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ESP guitars are known all over the world for their excellent sound and uncompromising build quality. The ESP guitars are appraised by many famous musicians from around the world, such as Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield (Metallica), Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), Ron Wood (Rolling Stones), etc. Today ESP is the true classic guitar maker.

Subsidiaries and trademarks:

LTD Guitars, Grassroots Guitars, Edwards Guitars, Navigator Guitars

Brief history:

ESP company (Electric Sound Products) was founded in Tokyo in 1975 by a Japanese entrepreneur whose name was Hisatake Shibuya. Initially, ESP was engaged in the manufacture and sale of guitar components, but after a while Hisatake together with a few guitar masters decided to start production of custom hand-crafted guitars. At that time there were already a lot of guitar companies but most of them were aimed at mass production and it was difficult to find a guitar that would satisfy the specific taste of each musician. ESP was one of the first brands which started making custom-made guitars of the highest level not focusing on the mass market. Guitars were made from carefully selected wood taking into account the wishes and requirements of musicians. ESP never made compromises in quality and little by little its policies and style were accepted by many guitarists establishing the good name of Electric Sound Products on the Japanese music market: most musicians considered ESP guitars the best custom instruments. Akira Takasaki (Loudness) began working with ESP and as a result the legendary guitar Random Star was created. This step made ESP a recognized brand in Japanese rock music. In the early 1980s the company ESP decided to “see the world” with its products going out on the big market aiming at the USA – the heart and soul of electric guitars. ESP office was opened in Manhattan, NY. Just at that time heavy music became more and more popular and the collaboration with George Lynch (Dokken) was a turning point for ESP. During his world tour he played original models of guitars developed by ESP, including the famous Kamikaze model, after which ESP was recognized around the world and the brand became associated with rock guitar. In addition to the American branch from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s the European ESP representative office worked in the German city of Düsseldorf, thanks to which many European musicians continue to cooperate with ESP today. Among ESP products, beside custom-made ones, series instruments appeared and in 1996 the company started producing guitars of a more moderate price category – LTD guitars. Unlike some other manufacturers ESP company produced inexpensive guitars with the highest possible quality combining many features of their brand guitars with cheaper production technologies. ESP has achieved its goal and today the ESP LTD instruments are considered to be among the best in their category allowing even novice guitar players to acquire the world-famous products of the company.

Now there are two offices of ESP company - Japanese and American ones. Japanese ESP models are represented in four series - Standard, Original, Signature and Custom. Besides mass production, ESP Custom Shop operates in Japan taking individual orders. The American branch of the company is responsible for the development of ESP LTD models the production of which is located in South Korea, Indonesia, China and Vietnam.

Throughout its history ESP has collaborated with many well-known musicians, including Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield (Metallica), Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), Ron Wood (Rolling Stones) - ESP specialists developed guitars according to their taste and requirements. The instruments made for these musicians served as the basis for some of the series models produced by ESP. ESP's fruitful collaboration with George Lynch continues - a number of models are being developed for this guitar player. A huge number of musicians around the world are choosing ESP guitars and bass guitars which made ESP one of the most famous and recognized worldwide producers of string instruments.

Technical and technological achievements:

In 1986 George discovered ESP while on tour in Tokyo. Looking for a fretboard Lynch visited the ESP store and found out that the company was also into making guitars. As a result the famous ESP Kamikaze guitar was released. Soon, ESP presented the models M1 Standard, MI Custom, Horizon Custom, and Surveyor bass guitar.

In 1987 Kirk Hammett (Metallica) learned about ESP and ordered his own guitar model which has been releasing since 1989 as his signature one - ESP KH-2. The same year ESP released the first individual model for George Lynch - Kamikaze. ESP located their workshops for the production of elite guitars in the attic of a building in the center of New York on 19th Street. In 1989 the workshops moved to 48th Street becoming a part of the famous music stores.

From 1990 to 1992 ESP released instruments, both signature and standard guitar series. To increase the turnover, the production of separate components was discontinued.

In 1993 ESP company moved again, this time to Los Angeles. ESP opened an office in Hollywood. In 1996 LTD branch appeared producing more affordable versions of expensive ESP models. Soon after the demonstration of Korean and Indonesian LTD instruments, ESP stops importing Japanese guitars to the USA due to high delivery prices. The exception was made only for signature instruments. In the early 2000s ESP resumed the supply of Japanese instruments to the USA due to the high popularity of these guitars.

Like Ibanez, the closest Japanese rival of ESP, the guitars made by this company have received worldwide recognition and fame not only because of good quality but also due to the production of replicas of more expensive American guitars, including such renowned models as Stratocaster, Telecaster, Gibson Explorer. The popularity of the Gibson Explorer replica (known as EXP/MX) grew rapidly with the success of Metallica band, whose leader James Hetfield had a few of them. Now the price of these instruments has grown significantly compared to the initial one. At the request of Gibson which suffered sale downgrade due to ESP the brand had to change some of the design features in order to cause less ambiguity regarding similarity with the American instruments by Gibson.

In 2002 ESP entered the list of the fastest growing music industry companies. This happened due to the acquisition of Jackson Guitars company (a strong competition with which continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s) by Fender brand.

In 2005 ESP celebrated its 30th anniversary in commemoration of which a new signature series was released - the version of the famous Truckster guitar by James Hetfield.

In 2006 at Winter NAMM 2006 show the company presented 22 models - signature and standard series. Standard series included such famous models as ESP LTD EC-500 and ESP LTD B-500.