USA custom vs Japan original?

phillip L.

I was wondering what the differences are between the two, I can't seem to find a whole lot of info online about the differences. 

From what I have seen it looks like the USA has a different pickup combo, thicker body, and neck thru construction, is that right?

What other differences are there between the models? I almost get the impression that the USA is the better of the two, but what about quality and workmanship? I know ESP is second to almost no one in that department but is the USA on par with the reputation?

King Nothing too.

Justin  A.

I have been looking and can't find anything either 


wondering if I should add a USA ESP to my collection, i'd like to know the differences too  

phillip L.

I never was able to get any more info than what is posted on the website. No one on any forums has played both, most have played neither. Stores don't carry them since they cost so much. I wish ESP would put out more detailed information but oh well. 

I went with the original series eclipse CTM. I am still waiting to get it (5 weeks later) but it's supposed to be here tomorrow. I know the rep of the Japanese guitars, so I went with that, not being sure what to expect from the American models. 

phillip L.

Well, the guitar came today and I am absolutely stunned. This guitar is so much nicer than I could have imagined. I have never had hands on a guitar that was this well built, sounded this good, or played this effortlessly. I am absolutely thrilled and cannot possibly say enough things about how amazin these ESP guitars really are. There is a stark difference between this and an LTD, this one even weights a good couple of pounds more than an LTD. Stunning piece of art.



Chris  C.

Wow,,,that's awsome

phillip L.

Igor D.

Hi, how much doest this beauty cost?

phillip L.
Igor D. wrote:

Hi, how much doest this beauty cost?


Between $4,500 and $5,000 depending on where you shop. 

Mike N.

NICE!!! One of my favorite aspects of ESP guitars, whether it's a brand new model or 20 yrs. old is... if it says "ESP" on the headstock, the guitar is completely amazing, no question about it... I can't speak for the E-II's, and even the LTD models are suprisingly badass for the money... but if you follow the golden "ESP on the headstock" rule you can't go wrong... it makes it easy to buy used and classic ESP's with confidence, even sight unseen, because you know that no matter what, it's gonna be amazing... congrats on your purchase!!!

Clinton G.

ya, thats the one I want right there, it's a flawless piece. I want a USA eclipse too in vintage natural.

phillip L.

Yes, that was the delema I found myself in. I really wanted the vintage natural USA but since I couldn't get hands on one or any real info on one I decided to go with what I KNEW would be great and that was my black original. I did buy a Gibson LP standard in the vintage natural'ish color of trans amber since I was able to play one and it was pretty good, but in all honesty I wish that I had just bought the USA eclipse to go with the original series instead of the Gibson, the ESP is so much better that I find myself asking "why did I buy that Gibson?" 

Clinton G.

you definitely made a mistake on that!

phillip L.
Clinton G. wrote:

you definitely made a mistake on that!


I redemed myself a little. Sold my new 16' SG to a friend and bought an old standard series M-2! 

Clinton G.

good super strat, i grew up on them, i'm all about 24.75 scale gibson style guitars these days, pretty much just eclipse although those new USA horizons are pure art.

Ted M.

Gtars made in Japan I have no worries with. I had a 6128 Gretch made in Japan as are all pro line Gretches, and it was a work of art. Made in USA is more of a status thing among guitarists. U walk in to an audition w/made in USA ax and its "hey this dude is serious" because of what you paid for it.  Now Chinese made, well that's looked at as a beginners gtar. 

Clinton G.

except that ESP USA is doing what Gibson use to do in the 50's which is make high quality, hand made guitars. So in this case USA is a good thing.

Ted M.

I'm not saying USA isn't a good thing. I'm saying Japanese quality is every bit that of US made. A 6k series Gretch will cost as much as a US made product from any Co. But, US made ax's do have a higher resale value. 

phillip L.
Ted M. wrote:

I'm not saying USA isn't a good thing. I'm saying Japanese quality is every bit that of US made. A 6k series Gretch will cost as much as a US made product from any Co. But, US made ax's do have a higher resale value. 


That's a very good point, I find that if you're concerned with re sale value you HAVE to buy Gibson or Fender. It's a huge pain to re sell jackson, Ibanez, even ESP or LTD. Seems like no one wants them, no idea why.. I tried to trade a Jackson in at guitar center and they wouldn't even take it because they had another Jackson trade in that had been on the wall for nearly a year!

Bryan W.

Just got my ESP USA Eclipse yesterday and I gotta say, I was in shock at how much nicer this guitar is in person than what the photos that were sent to me by an ESP rep showed.  I always go for flame maple over quilt and this is the best one I've seen in a while.  It seems like the guys in Hollywood at that custom shop got their game up on the Japanese custom shops.  I lived in Japan for three years and have personally been to the ESP craft house in Shibuya and their custom shop in Ochanumizu in the Tokyo prefecture.  I got a chance to see the Japanese luthiers working and yea, their workmanship is amazing, but I think the USA ones are just as good, if not maybe a little better.  The only thing is the fact that the body is a two piece rather than a single like my custom pictured here and obviously the neck is a three piece.  I wonder if anyone here knows exactly how long that 'set thru' neck tenon extends into the body.  If ANYONE knows, hit me up, thanks!

John A.

My USA Eclipse is so nice that I am afraid to play it.

Christine S.

I have 2 ESP Custom Shop Alexi Laiho guitars. One is black with glow-in-the-dark pin stripes and inlays - this one was made in Japan. The other is the "Greeny" model with the skull and crossbones, scalloped frets and glow-in-the-dark inlay - this one was made in the USA.

 My preference for overall feel, playability and sound, is the somewhat "plainer looking" guitar made in the Japanese Custom Shop. For whatever reason, that guitar set up like a dream. The strings are super-low with no fret buzz of course, making it really fast and easy to play. The neck and frets are as close to perfect as you will ever get. The resonance on this guitar is amazing! You can hear it clearly even upplugged and the sound carries on forever. This is by far my most favorite guitar as it is just pure joy to play.

The "Greeny" is a very nice guitar as well. For some reason, it's been a little more difficult to set up and it doesn't stay in tune as well as the MIJ guitar. It's nice to play but doesn't have the same feel as the MIJ guitar. It has good resonance but not as good as the MIJ.

Although both guitars are spectacular, in my opinion, the Japanese made Custom Shop comes slightly ahead of the USA made. It plays a little better, sounds a little better and feels a little better. If you are looking to drop some cash on an ESP Custom Shop, try to buy a Japanse won't regret it!!!


Mike C.

I bought a Snapper Burner last Oct from the Ochanomizu store. I have to say it is the best Strat like guitar I have played, even when compared to Fender custom shop. I had the guitar setup when I returned to the USA just to make it perfect although it really didn't need it. I'm not sure if these guitars even need setup to be honest. Regardless, I feel the Japan models are your best bet, especially the rare "Navigator" models found in Ochanomizu. I can't wait to go back for round 2!!  Their heavy metal guitars are great but check out the Ron Wood Tele and Snapper models for more classic feel and sound. 


I actually have both.....I have an ESP Original Series M-II and an ESP USA Series M-II (with a new one on order).  In this picture, the black M-II in the middle is my Japanese Original Series M-II, and the blue one to the right is my USA Series M-II.  I love and play them both, very often.  Both of these are extremely well built, but there are many differences that I've noticed:

1. The Japanese M-II Original Series M-II feels flawless.  Perfect.  It has the best neck I've ever played in my life (and my Tech says it's one of the nicest necks he's ever seen, and he's been a Tech for 25 years).  The sound is great, it resonates, it's really an amazing guitar.

2. The USA M-II is a little more "raw" than the perfection that is my Japanese Original series.  I don't know if this makes any sense, but it feels "American."  I mean that in a very good way.  It feels like a high end Harley Davidson instead of a high end Kawasaki Ninja.  Both are high end, well made, but they have a different feel to them.

3. The USA M-II has a more "tonally dynamic" sound to it.....a more "open" sound.  However, that could just be a pickup issue.  The USA M-II has EMG-X pickups while the Original Series has the traditional EMG 81/85 pickups.  I have done a sound test comparing both, and everyone I've sent that sound test video to has said the USA model sounds better (one of my friends even played the video through studio monitors to confirm).  However, again, pickups could have a lot to do with these results.


I love Japanese ESP's, and my Original Series M-II is the best of the best Japanese ESP's that I've had the experience of playing.  It's one of my favorite guitars ever.

My USA ESP is also incredible, and it reminds me of an ESP M-II version of a USA Charvel or USA EVH.  It has an "American" feel to it.  Again, hard to explain, but that's how my Tech described it, and I know exactly what he means due to the experience of playing both.

I don't know if this post/review helped at all, but I hope it gave some insight, at least from my point of view.  Thank you!


I think we should be monitoring what made ESP move into a forreign land where the people tend to do business only if it was to make them rich and never anything else.

Lets say I get an ESP and later found out it was a US-made one, I would firsly assume it contained the ususal plenty of flaws a  USA made guitar have even if the maker have all been bleesed by god to be the best.. 

Sorry to those offended by this, I am just saying I would go over the guitar with a fine coam and possible even a metric ruler to make more sense.

This is the country that never made any good guitars, and an ESP- Fender m2  is still making it a Leo Fender..

Are there going the build with tone-woods, and will there be special years these woods peak in quality?

Many of les paul guitars or fenders would most likely contain wood found closest where the factory happends to be.

Will there be german hardware anymore or gotohs made in china anymore, or can we expect the rotomatics,the cts,the copper frets, the intonation where we want tones,seymour duncans, the emgs(wait?.) and the list goes on.

A brand loyal ESP owner is just as stupid any fenderists if the guitars goes from making SS meaning suberb strats into the real stratocaster with an O shaped 2 inch plumbing tube neck for the extra digested meat added to the neck.

I have an ESP made before this was an issue and thankfully so, but I have the high end ltds also and they could be mistanken for being an esp I would think , but are no maken them anymore for whatever reason..

Are the ltd series made in china also move into the same factory you guys to make the ec-10 along side another one called USAltd  ec-10?


I am just asking here because I cannot understand japanese and if many people want fire back that USAesp guitar they got is actually really good despite build in imperial or I would belive many find them way better than the ESP brand.

All the makers of intruments must keep their feet on the ground and realize it can’t be all about the money when building things, I have got many brands of guitars and I thend to like the ones made meters apart from eachother when the s.koeran builds made great guitars in the wood parts atleast and that is the only important part of making it a good guitar..

I have turned to the forums I can expect many of people have a very biased view but I hope not, as stupdity the people who buy ESP guitars is great for the owners as the crowd could easily be continue to by them as long as the paint interacted the sound.

This is possible though, a coat of the possible new USAesp paints come from dupoint and they are for sure make the radioactive audio lacqueer if it could make little money.


Is this only only me or..?



I took a peak at the specs and I was wrong think the USAesp would be worse in any way.

But I found limited runs I though might be the LTD guitars by build by esp.

They have strated with some of the normal bs I hoped would never a thing.

And the wood used by them have the usual swamp ash and stuff but they didnt write about it being anything but from the looks.

I noticed they used hardwood compared to softood and thats great, the hardwood trees might be an alternative to ash trees being used i.e. I dunno where the trees come from, but no matter.


I am hoping this sinks in to whomever gets it and found it ok to put this in the specs and it is they dont tell what is used and why??

Does pine work on necks for example? Who knows .

Michael M.

Definitely Japan

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