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 and destroyed in a fire accident on late '90s and many custom orders didn't have serial numbers at all. For old guitars we can only know the exact data reading the ESP warranty card (when there is), or unscrewing the neck and read under it (sometimes theres the data write on pencil), and 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."


- The body style of the old ESP Explorer (MX-220, MX-250, EXP) was retired due to Gibson Lawsuit, and a new body style was introduced in 2000 (EX models). Only in Japan you can still find (if you're lucky) or order the old shape called now MX-2. It's hilarious that Gibson in 2012 release the "Epiphone 1984 Explorer EX" copying control pot configuration of ESP MX-250, a sort of revenge...
- 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 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.
- The truss rod cover change from rectangular with white edges and bell with white edges to black bullet style in 1993.
- Specifics of any custom guitar can vary.
- 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) (I really don't know if there's another subdivision here)

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


- 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)

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

1988 -

1989 - 592XX

1990 -

1991 -

1992 - 616XX --> 618XX
1993 - 702XX --> 912XX
1994 - 166XX --> 183XX
1995 - 201XX --> 244XX
1996 - 257XX --> 261XX (KH-2: 222XX-->236XX)
1997 - 273XX --> 294XX (KH-2: 242XX)
1998 - 301XX --> 357XX (KH-2: 245XX)
1999 - 339XX --> 369XX
2000 - 379XX --> 414XX
2001 - 416XX (KH-2: 401XX)
2002 -
2003 - 4170X

NOTE: sometimes the bolt plate is of the year before or after.

---------- 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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