ESP SERIAL NUMBERS - Guitars Collector

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Unfortunally ESP didn't keep good records of old serial numbers. Many records have been lost during years and most of all were destroyed in a fire accident on late '90s in ESP Japan factory.  For old guitars we can only know the exact data reading the ESP warranty card (when there is), or unscrewing the neck (if the neck is bolt on) and read under it becuse probably theres the data write on pencil). I keep record of this data in order to try to deduce other correspondences. ESP Guitar Company says: "Unfortunately the factories at ESP Japan have not kept a consistent and sensible serial number tracking system in place over the years. This has resulted in alot of confusion, and ... you may still come across the occasional serial number that may conflict with, or doesn't fall under any of the listed categories. For this we apologize, and we are working to maintain a more consistent system going forward. The PRE-2015 system doesn't apply to early ESP's, some of which had no serial number tracking system at all and used random numbers. Thanks for your understanding."


- Many custom orders or first new model made did not have any serial number.
- The circle logo "ESP CUSTOM GUITARS" on the back of the headstock is not a typical feature on ESP guitars made for the Japanese market and custom order.
- Serials from 1990 to 1996 are written in a sort of "Times New Roman" font, otherwise are in a sort of "Arial" font.

- For the special/custom order guitars the description on this website are based on the "standard set" (specs, color, construction and hardware can vary).
- The truss rod cover change from rectangular with white edges and bell with white edges to black bullet style in 1993.
- some of the ESPs have black hardware in North America and Black Nickel hardware elsewhere. It all began a few years ago with the EU and a thing called the RoHS (Regulation of Hazardous Materials) and Gotoh in Japan basically changed their production to ensure they didn’t lose the European market, and that being manufacturers who shipped to Europe, which is most everyone. They changed pretty much everything for the “export” market, and export to most makers means anything but US. Kind of a long story. They have a way of producing black again now so expect it to all go back to the way most of us prefer over time.

---------- Before year 2000 ----------

was unaware of how it works)

7 or 8 DIGITS stamped in the back of the headstock:
= day of the month (01 to 31)
= month (01 to 12)
Y = last digit of the year (ex: 1992 = 2)
NNN = production number 000 to 999 resetted every year

EXAMPLE: the code of my MX-250 25023072 means the manufacturing date is 25.02.1993 and it was the 72nd guitar producted that year.


- year "7" can be 1987 or 1997, "8" can be 1988 or 1998, "9" can be 1989 or 1999! You have to look at the models in production that year.

- sometimes in old guitars (80s early 90s) first digit is missing when is "0" and the serial is 7 digits total (ex. 3038467, means 03.03.1988 number 467)

- lot of old esp's does not have any serial on the back of the headstock. If you are lucky you can find a serial written on pencil where the body is bolted to the neck (or in the neck also) or in the pickup cavity.


MM = month (01 to 12)
Y = last digit of the year (ex: 1992 = 2)
NN = production number

For example my MX-220 have serial "#80129" that means was made the 08-1991 number 29)

5 DIGITS punched in the bolt plate (for the bolt on versions).

NOTE: Follow this reference may not be accurate because probably they printed a certain number of plates and then put on guitars in a random manner, without noticing consecutive numeration. This is the reason why we can easilu find guitars with the bolt plate referring to a year or two before or after respect the serial printed on the back of the headstock. To have an exact dating of this guitars you have to unscrew the neck and look at the date could be written below.

1988 -

1989 - 592XX

1990 -

1991 -

1992 - 601XX --> 618XX
1993 -
619XX --> 912XX

1994 - 166XX --> 183XX

1995 - 191XX --> 244XX

1996 - 257XX --> 261XX

1997 - 273XX --> 294XX

1998 - 301XX --> 357XX

1999 - 339XX --> 369XX

2000 - 379XX --> 387XX

2001 - 388XX --> 416XX

2002 - 402XX

2003 - 4170X

from 2004 - NO SERIAL punched on the bolt plate

---------- From 2000 to 2015 ----------

8 DIGITS stamped in the back of the headstock:
PPYYWWDNN (stamped on the back of the headstock).
PP = place of manufacture:

K = ESP Kiso Factory (Japan) / set-neck and neck-thru only;

S = ESP Sado Factory (Japan) / bolt-on only;

T = ESP Takada Factory (Japan) / ESP Custom Shop

SS = ESP Standard Factory / Signature Series or Standard Series

CH = Craft House

CS = Craft House (used rarely)

TH = Technical House

N = Nagano Factory

YY = last two digits of the year
WW = week of the year (max.52)
D = day of that week: 1 = monday, 2 = tuesday,... (max.7)
NN = number off the line that day (max.99)
EXAMPLE: the code of my MX-250 K0604202 means the manufacturing date is 24.01.2006 and it was the 2nd guitar built that day.

---------- from 2016 ----------

8 DIGITS stamped in the back of the headstock:
B = Brand designation prefix:
NNNN = ????
YY = last two digits of the year
P = place of manufacture (Factory designation):
1 - ESP Custom Shop
2 - ESP Tokyo Factory
3 - ESP Standard Factory

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