_MG_0094Interview by Nichols LaRosa

Photos by Kimberly Annette

Just as every music_MG_0098ian has their own sound, rock stars also work to create an aesthetic all their own. Depending upon their role in the band this might mean different things. For front men, hair is a must, nothing says “me and cubicles don’t get along” more than hair spiked high or draped low. Combine that with a pair of tight trousers and you got yourself a singer. Drummers typically refrain from upper body clothing all together and opt for leg wear that won’t get in the way while stomping on the kick beater all show. But when it comes to guitarists, the instrument is everything. Nothing lets you know more about a guitarist than his axe. Is it an old stock fender? A Gretsch with a big ol’ bigsby? Maybe nothing that had existed before was quite right and they opted for something custom; to play their art on a work of art. That last scenario has become the territory of Japanese guitar manufacturer ESP; to take the guitar that’s in your head and make it a reality, or, if that’s not within budget, to find you a quality instrument that gives you the sound and the aesthetic that is right for you.

The Rock Rag spoke with Jeff Klopmeyer of ESP Guitars to talk about what they plan to roll out for the year 2014.

“People always ask us, “Why does ESP not do one type of guitar like the other bigger companies?” Because we know that there’s not one type of musician in the world. That goes for sound, but we all know that the look of the guitar matters. It’s like the clothes you put on in the morning. Depending upon who you are; you want to impart some other kind of image.” Klopmeyer walked over to a jet black E-II model with metal studs. “Chances are if you’re playing this thing, you’re not going to a jazz gig; you’re going to rock, and people will know what to expect.”

This year marks the introduction of their E-II series of guitars, which are meant to represent what used to be the ESP standard guitar and bring the brand back to where it originated. “These were typically very high end, very near custom range, and in a lot of cases a custom-ESP_Guitar_MG_0101ranged-shop line of guitars,” said Klopmeyer. A prime example of this is their E2ST2, which features a flamed maple top, maple fret board and neck: overall a well-crafted and beautiful instrument; not a surprise as its coming from the guitar world equivalent of West Coast Customs. What is surprising, is that they have dropped it down into a price range that any serious musician could justify spending on their instrument. NAMM also showed off their knew spring based technology, which enables guitars to take a good amount of wear and tear without falling out of tune. A guitarist can literally hold his instrument from its strings without having to worry about retuning before the next song or show. ESP has also brought back their iconic teardrop head shape, a design that ESP had been known for.  “It really doesn’t take much to make people happy,” joked Klopmeyer, “They really seemed to miss that, so we brought it back.”

In recent years ESP has been famous for its Signature Series of guitars, and 2014 will see a continued expansion of that. As a company, ESP has been around for about 40 years, and during that time, they have gathered to themselves a large family of elite artists. The Signature series takes advantage of this family by allowing artists to design their own guitars, assembling them to their exact specifications, and then, if there is a public demand for the guitar, they mass produce it. In this way, every single guitar in the series is the ESP_Guitars_MG_0071ideal, and lives up to the standard of, some of the most respected musicians on the planet.

“We love the fact that the metal community has always adopted ESP as a big part of what they do, but that doesn’t mean that someone can’t pick up one of our guitars and go do a pop gig. We have a large number of reggae players that have taken a liking to ESP. In the end we are a company that makes quality guitars, and they appreciate that.”

Individuality is certainly a huge concern for ESP, not only to define genre ties, but in terms of generational affiliation. “Sometime you don’t want to be playing the same brand that your dad played , or grandpa played. Nothing against those brands, their great. ESP started by using some of those same shapes, but we’ve improved upon those models, and we continue to improve on our own models as well.”

While pricing reflects the companies “luxury guitar” status, ESP stresses that these aren’t meant to be starter guitars or guitars that you’ll need to tweak to your desired tone or look.

“From the day you open the case, we want our guitars to be everything you’ve ever wanted. Its not a matter of getting the guitar and taking it to a tech to install different pickups, change the neck, or this, that ,and the other. This is the guitar that’s ready to go out of the case just how you wanted it.”

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ESP Shows Off The New E-II Series - NAMM 2014
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