ESP Guitars has long since embraced the maxim ‘more is more’ when it comes to introducing its electric guitars to the market and its Phase 1 – New For 2022 mega-launch did not disappoint, unveiling 43 new models.
The epic Phase 1 launch saw comprehensive updates across ESP and LTD’s lineup. For many, the highlight was the new James Hetfield Snakebyte Camo, which dressed the Metallica frontman’s signature guitar in a custom camo print inspired by his favourite hunting gear.
But there was plenty of action for anyone who appreciates a high-performance metal guitar.
Here, we are going to run through some of the key Phase 1 releases, each available worldwide from May 2022.
ESP has launched four new Arrow models this year, with a trio of Arrow-1000 LTD Deluxe models joined by a more affordable Floyd Rose-equipped Arrow-200 in Military Green Satin.
The Arrow-1000 models arrive in Charcoal Burst Satin [pictured above], Charcoal Metallic Satin and Black, with Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers as standard. Besides the choice of finishes, you have a choice of hardware, with the Charcoal Metallic Satin model fitted with a recessed TonePros TOM bridge and string-thru-body design, an EverTune bridge on the Black Arrow-1000, while the Charcoal Burst Satin model has a double-locking Floyd Rose 1000SE vibrato.
All come fitted with a single volume control with a push/pull function for the Fishman pickup's alternate voicing, and a three-way toggle switch. They all have the white pearloid inlays, compound radius Macassar ebony fingerboards, stainless steel frets, mahogany bodies with super-speedy maple necks and a neck-through construction. Of course, the bling Arrow-1000 above has a quilted maple top for those how like to stay extra classy while working through the Morbid Angel tab book.
The Arrow-200 has the same super-aggressive V-shape silhouette, and is sure to play similarly quick with its Thin U profile neck, but it uses Jatoba for the fingerboard and has a pair of high-output ESP LH-301 humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions.
The EC Series is a modern classic, a souped-up contemporary riff on the classic singlecut, with solid mahogany bodies, typically topped with a maple cap. ESP has unveiled seven new EC Series models, ranging from the affordable LTD EC-201, which sports a straightforward mahogany body and has a single LH-150B humbucker at the bridge, to the likes of the EC-1000CTM in Vintage Gold Satin [pictured above].
The EC-1000 models all have maple-capped mahogany bodies, extra-jumbo stainless steel frets, a 24.75" scale length and a choice of high-end electric guitar pickups.
There are three new EC-1000CTM models, each with a thicker 'traditional' body. The Vintage Gold Satin and Violet Shadow models come equipped with direct mount Fishman Fluence Open Core Classic humbuckers, while the Black EC-1000CTM is fitted with an EverTune bridge and a set of covered Fishman Fluence Classics.
The EC-1000 Baritone, meanwhile, is dressed in Charcoal Metallic Satin, has a longer 27" scale, 24 frets, a TonePros locking TOM bridge, and a pair of direct-mount Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers.
For those who hew close to the EC-1000's Eclipse body shape as a next-gen LP-style guitar, the EC-1000 in See Thru Purple Sunburst might be more your speed, with its classic EMG-60/81 pairing sure to work gangbusters with high-gain tube amps for playing in the style of Metallica and Lamb Of God.
The M Series is always a moveable fest in terms of spec, proving that the doublecut S-style format remains ever customisable. ESP has released five new M Series models: the LTD M-1 Custom '87 in Dark Metallic Purple and Metallica Gold [pictured above], the M-1001NT in Charcoal Burst, the M-201HT in Black Satin, and finally the the M-1000 in Snow White.
The most affordable of these new models – and the most minimalist in design – is the M-201HT, which has a single ESP Designed LH-150B, and a solitary volume control with a push/pull coil-split to control it. A simple LTD string-through hard-tail bridge makes for a fuss-free design, and it presents itself as an accessible guitar for aspiring shredders who don't want to spend their practice time adjusting a Floyd Rose vibrato each time they want to change tunings.
Elsewhere, it is a straightforward refresh for the M-1 Custom '87s. Neat finishes, a single Seymour Duncan Distortion humbucker at the bridge position, and a Floyd Rose 1000 for showing off. A coil-split makes things interesting lest you think these lack versatility.
Meanwhile, the M-1001NT has a string-through TOM bridge, a single EMG 81TW Brushed Black Chrome with a push/pull coil-split on the volume control, and a quilted maple finish to add a bit of pizzazz. And the M-1000 Snow White offers a dual-humbucker option on the classic alder-bodied hot-rodded format, with a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers promising a wide range of tones.
Just one addition to the H Series but it is a belter – an EverTune equipped H-1000 in See Thru Purple. With quilted maple on top of a solid mahogany body, a set-thru three-piece maple neck carved in a Thin U profile, it has a quality, player-friendly chassis, and ideal for those looking for a state-of-the-art S-style.
The EverTune bridge will keep it in tune for a long time, while the Fishman Fluence Modern humbucker pairing – a popular choice for ESP in this Phase 1 launch – makes for a versatile instrument.
The H3 body shape is a little like the H, or Horizon, body shape only with an extended and bevelled upper horn and a shortened lower horn. We have three added to the series this year, each with maple-topped mahogany bodies and set-through maple necks.
There's the seven-string baritone above, kitted out with a direct-mount Seymour Duncan Sentient humbucker at the neck and a Pegasus 'bucker at the bridge. Push-pull coil-splits add a degree of versatility.
The H3-1000 in See Thru Black Cherry follows a similar recipe to the seven-string, albeit scaled down for six, with LTD locking tuners and a Tonepros TOM bridge a fuss-free hardware choice.
And finally, there's the H3-1000FR, which is finished in Snow White with gold hardware for bling, and a Floyd Rose for squealing harmonics and showing off.
We have a trio of new Phoenix models, with the Silver Sunburst Satin model [pictured above] comprising a neck-through construction with three-piece mahogany neck and mahogany body wings. Seated in this we have a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers.
With a classy bound neck and reverse headstock, Grover tuners, and and an EverTune bridge, this is a high-end electric guitar that updates a classic shape.
There's also See Thru Black Sunburst model that has a quilted maple top and a more retro-inspired pickup pairing of Seymour Duncan's Phat Cat in the neck position, and a Seymour Duncan Custom humbucker at the bridge.
Finally, there's a Baritone Black Metal version, boasting a single Fluence 'bucker at the bridge and a super-noir aesthetic for the Behemoth fan in your life.
This year's Viper series is updated with a trio of models. There is the See Thru Cherry Viper-1000, with direct-mount Fishman Open Core humbuckers offering a multi-voice performance from a classic mahogany body, mahogany neck build.
The EverTune model, meanwhile, is finished in sleek Metallic Saturn and has an EMG-60/80 active humbucker pairing, while the Viper-1000 Baritone in Black Satin extends the Viper's 24.75" scale to 27" and has a Tonepros Locking TOM bridge and tailpiece. All three in the series feature Macassar ebony fingerboards, with extra-jumbo stainless steel frets for a meticulous contemporary feel.
Inspired by the ultimate workhorse electric, it's only fitting that out of the three TE T-style models ESP has unveiled for the first half of 2022 are affordable TE-200 and TE-201 bolt-ons with a stripped down and practical feature set.
Mahogany bodies are paired with bolt-on maple necks. The scale lengths are a familiar 25.5". We've got roasted jatoba on the fingerboards and on the TE-201 we have a single ESP Designed LH-150B humbucker with a push/pull coil-split, and a pair of LH-150s on the TE-100 with coil-splits, too.
The TE-1000 is a pro-quality guitar, however. Swapping Macassar ebony for the fingerboard, it is fitted with a Hipshot hard-tail bridge, with a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers in the bridge and neck positions. It comes in Snow White with matching headstock, high-contrast black binding and a very cool brushed black finish on the pickguard. It's a 'blackguard', Jim, but not as we know it...
The SN Series is another moveable feast, with ESP deploying a wide array of specs on these hotrodded S-styles. There are four new models for 2022, with the Charcoal Metallic Satin SN-1000 EverTune a modern riff on the HSS bolt-on, pairing a Seymour Duncan Pegasus humbucker with a pair of Hot Strat single-coils.
The SN-1000FR borrows the Snow White aesthetic of the TE-1000, and has a Fishman HSS pickup configuration and like the other new SN models has a Macassar ebony fingerboard that is scalloped beyond the 17th fret.
The SN-1000HT in Fire Blast has an open-grain sunburst finish showing off the Swamp Ash body, and a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers. While the SN-1007HT Baritone is finished in black, and is kind of like an upsized version, with an extended range seven-string format with 22 frets and a 27" scale.
Again, there are compound radius fingerboards as standard, whip-thin U profile necks, and premium features such as stainless steel frets.
Sharp, pointed, angular, and certainly not designed as a jazz guitar, the EX series is an evergreen ESP crowdpleaser, and we have two new models in the lineup.
One, is the affordable EX-201. A minimalist single-pickup design, with an ESP LH-150B at the bridge and a coil-split, it has a solid mahogany body and a three-piece glued-in maple neck. Like the other L-200 models, it uses roasted Jatoba for the fingerboard. And the reverse headstock earns it bonus metal points. Not that it needs them.
The EX-7 Baritone Black Metal, meanwhile, well... That speaks for itself, really. It's a an LTD Deluxe 1000 Series down to its bones, which means it has a pro-quality build and specs, and with a single EMG-81 active humbucker, it packs a punch. Of course, it's too metal for inlays, but Luminlay side-markers will help you navigate the fingerboard in low-light situations.
One of ESP's most original designs, a doublecut like no other, the F series has been updated with this polychromatic Violet Andromeda Satin finish, which changes colour as the angle of the light changes.
It's a high-performance instrument, kitted out with a Floyd Rose, an EMG-81 with a push/pull feature, and an Extra Thin U profile maple neck, that's topped with a Macassar ebony fingerboard and 24 extra-jumbo stainless steel frets. Speedy, unorthodox, and for the pros.
Rounding out the 2022 Phase 1 releases is a change of pace. After all, ESP has already split the atom with the F Series; aesthetically, where else can it go? Well, how about a super-modern acoustic electric guitar finished in Purple Sparkle Burst.
The TL-6 is a single-cut acoustic with Grover tuners, a Graphtech NuBone-XB nut and saddle, and a Fishman Sonicore pickup and TL-3 preamp with onboard tuner.
It might look unconventional, with its soundhole positioned on the upper bout, but it uses the classic spruce top, mahogany back and sides formula, and is sure to attract attention come open mic night.
All of these models should be available worldwide by the end of May 2022. With ESP promising a whole lot more for later in the year. You can check out ESP's video presentation of its Phase 1 – New for 2022 models in the video at the top of the page. Alternatively, pop over to ESP Guitars for a closer look at those specs in detail.