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Unfortunally ESP didn't keep good records of old serial numbers.
Many records have been lost during years and most of all were destroyed in a fire accident on late '90s in ESP Japan factory.
These other companies even though they built great guitars failed to capture the imagination and hearts of thousands of guitarists who could afford to purchase a beautiful guitar. My first contact with Paul Smith was in 1977, this was as a direct result from my conversations with Stanley Whittaker and Rick Kennel of the Maryland based band, "Happy the Man".This is the reason why we can easilu find guitars with the bolt plate referring to a year or two before or after respect the serial printed on the back of the headstock.To have an exact dating of this guitars you have to unscrew the neck and look at the date could be written below.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. It all began a few years ago with the EU and a thing called the Ro HS (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. They have a way of producing black again now so expect it to all go back to the way most of us prefer over of old esp's does not have any serial on the back of the headstock.