Difference Between ESP and LTD (with Table)

Often one may get confused between ESP and LTD. Why is that so? Both being a guitar company that was initially part of the same company can be quite hard to differentiate when their product is similar.

So what differentiates them? They both started from the same company but went into different lines for the guitars. Therefore they were separated into two different companies with different bases.


The main difference between ESP and LTD is that while the guitars of ESP are handmade in Japan, the guitars of LTD are manufactured in various countries like Korea, Indonesia etc. This makes a difference, in not only their quality but also their cost.

ESP was started in Tokyo in 1975 but later had a headquarters in America in 1983. The store in America was opened as a guitar part replacement shop that with time expanded to many parts of the country and started making its line of electric guitars.

LTD is the branch of the company that started in 1995. The origin place is not quite known but they were initially started to sell high-end guitars for a more affordable price. These guitars are manufactured in Korea, Indonesia etc. depending on the series of the guitar being talked about.

Comparison Table between ESP and LTD

Parameters of Comparison




Tokyo in 1975



Initially guitar parts replacement, but later produced their lines of the guitar.

Manufactures electric guitars


Handcrafted in Japan and have bases in New York

Manufactured in Korea, Indonesia etc.

Quality of the product

High-end quality product

Comparatively cheaper quality


Very expensive since shipping is hard

Cheap and affordable prices


Since it is expensive only one of a kind is produced.

A bulk of the same type of guitar is produced.

What is ESP?

ESP guitars is a Tokyo based company that started in 1975 and later had a branch in New York, America in 1983. their primary business was making customized guitars with the parts being made from handpicked woods from Japan.

Once they opened a store in America, they served as a guitar part replacement company until they opened other stores across the country. They started producing different lines of guitars and some of the noticeable series being signature line and artist line.

The artist line was quite expensive as it was manufactured from hand-picked woods of the specially cultivated trees in Japan. The quality of the product and the shipping from Japan brought the cost of these guitars quite high. Mostly were brought by a rock band or metal players.

The acoustics of the ESP guitars are said to be noticeably better than any other guitar.

What is LTD?

Since they were not always affordable another line of guitars called LTD emerged in 1995 from the same company. They sold high-end guitars for affordable prices and had their guitars produced in bulks rather than customized.

They had produced and manufactured various lines and a series of electric guitars at affordable prices.

Although they were part of the same company, LTD guitars were not manufactured or handmade in Japan but were rather made in different parts of the world. Depending on the series they were shipped from different countries. For example, the 100 series of LTD guitars were shipped from Korea while the signature line was manufactured in Indonesia.

Since they were cheaper, they had more market than ESP guitars.

Main Differences Between ESP and LTD

  1. ESP emerged in Tokyo in 1975 whereas it was later introduced in
  2. Even though they were originally the same company, they had to separate because they went into different lines. While ESP made signature line guitars when introduced in Tokyo and then later went on to make replacement parts for guitars after opening in America, LTD was making high-end guitars and selling it for affordable prices.
  3. ESP guitars were manufactured in Japan. The materials were handpicked and hand-made for these guitars which were later shipped to America. Whereas the LTD guitars were made in different countries depending on the model of the guitar. For example, the 100 series were made in Korea and the signature series were made in Indonesia.
  4. Since the ESP guitar parts were handpicked, they were of high-end quality and were ensured only the best product. On the other hand, the quality of the LTD guitars was lower than ESP due to their lower cost.
  5. ESP guitars, due to their high quality and shipping charges, were very expensive and are usually only brought by rock bands or metal players. Whereas LTD guitars on the other hand emerged to sell high-end guitars for affordable prices, therefore they were comparatively cheaper and affordable than ESP.
  6. Since shipping from Japan is very expensive, only customized ones are shipped in ESP and this means you would find only one of a kind when looking for guitars in this store. The production cost allows only customized guitars to be shipped whereas LTD guitars produce a bulk of the same kind of guitars.


LTD and ESP being part of the same company had to be split into two branches. It could be hard to differentiate between the two once we enter a store because they both sell the same product: guitars. So what can differentiate between the two?

ESP was started in 1975 but later moved to America in 1983 as a guitar part replacement store. Once it expanded within the country it started selling signature lines of guitars that are hand-made in Japan at a high price.

This caused the formation of LTD in 1995. LTD manufactured high-end guitars and sold them for low and affordable prices in the market. Since they are sold at a lower cost, the quality of the hardware of the guitar is slightly lowered compared to that of LTD.

The point that differentiates between the two is that ESP guitars are handmade in Japan and shipped to America, that owes for their high cost. But in the case of LTD, depending on the model they are manufactured and prepared in different countries like Korean and Indonesia.


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