The History of the ESP Mirage, M-I, M-II, M-III series

ESP Mirage Series

The story  of the ESP Mirage and latter M-I, M-II and M-III series started in the mid 80's. The ESP 1984 catalog featured four Mirage guitar models with dinky bodies based on ESP's ST model and that were part of the then called ESP 600 series. The ESP Mirage Standard, the ESP Mirage Deluxe, the ESP Mirage Special and the ESP Mirage Custom all featured a then new peghead (New York headstock) which allowed the strings to travel a perfect straight line so there would be no extra friction between the (bone) nut and the gears.  All these guitars were equipped with the ESP Flicker II tremolo and only differed in the amount of humbuckers (1 or 2) and their fingerboards (maple or rosewood).  A special feature on these guitars was the option for matching the color of the neck, headstock and fingerboard to the color of the body. 


ESP Pointy Jackson Like headstockThe 1987 saw updates to the ESP Mirage Deluxe and the ESP Mirage Custom. The headstocks got pointier (think Jackson), the body became Square-Edged, the pickup configuration changed and they featured ESP's interpretation of the Floyd Rose tremolo: the ESP Synclear Vibrato system also known as the ESP Sinclair. An other feature was that the guitars had neck-through construction and ebony fingerboards. The 1987 Mirage Deluxe has an HS pickup configuration with a slanted pickup in the neck position while the 1987 Mirage Custom has an HSS pickup configuration.

The 1984 Mirage Standard or Special can be recognized in the 1987 ESP M-I Standard which still featured the New York Headstock, one humbucker, a rounded dinky body and a standard tremolo. Besides this M-I, 1987 also introduced the ESP M-I Deluxe and the ESP M-I Custom. They both had the pointier headstock and the ESP Sinclair tremolo. The ESP M-I Deluxe still had the rounder body, HSS pickup configuration and a pickguard while the ESP M-I Custom has one humbucker, a square edged body, a scooped lower horn and neck-through body construction. 

The 1988 catalog featured an ESP M-1 Reverse which had a reversed banana headstock and the 1989 catalog features the ESP Mirage Deluxe II and the ESP Mirage M-III but I reckon these guitars are very rare as they were discontinued immediately. 

1991 / 1992

Around 1991 and 1992 we see the update of the Mirage Custom and Mirage Deluxe to the current ESP headstock due to a Jackson lawsuit but these guitars were also discontinued after 1992. Around this time we also see the introduction of the ESP M-I, the ESP M-II, the ESP M-II Custom and the ESP M-II Deluxe.  The M-I was only seen in the 1992 catalog and features a rounded dinky body, New York headstock and a slanted single-coil in the neck position. The M-II also only featured in the 1992 catalog and had a square edged body, slanted single coil pickup in the neck position, reversed pointy headstock, scooped lower horn and an ESP sinclair tremolo. 

Just like the M-II, the M-II Deluxe and the M-II Custom also had the reversed pointy headstock and a slanted pickup in the neck position but those were a rails humbucker in single coil format. The only guitar that featured neck-through construction was the M-II Custom. 

1995 -1997

The 1995 catalog saw the comeback of the Mirage Model name. The 1995 ESP Mirage featured a rounded dinky body, reversed New York Headstock, HSS pickup configuration and an Original Floyd Rose tremolo while the 1996 and 1997 catalog listed a version with the Wilkinson VS100 tremolo in combination with locking tuners and different middle and neck pickups. The Mirage model name would disappear after 1997. The 1996 and 1997 version of the ESP M-II did come with 24 frets instead of 22 frets and had the Original Floyd Rose tremolo instead of the ESP Sinclair vibrato


The year 1998 marked a change in the M-II model. Where the previous version still had a slanted single-coil sized pickup in the neck position, as of 1998 the M-II featured two straight humbuckers in the neck and bridge position and would keep this configuration for the coming years. 1998 also brought a new ESP M-III model which has an HSS pickup configuration. Both guitars come with the Original Floyd Rose tremolo and have reversed headstocks. 

2004 - 2005

ESP M-II Urban CamoUntil 2003 the ESP M-II had ESP pickups. This changed in 2004 when the ESP M-II came with Seymour Duncans and in 2005 when there was an ESP M-II with EMG's. Both came with maple and rosewood fingerboards. 2005 also brought us the ESP M-II Urban Camo which featured EMG's, an ebony fingerboard, neck-through construction and a 3 piece bound maple neck. The headstock on this M-II was not reversed. Another guitar that was similar to the Urban Camo is the ESP M-II Neck-Thru, also known as the ESP M-II NTB. Like the name says it also has a neck-through construction, EMG 81 humbuckers, a rosewood fretboard that isn't bound and a reversed headstock. 


Added to the M series was the ESP M-I NTB. It had one EMG 81 humbucker in the bridge position, Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners, a bone nut, neck-through construction, an ebony fingerboard and a black satin finish. 


2010 saw the addition of the ESP M-II CTM STD. An M-II featuring Neck-through construction, a bound ebony fingerboard with offset block inlays, EMG humbuckers and a reversed headstock. 


As of 2014 ESP let go of the Standard Series and some of the M(irage) series that were part of the Standard Series moved to the ESP E-II series. And some M models are until now part of the ESP USA Series. I will write about those guitars in another post. Hope you got your fix for information on the ESP M(irage) series for now. Let me know if there are errors in the information above. I base my findings on catalogs that I find online.