ESP vs Schecter: Which Electric Guitars are the Best?


ESP and Schecter Guitar Research both make electric guitars primarily for metal players, to suit a range of player levels, but which guitars are the best? In this article, I’ll compare the tone, origin, pickups, hardware, tone wood, constructions of guitar’s by both brands, and take a more in-depth look at the ranges so you can see which options are best for you based on your budget.

The Quick Answer

ESP produce a wider range of guitars to suit complete beginners and professional players whereas, Schecter mainly focus on mid-range guitars. ESP produce higher quality guitars at the top-end of their range compared to Schecter. ESP guitars usually have thinner and flatter necks compare to Schecter.

Brand Overview

Before we jump into the specific comparisons, I wanted to briefly explain how both brands organise their ranges, so you can get an idea of what guitars are available.

Schecter

Schecter organise their range into different series which are separated by price point. Here are the main series in their range:

  • C 6 Plus/ Deluxe: range from $300-$400 and are made in Indonesia.
  • OMEN: range from $400-$550 and are made in Indonesia.
  • Demon: range from $420-$550 and are made in Indonesia.
  • Damien: range from $500-$950 and are made in Indonesia.
  • Sun Valley: range from $650-$880 and are made in Indonesia.
  • Platinum: $600-$950 and are mostly made in South Korea.
  • Reaper: range from $700-$950 and are made in Indonesia.
  • Hellraiser: range from $800-$1250 and are made in South Korea.
  • Banshee: range from $1000-$1600 and are made in Indonesia and South Korea.
  • Silver Mountain: range from $1300-$1380 and are made in South Korea
  • SLS Elite: range from $1300-$1500 and are made in South Korea.
  • Custom: made in the USA and start at $2700.

Here are some of Schecter electric guitar shapes. All the images link to Amazon.

Omen

V-1

PT

E-1

ESP

With the ESP range their are two main things to consider: the series, and the shape.

ESP separate their range by dividing it into series, which include a range of shapes, and are grouped by price and where they were manufactured. There are 4 series in the ESP range:

  • ESP Ltd: prices range from $200 to $1500 and most models are made in China or Indonesia.
  • ESP-II: these are made in Japan and start at around $1900.
  • ESP USA: these are the highest-end models which are not custom shop and start at around $3000.
  • ESP Original: custom shop models made in the USA.

ESP are well known for their aggressive shapes. Here are some of the most popular:

  • EC/ Eclipse: LP-shape
  • Arrow: V-shape
  • EX: Z-shape
  • FRX/ F-series: aggressive double cutaway
  • H-series/ M-series/ MH-series/ SN-series/ Horizon: double cutaway.
  • Pheonix: offset single-cutaway.
  • TE-series: T-type.
  • Viper-series: offset SG shape.

Here are some images which all link to Amazon, to show the different shapes. Most models come in a range of colours and finishes.

Arrow

EC/ Eclipse

EX-Series

FRX/ F-Series

MH-Series

SN-Series

TE-Series

Viper

Comparing the Tone

Schecter and ESP guitars often both produce heavy and punchy tones, making them suitable for hard rock and heavy metal music. Schecter guitars tend to have a slightly brighter sound than ESP models, which sound fuller and darker by comparison. However, it does depend on the exact models in question.

ESP guitars often sound a bit heavier and most aggressive than Schecter models. Although you can find active pickups on both brands, it is slightly more common to see them on ESP guitars. Active pickups have a higher output so are louder and typically produce a clearer tone when using very high gain, making them highly suitable for modern metal.

Check out this video to hear ESP and Schecter guitars being played back-to-back.

Where are they Made?

ESP make their guitars in China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea whilst Schecter make their guitars primarily in Indonesia and South Korea. Both brands make their most expensive models in the USA, but these ranges are much more limited.

  • ESP and Schecter both make their entry-level and affordable models in Indonesia. For ESP, these guitars range between $200-$1500 and for Schecter it’s between models range between $2500-$1000.
  • ESP also make some of their affordable electric guitars in China, whilst Schecter only make acoustic guitars in China.
  • ESP make most of their mid-high end Ltd models in South Korea ($950-$1750). Schecter also make most of their guitars over $1000 in South Korea.
  • ESP make most of their high-end models in Japan which start at around $1900.
  • Both brands make their top-of-the-range guitars in the USA which start at around $3000 for ESP and $2700 for Schecter.

Does it really matter?

The country a guitar is made in does not strictly dictate the quality, however some players find is a useful indication of how “good” a guitar is. It is commonly believed that USA made guitars are the best, followed by Japan and South Korea, and then China and Indonesia, since they tend to mass produce guitars. However, try not to get too caught up on this and focus on the things that matter, like how the guitar sounds and feels, rather than what country it says it’s made from on the back of the headstock.

I’ve written a full article discussing the differences between guitars made in different regions, so check it out if you’re after a more detailed answer.

Components

Now let’s take a bit more of an in-depth look at the different components such as the hardware, pickups and woods used to make Schecter and ESP guitars. Of course, different models vary, so this section will focus on the main models from both brands to get some general conclusions. We’ll take a deeper dive into the specific models in each range in the next section.

Neck

ESP necks tend to be a bit thinner and flatter than Schecter necks. ESP models usually have a “thin-U” shape neck which means they have quite a flat profile. Schecter guitars usually have “thin-C” shape necks which tend to have a more rounded profile.

Both brands produce guitars with thin necks, to make them compatible with shredders. C-shape necks, which are found on a lot of Schecter guitars, are considered the most universally comfortable, and compatible with different playing styles. The thin-U shape necks on the ESP are considered slightly better for shredding since they are a bit flatter, however they often are better suited for players with larger hands.

Neck shape is a really important factor to consider when choosing an electric guitar, and perhaps even more so if you’re playing metal, since it’s a pretty technically demanding and quick style of music. The best thing to do, is to try the guitars in the store so you can see which neck feels most comfortable.

The neck finish is also important, particularly if you’re looking for it to be “fast”. Satin finishes work best for shredders than gloss necks, as they don’t have a tacky-feel which can slow down movement up and down the fretboard. It’s pretty easy to find satin and gloss finishes on guitars made by either of these brands.

Tone Wood

ESP and Schecter primarily use basswood on their more affordable models, typically up to around the $500 mark. Mahogany is used on pretty much every ESP model, whilst Schecter tend to use either ash or mahogany, depending on the model.

Mahogany is heavy, and produces a warm and mellow tone. It has very pronounced mid-range and low-end frequencies and excellent sustain. The swamp ash commonly used for Schecter guitars is lightweight and porous, and offers excellent sustain. It has a resonant tone, but can have a slightly scooped mid-range, making it sound a bit brighter than some other types of wood.

Pickups

Schecter and ESP both make guitars with active and passive pickups, with active pickup models starting at a similar price. Both brands tend to use active EMG pickups. However, it is more common to find a Schecter guitar with passive pickups than an ESP guitar with passive pickups in the mid-high end range.

Bridge

Both Schecter and ESP offer fixed and floating bridge styles. Generally, Schecter tend to go for a string-through design, whereas ESP often use stop-tail bridges, but it does really depend on the model in question. Both brands usually opt for a Floyd Rose style bridge, if the guitar has a floating instead of a fixed bridge.

Constructions

ESP and Schecter use bolt-on, neck-through and set-neck constructions. On lower-end models under $500, it is most common to see a bolt-on construction, however some ESP models will start having set-necks at this price point. Most models over $1000 will have a neck-through or set-neck construction.

  • Bolt-on: this is the cheapest method of construction, and offers the least sustain.
  • Neck-through: this is the most expensive construction type and offers excellent sustain, but makes it impossible to replace the neck if damaged.
  • Set-neck: this construction involves gluing the neck and body together. It’s not too expensive, but offers good sustain and you can change the neck with this construction type, although it is more difficult than with bolt-on necks.

I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.

The Ranges

I’ve selected some of the top sellers from the ESP and Schecter range to compare in the tables below. The prices are all from Guitar Center at the time of writing and the tables are ordered from lowest to highest price. This is far from an exhaustive list of models, just some selections to highlight the kinds of features available at different prices.

Guitar Center are always the first place I look at when I’m interested in a new electric guitar because have a huge range of models for sale and always have some excellent deals on. Here’s a link to take you directly to Guitar Center’s electric guitar range so you can see all the offers available at the moment. 

Under $500

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
ESP EC10Bolt-onPassive ESPFixedBasswood$200
ESP M10Bolt-onPassive ESPFixedBasswood$200
Schecter C-6 EliteBolt-onPassive SchecterFixedBasswood$300
Schecter OMEN-6Bolt-onPassive SchecterFixedBasswood$400
ESP LTD EC-256FMSet-neckPassive ESPFixedMahogany$500
Schecter Demon-6 FRBolt-onActive SchecterFloyd RoseMahogany$500
Schecter vs ESP guitars under $500

$500-$1000

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
ESP LTD EC-256Set-neckPassive ESPFixedMahogany$550
Schecter C1 PlatinumNeck-throughActive EMGFixedMahogany$600
ESP SH-207Bolt-onPassive ESPFixedMahogany$700
Schecter Reaper-6Set-NeckPassive SchecterFixedAsh$700
ESP LTD EC-401Neck-thruActive FishmanFixedMahogany$900
Schecter Solo-II CustomSet-NeckPassive SchecterFixedMahogany$950
Schecter vs ESP guitars between $500 and $1000

$1000-$2000

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000Neck-thruPassive EMG/ Seymour DuncanFixedMahogany$1050
Schecter C-1 SLS Elite Evil TwinNeck-thruActive FishmanFixedAsh$1190
ESP EC-1000 ETNeck-thruPassive EMPFixedMahogany$1250
Schecter C-1 FR-S ApocalypseSet-NeckActive SchecterFloyd RoseAsh$1330
ESP MH-1007 EvertuneNeck-thruActive FishmanFixedMahogany$1350
ESP NS-6Neck-thruActive FishmanFixedMahogany$1500
Schecter Banshee Mach EvertuneNeck-thruPassive LundgrenFixedAsh$1700
ESP E-II MINeck-thruActive EMGFixedAlder$1800
ESP E-II VIPERNeck-thruActive EMGFixedMahogany$2000
Schecter vs ESP guitars between $1000 and $2000

Over $2000

GuitarConstructionPickupsBridgeBody WoodPrice
ESP E-II HorizonNeck-thruPassive Seymour DuncanFloyd RoseMahogany$2200
ESP E-II Eclipse-IINeck-thruActive EMGFixedMahogany$2400
Schecter PT CustomBolt-OnPassive SchecterFixedAsh$2700
ESP USA M3 GTBolt-OnPassive Seymour DuncanFulcrum TremoloMahogany$3300
Schecter PT USABolt-OnPassive SchecterFixedAsh$3900
Schecter vs ESP guitars over $2000

Which Guitars are the Best?

If you’re looking at two models at the same price point with similar specifications, then it’ll probably be very hard to tell which is better. This is because Schecter and ESP are sister brands with the same owner. Although they are separate entities, they are produced in the same factories, using very similar materials. The main difference between them, is the neck shape, body shape, and colour options.

  • ESP guitars have thinner flatter necks than Schecter guitars.
  • ESP tend to offer more radical body shapes in addition to their classic EC/ Eclipse single cutaway design. Schecter mostly produce double cutaway guitars, and the rest of the range tend to have quite regular shapes.
  • ESP offer a lot more flat-colour options and vibrant designs. Schecter offer more traditional colours and finishes.

In a more general sense when considering the quality of the ranges as a whole, the differences between the two brands becomes more apparent.

ESP produces higher quality guitars than Schecter, as they make more expensive models. Excluding the American custom shop models, most Schecter guitars are under $1800, whilst Japanese ESP guitars often range from $2000-$2500 and are considered higher quality.

When looking at the other end of the spectrum, things change again.

ESP offer better options for beginner guitarists than Schecter. ESP produce some models at around the $200 price point, making them a good choice for beginners. However, Schecter guitars typically start at around $300 making them less suitable for new players.

In the $500-$1000, it is hard to separate the quality of Schecter and ESP guitars. In this price range, you’d be looking at the ESP Ltd line, which is sometimes considered inferior compared to Schecter, but a lot of this is just opinion, and is rarely based on facts. If you’ve ever been on any guitar forums, you’ll know that the ESP Ltd vs Schecter debate has raged on for a long time, and will probably continue to do so for a lot longer.

The truth is, you really need to try guitars in both ranges, within your budget, to really figure out which is the best option for you. But know that your choice will probably be based on the neck, style and colour of the guitar more than anything, especially if you’re looking for a guitar under $1500.

I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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