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The ESP guitars was founded in Japan in 1975. Originally only intended as a distribution and sales point for guitar accessories, the company started to make its own guitars and accessories by 1983. The first instruments all were made to order and were absolutely unique items. ESP quickly gained a high reputation and because of the many requests decided to start producing a range of serial models. In 1986 ESP opened a branch in New York, mainly to produce special edition guitars for celebrities. To satisfy the ever-growing market of beginners, the subsidiary LTD-brand was launched in 1996. This brand produces very affordable ESP copies in Asia (South Korea or Indonesia)
ESP has always been related to hard rock and heavy metal, as the use of special body and neck woods and the use of EMG pickups appealed especially to these players.

Well known players include James Hetfield , Kirk Hammett, Max Cavalera, Dave Mustaine, Stephen Carpenter, Jeff Hanneman, George Lynch, Alexi Laiho, Tom Araya and Ron Wood. In Germany ESP guitars are used by Rammstein, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian and Sub7even.