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Tony Raven
#1 Posted : Saturday, September 09, 2017 11:00:18 AM(UTC)
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Here's my understanding, subject to change.

ESP began in Tokyo in 1975 as a retailer then a parts supplier, riding the increasing wave of hard rock / heavy metal / thrash / shred Guitar Gods.

Someone in New York City ~1983 jumped on this & began building guitars largely from ESP parts. Supposedly, most ESP parts were MIJ at that point, which had cachet in that era. Whether this shop was owned by ESP Japan is unclear.

Soon there was rising competition for the parts market. (Early rival Schecter had already transitioned from parts-slinging to custom guitars, with a few production models to keep things interesting.) Supply increased, quality rose, retail prices plummeted (along with profit margins).

1993-1995 was tumultuous. The NYC shop moved to Los Angeles. ESP's export of MIJ guitars to the U.S. ceased because shipping/duty costs were eating into profits. (No idea whether MIJ parts were also halted.) The LTD line was launched to downscale the ESP name to U.S. metalheads & non-playing fans & further inflate profits with overpriced MIK (the 1000 series) & later MII (the 400-or-lower Series), & more recently China, & likely soon points West.

Around 2006, ESP demonstrated devious cunning by introducing the ESP Standard models... which are actually LTD imports. The parallel to Fender's MIM Standard models is clear, but Fender doesn't pretend they're USA models & is in fact quite proud of their Ensenada facilities.

ESP also seems willing to play on upcharging guitars for being "handmade" while other identical guitars are merely "assembly line." The fact is that unless a guitar is made as a one-off by a craftsman (or a handful working as a team), then ALL production guitars are "assembly line" by definition. Either ESP is frighteningly clueless, or they're assuming their customers are gullible airheads.

Let's get rid of that damned "hand made" myth!! I am unaware of ANY guitar EVER to hit the market without human touch -- inspection, assembly, adjustment -- at some point. As well, I am unaware of ANY commercial guitar EVER made without the use of power tools. Unless you go to a reputable luthier who's not messing with you (& who charges you for his time whittling your guitar from a treetrunk), ALL guitar bodies are made by robot lathes. Thus, "hand made" is a marketing tool, nothing more.

The market for "metal" guitars is by definition limited. I can play pretty much ANY style on a Strat or LP or even PRS, & nobody'd blink. But a spiky guitar with a Rose bridge & 18-volt EMGs???

As with Zombie Dean's endless Dead Dimebag series, to stay in business ESP needs to market low-end "signature" models to rabid fans who may not even know how to hold (much less play) a guitar, in part with hints that they're "collectible" by which is meant "will sell for more than you paid." Hang 'em on the wall of the Man Cave, dust 'em twice a week, NEVER EVER PLAY THEM, buy more as "an investment." IME, one hint is to watch for models that have "Designed By" parts (or, with trems, "Licensed"): that means they're pushing the brand label (the decal) rather than the name-user's actual configuration.

Edited by user Saturday, September 09, 2017 11:07:02 AM(UTC)  | Reason: -

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 1 user thanked Tony Raven for this useful post.
Axeman69 on 9/10/2017(UTC)
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dmartn149
#2 Posted : Sunday, September 10, 2017 8:03:32 PM(UTC)
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Well all that may be true. All I know about LTD guitars is that the 3 I've owned (bought used, to re-sell) seemed to be very well made. I think they were all Korean. The first was a lower end Horizon style. H100 maybe. It had a bolt on maple neck, not flat like a Fender, but tilted back like a LP. and also streamlined in the neck plate area. It had a nicely carved top. Played and sounded just fine. The other 2 were set necks. One was a baritone SG style. the other was another Horizon model but with a FMT and passive EMG. All pretty nice guitars for the money.

Tony Raven
#3 Posted : Monday, September 11, 2017 12:15:47 AM(UTC)
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Oh, I cannot say that there is anything "wrong" with LTDs as guitars qua guitars.

For me, the problem lies in the clear belief that they're actually ESP, therefore worth TOP DOLLAH.

Good Koreas? Sure, fine. Maybe even good MII or MIC. However, in that sense, many MII (even MIC) Affinity are really great little axes... & going out for maybe $100 used. When I buy a used Affinity or VM or even CV, I do not have any illusions I'm getting a Fender, or even something MIM, let alone USA.

In short, it's as though VM (or even Affinity) owners are encouraged to believe they're going to get MIM prices when they resell... & Fender was encouraging this. ThumbDown

And again: what's with all the black??
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Axeman69
#4 Posted : Monday, September 11, 2017 9:53:01 AM(UTC)
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Black is METT00L for da Br00TalZ! LOL

Watch OUT! Once the Brick wall 's get wind of this thread you will cop LOTS of trollage from the Br00TalZ brigade! LTD is THE meta00l core guitar of choice! \m/
dmartn149
#5 Posted : Monday, September 11, 2017 6:53:19 PM(UTC)
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LOL Of the three I had, two of them were black, the other was VERY dark green. Bought each at very low price, sold on ebay (as ESP-LTD's) at a profit, but still less than what I though they should bring, considering their quality.
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