills. ESP guitars have high-performance pickups and thin fingerboards, making them ideal for shredding. ESPs are made for metal – you’ll find this statement in many reviews.

–°onnect a guitar to regular speakers

If you connect your guitar directly to the speakers, you won’t get the results you want. Unlike special guitar speakers, regular speakers do not have a built-in preamplifier. As a result, the sound will be weak, and if you amplify it, there is a risk of destroying the speakers. This happens for several reasons.

First, that’s because of the signal level. Electric guitar pickups produce a weak signal, so you need a preamp to make the sound louder. Second, most speakers have a 1/8″ AUX jack, and standard guitar cables have a 1/4″ TS output jack. But it will still retrieve the sound monaural.

So you need connection options that take these problems into account and bypass them. You can learn more about ways to connect your guitar to your speakers here.

Are ESP guitars good for beginners?

I think the premium ESP models are too expensive for beginners. Whereas the ESP LTD series, released back in 1996, delivers metal-ready rock and bass guitars to beginners and working musicians. Their build quality, fittings, and sound level will satisfy the aspiring musician, and the price is sure to please.

Are ESP guitars Japanese?

The company was founded in Japan, and the high-end models continue to be hand-assembled there. They can be recognized by the ESP name on the front of the head. They are also called Original or Custom and are very expensive. ESP USA guitars are made in Southern California and also have a high price tag. And the LTD series from ESP is produced in Korea and Indonesia on production lines. Those are entry-level instruments and are affordable. Of course, they differ in quality, mainly in materials, but anyway, they are quality products in their rank.

Also, you can consider those decent electric guitars:
Yamaha electric guitars.
Fender electric guitars.
Schecter electric guitars.
Jackson electric guitars.

Or you can choose an electric guitar for your style:
Electric guitar for grunge.
Electric guitar for death metal.

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