Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

ESP Guitars introduce a new line – LTD Elite

Sigh. Et tu, ESP?

It looks like ESP is also getting their brand dilution on, kind of like the Ibanez Premium rant I had earlier in the year – but to muddy waters further, they’re now looking to produce LTD branded guitars, but built in Japan. What the what?

They say they want to bridge the affordability gap between LTD and ESP… but to be honest, for a high end guitar line, ESP is already one of the MOST affordable out there. Personally, I think it’s a terrible move.

Here’s the press release from ESP, by way of Premier Guitar:

ESP Guitars (NAMM Demo Room 231D) has announced an entire new range of guitar and bass products under the brand name LTD Elite. The LTD Elite line is being made at the same manufacturing facility in Japan as the company’s high-end ESP branded instruments.

“We are very excited about the new LTD Elite line,” said Matt Masciandaro, ESP President and CEO. “We have long felt that there was a gap between our LTD and ESP lines that wasn’t being fulfilled by our existing choices. LTD Elite allows customers to take that next step above our LTD brand, with guitars and basses that are made by the same detail-driven luthiers who create our world-renowned ESP models.”

With its official debut at the Winter NAMM Show in January 2013, ESP will be unveiling nine LTD Elite models, including seven guitars and two basses.

The LTD ELITE ST-1 (Duncan) and LTD ELITE ST-1 (EMG) both employ bolt-on construction at 25.5” scale, and have alder bodies with natural binding. These guitars feature high-end appointments including quilted maple tops, Gotoh tuners, and Floyd Rose bridges. The ST-1 (Duncan) comes with Seymour Duncan JB (bridge) and Classic Stack Plus (middle and neck) pickups, a maple fingerboard, chrome hardware, and choices of Aqua Marine (pictured, top) and See Thru Black Cherry finishes. The ST-1 (EMG) offers EMG 81 (bridge) and SA (middle and neck) active pickups, with rosewood fingerboard, black hardware and a See Thru Black finish (pictured, bottom).

The LTD ELITE ECLIPSE-1 (DUNCAN) and LTD ELITE ECLIPSE-1 (EMG) are classic single-cutaway shapes with set-neck construction at 24.75” scale. Both guitars have mahogany bodies with flamed maple tops, and mahogany necks with rosewood fingerboards. They also include Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners and Gotoh TOM bridges and tailpieces. The ECLIPSE-1 (DUNCAN) employs Seymour Duncan JB (bridge) and ’59 (neck) pickups, 22XJ frets, and has nickel hardware with choices of Tobacco Sunburst and Cherry Sunburst (pictured, bottom) finishes. The ECLIPSE-1 (EMG) offers EMG 57 (bridge) and 66 (neck) brushed aluminum active pickups, 24XJ frets, and black hardware in a See Thru Black finish (pictured, top).

The LTD ELITE HORIZON-3 NT and LTD ELITE HORIZON-3 FR have neck-through-body construction at 25.5” scale, with alder bodies and flamed maple tops, and maple necks with ebony fingerboards. Both guitars feature Seymour Duncan Custom-5 (bridge) and Jazz (neck) pickups. The HORIZON-3 NT comes with a Gotoh TOM bridge in Reindeer Blue finish, while the HORIZON-3 FR includes a Floyd Rose bridge and See Thru Black finish.

The LTD ELITE M-II also has neck-through-body construction at 25.5” scale, an alder body, and flamed maple top with maple neck and ebony fingerboard. It includes black hardware including Gotoh tuners and Floyd Rose bridge, and features an EMG 81 active pickup set. The ELITE M-II is offered in See Thru Black and Amber Cherry Sunburst finishes.

For bassists, the company has introduced the LTD ELITE J-4 and LTD ELITE J-5. Both basses offer bolton construction at 34” scale, and have chambered ash bodies with quilted maple tops, chrome hardware, and finishes in See Thru Black and See Thru Amber. The ELITE J-4 is a 4-string bass with Gotoh tuners, a Gotoh bridge with string-through-body option, Seymour Duncan SJB-1 Vintage pickups with ESP KH-1 2-Band EQ. The ELITE-J-5 includes a Gotoh bridge with string-through-body option, and Seymour Duncan SJ-5 67-70 pickups, also with the ESP KH-1 2-Band EQ.



  1. I should be all over that maple neck super strat, but something about it just doesn’t work for me.

  2. I like it because it looks very old school Schecter Japan to me… but the body shape looks like it’s been tweaked a little, so perhaps that’s what you don’t like about the look?

  3. Could be. Not sure about the head stock either. Might feel differently about it in person.

  4. […] go back to their Custom Shop heritage, and thus axing the standard production line and bring in the LTD Elite line to fill that void seems to be the […]

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