Review: ESP USA Eclipse Guitar — Video

While I own, play and love more than my fair share of imported guitars, I still prefer electric models made in the good ol’ U. S. of A.

After all, Americans invented the electric guitar, and we design and build them like no one else. So it deeply warmed my heart earlier this year when ESP announced its USA Series Eclipse, Horizon and M-III models, which are the company’s first guitars made at its brand-new factory in North Hollywood, California.

We took a look at ESP’s classic-inspired single-cutaway Eclipse model.

FEATURES The overall features of the Eclipse USA present a familiar formula—figured maple top, mahogany neck and chambered body, dual humbuckers, 24 3/4–inch scale, and so on—but several details make this model stand out from the usual classic clone.

The “set-thru” neck joint is particularly impressive, featuring contours that smoothly and seamlessly bring the neck and body together as if they were one continuous piece of wood. The ebony fretboard, 22 extra jumbo frets, 12-inch radius and thin U-shape neck profile provide the fast action and silky playability today’s players demand.

Hardware consists of Sperzel Trim-Lok locking tuners, TonePros locking bridge and stop tailpiece, Schaller Security Lock strap buttons and Seymour Duncan APH-1 passive humbuckers. Controls include separate volume knobs for the bridge and neck pickups, master tone with push/pull coil splitting and a three-position pickup selector.

PERFORMANCE Our test example had a Vintage Natural finish (Tea Sunburst and See-Through Black Cherry are also available) that reveals every glorious detail of the high-grade materials and first-class workmanship. The figuring of the maple top and headstock overlay is drop-dead gorgeous, and the seams of the two-piece mahogany back and neck joint are almost invisible. The rounded edges of the fretboard and body (including a comfortable rear-body contour) give the guitar the luxurious feel of the finest handcrafted goods, and as a result the guitar plays like a dream.

The Eclipse USA’s tone is stellar. Classic warm, sustaining dual-humbucker tones abound, but the maple top delivers crisp, detailed attack that complements the mahogany’s fat midrange and resonant bass. The simple control configuration delivers a rainbow of textures, from full-throttle metal punch to velvety jazz warmth to single-coil sparkle.

MANUFACTURER The ESP Guitar Company,

The set-thru-neck construction provides a smooth, seamless transition between the neck and the body, as if they were one continuous piece of wood.

Hardware includes Sperzel locking tuners, TonePros locking bridge and stop tailpiece, Schaller Security Lock strap buttons and Seymour Duncan APH-1 humbuckers.

THE BOTTOM LINE Providing a compelling blend of vintage design and modern features, the ESP USA Eclipse is the ideal single-cutaway dual-humbucker solidbody for players seeking a high-performance classic.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.