The ESP Guitar Company (Electric Sound Products), located in North Hollywood, California, is a prominent manufacturer of electric guitars and basses.
In 1975, Hisatake Shibuya opened a shop in Tokyo, Japan called Electric Sound Products, or ESP. It provided custom replacement parts for guitars. In 1976, ESP gained a reputation as a provider of high-quality replacement parts. At this time, ESP also began crafting guitars under the ESP and Navigator brand in the Japanese market.
ESP replacement parts were first introduced into the US in 1983. ESP began crafting custom instruments for local New York artists between 1984 and 1985. Among these artists were Page Hamilton of Helmet, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Bruce Kulick of KISS, and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones. At this time, ESP also introduced the 400 Series as the first production line distributed in the US.

In 1986, George Lynch discovered ESP while on tour in Tokyo. Lynch walked into an ESP shop looking for a replacement neck and learned that ESP also built custom guitars. As a result, his famous Kamikaze was made. ESP soon introduced the M1 Standard, MI Custom, Horizon Custom, and the Surveyor bass into the market.

In 1987, Kirk Hammett of Metallica discovered ESP and made his ESP KH-2 which was later released as a signature model in 1989. At this time, ESP released George Lynch’s Kamikaze as its first signature model. ESP based its headquarters in a loft in downtown New York City on 19th Street. In 1989, the headquarters were moved to 48th Street near the famous music stores.

Between 1990 and 1992, ESP expanded its Signature Series as well as its standard product line. The US replacement parts business was discontinued in order to switch focus solely on the guitar and bass line as well as the custom shop.

In 1993, ESP moved its headquarters again but this time it was relocated to Los Angeles. There, ESP opened an office on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. In 1996, LTD was created to produce ESP’s high-quality products in a more affordable line of production. LTD grew in popularity and became a noteworthy brand among many artists throughout the years following its creation.

In 2002, ESP was ranked among the music industry’s fastest growing companies. ESP introduced its Xtone line, beginning with the semi-hollow Paramount Series. In 2005, ESP celebrated its 30th Anniversary and released James Hetfield’s “Truckster” into its Signature Series. In 2006, ESP showcased 22 of its newest Signature Series and Standard Series models at Winder NAMM 2006. The Standard Series models included such famous models as the ESP LTD EC-500 and the ESP LTD B-500. Among the signature artists showcasing their newest ESP models and signing autographs at the ESP booth were Dave Mustaine, George Lynch, Stephen Carpenter, Michael Wilton, and Page Hamilton.

In 1996, ESP started a new brand, LTD. The LTD guitars are similar to ESP guitars and more affordable. The 300 series LTDs are made on an assembly line in Korea whereas the series below 300 are made in Indonesia. LTDs are made out of cheaper materials than ESPs and ESPs use better quality hardware. The custom ESPs are handcrafted in Japan while the standard ESPs are made in factories in Japan.

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