Ultimate-Guitar.com recently spoke with several members of the ESP Guitars administration to discuss the company's rise to popularity and continued success. The following is an excerpt from an interview with Matt Masciandaro (President and CEO), Jeff Moore (Senior Vice President), Tim Carhart (Artist Relations Manager), Todd Binder (Vice President of Production) and Makoto Suzuki (President of ESP Japan):
UG: In 1985, George Lynch (ex-DOKKEN) had the Kamikaze guitar built - did this start it all?
Matt Masciandaro: "In certain ways, yes. George ordered the Kamikaze while on a 1986 tour of Japan. He heard about ESP necks from his local music store but couldn't find one, so when he visited ESP in Tokyo they offered to build him a guitar. He had the idea for he Kamikaze in his head for a while so he was ready, and it was delivered to ESP NY a short time later with the paint barely dry. It was not the first custom guitar or first signature series model, but George certainly put ESP on the map as a true guitar hero and as one of the most popular and respected players a that time.
Before George we had some high profile players but not many, with the exception of Ron Wood and mostly NY based players. Since we were based in NYC we had access to the top session players at the time, and we worked with many of them. We received invaluable input from them while being able to provide them with quality customized instruments. Eventually ESPs strengths became our ability to offer quality alternatives to traditional designs, and to build guitars to a player's own specifications. These remain our primary strengths today."
UG: Kirk Hammett (METALLICA) is ESP's biggest endorser and George Lynch was the first endorsee.
Jeff Moore: "Even though we've been working with them for 20 or 30 years as a company, we're still doing things that are relevant in 2013. With George Lynch we're introducing a brand new signature model acoustic guitar-actually two models that we just wrapped up."
UG: Are you doing any new guitars with Kirk Hammett?
Jeff Moore: "We're working on a very special project with Kirk Hammett. I can't talk about it right now but it's relevant to his latest venture, which you're probably aware of. He just came out with a book (Too Much Horror Business) chronicling his deep history and love of horror. He's got quite an extensive collection. Of course we've done several one-off guitars for him that helped him celebrate his love of horror and let's just say we've got some exciting things to introduce in 2013 along those lines."
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for the complete interview.