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ESP Guitars

ESP began in 1975 as a Tokyo-based guitar repair shop (called Electric Sound Products) offering high-end, custom replacement parts. The company soon began making and selling guitars for the Japanese market under the names ESP and Navigator. The '80s then saw the brand making parts and custom guitars in the US, with early adopters such as Page Hamilton (Helmet), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), and Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones).

In 1985, Dokken's George Lynch famously walked into a ESP shop looking for a replacement neck while on tour in Tokyo, only to walk out with a receipt for a custom guitar -- Lynch's now-signature Kamikaze. Metallica guitarist James Hetfield was also an ESP player in the '80s and '90s, right when they were becoming the biggest alternative band in world. Endorsements such as these soon solidified the brand as the number one choice for metal guitarists, a trend that continues to this day.

Their endorsee list features some of the biggest names metal, such as Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), Bill Kelliher (Mastodon), Frank Bello (Anthrax), Brian "Head" Welch (Korn), and the entire line-up of Dimmu Borgir. Their LTD line began in 1996 as an affordable alternative to their God-mode custom shop pieces, but one that still maintains the brand's level of quality and precision.

Photo credit: Krys Amon

Guitarist playing an ESP EC model.
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