Schecter VS ESP: Which Is a Better Guitar Brand? [2023 Guide]

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If you want to learn more about Schecter vs ESP, two of the most popular metal guitars, this is the post for you!

And if you’re curious about some of my other brand comparisons, you can check out:

Schecter and ESP have many similarities.

In fact, they are two separate brands with the same owner: Hisatake Shibuya. He is the founder of ESP and owner of Schecter since 1987.

Although they have a similar history and a common goal – producing highly playable metal/shred guitars, Schecter and ESP have evolved into original guitar brands with unique differences.

Schecter Guitars


David Schecter founded the company in 1976 in Van Nuys, California.

It all started when Schecter opened a guitar repair shop, Schecter Guitar Research.

The shop started producing replacement parts for existing guitar models. This included necks, bodies, pickups, bridges, tuning pegs, knobs, etc.

Although they were producing over 400 guitar parts, Schecter did not have a complete product of their own.

That changed in 1979 when they introduced their first electric guitar.

Schecter is established as a high-end, expensive, and rare guitar brand.

Among the few names who have played Schecter guitars are Pete Townshend, Mark Knopfler, Ritchie Blackmore, Chris Poland, Synyster Gates, Richard Patrick, Jinxx, Jake Pitts Tommy Victor, Dan Donegan, Robin Zander, and Shaun Morgan.

In the following years, Schecter reached their production limit and could no longer meet customer demand.


A group of Texas investors saw this as an opportunity, buying the company in 1983. After that, they moved the company from California to Dallas, Texas.

Mass production started here.

One year later, Schecter introduced twelve new guitar and bass models at the winter NAMM show.

The most popular model among them is called the Saturn. The Saturn is also known as the T-style. This model was actually used by Pete Townshend.

During this period, Schecter managed to sign one notable endorsee, Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen.

Production was shut down in 1987 due to a lawsuit by Fender since they were using the S and T headstocks, which are trademarked by Fender. Fender had previously allowed the use when Schecter was just a guitar parts company.


A turning point happened when Hisatake Shibuya, the founder, and owner of ESP guitars bought the company.

He relocated Schecter’s headquarters back to California. Here the company devoted itself to producing high-end customer guitars. They were only available from a few retailers.

To make guitars more accessible to everyone’s budget, they opened a new plant in South Korea. Also known as the Diamant series, these guitars managed to maintain high quality for an affordable price.

Guitars worth mentioning from this period are the 7-string A-7 Avenger and C-1.

Electric Sound Products (ESP)

Hisatake Shibuya founded ESP in 1975 as a shop in Tokyo, Japan that provided custom replacement guitar parts just like Schecter.

At around the same time, ESP started producing guitars mainly for the Japanese market.

ESP expansion in USA

ESP was first introduced to the US in 1983. They produced their first custom guitars the following year, mostly crafted for local New York musicians. These included Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick from Kiss, Page Hamilton, and Ronnie Wood.

In a short time, they introduced the first units intended for the American market, the 400 series.

ESP continued to expand as a manufacturer of body and neck parts for Kramer and OEM for Robin Guitars, Schecter Guitar Research, and DiMarzio.

The first contact with Schecter was in 1984 when ESP created the bolt-on neck heel on the Schecter bodies.

Signature models

A turning point occurred for this brand in 1985 when the famous metal guitarist George Lynch discovered ESP while on a tour in Japan.

He collaborated to make the ESP Kamikaze – his first signature guitar.

Shortly thereafter, ESP introduced four models, the M1 Standard, MI Custom, Horizon Custom, and the Surveyor bass.

ESP’s popularity soared. And is it grew, collaborations with the biggest names on the metal scene, such as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala (Children of Bodom), Jeff Hanneman (Slayer), Galder and Silenoz (Dimmu Borgir ), and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) followed.

From the early 90s until today, ESP has dedicated itself to making custom signature models (41 total) as well as standard mass-produced products.

The original series and custom shop ESPs are handcrafted in Japan.

More Affordable Series

Besides the standard series, ESP created another affordable series – LTD.

There are two classes in this series: 1000 and 401.

The 1000s are made mostly in South Korea, while the 401s are made in Indonesia.

ESP’s most recent big company news occurred in 2015 when it became the main distributor of the famous Takamine acoustic guitars.

Schecter Vs ESP: Sound

Schecter's Budget Friendly Shredder! - Omen Extreme - Demo / Review
Check out this video to get a sense of a Schecter instrument’s sound!

Both Schecter and ESP have an incredibly good sound for heavy metal.

The fact that these guitars are used as signature models for some of the most famous metal guitarists speaks volumes.

Schecter can brag about an original sound thanks to their unique pickup systems.

The most used pickups are Schecter USA Pasadena, Lundgren M6, Sustainiac, Schecter Diamond Decimator (Diamond series) with a Push-Pull 3-Way Switch.

But ESP doesn’t hold back either when it comes to pickups.

Their high-end guitars usually have high-quality Seymour Duncan pickups with a volume/tone 3-Way Toggle.

Schecter Vs ESP: Playability

ESP Guitars: LTD Mirage Deluxe '87 Demo by Pat Heath
Here’s a video to give you a sense of an ESP’s sound and playability.

These two guitars are highly playable due to their thin/ultra-thin “U” shape.

This is because of the material of the neck (maple) and fretboard (ebony/mahogany).

However, I would give ESP a slight advantage for one reason: the body shape.

The small body profiles of guitars such as the “Arrow” and the “Flying V” are slightly more comfortable to hold.

And when it comes to bridges, the Floyd Rose is an indispensable part of both guitars.

Schecter Vs ESP: Price

Schecters typically start around $300 and go up from there.

ESP guitars seem to be a bit more pricey starting around $500.

However, you can always find deals here and there which may level the field when it comes to price.

Schecter Vs ESP: Conclusion

Both Schecter and ESP guitars are outstanding metal guitars, and I think you will enjoy either instrument for this purpose.

And as usual, let me know in the comments if you have further questions about these brands or something else guitar-related!

4 Responses

  1. Not correct about all 401 series being made in Indo. I have a V-401FM made in Korea, serial places it as coming from the following factory: World Musical Instrument Co., Incheon, Korea.

    1. Hey PDA,

      To be fair, I wasn’t aware of this since the model is no longer in production (to my knowledge at least). But I’ll see to edit the article and clarify the issue.

      Thank for stopping by!

  2. Love both! But now I’m a schecter guy.. I have the Silver Mountain C-7 and the Cr6. Owned multiple Hellraisers and SLS and honestly in the last few years Schecter has been incredible, I’d take them over Jackson, esp, solar, Gibson..etc . I like Ibanez though

    1. Hi Fawzi,

      Thanks for sharing! That’s great to hear. I always like hearing about people’s personal experiences with these instruments!

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