ESP Factories

In the world of musical instruments, certain brands resonate with the same power and majesty as the notes their creations emit. In the realm of guitars, ESP (Electric Sound Products) is one such brand, synonymous with exceptional quality, craftsmanship, and sonic brilliance. Let’s embark on a journey through the production facilities of ESP, where skilled luthiers, engineers, and artists come together to create the tools that shape the world of music.

The inception of ESP dates back to 1975 in Tokyo, Japan. Over the past few decades, ESP has emerged as a reliable name for professionals, hobbyists, and aspiring guitarists alike. Their product range spans from affordable LTD models to high-end custom guitars, each testament to their dedication to sound and quality.

ESP operates factories in both Japan and the United States, with two primary facilities in Tokyo and North Hollywood, California. Each factory has its unique approach and output, contributing to the brand’s extensive variety and appeal.

ESP Japan Factory: Tokyo

The home factory in Tokyo is where ESP’s journey began. It’s here that ESP’s high-end and custom guitars come to life, crafted by the hands of highly trained and passionate luthiers.

Walking through the factory, one can’t help but be awed by the sense of precision and meticulous attention to detail. The process starts with selecting the perfect tonewoods for the guitar bodies and necks. ESP often uses mahogany, alder, ash, maple, and exotic woods like ebony, depending upon the specific sound characteristics they aim to achieve.

The wood is carefully shaped into guitar bodies and necks using advanced CNC machines. But the work doesn’t end there. The raw cut bodies are sanded and smoothed by hand, ensuring a perfect finish. ESP’s dedication to handwork shines through in the finishings of their guitars. Lacquer finishes are applied by hand, layer by layer, creating a depth and shine that’s both visually stunning and protective.

The factory also houses a special custom shop where world-renowned artists come to have their signature models created. Each custom ESP guitar is a distinct piece of art, embodying the artist’s unique sound and aesthetic.

ESP USA Factory: North Hollywood, California

ESP’s North Hollywood factory is known for its focus on ESP USA models. These guitars maintain the high-quality craftsmanship that ESP is known for while incorporating some American guitar building traditions.

In the California factory, a blend of cutting-edge technology and skilled craftsmanship shape the instruments. Guitars are designed using 3D software and then cut using CNC machines for precision. But much like their Japanese counterparts, the craftsmen in the North Hollywood factory follow up machine work with hand-finishings.

The North Hollywood factory also offers unique customizations, allowing musicians to tailor their guitars to their preferences. Be it the choice of tonewood, the type of pickups, or the color and finish of the guitar, the North Hollywood factory delivers.

The most distinctive aspect of the California factory is perhaps its pickup winding operation. ESP decided to wind their own pickups, giving them greater control over the tone and output of their guitars. This operation adds another layer of customization available to their customers.

ESP LTD Factories: Korea, Indonesia, China

In 1996, ESP introduced the LTD line, a series of guitars manufactured in South Korea and Indonesia, offering high-quality ESP designs at a more accessible price point. The LTD series has become incredibly popular for its balance between affordability and performance, embodying ESP’s commitment to quality across all price ranges.


World Musical Instrument Co. Ltd, Korea. This is where the higher-end LTD guitars, like the 1000 series, are manufactured. Korean factories are known for producing instruments of professional quality with excellent craftsmanship, high-quality materials, and detailed quality control processes.


The Indonesian factories make mid-range LTD models, such as the 401 series. These guitars are designed to offer a balance between affordability and quality, providing good craftsmanship at a lower price point than the Korean-made instruments.


The Chinese factories produce the most affordable LTD models, including beginner guitars like the EC-10. While these are the most budget-friendly, ESP ensures they still meet a standard of quality that represents the brand, although they may not have the same level of finish, hardware, or setup as the more expensive Korean-made guitars.

Sound Beyond Boundaries

One factor that truly sets ESP apart is their unwavering commitment to sound. Regardless of where the guitars are made, the focus is always on delivering superior tonal quality. This dedication extends to their choice of hardware and electronics, primarily using top-tier brands like EMG, Seymour Duncan, and their own ESP-designed pickups.

Quality control is an integral part of ESP’s process. Every guitar, from the most affordable LTD model to the top-tier custom models, goes through rigorous testing and setup before leaving the factory. Trained professionals scrutinize each instrument, ensuring the intonation is accurate, the action is perfect, and the electronics are functioning flawlessly.

Craftsmanship and Innovation

While ESP’s primary reputation is built around its electric guitars, it’s worth noting their acoustic series, which shows their craftsmanship and innovation extends beyond the realm of electric guitars. The brand’s Thinline series, in particular, has received praise for its fusion of traditional aesthetics with modern playability.

Innovation at ESP isn’t confined to guitar designs. The company continually explores new manufacturing techniques and materials. For instance, ESP was among the first to experiment with 8-string guitars, answering the call of progressive metal guitarists seeking a broader tonal palette.

Their Eclipse series, known for its single-cut design and versatile sound, has seen various iterations in wood choices and finishes over the years. Notably, the ESP E-II Eclipse series includes models with full-thickness bodies, a feature requested by many fans and artists over time.

Rockstars and ESP

ESP’s reputation among professional musicians is a testament to its commitment to quality and innovation. Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield, George Lynch of Dokken, Stephen Carpenter of Deftones, Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom are just a few among the galaxy of rockstars who’ve chosen ESP as their weapon of choice.

Many of these artists collaborate with ESP to create signature models, each embodying unique specifications and design elements inspired by the artists. These collaborations not only solidify the bond between the artist and the brand but also provide fans and aspiring musicians with instruments that closely mimic the tones of their music heroes.

The Harmony of Sustainability and Sound

In recent years, ESP has been actively addressing sustainability concerns. This effort has resulted in the introduction of guitars using thermally modified woods, which not only lend unique tonal properties but are also more environmentally friendly. Additionally, the company is committed to sourcing woods responsibly, ensuring the longevity of the world’s forests for future generations of musicians and luthiers.


Walking through the ESP factories is like wandering through a symphony of craftsmanship, technology, and passion. It’s a place where skilled hands shape dreams into reality, where every chord struck resonates with decades of dedication to quality and sound. Whether you’re a seasoned musician, an aspiring guitarist, or simply a music enthusiast, the story of ESP is a fascinating glimpse into the world of guitar creation, a testament to the harmonious blend of craftsmanship and innovation.

The ESP brand continues to push the boundaries, seeking new ways to enhance the connection between a musician and their instrument. After all, at the core of their philosophy is a simple, profound belief: a great guitar is more than just an instrument; it’s an extension of the artist, a conduit for self-expression.

And as long as there are songs left to be written, riffs to be riffed, and solos to be played, ESP will continue to be there, creating the perfect tools for artists to tell their stories.