A quick comparison of the 500 vs 200 series guitars of the same models (Kamikaze and Tiger). I took some photos to describe the differences and measured the neck widths, using a caliper. I knew that the 500 series Kamikaze's neck felt wider, so I started there. Although the differences seem small when you look at the numbers, it's significantly wider when you feel it in your hands.
200: 2.059" (52.2986 mm)
500: 2.254" (57.2516 mm)
200: 1.989" (50.5206 mm)
500: 2.101" (53.3654 mm)
Here are the Kamikaze 200 and 500 side by side:
As you can see, the 500 is missing the Kamikaze pilot and the bombs, that were on the original. But the colors are the same as the original mode. Since the 500 has the same materials, they probably wanted to be able to distinguish them from the original. The 200 series colors are more beige, on both the body and neck. The 500 hardware is black. 200 is chrome. The pickups on the 500 are Duncan Designed (although the one in the photo have been changed to a Duncan JB), which are designed by Seymour Duncan, but are manufactured overseas. They try to match the original sound. The 200 series comes with ESP Designed pickups, which do not mimic the original sound.
The headstock logo is different. The LTD logo on top of the 500 is silver, the 200 is black with gold outline.
The Neck contour, near the headstock is different. The 500's contour is rounder, and the 200 is bulkier. Will you really notice it? Probably not, but it's there.
The back is where you can see a big difference:
The 200 has a back plate, and a large cavity for the wiring and pot. This is probably due to the wood used. They used a softer wood on the 200.
The 500 is made of maple, which is hard. So there is no need for a backplate. Also, the wiring access is very small.
The tigers are also different.
There are some major differences in the color, and how it was painted. The 500 is darker, mainly because the black tiger stripes are bigger. Also, there is more red/orange on the headstock.
One thing that I wasn't aware of before, was that the paint jobs were done differently. First, the purple on the 500 is much deeper and richer, than the 200. If you look at the 200, you can see that the black was the last color painted. It overlaps the out ring of purple. On the 500, the purple was the last color painted, which gives it a better look (in my opinion).
The backs of the two models are very different:
The obvious difference is the paint job. The 500 follows the coloring of the front of the guitar.
Just like the Kamikaze, the 200 has a backplate and large cavity. The 500 has no backplate and a small cavity.
Another difference is the LTD Logo.
As seen below, the 200 series has white lettering, while the 500 has silver sparkle.
Another HUGE difference in the 2 guitars is the truss rod access location. On the 200 series, the truss rod access is on the headstock. If you look at the headstock, you can see a truss rod cavity near the nut. On the 500 series, the truss rod access is on the heal of the guitar, which means you have to loosen the neck screws to access it. The added benefit is there is no headstock cavity, and the nut to headstock area looks beautiful.
The truss rod in the heal can be a pain for novice users, but it's really not hard to do at all. You can see how to adjust the truss rod on the guitar maintenance page in the menu.
As I stated above, the 500 copies the actual George Lynch ESP guitar, where the 200 series differs in various areas.
There are many differences between the 2 models. The 500's are becoming harder and harder to find, since they are no longer produced.
This comparison is not to say that the 200 series is not a good guitar, because it is a good guitar, but there are some major differences between to the 200 and 500 series guitars.