ESP Shop in Dusseldorf Germany

The 1980s ESP Shop in Stresemannstraße Dusseldorf Germany


ESP attracted attention for the first time during the Frankfurt Music Trade show Musikmesse in 1981. ESP showed their many guitars and many parts at a distributor booth in that year. In order to be a player in the retail guitar business in Germany an ESP shop was opened. ESP Europe was opened in 1984 with a small office in the city of Karlsruhe Germany.

Initially Guitar Center and other small companies in Hamburg took over the distribution. The heavy metal music scenes were thriving in the USA, Europe and worldwide. Electric Sound Products had taken on Endorsees and started to introduce successful models of their own and not just copies of popular USA instruments as it did in previous years.

ESP Custom Guitars Germany started in 1986 in a small shop located at this address Stresemannstraße 4 in Dusseldorf Germany. The same year employees cultivated relationships between this ESP shop and musicians in Germany and Europe filling the need for ESP parts, service, and manufacturing custom orders . Custom ordered ESP guitars from this Germany shop were nearly all manufactured in Japan with some custom things being done in Germany. Since the paint work was done somewhere other than Germany because of environmental concerns we can assume that things done in ESP Dusseldorf Germany were much along the lines of what the New York ESP store did in the 1980s.

The ESP complete guitars offered at this Dusseldorf Germany ESP office were a mixed lot just as the ESP offerings from the 48th Street Shop in New York. Again, Japan manufactured ESP necks and bodies that were later built-up in the Germany location. Complete neckthrough guitars or nearly complete guitars shipped from ESP Japan were part of the Germany stock.

In addition some employees from this Germany location were also employees at the famed 48th Street ESP shop in New York or traveled between the two locations. Both stores exhibiting the same sales platform and distribution practices and acting as a subsidiaries of ESP Tokyo Japan.


In this time the ESP sales manager for Dusseldorf Germany was given the task of setting up the ESP Custom Shop in Germany. An ESP custom order service was established. Complete organization of ESP wholesale and ESP distribution for Germany, Austria and Switzerland was established and completed. This resulted in consolidation of the ESP distributor network from all local European areas. Previous distributors were reorganized and/or disengaged. After the Hamburg distributions were dissolved the entire ESP  inventory was shipped to Rhine, whereupon the small shop was initially overwhelmed with the European ESP inventory of guitars and parts.

With everything coming in to play and with the expertise of the employees at this new location the guitars from Japan were eventually processed to this location officially from ESP Japan. Official ESP order system was created. From this small warehouse in Dusseldorf orders were sent to official ESP dealers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Because of high demand of new guitars in 1990 key employees had to move stock to an external warehouse in which a luthier inspected the instruments before delivery.

In addition to the sale of Japan manufactured ESP strat replacement necks, bodies and ESP parts, the custom order ESP instruments were also made available at the customer's request. Again the custom orders were built or manufactured partly in Düsseldorf and partly in the Japanese Takada Factory which was the first ESP plant in Tokyo.

We at AlienXnation believe the majority of custom order ESP guitars sold in Dusseldorf were just like ESP creations made available at the 48th Street Store in New York at the time. A custom order was created in Dusseldorf Germany processed through Japan. Custom Order guitars were manufactured, painted and completed in Japan then shipped to Dusseldorf. There seem to evidence that near-to-all instruments were 100% ESP Japan manufacturing with few or no exceptions. We have seen the guitars that have ESP Germany neck plates and can confirm that these do exist. ESP also did the same with neck plates for the 48th Street New York store on occasion but there was no consistancy and any neckplates were short lived items. If there were any actual Germany manufactured guitar or Germany manufactured ESP bodies we at AlienXnation have never seen evidence of any kind to indicate any verifiable ESP Germany manufacturing ability. Therefore it is safe to assume that all manufacturing was done in Japan with some things possibly painted elsewhere or built up somewhere other than Japan. Yet, very little to no instruments were anything other than 100% ESP japan manufacturing start to finish.

ESP applied an advertising program using the same formula ESP applied to the USA market but on a smaller scale which did included European artist endorsements.

Some ESP guitars sold as custom orders from this Düsseldorf location had unique features such as paint, finishes and custom details that may have been initiated in Germany and were absolutely unique for ESP guitars. This resulted in a few guitars being seeming one-offs and/or different ESP guitars than those regularly seen coming directly from Japan. Even today you will find vintage ESP guitars in Europe that are slightly different which can be attributed the Dusseldorf Germany location for ESP guitars.

Changing times in music at the end of the 1980s and the downturn in sales of heavy metal or glam rock type guitars played itself out in Europe as well as in the USA. The shop on Stresemannstraße closed its doors at the end of May 1995 after a sell-out and moved temporarily to a kind of workshop with warehouse in Düsseldorf-Derendorf. ESP moved to the Sound Service European Music Distribution in Berlin, which moved to the south of Berlin in 2006 to Rangsdorf.