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ESP USA TE-II Koa w/ Flame Maple Racing Stripes and Roasted Ash Body

   
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For almost 50 years ESP has been producing premium guitars for a full spectrum of musicians. In 2014, ESP broke ground on their first ever USA factory in North Hollywood, California where they hand-craft some of the finest instruments to bear the ESP name. This TE-II is a one-off work of art that we snagged from the 2020 NAMM show. It's a beastly combination of the two most iconic electric guitar formats. If a Tele and a Les Paul has a baby it would look something like this, complete with Koa Top, Flame Maple racing stripes over a roasted Swamp Ash body, and top notch appointments you might only see in a custom shop. If you're looking for finesse and power in a stunning package, the TE-II will provide.

This ESP USA TE-II features:

  • Koa Top w/ Flame Maple Racing Stripes with 3-Tone Sunburst finish, 8 pounds
  • Rosted Ash back
  • Quarter Sawn Maple Neck
  • "Thin U" neck, satin finish
  • Pau Ferro Fingerboard
  • 1.650" nut and 12" radius, 25-1/2" scale
  • 22 Stainless XJ Frets
  • (1) Seymour Duncan Sentient Neck Humbucker
  • (1) Seymour Duncan Pegasus Bridge Humbucker
  • 3-position pickup switch
  • Vol x tone controls w/ push-pull coil splitting
  • Hipshot Fixed bridge
  • Bone nut
  • Sperzel Locking tuners
  • ESP USA Form Fit Deluxe Case
  • Made in USA

This ESP TE-II comes from their USA factory in North Hollywood, California. While they make guitars available from stock, it's really more of a well-oiled custom shop. The USA builders take classic ESP designs to a premium level, with world-class materials and an extra focus on artistry. The TE-II takes two of the most influential electric guitar designs ever made and combines their best attributes. Sporting the tonal versatility of a Les Paul and the attitude of a Tele, it offers a plethora of unique sounds on a familiar platform. The Roasted Swamp Ash body is a perfect sonic vehicle for humbuckers as it tends to be a little scooped in the midrange and offer sweeter, more articulate highs and lows. The Top is Koa which has a tonal flavor akin to Mahogany with rich, punchy midrange and the Flame Maple racing stripes offer an artistic yet functional touch. The wood binding and satin 3-Tone Sunburst finish complete the eye candy that makes this TE-II extra special. 

The pickups in this TE-II are a well known Seymour Duncan prog-metal duo: The Sentient/Pegasus Calibrated Set. This is a heavy hitting Alnico 5 set that was originally designed for 7-8 string guitars that were gifted to the 6-stringers by popular demand. The neck pickup clocks in with specs that cross between the famed '59 and Jazz pickups from Seymour Duncan. It's a great balance of full bodied articulation, raw power and sparkle. The Pegasus sits in the bridge and aims to seamlessly carry you from beautiful cleans to high gain situations. It has the gut punching midrange you want out of a bridge humbucker and careful attention to the high end peaks and bloom. Both pickups are moderately wound to around 12.5k resistance which for any sort of "metal" pickups would be considered low. As we've noticed over the years this is often the secret ingredient to making a versatile humbucker that doesn't sacrifice clean tones in favor of high gain performance or get lost in the mix. The TE-II also features a push-pull tone pot for splitting the pickups into single coils for even more tone shaping options.

The neck on this guitar is what they call their "Thin U" profile. The "U" shape provides good palm support while the thin taper makes it easy to get a thumb around the neck when necessary. With it's Pau Ferro fretboard on quarter-sawn maple with stainless steel Jescar frets, this neck is a rocker's dream. With a 1-11/16" nut width and modern 12" radius this neck was built for speed and accuracy.

While ESP is known mostly by it's stereotypical and predominantly heavy metal image, they build guitars that are both versatile and beautiful. Lucky for us we had some friends at ESP that were eager to show us the many sides of the ESP name, and when we held our first USA piece, we were hooked. Their designs are familiar yet refreshing, and the USA shop delivers some the finest fit and finish you'll find on the market today. If you thought you knew ESP, think again.