What's going with ESP?

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by behemoth4ever, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. behemoth4ever

    behemoth4ever SS.org Regular

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    Hi guys first post here! Hope this is allowed. I just wanted to have some discussion about my favorite guitar company ESP. Although it is possible that i'm the only one in the world that cares about this atm

    Does anyone else feel like ESP is in a pretty bad place right now? I've been playing them for the last probably 7 years (plus some Fender/PRS) and I can't remember the last time their website (espguitars.com) had such a sorry offering of guitars.

    I remember when they had the Standard Series export models and on the espguitars.co.jp/oversea page there would be like a billion models to choose from at that reasonable "LTD on steroids" price range. There would be at least two or more models of every shape they had and in a variety of color/top options. IIRC on the USA side of things they had a similar thing going but with less models. Anyway, still cool.

    Now.. they have the E-II stuff (don't get me started on the branding decision they made here..the fuck?) where you can't even get a 7-string Eclipse. No 7-string Viper or V either. No EX shape at all, let alone a EX 7-string. The only 7-string Horizon you can get is in black or satin black. In fact, anything you look at ever is gonna be in black or satin black. The USA Eclipse horn is now on every single Eclipse ever.

    ESP USA is pretty awesome tbh (and pricey of course). But then you realize there's no Horizon option at all. Just a million versions of the M, which is probably the shape with most over-saturated market in the world. Why would I bother with this if I can get a Tom Anderson, Suhr, etc with the same amount of money? It's not like the Eclipse -- the Eclipse is functionally different to a traditional LP, and looks just enough different to the extent where someone could go 'yeah, this looks cooler to me'. The M on the other hand is just a plain ol' superstrat. So.. why? The Horizon for one has always been ESP's calling card since back in the day. ESP is doing a really bad job of standing out in the market with ESP USA in my opinion.

    Onto LTDs and the signature range. I can see that ESP is focusing on their signature range. This is a good decision. Head's new signature is sick. Ben Savage's cockstock Horizon is sick. What's not sick is the normal LTD range. It's literally black/white guitars everywhere except for the Eclipses. They're missing shapes, 7-string options and everything's just so bare bones.

    ESP used to be the company where you'd look and go 'damn this shit's pointy' or 'wow they did that?' and sometimes it'd be like 'damn I didn't know I was even into this!'. 7-string craze emerged and they were one of the first to pump out 7-string versions of everything. Sweet. But now it's just 'check out this black/white guitar with some emgs.. can I get a 7-string version of this? Oh.. I can't. Unless it's a H or EC in which case I get one choice.. in satin black' x100. A bit exaggerated but you get it.

    And I do understand that most of this can be explained by 'it wasn't selling / they only wanna offer stuff that sells'. It doesn't make anything less disappointing though. Other companies have a much wider range of stuff. For example, Schecter, Jackson, etc..

    The way I see it.. if the Standard series aren't ever coming back, ditch E-II altogether and use all that money on LTD. Get a super large selection going on in LTD. Get more artist models in the works. There are tons of ESP artists who don't have a signature model right now. The advantage? People actually know LTD and it makes their business structure less confusing. This shit will sell and people who want the real ESP shit will still go for the real ESP shit (ESP USA / ESP Custom shop / ESP original series). Good idea?

    Anyway what does everyone else think?

    Also, does anyone know what 6-string Nergal is playing right now? He's using his ESP sig for 7-string songs but on other tracks he's rocking something that looks identical to his ESP 6-string but with a different headstock. Maybe he broke his headstock/neck and got it restored by a custom builder? Anyway this is irrelevant lol

    Cheers guys sorry for the length of this post
     
  2. cip 123

    cip 123 SS.org Regular

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    They haven't done too great with their lines lately, they've never offered too much that I wanted though. But even I was confused with their lines a couple years back there was a standard series then and elite series and an E-II....I got confused and I honestly don't look at them too much. They looked to be coming back from this years NAMM but not much to blow anyone else out the water.
     
  3. cardinal

    cardinal SS.org Regular

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    It might be more that the guitar market is in an odd state.

    I'm sure ESP makes what it thinks it can sell, which apparently is just pretty tame me-too stuff.

    It seems in general companies are dialing back their offerings. I think people aren't buying guitars in the $1500-2500 price range like they use to. Companies are focusing on higher and lower offerings, I think.
     
  4. Womb raider

    Womb raider ESP Addict

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    I wouldn't say they are in a bad place, but just in a transition phase.
    The branding thing has been beaten to death pretty well. I'm not a fan of it, but there are enough standard series stuff out there that it's not a huge issue. They have been doing a lot of consolidating of their lines, so pretty much at this point if you want ESP on the headstock, you're going to pay. The quality is still top notch across all lines.
    USA line does offer horizons if you inquire and have the means.
    Check out some of their exhibition series guitars if you really want to see some off the wall stuff. They are still very innovative, but not all models see production.
     
  5. JD27

    JD27 ESP Cult Member

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    Unless you are in the Japan market, they are focusing on the USA line over everything else. 2016 actually had quite a few different shapes, the most in a long time, but I guess they never sold. I only saw one or two SVs/EXs from the E-II line for sale and they were used. They cut back the E-II line for 2017 big time. I'm not worried though, I'm going to dive into the USA line sometime soon. In the meantime there are plenty of used options out there.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  6. Zado

    Zado SS.org Regular

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    Just need to wait. Esp always delivers.
     
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  7. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Seems they're focusing on the entry-level stuff but domestically their Original Series line is still just as good as it ever was.

    Wish there were some more interesting sigs though -- I feel like 2008 era ESP had lots of cool stuff -- ESP Kiko SE, Haooomaru, Sugizo P90/S/S, Anchang star, Inoran, Alexi pinky/blacky, probably forgetting a ton of things that were all pretty awesome and not just different logo paint jobs, etc., so that's what's really gone downhill IMO. Nothing inspiring.
     
  8. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    That stuff is still in the Japanese offerings, crazy stuff there (and no Kiko obviously), but they are still doing new stuff in the Sig line: Sparrowhawk and Vulture are both totally new shapes, think what you want of them.
    Since E-II, they brought some of the shapes they had in Japan over: Mystique, Stream, Arrow, Snapper, but only the Arrow seems to have taken off.
    The mistake they made was letting ESP USA weigh in on the E-II offerings this year. Since they want to boost the US line they pulled back on E-II, which was probably a year or two premature. The direction ESP US is headed in: more options, increased customization, is great, but it still has a ways to go before it takes off in full I suspect.
    The LTD line has gotten some minor and positive boosts: the neck heel carve on the 2017 line is awesome (on the EII Eclipses too). But reigning in on quality for WMI and moving the 400 series back there is a major thing. The neck and feel on LTDs is standardized again, there's a lengthy period there where it was all over the map.
    So some positives, but some preemptive moves and really dumb ones: pulling the US Horizon, namely, but give it another year or two. At this point, it feels like Schecter and ESP feel more like different branches of the same company and Schecter is a bit more willing to try different things.
    If they relaunch the Formula, they can redeem it all. Plus bring the US Horizon back.
     
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  9. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Yea, I mean I pretty much like all those and the Stream is a great bass platform, but this and the potbelly sort of stuff too is all a move back to more traditional designs, when I feel like earlier they were making really great incarnations of their own designs.

    I need that select series back, because I need this without the inlays:

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Blytheryn

    Blytheryn Musical Adam West

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    As far as I know Chris Canella who does artist relations said something about how people that he doesn't really get along with don't stay with the brand in some interview. AFAIK Nergal isn't officially on the roster any more, and just spray painted over the ESP logo on his Hex 6. That's at least what I think.
     
  11. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Also the FRX was a pretty good recent ESP-ish addition IMO:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. feraledge

    feraledge Black Walnut Pounding Bragger Contributor

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    The glorious 2012 catalog. Oh how I miss these. I kept my physical one around for YEARS. They had so many options and then never again. Also the only time since the 90s (that I'm aware of) where Horizons came stock in ash, mahogany and alder bodies.
     
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  13. arasys

    arasys SS.org Regular

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    Years ago ESP used to offer its standard models (including RV / ESP SV 1) with custom finish options from some guitar shops for little extra in Europe. Their prices were comparably cheaper than Jackson USA series and it made a lot of sense since both companies are pretty much on par in terms of quality.

    As JD27 said last year they offered bunch of models but I think people weren't so sure about E II branding. I saw only 2 used E II SVs during 2016 on Reverb and Guitar Center's website. ESP USA is a safe bet but their options are really limited and LTD Elite line wasn't really memorable..
    Maybe they could offer semi-customization for E II line to make them more appealing like they did back in the day?
     
  14. behemoth4ever

    behemoth4ever SS.org Regular

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    I totally agree with you on those points, it does seem that way. Hopefully next year will have a couple more surprises and less me-too stuff.

    Yeah I agree on all points. I spent most of 2016 playing Fender so I tuned out a bit but it does seem like they had way more shapes last year. I wanna dive into the USA stuff too, maybe if they were offering a bit more variety which I'm sure is coming.

    Man I really hope so !

    Wow that stuff was 2008? That stuff was around when I was getting into ESP and I don't think I picked up a guitar yet in 2008. Anyway, you're right about all of that. Kiko's sig was really cool. Michael Amott's ninja guitars were the coolest Vs ever IMO (I still have the black QM top one and am still looking for someone selling the white one after all this time). Inoran had that really sick dragon Les Paul that would definitely not fly in the export market due to copyright. I remember at one point Alexi's line had like 8 different guitars in it. Now it's just the blacky and the green one right? Sugizo's/Anchang's/Hitsugi's stuff still exists for the japanese market right now.

    Yeah the signature line is definitely still exciting. Besides the ones I mentioned, I think Skolnick's line is awesome. Rob Caggiano's horizon specs are really classic and should be the base for all other horizon models.

    It would be really cool if they expanded the ESP USA line. As I mentioned earlier I really wanna get one (I'm not even from USA so it'd be damn pricey) but they don't have the options I want yet. But yeah first and foremost the Horizon has gotta come back..

    In terms of the new age shapes, I think they've been hit or miss. FRX was a decent upgrade over FGT I guess.. I'm not sure if it even needed changing. Mystique is definitely an improvement over the Potbelly and I would like to see it being integrated into the LTD line. Formula was great, not sure why they ditched it so fast. The old phoenix wasn't very original but it looks way better than the Stream in my opinion. Arrow I'm not a fan of but if it's taking off that's great. I always thought Snapper would be big but I guess people who want that stuff aren't looking at ESP.

    Hmm it doesn't seem like the case because Nergal and the crew are current being featured on the artist page at this very moment >> http://www.espguitars.com/artists

    And it seems odd that ESP would drop Nergal for any reason.. he's a top tier endorsement right below the Metallica guys IMO. Plus he's still playing the HEX-7 with the ESP logo showing (look up a recent performance of At The Left Hand ov god). It's just the 6-string one that looks different. Anyway, who knows..

    Thanks for responding everyone !!
     
  15. jl-austin

    jl-austin SS.org Regular

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    I think the market is definitely going through a "Fender style" guitar phase. I don't care for it myself, but I guess that is what is selling.

    The constant branding changes might be hurting them also. I know it's been beat to death, but those brand names just flat out stink. I think Jackson has them beat at the moment in the whole "pointy guitar market". The only thing is, Jackson really doesn't offer a Guitar in the $1600 range to compete with the EII (yeah, what a name!) or the Ibanez Prestige line.
     
  16. Tisca

    Tisca SS.org Regular

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    E-II replaced the Standard line. It's the same quality but with a much higher price. I played some Ltd's earlier this year and they were horrible. We're talking ~1300€ guitars that I felt were priced at triple value. Shoddy craftsmanship and lifeless wood. I'm glad I bought my Standards last decade and also found ESP Edwards. I feel sorry for people who buy Ltd's today and don't know any better.
     
  17. Ikke

    Ikke A Dream Cartographer

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    As you said, most of the complaints you mentioned can be explained with "If it's not here anymore, it wasn't selling." People have to start showing that they care about the products if they want the product to continue existing. As a for-profit company, it doesn't do ESP any good to produce things that people aren't going to buy.

    "I wish all these shapes, colors, and sizes were here...but I have no intention of buying any of them", "I was thinking about buying X guitar...", "I will buy X guitar, just not anytime soon"... none of that puts money in ESP's pocket.

    Furthermore, there tend to be complaints at every tier.
    - People don't want LTD because it's too cheap.
    - People don't want E-II because they don't like the name and/or they want all the variety of the SS that they had no real interest in.
    - People don't want the USA series because there aren't enough models, colors, Horizons and/or they're too expensive compared X guitar company.
    - People don't want the JP series because they're too expensive.

    Concerning the USA series, those guitars are made to order. Which means that they are making them because people/stores are ordering them. End of story. That's what the market wants apparently. (And yes, that means the Horizon is dead because no one wanted it! (I also asked!))

    Let's instead talk about everyone's beloved Standard Series. Because I would imagine when most people think ESP, they're they're thinking of the standard series and not ESP Custom Shop or USA. And, I'd even say that most people's complaints about ESP stem from pain created by the death of (but not really) the late SS.

    The Standard Series is alive and well...in spirit! It has essentially become split between Edwards and E-II. The stuff that you're talking about is in the Edwards series. The colors, shapes, variety, it's still all there, but now it's aimed at the markets that care about that stuff. Let's also talk about that for a second: The Market

    Consider this: Take a look at all the signature series guitars offered on USA, Euro, etc. websites. Now go take a look at the signature series on the Japanese site. What do you notice? I posted this image before, but I think it's important for my point.

    Alex Skolnick (Testament)
    [​IMG]

    Uruha (The Gazette)
    [​IMG]

    The Japanese/Asian market guitars tend to be a lot more exotic. From shape, to color, to hardware, everything on the Japanese side errs more exotic, less classic. The USA offerings are much more classic/tame: the signature guitars are just standard ESP shapes and/or classic shapes with different paint jobs. The Japanese asian market clearly cares about colors, shapes, variety. The non-Asian markets do not seem to care about that stuff.

    Why is this comment about the Sig series important? Because a lot of people who pickup guitars (especially for the first time!) are going to pick something that resembles the guitar of their idols. If the American signatures are all super tame, then the consumers that are buying ESP guitars are going to look for those same tame guitars that their idols play. The marketing here seems to be showing that non-asian audiences want things that look like strats/tele's/SG/LPs etc..they just want the classics. The JP audiences are looking for exotic non-classic stuff; they want something a little more unique.

    TLDR - Be the change you want to see! ESP is seems to be mostly fine to me. (That rhymed!)

    (...Also, let's be honest, no one actually wanted an EX...)
     
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  18. Crash Dandicoot

    Crash Dandicoot » Supra-ise!

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    Well stated, Ikke. I almost exclusively buy Japan-only ESPs for that very reason - all of their off the wall, interesting and flat out strange designs are still prominent there. Seconded on the EX - what people want is an import legal MX series ;)

    In terms of cost, as well, naturally it should be expected that the JP lines would be a tad pricier, given that it's the brand's origin / flagship.Having said that, I've found that their second hand value is far from ridiculous. They don't seem to hold the same staying power for value over there (with some exceptions, obviously). Conversely, trying to buy a Tom Anderson or Suhr from Japan is a ludicrous idea, they're insanely expensive compared to domestic prices. Different values based on availability / desirability, I guess? Maybe I'm so into JP ESP's due to an "exotic" vibe, and possibly they feel the same about boutique American brands. Something to ponder.
     
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  19. couverdure

    couverdure No Gear Day

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    The same could be said for Ibanez and the Prestige RGAs, a lot of people obsess over the 121 even though they've been discontinued for almost ten years now but I don't see them go over the other Prestige models which have also been discontinued, and the only Japan-made RGA that's still in production is the JBM100. Too much people here are very picky over stock specs they have no control over and when they aren't, they always buy them second-hand and demand the company to make more (if they do, they'll end up with stuff like the Iron Label series, which people here aren't too fond of because they aren't Prestiges).
     
  20. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    I don't know what is going on with pricing of LTD's, they have definetly gone up. Indonesian made 400-series costs around 999 euro's at local distributor, which was a price for 1000-series couple of years ago. Now Deluxe and Signatures cost around 1100 and 1450. USA made models will be 4k in here, E-II around 1700 - 2500, and there is not enough offerings in the middle ground and between those price ranges.
     

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