There really is a difference. I used to think their couldn't possibly be a HUGE difference between the 1000's and ESP SS'.. My first LTD was the EC1000vb and it is indeed an awesome guitar. Then I got an ESP Eclipse II. Comparing them side by side through the same amp, same settings, etc - The difference is almost crazy. The Eclipse sounds thicker, deeper, and also has alot more clarity at the same time compared to the EC.
And on craftsmanship, the difference is even larger.
honestly paying the extra cash goes a LONG way when it comes to ESP vs LTD Deluxe Models
I quit carrying the LTD line in my store all together, and started carrying the ESP stuff, the LTD stuff is basically by special order only now. The ESP stuff sells better for me as well.
Its definately a better quality instrument. and if you have an EC1000, you already know that the LTD is a good guitar... the ESP is a great guitar.