ESP high end guitars


What’s your opinion on the high end
ESP guitars (high end guitars in general)?

I’m looking at the horizon series, and the original series, ranging fro $1699- $4500.

I see the features: neck through body, gotoh tuners, original FR, premium pups and wood… the Jackson soloists has pretty much same features…

The finishes and craftsmanship on these ESPs look absolutely amazing, but when you start moving above $2k I just ask myself what warrants some of the excessive pirces on the high end models.

What are your thoughts?


In the solid-body guitar world, the price-performance curve drops off incredibly sharply once you get above about USD$600. The justifications for upper tier solid-body guitar prices are mostly cosmetic. There can be significant differences in quality control and in attention to detail in fretwork and setup, but if you have a basic handle on how to do simple work on your own guitars, the cheap ones become a lot more attractive.

For one example offhand, many people fetishize extremely low action on an electric, and some of the marketing of shred guitars capitalizes on this demand for supporting low action, but if, like me, you prefer being able to get just a bit more finger meat under the strings for bending, then ultra-extreme-NASA-certified-fretwork-and-setup becomes kind of irrelevant.

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Or take it to somewhere with one of these,

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I worked in a Musicstore for some years. My general rule of thumb would be that all instruments have a range of quality attributes which improve their sound and playability in a pretty obvious and straightforward manner. These are obviously different for every Instrument, but the characteristics which bring the most “objective” and significant improvements usually happen at the price-threshold from “cheap” to “moderate”.

The classic example is pressboard-wood in acoustics below 100. For just some Bucks more, solidwood becomes the standart and the sound improves drastically.

[… deleted massive wall of text here … ]

My verdict is, that for the overwhelming majority of listeners and players (aka if you are not uli jon roth and you get by without an enchanted skyguitar from outerspace with 234 frets), there isnt much serious quality to be gained beyond the point of broadly 1000$/€. Emotional reasons are a valid argument to go beyond that, of course, but its not about sound or playability anymore.

Naturally, for everybody with my approach, there is a supershredder who claims to be able to hear which damn screws they used to bolt on the pickguard after he turned the gain to 11. I had such conversations. I dont want to object these positions, since i am just an amateur trying to play more slayer, but did i hear the difference in quality when he was using the cable with the magical runes inscripted with leprachaun-blood? No. I just heard two almost identical guitarsounds, not one superior to the other.


ESP has engineered a sort of “scarcity” with their upper end products and the price of anything with ESP on the headstock is getting out of control. Personally, I would poke your head into the used market. You might be able to get your hands on a deadly M-ii from the mid-90’s for around a grand.

That being said, I’ve owned a few of these 90’s ESPs and while they were great instruments, they ended up being swapped out for Charvels down the line. So make of that what you will. I liked the neck profiles of the ESP and I LOVED the neck heel cutouts on their bolt-ons but something about japanese-made Charvel gives me goosebumps.

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So what you’re saying is you’ve opted for the Charvel Japan custom shop over ESP?

I have 2 Mexican Charvels and they play great, but both had some issues initially.
The last one needed a fret job.

I did have my eye on the Guthrie Govan

There seems to be an attention to detail missing in the assembly line guitar and the custom shop guitar…