Eclipse School - Eclipse I vs Eclipse II and What CTM and Full Thickness Means

Eclipse School  - Eclipse I vs Eclipse II and What CTM and Full Thickness Means

Eclipse School Time!

There's been a bunch of questions and confusion about what "full thickness" or CTM means, and what's an Eclipse I vs an Eclipse II. Well, I'm snowed in tonight and bored, so I went through my 2008 Export Models Catalog (non North America) and I scanned these pages to help get an idea of what any of those terms mean.

Here's what I've figured out. (At least according to this catalog, who knows what the changes are year-to-year.)

Eclipse I Model - A mahogany body with a PLAIN maple top (or more commonly an opaque finish.) Must have 4 control knobs, similar to a Les Paul.

Eclipse II Model - A mahogany body with a FIGURED (quilt or flame) maple top. Eclipse II models can have either the 4-knob or 3-knob control layout. The 3-knob versions are called USA Eclipse II (which is different than the USA Custom Eclipse models.)

USA Eclipse II - When the Export Series started including 3-knob versions of the Eclipse, ESP started calling the 3-knob style the "USA Eclipse II" to avoid confusion (lol.) The USA Eclipse II has a modified body shape which has a different, flatter lower horn.

CTM (Custom Traditional Model) - The CTM designation (at least in 2008) means the guitar has an ebony fret board and mulit-ply binding. CTM models are not necessarily full Les Paul thickness. In this catalog there were no Eclipse II models with the CTM designation, even the 3-knob USA Eclipse II models, though I think that eventually changed.

FT (Full Thickness) - Full thickness refers to the body thickness. FT Eclipses are the same thickness as a Les Paul (55mm). Most 4 knob Eclipses are still thinner than a LP. FT does not mean the guitar has the more rounded horn of the out-of-production 4 knob guitars.

In 2008, none of the USA Eclipse II models had the CTM designation, and there was no USA Eclipse I. A brief look through the older PDF catalogs on the ESP guitars web page (link) makes me think there was never a 3-knob USA Eclipse I. Your guess is as good as mine as to why that would be.

I'm not sure which year ESP decided to stop making 4-knob Eclipses available in the Export Series (you can still find a 4-knob E-II Eclipse, but it's a rarity.)

It seems that all E-II models are just called Eclipse with no number designation.

Here are some photos to help show the differences:

Here is the difference between a Full Thickness Eclipse model (in the center), a Les Paul (on the left) and a regular Eclipse (on the right.) The Full Thickness model has a 55mm thick body, which is essentially the same thickness as a Les Paul.

Here's the difference between the CTM appointments (left) and a non CTM appointed guitar (right.) The CTM model has an ebony fingerboard and the multi-ply biding on the top and around the headstock. Both of these guitars are regular thickness Eclipse II models.

Here's a close view of the more modern horn of a USA Eclipse II vs the more rounded horn of the out-of-production, 4 knob Eclipses. It's also proof that I need to dust more.

And since this comes up occasionally, here's a view of the veneer top used on the old Standard Series and current E-II guitars. Unlike the LTD guitars, which just have a veneer over the mahogany body, the SS and E-II guitars have a maple cap with the figured veneer over top.

So there you have it. I need new hobbies and a better dusting schedule. I wouldn't call myself an expert, I just have a passing interest in the model.

Here's a video of everything you just read, because who wants to read when you can watch the movie instead?


Thanks a lot for the info.  I found it informative.  It definitely helps clear up confusion.  


I am wanting to trade my 2019 Les Paul Studio for a black eclipse-1000.

ESPs play smoother than the Paul's in my opinion...I can't believe I thought Paul's were the Porsches of guitars...

Cogan C.

Would you say the four knob versions are more desirable and why would that be? More tone manipulation? While I'm a Horizon fan through and through, the eclipse is growing on me after playing one at Guitar Center and find myself looking to get one.


It's personal preference. I prefer the 4-knob layout, but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to layouts.

I will say, the 4-knob versions don't seem to sell as quickly as the 3-knob versions. I'm not sure if it's because people don't want the 4-knobs, or if (at least those available in the US) they tend to be older. They stopped selling the 4-knob in North America in 2004 (though there were a few with the 05 serial number that made it here.)

Indra F.

The Eclipse I models and Eclipse II models with 4 knobs aren't allowed to be sold by ESP in the USA anymore. If I am not mistaken, Gibson filed a lawsuit against that model and they won. So the USA eclipse II was designed.

In 2013 you had 2 ESP standard series: the ESP standard series for the USA market and the E-II standard series for the rest of the world. In that year the E-II line had an Eclipse I and Eclipse II version. But at the end of 2013, ESP merged these 2 standard series into the E-II standard series(both export markets got merged). So the Eclipse I version disappeared from the E-II line, together with a lot of other guitar models.


Well, 2013 in the USA, we had LTD Elite and ESP Standard (with the transition logo). The catalog shows all the models as Eclipse II (which is USA Eclipse II from the above description.)

There was never a lawsuit from Gibson. There may have been a cease and desist. ESP may have seen the writing on the wall with the Gibson vs PRS lawsuit (that PRS eventually won.) I suspect that ESP didn't want to bother throwing money at legal fees.

But the 3-knob layout was actually more traditional to the Eclipse models. The late 90s Eclipses (the flat topped ones) all had a 3 knob layout.

Beaten Beyond

I wonder if ESP could go back to the 4 knob layout and previous horn design for the US market it they wanted to?  Since  PRS won the Gibson lawsuit.  


Probably could, probably won't.

The Eclipse guitars are all well regarded and (I believe) the best sellers across the board for ESP. I don't think that they'd bother making a change.


Cool break down.  I personally love the older 4 knob, longer horn models.  Never been a fan of the 3 knob layout.

Jorge S.

I like with 3 pots also, don't we forget that the first eclipses in the end of the 80's and the 90's came also with 3 knobs like the Eclipse 2 of today.


The first Eclipses were Telecaster shaped.


Hey Pushead I'm looking for a Jackson headstock Mirage or Eclipse do you know anybody? 


You can email me at thanks John ready to buy through PayPal 

Jorge S.

Of course, I know...I mean the first models with les Paul body.



This is from 95.

I believe the semi-hollow, arch-topped models in the late 90s started the 3 knob trend. The 97 catalog shows both the arch-top and the solid Eclipses with 3 knobs.

And when they switched to set-neck builds, that's when the 4-knob layout started coming out. Around 2003, I believe.

Shaun Gibson

Awesome! this was really interesting to read. Have often wondered about differences between eclipse models. This is my pride and joy......

Ben R.

This is my E-ll Eclipse - l with bigsby! 


Bump to say I updated the original post at the top of the thread to include information about veneer tops, full thickness guitars and photos to help show differences.

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