Matt Masciandaro, ESP President, says, “When I first joined the ESP group, the USA division consisted of six people. Today, ESP products are distributed in 60 countries around the globe. ESP could not have reched this 35-year milestone without the loyalty and supprt of our customers, the artists who endorse our guitars, and the passionate and talented team of people employed by ESP both past and present. the success of ESP is truly a team effort, and I feel privileged to be part of that team.” Now a world-renowned, highly respected instrument manufacturer, the ESP Guitar Company had humble beginnings as a small custom shop started by Japanese businessman Hisatake Shibuya. It was 1975 when Shibuya founded a chain of music/ audio retail stores called Electronic Sound Products, or ESP for short. In 1983, the stores started making replacement parts and accessories for the booming guitar market. Two years later, in 1985, ESP began building entire custom guitars for special customers. It was not the company’s intention to get into the mass market of guitar manufacturing at the time. Instead, they only hand-built special custom guitars for professional touring and recording artists.
By 1986, ESP’s guitars had gained such an excellent reputation that the company opened an office in New York City to make custom guitars for players in the US. Shortly thereafter, Dokken’s George Lynch and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett chose ESP to build new guitars to their respective specifications, and the company quickly became the first choice for rock and metal players who wanted more than an off-the-shelf axe could deliver.
With ESP’s detail-obsessed custom design and manufacturing, the company has since attracted a tremendous artist endorsee roster, and some of the custom guitars created for the artists have become top-selling signature models. These include models by George Lynch, Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield (also of Metallica), Ron Wood (Rolling Stones), Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom), Jeff Hanneman and Tom Araya (Slayer), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Will Adler (Lamb of God), Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), and many others.
With the desire to maintain their status as a high-end, custom guitar maker, but wanting to offer a more moderately priced brand for wider distribution, ESP added the LTD brand in 1996. Offering many of the superb features of ESP guitars via less expensive manufacturing techniques, the LTD brand has allowed a much broader range of musicians (including first-time buyers) to affordably take advantage of the company’s products. In 2003, their Xtone series of semi-hollowbodied guitars debuted to rave reviews, and opened the door for an entire new group of players to consider ESP as a serious choice.
Current product line details, artist information, and company news can be found at espguitars.com.
About ESP Guitars
Founded in 1975, ESP Guitar Company is the respected manufacturer of custom electric guitars for musicians around the world. The ESP brands of guitars and basses include ESP and LTD.