ESP has become famous for building some of the highest quality production guitars in the world for the metal community. Last month, we checked one of their flagship models out, the ESP E-II Horizon III, and found it to be a really incredibly built guitar with a huge, aggressive sound. Today, I’ll be looking at another E-II guitar, the ESP E-II ST-2.

I was really excited to do this review because it really sticks out of the ESP line and brings something different to the table. So let’s get started!


– Basswood Body

– Quilted Maple Top w/ Tiger Eye Finish

– Thin “U” Shape Maple Neck

– Bolt-On Design

– Maple Fretboard with 12” Radius

– 25.5” Scale Length

– 22 Jumbo Nickel Frets

– Abalone Dot Inlays with ESP Signature at 12th Fret

– Floyd Rose Original Bridge

– Gotoh Locking Tuners

– 42mm Locking Nut

– Dimarzio ST2 Custom Pickups

– 3-Way Toggle Switch w/ Vol/Tone Knobs and Coil-Tap

Right off the bat, I want to say that I was stunned when I saw this guitar. I’ve always loved the playability of ESP guitars, but to be 100% honest with you, they’ve never been my favorite in terms of aesthetics. This one has turned me around entirely. I don’t usually do this, but I loved this guitar so much that I’m going to post a second photo of a different finish option because they are both equally sexy. You’ll see that in a second!

The Tiger Eye finish and maple fretboard pairing looks absolutely stunning. The gloss finish has a nice shine to it, but doesn’t have that super over-the-top mirrored look, which I’m very happy about.

The neck is a “Thin U”, which if you’re familiar with the Prestige Wizard profile, is just a bit thicker than that. It’s still a shredder’s neck, but just a bit more to dig into when playing fast rhythm parts.

The Floyd Rose Original needs no introduction, although if you want to read about it, we have a swell article revolving around the Original Floyd Rose. The FR works well in this guitar and I’m glad they included it rather than opting for a fixed bridge.

Here’s that second photo that I promised!



The Basswood body offers a really neutral sound that when paired with a maple neck, offers a balanced sound with a slightly pronounced midrange. Basswood is also known for maintaining a bunch of sustain, even after routing a big cavity for the FR. So this was a good choice in this guitar to help gain some of the sustain back that you might usually miss out on in a bolt-on with a FR bridge.

Unfortunately, Basswood gets a bad rap sometimes due to the cheaper cuts used on low end guitars. The truth is that there are lots of high end guitars that utilize the higher quality cuts of basswood. Check out our article called “Does Basswood Suck?” to learn more about that.

The Dimarzio ST2 Custom pickups were designed specifically for this guitar. I honestly didn’t expect the really awesome sounds that I achieved with them.

They had a lot of focus in the midrange, so overall the guitar is pretty mid-focused. It cuts through the mix very well. The high end is quite subtle. By subtle I don’t mean nonexistent. It’s very smooth, not harsh. The lows are quite wide, but they aren’t super warm and muddy. Plus, the nice bolt-on neck design adds a bit of snap and attack for lead playing.

The Coil-Tap offered even more variety from the guitar and allowed me to achieve some nice single-coil-like sounds.

Overall, I was able to achieve most of the sounds I wanted from this guitar. It excelled in the crunchy bluesy tones, but I was more than satisfied for high gain rock and 80’s metal sounds.

It’s definitely not made for modern metal, so I’d probably consider a pickup swap if you’re looking for that. Otherwise It’s extremely versatile.

Build Quality:

Now, I know that we have praised the ESP quality control in past articles, but this was actually my favorite one that I played.

The finish was immaculate and was probably the best Japanese ESP finish I’ve seen so far.

The frets were flawless and quite smooth. I couldn’t feel them at all when moving up and down the neck.

Also, the bolt-on neck pocket was super flush and nice.

Final Verdict:

Overall, the ESP E-II ST-2 is one of my favorite ESP guitars that I’ve played so far. It offers a ton of versatility and plays like butter. The visual appointments are classy, yet modern, and it is one of the best looking ESPs I’ve ever seen.

They don’t come cheap at a shelf price of $1,699, but this guitar is well worth it.


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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.

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