Anyone compared ESP USA Eclipse with a Les Paul?

Andy California

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I love Les Paul type guitars, and I'm a bit of an ESP fanboi, even though I haven't owned many of them. I'm only familiar with Tokai and Gibson Historic Les Pauls - never owned an ESP Eclipse. Therefore, I'm quite intrigued by the ESP Made in California Eclipse, which looks pretty much like a Les Paul knock-off. But there is no chance to try or even see one in person in Europe. The only way to get it is to place an order for it to be custom-built.
Therefore, I wonder if anyone on this forum, who have extensive experience with real Les Pauls or actual MIJ LP knock-offs, have given a post-2014 ESP USA Eclipse a shot and could comment on how it feels and sounds compared to the Les Paul, preferrably, Historic, since it's most definitely above Gibson Standard quality?

Please note that this is a question about the ESP Custom shop Made in California Eclipse that was first made in 2014, and not the regular production ESP Standard Eclipse I or Eclipse II.
 
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LTigh

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Yeah, well, as much as an Eclipse looks like a Les Paul (if only superficially), it's very much a different animal. For one, unless it's a full-thickness model (not many among the Japanese or USA ESPs), it's gonna be thinner than a Les Paul. Also, it's got a different wiring scheme, guts, hardware, and pups (either Seymour Duncans or, well, mostly EMGs these days).

Having played many an Eclipse, Japanese Original Series, Japanese Standard Series, E-II, USA, the LTD versions, the Edwards versions, etc., gotta say that it's gonna sound and vibe more like an SG rather than a Les Paul, especially that SG growl-- less mids and fatness, more snarl. So if you're looking for Les Paul-like sounds, you're gonna be disappoint.

So yeah, Imma liken the Eclipse more like an SG for people who hate the SG shape and ergonomics but still like that SG sound. Personally, I'd get the Original Series over the USA, since the USA aren't really "custom" models, just a regular line with a very limited amount of options, like pickup swaps or color/top wood variations. Also, working through a dealer, you'll get a better street price for the Original vs the USA, and a/b-ing the two, the Original Series comes out just a tiny bit ahead of the USA in terms of build and quality (mostly because they've been at it for about 40 years longer, and they're using somewhat better woods like Honduras Mahogany on the Japanese ones).

...At least that was true a couple of years ago, or if you buy used. Right now on the Japanese ESP site they're claiming that the Original Series Eclipses are now being produced by ESP USA, but still have all the top-tier woods and what-not, but none of that is listed on the USA site. I tried asking about that during one of the live Q&As that ESP USA has on occasion, the question tends to get ignored as much as I ask it. So also, yeah. You're not gonna get a top-tier Japanese Eclipse anymore unless you do a Custom Shop order, they've farmed it out to MURIKA.

Back to the subject at hand, if'n you're looking for something from ESP what can compare to a Historic Gibby, I'm surprised you've never heard of Navigator, considering you're claiming to be an ESP fanboy. Basically considered top-of-the-line ESPs, even higher-tier than the Custom Shop stuff, made at, well, the Custom Shop. Same or even better tier MAGICKE WOODEs than used by Gibson, but without the tears of Henry J's much-abused minions that the Gibby fanboy/wingnuts claims makes Gibson the be-all, end-all despite their American-Car-Industry-circa-1970-tier QC and customer service.

Yeah, they're gonna be about the same price as a Historic new, but you can typically find one on the open market for around the same as a Gibson Les Paul Standard, and you won't have to worry about running a rack of about 20 or so to not find a lemon (which the Gibby Lifestyle Brand Defense Force claims is a feature, rather than a flaw) and can easily buy before you try.

Or, if you look around this particular part of MLP, Edwards. There's several threads about the E-LP 125/130ALS. Gonna make another one of my own fairly soon, but for different reasons than NGD. Maybe a notch down from the Navigator series when it comes to "traditional" models, but they're still fairly solid, although some prefer Tokai or Burny over the ESP family. Better deal than any <$2500 Gibby for about half the price or less.
 

Andy California

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I have heard of Navigator, but 1) it's not so easy to buy them either. I searched through some Japanese online stores, and even there they seem quite a rarity; 2) I prefer the looks of ESP Eclipse :)

You said ESP Eclipse sounds more like an SG. I've heard many people say that about the regular production thin-bodied Eclipses, and I'm not surprised. But what about this full-thickness one: http://www.espguitars.com/pages/usa-eclipse ? Have you tried it?
 

LTigh

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Having tried full-thickness Eclipses and owned one or two, imma say that they'll kinda get you there, but not really, maybe about 70-80%.

Edit: Okay, if you're still Westaboo-ing and just gotta has a MURIKA fiddle, and you want it to be full-thickness, I'd go with ESP's sister company, Schecter.

There's currently their Schecter USA Solo II Classic model, which is full-thickness.

Not quite the Eclipse shape, though. Having compared the USA Eclipse to the USA Solo II, I felt the Solo II felt more "solid," plus the USA Eclipses are chambered, like their modern Gibby counterparts. Big no-no for me, but maybe not you.

Second Edit: So there's pics and comparisons between the USA Eclipse and a Gibson with pictures on the ESP forums.

I'm linking with the caveat that they're a little biased over there, but it seems to be a fair comparison, plus pics. So yeah.

Third Edit: Here's a video. Decide for yourself on the tones. Quality will be there. Maybe not as much as the ESP fanboys may say, but definitely there. I thought it didn't quite deliver what I think to be are Les Paul tones, but your mileage may vary.
 
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Andy California

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Having tried full-thickness Eclipses and owned one or two, imma say that they'll kinda get you there, but not really, maybe about 70-80%.

Judging by the way you put it, I have a feeling you owned the ones from the "Standard" series or pre-2014 American made custom shop, is that correct?

I am just trying to figure out whether you are talking about the current post-2013 3500 dollar ESP USA Eclipse, as they might be using different specifications this time? If you are, I wonder how much of a difference in body thickness there is between one an a real Les Paul?

Speaking of chambering, how much do Eclipses weigh being chambered? I assume it's possible to ask them not to chamber it when placing an order (that would only reduce the amount of work they do), but I wonder whether that would still be a no more than 9.1 lb guitar.

Thanks for the link to Schecter. I had no idea! I'll look into that. But yeah, ESP on the headstock is cooler to me :)
If you've tried the Schecter, how are the frets compared to the Eclipse? And, by the way, how are the frets compared to Gibson Historics?
 

LTigh

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^At this point, you'd probably be much better asking esp directly at [email protected], especially about the non-chambering.

Anyway, I'm just giving you my impressions on the New USA Eclipses I've tried at various stores in the SoCal area, since right now for the price and the specs and the options available, I have no desire to own one. The full-thickness Eclipses are a slight bit thinner than the Gibsons or Edwards, fit and finish is as usual excellent.

Again, tone-wise, plugged in, it doesn't QUITE get you to that Les Paul level of fatness and honk, still has some bits of SG in it.

If you're looking for something that isn't a Les Paul that is a replacement for a Les Paul, the USA Eclipse isn't it. It's it's own thing, and rightfully so. Excellent guitar, not a Les Paul. That's what ESP has Navigator and Edwards for.

Good luck.
 

Andy California

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Got it.

The full-thickness Eclipses are a slight bit thinner than the Gibsons or Edwards, fit and finish is as usual excellent.

Again, tone-wise, plugged in, it doesn't QUITE get you to that Les Paul level of fatness and honk, still has some bits of SG in it.

If you're looking for something that isn't a Les Paul that is a replacement for a Les Paul, the USA Eclipse isn't it. It's it's own thing, and rightfully so. Excellent guitar, not a Les Paul. That's what ESP has Navigator and Edwards for.

Good luck.

So would you say the Eclipse is more geared towards a tighter higher gain metal sound? I have never played an SG :)
 

kherman

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Only, Eclipse style I can think of right now that would be similar to a LP is the Alex Skolnick signature model.
I believe that is full thickness. Since Alex also plays jazz and fusion, it's not geared just towards metal.

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tzd

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Another difference is the ESP has a narrow nut and hence narrower neck than a Gibson Les Paul.

There is one ESP/LTD model that has the same radius, nut width and body thickness as a Gibson Les Paul, and that is the Bill Kelliher signature model.
 

RangerJay

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I have a MIJ Eclipse that is a fantastic guitar. I put a BKP Black Dog in the bridge, and it sounds just like a Les Paul through my Thunderverb 50. In a blind taste test, I doubt anyone could tell that it isn't a Les Paul.
 

rockinlespaul

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Damn! I didn't know Schecter was getting that kind of money for their custom shop guitars! Are they really that good? 3K? Yikes....lol.
 

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