ESP unveils the first of its 2021 electric guitars, and there are some stunning updates to its most popular LTD models

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I
(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

ESP has unveiled Phase I of what promises to be an epic release schedule for 2021, with fresh finishes and a wide array of pickup options in the pipeline for its LTD line of electric guitars and basses

There is something for everyone here, from state-of-the-art shred guitars such as the H-1001 in Violet Andromeda Satin, and a newly expanded LTD Black Metal Series, to contemporary semi-hollow electrics such as the LTD Xtone PS-1. Top-quality hardware and pickups have been liberally applied across the range. 

ESP promises more information closer to the products official launch, with the ESP Presents 2021 online event on 11-13 January 2021 affording players a closer look at the lineup, but let's take a look at what we have got so far.

 LTD Deluxe EC Series

There are four new additions to the EC-1000 Series. First up we have the EC-1000T CTM in Tobacco Sunburst Satin and See Thru Black Cherry. 

These are the archetypical vintage-modern singlecuts, boasting maple-topped, chambered mahogany bodies, three-piece, set-through mahogany necks, Macassar ebony fretboards, 22 extra-jumbo stainless steel frets and a pair of Fishman Open Core Classic pickups (complete with push-pull control for classic and contemporary voice selection). 

Both guitars have TonePros tune-o-matic bridges and locking tuners.

Then we have the EC-1000 EverTune BB. The BB references the extra-thick metallic silver binding, while the EverTune tells you exactly what is going on with the bridge. A 24-fret guitar, it has the classic active humbucker pairing of an EMG 60TW-R at the neck and an EMG 81 at the bridge. 

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD Deluxe EC-1000 EverTune BB (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

The quite exquisite EC-1000 in Gold Andromeda rounds out the EC Series in style. Again, there is TonePros hardware, locking tuners, and there are a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker pickups, on offer, with an Alnico in the neck and a Ceramic in the bridge. The obligatory push-pull voice selection control is on hand for further tone hunting.

And that Gold Andromeda finish? It's the fancy kind that reflects the light in all kinds of strange ways, changing colour as the angle of the light changes. Pretty neat. Note also: gold hardware.

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD EC-1000 in Gold Andromeda (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

LTD Black Metal Series

Launched in 2018, the Black Metal Series has proved a hit with the more morbid guitar player. Its stripped down, all-over-black aesthetic and weapons grade pickup choices clearly hit the target.

2021 sees the EC-Black Metal updated with a double-locking Floyd Rose 1000 vibrato. With a single, direct-mount Seymour Duncan Blackened Black Winter humbucker, a volume control with push/pull coil-tap, it is an exercise in high-performance minimalism.

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD EC-FR Black Metal  (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

More pointy, a lot more pointy, we've got the the F Black Metal, with has a neck-thru construction, a super-fast U-profile neck, a Floyd Rose 1000 vibrato, a single direct-mount EMG 81 pickup, EMG TKO kill switch, and 24 stainless steel frets.

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD F Black Metal (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

The Arrow also gets the Black Metal treatment – and with that aggressive V shape, it was only a matter of time. This one is a string-thru hardtail, with a TonePros bridge plus an EMG 81 and TKO kill switch. 

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD Arrow-NT Black Metal (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

Rounding out the Black Metal models is an M-4 bass. Again, it is a no-nonsense single EMG pickup design, heavily contoured at the cutaways with a super-sharp four-in-line headstock.

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD M-4 Black Metal (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

LTD Deluxe Phoenix-1004

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD Deluxe Phoenix-1004 (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

The LTD Deluxe Phoenix-1004 returns for 2021. With P/J EMG pickup configuration, neck-through build, and reverse headstock, it is a fresh take on the classic offset 'bird design. 

LTD Deluxe MH and H Series

A pair of EverTune-equipped MH-1000 models set the tone for the MH and H Series updates. Grover tuners and stainless steel frets come as standard, and you will find a pair of EMG 60TW-R and EMG 81 pickups on the MH-1000 EverTune Dark Brown Sunburst (its neck 'bucker fitted with a push-pull coil-tap), and a a set of Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker pickups on the MH-1000 EverTune Snow White.

Now, before the extended-range fraternity start getting antsy, there is a seven-string version of the Snow White MH, the MH-1007. Same spec, one extra string...

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD Deluxe MH-1007 in Snow White (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

Last but by no means least, we've got the LTD Deluxe H-1001 in an iridescent Violet Andromeda Satin finish. If you could tear your eyes away from that finish, we could tell you about its Seymour Duncan Sentient humbucker pairing, the push-pull coil splitting, the Hipshot bridge with string-thru-body hardtail... But yeah, look at that finish. It's something.

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD Deluxe H-1001 in Violet Andromeda Satin (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

LTD Deluxe TE

There are two flavours of ESP's souped-up T-style on offer in 2021. The TE-1000 EverTune Koa, with its EMG 66TW and EMG 57 humbuckers, is one for fans of natural finishes. The open-grain TE-1000 Black Blast, meanwhile, has a Seymour Duncan Sentient/Pegasus humbucker pickup pairing. 

No word on the Black Blast's tonewood, but that sandblasted body looks like ash. The Koa has a mahogany body, and presumably both share the roasted maple neck.

LTD Xtone PS-1

The changes to ESP's Xtone semihollow electrics are cosmetic but no less welcome. Next year sees Vintage White and Pearl Pink models join the range. 


ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD SN-1 HT (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

The SN-1 HT receives the sandblasted finish treatment for 2021. It is a hotrodded S-style with a low-key aesthetic, and has a Fishman Open Core Classic at the bridge, a Hipshot hardtail bridge, roasted maple neck and stainless steel frets.

LTD Arrow-1000

ESP/LTD 2021 Phase I

LTD Arrow-1000 in Candy Apple Red Satin (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

Lastly, we've got another Arrow, this time with a Floyd Rose 1000 double-locking vibrato and a Candy Apple Red Satin finish. You know the drill with this one; it's a neck-through build, with EMGs (81 at the bridge, its good friend the 85 at the neck), Grover tuners and 24 extra-jumbo frets. It'll play fast. 

Stay tuned for a Phase II announcement, which ESP promises will come before the end of the year. In the meantime, see ESP for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.