Review: ESP USA Eclipse

ESP USA Eclipse – case

This time we have something very special to feast your eyes on!

Many people may not know this, but ESP Guitars also runs its own, small West Coast workshop in California. The ESP USA factory produces limited numbers of its most popular shapes (currently three models), and its primary goal is to produce the best quality instruments for its customers.

Kitarablogi.com has been lucky to get to take one of these guitars for a spin – the ESP USA Eclipse.

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ESP USA Eclipse – full front

The ESP USA Eclipse (current price in Finland: 3.939 €) is the company’s ultimate version of their popular Eclipse model, using only the best materials and production methods.

ESP USA Eclipse – neck joint

One of the USA Eclipse’s special features is the ESP Set-Thru-Neck, which aims to combine the best attributes of a traditional set neck with the playability advantages of a through-neck.

ESP’s Set-Through-Neck is basically a set neck with a significantly larger tenon (both wider & deeper), which greatly improves the strength of the neck joint. Most set-neck guitars have a tenon which is somewhat narrow and shallow. In the ESP USA’s case, the width of the tenon is as large as the end of fingerboard and is almost as tall as the body. This allows the neck joint to be sculpted like a through-neck with no loss of structural integrity.

The result is a stronger neck joint, which is good for sustain, and it also makes it possible to do away with the traditional neck heel of a standard set-neck, resulting in a very comfortable playing experience.

ESP USA Eclipse – back beauty

The Eclipse’s mahogany body sports a rib cage chamfer for comfort.

ESP USA Eclipse – tuners

The guitar’s tuning is kept rock steady by a set of Sperzel USA locking machine heads.

ESP USA Eclipse – headstock

The bound headstock of the USA Eclipse features a flamed mahogany overlay, finished in the same Tobacco Sunburst finish as the body’s carved maple top.

The top nut has been made from genuine bone.

ESP USA Eclipse – fretboard

We find a bound ebony fretboard with 22 jumbo frets, adorned with beautiful pearl and abalone inlays.

The fingerboard radius is a flattish 12 inches (305 mm).

ESP USA Eclipse – TonePros bridge

The locking Sperzels are paired at the body end with a rock solid TonePros TOM-bridge and stopbar combo.

ESP USA Eclipse – pickups

It’s quality all the way in the electronics department, too:

ESP’s USA Eclipse comes equipped with a pair of Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro humbuckers (APH-1), which are vintage-voiced, warm-sounding pickups with moderate output levels (Slash’s favourites).

ESP USA Eclipse – controls

The control layout on this model has the bridge volume closest to the bridge pickup (for easy volume swells), while the middle knob is the neck volume.

The master tone control features a push/pull-switch splitting the humbuckers in the ”up” position.

ESP USA Eclipse – control cavity

The control cavity has received a layer of shielding paint, as well as a cover lined with aluminium foil.

ESP USA Eclipse – body beauty 2

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ESP USA Eclipse – beauty shot

This guitar really is a fantastic instrument! The ESP USA Eclipse is top quality incarnate, leaving nothing to be desired.

For a full-depth, Les Paul-inspired guitar the USA Eclipse is refreshingly light.

I don’t quite understand, why ESP insist on calling this neck profile a ”Thin U”. I agree, this neck doesn’t feel like a fat, clumsy baseball bat, but neither is it one of the notorious ”speed necks” of the Eighties. I would call the Eclipse’s rounded D-profile ”extremely comfortable”, and be done with it…

The USA Eclipse offers first-rate playability – light to the touch, offering just the right amount of resistance – across the whole fingerboard.

The vintage-voiced Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro humbuckers are a perfect fit for this guitar, not least because of their versatility. You can have great-sounding, authentic Jazz tones, if you want, and then rock out without having to change guitars. The split humbucker sounds are very good, too, offering a brighter tonality and lower output levels. The ESP USA Eclipse covers a very wide range of different sounds and musical genres.

Here’s a short clip showing you the split humbucker sounds (starting with the neck pickup):

Next up, a similar clip with the full humbuckers:

In the demo track I have used split settings for the rhythm parts (left channel: both pickups; right channel: neck pickup), as well as the full bridge humbucker for the lead guitar:

ESP USA Eclipse – beauty shot 2

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ESP USA Eclipse – body beauty

ESP’s USA Eclipse is a boutique grade guitar, backed by a large brand. Some manufacturers may ride on glories past, cashing in on their legendary brands. In contrast, ESP’s USA Eclipse really has the build quality, workmanship, and tone to justify its price tag.

In my view the ESP USA Eclipse is a gorgeous solidbody electric at a fair price.

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ESP USA Eclipse

3.939 € (hard case included)

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

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Pros:

+ value for money

+ workmanship

+ Set-Thru-Neck construction

+ finish

+ splittable humbuckers

+ sound

 

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