Hands-On Review - E-II Eclipse vs ESP Standard Eclipse

Updated
Hands-On Review - E-II Eclipse vs ESP Standard Eclipse

The introduction of the E-II brand to the ESP family was met with quite a bit of, well let's call it hesitation.  The reason for the change doesn't matter at this point.  ESP Standard is gone and there is E-II to replace it.


I was one of many, who said that I'd probably not get an E-II guitar when used ESP Standards were plentiful in the used market.  But I found a fairly good deal on a used E-II Eclipse (in a color and price that I don't often find used ESPs) so I thought I'd give it a try.  I've had it few weeks, and thought I'd give my impressions.



The Good:

My immediate reaction was good.  There was an immediate familiar feeling.  If someone had put the guitar in my hands and had never shown me the headstock, I would have said "yep, another ESP Eclipse."  The neck size, shape, controls, even the weight are what I'm used to.  (Though I've played a few really light Eclipses, mostly those are LTDs.)

The sound is also what I'm used to.  Granted, it's another guitar with EMGs, and while guitars will sound different, you pretty much know what to expect.

The Gotoh locking tuners are very nice feeling.  I've only done one string change with them (previous owner used very light strings, and I like heavy gauges) so I won't say they're hands-down better than Sperzels or the old Gotoh locking types, but I like them very much.  I also like the Schaller strap lock buttons as stock (I don't know if they come with the locking mechanism for the strap, if they do, the previous owner held-out on me.)  The Tone-Pros locking bridge and stop bar are great.

The Less Good:

The fretboard.  Ignore, for a second, that in this color I'd prefer an ebony fretboard from an aesthetic point-of-view.  The rosewood is very light.  This could just be the piece on my sepeific guitar, but looking at the photos on the ESP product page, and the videos linked from there, they all look very light.  It just seems off to me.  Especially when compared to the rosewood boards two of my other Eclipses.

(I wasn't able to get a good picture of fretboard vs fretboard in the same shot.  I'll put one in when I get a chance to shoot in better light tomorrow.)

While we're dealing with the neck, the inlay material has also changed.  This E-II is a 2014 model, and my most modern ESP Standard Eclipse is from 2009.  At some point (perhaps even when they were branded as ESP) they changed the material from something that looks like shell (I doubt it's actually mother of pearl) to a perloid.  Again, it's a personal perspective thing, but to me it just seems like something that belongs on a lower-quality guitar.


 


Added 11/30/15

Trying to keep as fair as possible, I wanted to share this:

Above I noted that one of the "less good" items I pointed out was the perloid inlay on the E-II, which was different than the inlay material on my ESP Standard Eclipses.  My most modern ESP is a 2009, but after searching a few auctions, I noticed that there was perloid inlays on ESP Standard Eclipses as old as 2009.  The change in inlay material was not something done during the switch to the E-II brand, but at least several years before the end of the ESP Standard brand.

Not sure when or why the change was made, or why my 2009 is different from the auction guitar, but I figured I should share what I've found.

Still on the inlays, there's a chip on the corner of the first-fret inlay.  I bought the guitar used, so I'm willing to believe that this wasn't something from the factory, but the filling material is level with the fretboard and inlay.  There isn't a divot where the missing part of the inlay should be.  The photo below looks like there would be a recess, but my finger nail scrapes right over it.  It's level.


Added 12/2/15

A few more days with the guitar, and I realized that there's another thing to add to the "Less Good" list.  The string spacing on the nut is fine, but the slots are all shifted toward the high E string.  This causes the high E to sit very close to the edge of the fretboard in the lower frets.

I noticed this after doing the setup on the guitar, but I thought that I might have put the bridge on the opposite way.  Perhaps it was because of that, that the string was at a weird angle, but no such luck.

I took the guitar in to have a new nut installed.  Annoying, but such is life.

In fairness, over the years on the ESP forum, I've read of enough people having to replace nuts on fairly new LTDs and ESP Standards as well.


My Conclusion:

I played the E-II and a few of the ESP Standards back-to-back and they feel very similar.  As I said above, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between any of them if I was blindfolded and someone put them into my hands (except for the knobs).  It's just the aesthetic that gets me.  I know the things I find less good about the guitar are mostly personal preference, but to me it makes the guitar look like something lower-quality.  I expect light fretboards and perloid inlays on my LTD EC-401b, I expect them on my friends EC-1000, but I don't expect them on a guitar at this price point.

It's a very nice guitar.  I'll keep it around.  But as I mentioned in another thread in the E-II forum, I'm attached to the brand.  I'll still take a used ESP Standard over a similar E-II.  Not because the E-II isn't a quality guitar, but because the ESP brand holds more value to me.

As always, your mileage may vary.  It's a review worth nearly what you've paid for it.  Please consult a physician before beginning any guitar related activity.  Thank you, drive through.

My Qualifications:



Not that everything written on the internet isn't already 100% fact, or written by someone with experience in the subject matter, but sometimes people are leary of reviews.  I've played guitar for nearly 30 years; written, recorded, gigged, YouTubed, Djented, repaired, built, the whole nine-yards.  I've owned ESP guitars since the late 90s and everything from 200 level LTD guitars to Custom Shop ESPs.  ESP made guitars make up nearly half of my collection.


Big Daddy B
Pushead wrote:

What about the Chevys that say Cadillac on them?

 

is that a Cimmaron reference?

Pushead

It was because Pontiac was shut down. 

 

#neverforget

Nathan S.

Did you really just use a hashtag.  haha

Pushead

I'm a man of many talents.

hashbrowndon'tbejelly

Pushead

It's been a while, but since I'm bored here at work with 3 hours left until vacation starts, I figured I'd check-in with an update.

The forum says 2 years since I made the original post, but in my mind I've only had it about 18 months.  The E-II gets a fair amount of play, it's in rotation with a few other ESP Standard Eclipses setup for "the band" tuning. I use it at practice and have gigged it. It was my test guitar when I picked up an EMG 57/66 set, and it kept those for quite a while until I found a guitar better suited those pickups (or rather, a guitar in a finish that looked better with the brushed chrome finish pickups.)

The guitar has held up well. The frets don't show any more wear than any other guitar I play. The finish stays glossy and clean (except for where I accidentally nicked it on the edge of a speaker cabinet). The hardware is still great. I like the Tone Pros bridge and stop bar. I really like the current-style Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners (unlike the first generation version that have the slotted post). I like them so much that I replaced the tuners on three other Eclipses with them.

My complaints in the earlier posts still stand, but really aren't that big of a deal. The chipped inlay still irks me a bit. But ultimately, it's no different than any of the other Eclipses I have.

Hypnotoad6969

Simply put, the "E" series are just LTD's.  In more depth...  - 

The "E" series is just a re-branding of the LTD deluxe. LTD's were getting a bad wrap on forums and youtube because of imperfections off the line, and the price point was too high, so, the suits did a re-brand. PRS and Gibson did the same thing with their lower models. I own a number of ESP Standards ranging from 1995 to 2007 and the "E" models (AKA LTD's) are complete crap in comparison. Well, that's a bit harsh, but they are overpriced, re-branded LTD's that will almost certainly have imperfections off the line, but still pass inspection whereas Standard ESP's would be fixed, scrapped and parted out, or labeled B-Stock with ANY imperfection. I got a killer deal on one of my M2s because a little bit of glue leaked out when they glued on the fretboard. Few hours of playing and the glue flaked right off. This tiny bit of glue got it labeled B-Stock and several hundred bucks off the price.  Just an example of the standards, no pun intended, that the ESP Standard line had for their products. 

Standard ESP's came out of the exact same Japanese factory and were made by the exact same luthiers that would make the custom shop ESP's.  Now that the "E" series are just LTD's re-branded, some parts come from China and are assembled in Korea or some BS. ESP standards were built to last. Find a second hand one, it'll be light years better than a new LT"E".  Or, go with a Jackson standard series, they are still making their standard series in the same shops by the same luthiers as their custom shop guitars. 

They aren't horrible guitars, but they should cost 7-800 bucks at the most. Kinda shady marketing honestly, people think it's just a new name and new logo for the Standard Series, when it's actually just an LTD Deluxe. 

Hypnotoad6969

The don't put ESP on the logo because the E series are LTD's, not ESPs.  The E series is a re-brand of the LTD Deluxe, NOT the new name for the ESP standard series.

Simply put, the "E" series are just LTD's.  In more depth...  - 

The "E" series is just a re-branding of the LTD deluxe. LTD's were getting a bad wrap on forums and youtube because of imperfections off the line, and the price point was too high, so, the suits did a re-brand. PRS and Gibson did the same thing with their lower models. I own a number of ESP Standards ranging from 1995 to 2007 and the "E" models (AKA LTD's) are complete crap in comparison. Well, that's a bit harsh, but they are overpriced, re-branded LTD's that will almost certainly have imperfections off the line, but still pass inspection whereas Standard ESP's would be fixed, scrapped and parted out, or labeled B-Stock with ANY imperfection. I got a killer deal on one of my M2s because a little bit of glue leaked out when they glued on the fretboard. Few hours of playing and the glue flaked right off. This tiny bit of glue got it labeled B-Stock and several hundred bucks off the price.  Just an example of the standards, no pun intended, that the ESP Standard line had for their products. 

Standard ESP's came out of the exact same Japanese factory and were made by the exact same luthiers that would make the custom shop ESP's.  Now that the "E" series are just LTD's re-branded, some parts come from China and are assembled in Korea or some BS. ESP standards were built to last. Find a second hand one, it'll be light years better than a new LT"E".  Or, go with a Jackson standard series, they are still making their standard series in the same shops by the same luthiers as their custom shop guitars. 

They aren't horrible guitars, but they should cost 7-800 bucks at the most. Kinda shady marketing honestly, people think it's just a new name and new logo for the Standard Series, when it's actually just an LTD Deluxe. 

 

Pushead

Mr. Notoad, we get it. No need for copy-paste in every thread on the forum. Especially sequential posts in the same thread.

I'm sorry that you didn't jive with your E-II. I had a different experience and wrote a thread about it. My E-II is a better guitar than the EC-1000s I've played. I never played an LTD Elite model (which replaced the ESP Standard and quickly became E-II.)

Perhaps you could start your own thread and go into a bit more detail with specifics.

Dino G.

2014 ESP E II DB with Fishman KSE Pickups and hipshot bridge. New fret level and set up. Comes with original EMG's and Hardware. Looks to be in great shape $1260 a good price? 

Hypnotoad6969

I've goofed around with a few E2s just out of curiosity. I have a decent fleet of mid 90s-early 00s Standard Series M-IIs and Eclipses. Specs may be the same, but the mid 90s Standard Series blow the E2s away in every way. Keep an eye on eBay and Reverb for a used Standard Series, especially mid 90s when ESP was in their hayday thanks to MetallicA.  You can find a good used SS for a grand or less and it'll be a better instrument than an overpriced E2.  I've been loading up on early year Standard Series, eventually these will all end up in great player and/or collectors hands who can pick up on the small differences, and want the damn ESP on the headstock,  and they will become more and more rare on the second hand market. I can't speak much to the later 2000s Standard Series, but if you find yourself a mid 90s "The Eclipse" or slightly later 90s "Eclipse", you'll be able to tell the difference between it and an E2 even with a pair of thick winter gloves on and 4 blindfolds. 

Pushead

Pics of gloves or it didn't happen.

Pushead




And so, my E-II saga ends.

I'd seen stock photos of a 4-knob standard series Eclipse in the black aqua finish, but I'd never seen a photo of one out in the world. Recently, I finally found one for sale, one quarter of the world away, and was able to make a deal. As I mentioned in the OP, my original review of the guitar, this guitar ticks more of my boxes than the E-II.

But I suppose I should say that this ends this portion of my E-II saga. The one thing that this guitar showed me is that the E-II guitars are indeed a quality evolution of the old standard series. Aesthetics are small things; everything I pointed out as a "less good" thing is a small thing (okay, maybe not the nut.) I'd feel comfortable buying an E-II in the future.

But yeah, an older 4-knob Eclipse with the original horn is going to win me every time.

Nathan S.

So does this mean you sold your Eii?? I am about to join the Eii club for the first time. Sold the KH3 and its replacement Eii Eclipse in Vintage Honey Burst is on it's way. You mention the nut problem you had and I wonder, does the Eii still have a bone nut?

Pushead

Yes, the E-II is gone. Specs here on the website say bone, so I suspect that's probably true for even the older models. I thought it may have been tusq, but I don't really have enough practical experience trying to identify one over the other.

 

Nathan S.

So changed the strings on my Eii tonight for the first time, and I agree with Pus about the old style Gotoh locking tuners with the slot in the peg......they suck!! What a pain in the a$$ compared to a Sperzel style locking tuner. 

Other than that, I have no complaints with the guitar.

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