ESP - From Japan With Love

file - 11.08.2009 01:20

ESP’s guitars are played by many Japanese musicians. This article will reveal all the secrets of the instruments of your favourite musicians!

ESP occupies one of the lead positions among guitar companies. Such success is the rule as it is based on the highest quality of production and good marketing. The musicians using guitars of this brand have also played a significant role. George Lynch, the legendary guitarist, was the first to take an ESP guitar in his hands. At that time this virtuoso was the guitarist of the popular hard-rock band Dokken. Bright and, most importantly, perfect sounding guitars quickly drew the attention of both professionals and the youth.

On the Japanese market ESP is one of the leaders in quantity of endorsers. This results from the fact that the company aspires to involve not only recognized guitar virtuosos, but also popular musicians of various genres. Of course, it is necessary for this purpose to be able to release guitars that would answer the most unusual inquiries. The sound and convenience of the play are important for a virtuoso-guitarist, and only after these requirements are fulfilled the instrument's appearance enters the equation. But any popular musician can demand a guitar with a bright, extravagant appearance first of all. The satisfaction of all these requirements is the goal of the ESP Custom shop which is producing guitars "to order". The best guitar masters of the company work there and create both guitars for popular musicians and fantastic exhibition guitars that draw attention from huge numbers of visitors at every possible exhibition. If the company makes an endorsement contract with a musician, the copies of the guitar created for him in the Custom shop start to be released serially.

Photos of all the guitars released for musicians in the Custom shop can be found in the gallery on the company's official site. Any customer can order an exact copy of a guitar seen there. Thus, if there are many orders for a guitar even of a little known musician, the firm can make an endorsement contract with him and release his guitars serially. Therefore even the little known musician theoretically can become an endorser. This flexible policy is one of the components that has led to the success of the company. ESP always seeks to involve talented aspiring guitarists, and many of the present endorsers of the company made a contract with them before they became popular.

One more component of the company's success is the aspiration to involve all categories of buyers of endorsers' signature guitars. As a rule, guitars used by musicians are expensive instruments of manual assemblage. Frequently they demand difficult woodwork, advanced sound pickups, a thin neck, and perfect mechanics. This means that signature instruments are very expensive and accessible only to a small circle of buyers. In ESP this problem is resolved by releasing inexpensive versions of signature guitars under the various brands belonging to the company. Generally, these cheaper versions themselves are very interesting musical instruments, but nevertheless they differ considerably from the original guitars. In this respect, customers should consider which brands the guitars are released under.

The signature guitars of musicians are released under the ESP brand. Buying such a guitar, you can be totally assured that your idol plays precisely the same one. These guitars are created by the best guitar masters and are notable for a fantastic quality of assemblage.

Under the brand Navigator, replicas of the well-known guitars such as the Stratocaster or LesPaul are released. These are the guitars of the highest quality of manual assemblage.

Edwards releases the serial guitars collected in Japan. They are cheaper than ESP, but their high quality assurance and excellent sound win them popularity even among professionals. Unfortunately, production of these guitars is focused on the home market.

GrassRoots and LTD produce more accessible guitars. A considerable part of their production is located out of Japan. GrassRoots is focused on the home market. Despite the reasonable price, these guitars also pass the strict quality assurance.


This band is a legend in the world of Japanese music. One of the oldest and most popular musical bands, they collaborate with ESP. Guitars with angelic subjects released for this band are works of art in a way. The most complicated manual woodwork has made these instruments rather expensive, but they are coveted by many guitarists and collectors for their beauty. Currently the ESP angel Classic V is displayed on sale. This "angelic" guitar is equipped with two sound pickups and the Floyd Rose tremolo-system.


This talented guitarist also collaborates with ESP. Now four of his signature guitars - Funichar, CM-CP, CM-MS, CMD-III - are available. All these guitars are notable for their unusual form and are equipped with Dynamic tremolo (a sort of classical tremolo) systems. Interestingly, the Funichar and the CMD-III contain two additional frets for the sixth string on the headstock, making it possible to achieve much lower sound in comparison to usual guitars.


The bass guitarist of L’Arc~en~Ciel is another of the endorsers of ESP. His bass guitars are widely presented in the assortment of the company. The most interesting among them are the 6-string Bandit Six and the 5-string Bardic, which is available in two colours. Also in the catalogue is the 4-string bass BUZZ BASS. Special attention should be given the BASS-IV: It is a unique instrument equipped with sound pickups worked out by tetsu himself. Thus its sound is rather unusual. Undoubtedly this instrument will be the most valuable acquisition for any professional bass guitarist.

The inexpensive versions of his instruments are released under the brands of Edwards (E-T-170BD, E-T-125BZ) and GrassRoots (G-T-68BZ). The E-T-125BZ and the G-T-68BZ are variations of the BUZZ BASS, but at the same time they have kept the appearance of the prototype, and the E-T-170BD is based on the Bardic.


It goes without saying that SUGIZO is the ESP man on the Japanese market. This virtuoso guitarist with unique playing technique has contributed a lot to the design of guitars. Many of his offered ideas have found wide application for serial models of the company.

The collaboration between SUGIZO and ESP began in the early years of LUNA SEA. Initially his signature guitars were the Horizon and the PR. Everything changed in 1994 when the ESP Eclipse S-1 appeared, as it seemed at the time that this guitar combined incompatible things - the body of LesPaul, singles with an unusual scheme of switching and the Floyd Rose tremolo-system. Having undergone a number of changes in its process of evolution, this guitar is currently being produced. Also since 1996 the Eclipse S-1 has been released in colours of brilliant mixed media, and its unique colouring became one of SUGIZO’s symbols. The basic distinctive feature of these guitars is their typical sound recognized under any conditions.

Despite the success with the S-1, the advance of the guitars of this type proceeds to this very day. Besides the guitars mentioned above, the S-VIII guitars are presented in the catalogue. The distinctive feature of these guitars is the selection of sound pickups. Every guitar is equipped with three singles, but on the bridge positions the SP-90 is set - the modern version of one of the legendary sound pickups of the '50s. Along with the unusual scheme of switching, it gives very unusual, clear sound. All the guitars of this type are equipped with the GOTOH GE101TS tremolo-system. The S-VIII includes three instruments: the classical S-VIII in black colour, the S-VIII brilliant mix-media and the V-VIII. Besides the colour the S-VIII brilliant mix-media is notable for the fact that on the bridge position the Lollar P-90 is set instead of the SP-90. It is one more version of the classical sound pickup. In the catalogue these guitars are dated for the concert of LUNA SEA in 2007, and they are notable for a special sign on a headstock. The V-VIII is the unique guitar of the Eclipse series and its appearance is the symmetric flying V.

Under the Edwards brand the inexpensive version of the S-1 in black colour is being released today. This guitar is named E-CL-96I. Despite more simple sound pickups in comparison with the S-1, this guitar has kept a lot of the unique features of the senior model.


The collaboration between J and ESP began at the beginning of the '90s. Now two of his guitars J-TVB-V and J-MF-I are presented in the catalogue. The first one is presented in several colour variations, and there is also a model dated for the concert of LUNA SEA in 2007. The J-MF-I is one of the most well-known of J's guitars, and it is now released with one of the most well-known inscriptions he did on the instruments. This inscription, as well as those on his own guitars, is put on the underside of the neck.

The Edwards brand produces the inexpensive versions of these bass guitars - E-J-90MF (version of the J-MF-I) and E-J-105TV (version of the J-TVB-V) . The G-J-68MF (the inexpensive version of the J-MF-I) is released under the Grassroots brand.


The success of PIERROT has drawn attention not only from the sound recording companies, but also from ESP. In the very years of this band's existence Aiji became an endorser of ESP. This collaboration continued into the present now that Aiji is playing in LM.C. Nowadays his main guitar, the ESP [003], is produced serially. It is presented in two variants - in black and with the drawn flame; the last variant is called fire-burn mix. These guitars are equipped with the Seymour Duncan sound pickups and the Floyd Rose tremolo-system. Aiji himself wanted to get guitars with a unique appearance that would be associated with him only. ESP considered this request and made the form of the body and the headstock unusual, different from other serial guitars. At the same time the guitar appears to be very convenient and well balanced.

The inexpensive version of the [003] (the E-A-105) in black is produced under the Edwards brand. This guitar has kept the external features of the senior model, but it is equipped with the Edwards sound pickups.


Like Aiji, Jun began to play ESP’s guitars when he was a guitarist in PIERROT. Now having joined ALvino, he still successfully cooperates with the company. At the moment his newest guitar is the ESP Karula. The design of this instrument is based on the LesPaul classical guitars, but the body form is slightly altered in order to give originality to its appearance and to make it easier to access the top frets.

The RJ-II is another of Jun's guitars which is produced serially. The instrument is presented in two colour variations - in red and black with a white inlay. These guitars were mainly in the time of PIERROT. Due to their unusual appearance these instruments received the name 'Pierrot guitar' among admirers of the band. But the basic advantage of the guitar is in the choice of sound pickups. Besides the Seymour Duncan SH-14 set on the bridge, two more ESP Custom LAb CL-P-S-1s are set on the guitar, giving it an unusual and interesting sound.
The replicas of the RJ-II are produced under the Edwards brand and are named E-RJ-CTM.

Ken Yokoyama

This guitarist attracted attention in the time of Hi-Standard. He skillfully combined punk rock with difficult guitar parts atypical for this style. Naturally, such an unusual approach demanded suitable guitars, and on the other hand, Ken Yokoyama's talent inevitably drew the attention of ESP.

At present four of this musician's guitars are being released serially. The IGUANA and the CHERRY KEN differ from each other only in colour variations. Both instruments are focused on the style of Ken Yokoyama's play. The Navigator N-N - ' 97 HONEY KEN has kept the same sound pickups as the previous models, but its appearance is classical LesPaul. It is interesting that the switch of sound pickups on it is closed with the adhesive tape. The guitar released under Edwards is absolutely dissimilar to the previous models. The E-MA - ' 98 ALOHA KEN is a beautiful instrument with a selection of sound pickups distinct from other guitars.


IKUZONE is the bass guitarist of Dragon Ash. His bass guitar, the RM-380DA, is presented in the catalogue. Like many other Japanese musicians IKUZONE prefers his instruments to be notable for their unusual appearance and sound.

Three of his bass guitars are released under the Edwards brand. The most interesting among them is the E-RM-BLAIKUTRON, which is available in black and black-green. This guitar is not a replica of any other IKUZONE guitars.


This talented bass guitarist is famous for his play in SEX MACHINEGUNS. After leaving the band he played with the rather successful band DUSTAR-3. ESP releases his two bass guitars - ACHO and Jett going. Both guitars are yellow in colour, and are notable for their bright appearance and developed sound control system.

The Edwards E-AC-90 represents a replica of the more senior model ESP ACHO.


Noisy's fellow band member in DUSTAR-3, this talented guitarist participated in various projects. His skill has earned him the respect of his colleagues and it is no wonder that he collaborates with ESP. The company produces serially his guitar Lizard Special; it is a professional instrument with all the necessary attributes: the Floyd Rose tremolo, the flexible switching system of sound pickups, and a narrow and thin neck. The guitar E-YL-I being released under the Edwards brand has kept all the elements of the ESP model and it is essentially an exact replica.


Panther is one of the most popular Japanese guitarists who plays heavy. He gained this popularity while in SEX MACHINEGUNS. Now he has created his own project,Cycle, which is well-respected among admirers of guitar music.

ESP produces serially two of his guitars - Sexy Finger V-II and Sexy Finger V. Both of them are flying V and are equipped with three sound pickups - two humbuckers and a single. The Sexy Finger V-II is notable for the unusual bright colouring. Both instruments are real multi-effect processors, uncompromising, aggressive and demanding a lot of skill.

The version of the Sexy Finger V called E-PV-143 is produced under the Edwards brand.

Kenjiro Murai

Working with the famous guitarist of Panther, the talented bass guitarist of Cycle attracted attention of ESP. His approach to the sound of a bass guitar was expressed in the ESP Metal bird. This instrument is interesting for both its unusual appearance and its sound.


Dir en grey is a band which needs no introduction. The collaboration of the band with ESP began practically right after the release of their first album. The reason this band drew ESP's attention was not only their popularity, but also the skill of the musicians themselves.

Now both Kaoru's new guitars and the copies of the old instruments he used at the beginning of his career are being released. The K-GA-650 belongs to the latter. This guitar conducts the family tree from the legendary Ganesa I - the first guitar created by ESP for Kaoru. The aggressive looking instrument is equipped with the EMG sound pickups and the Floyd Rose tremolo-system. The guitar is focused on an uncompromising, heavy sound.

Today Kaoru uses the guitars belonging to the popular family Viper. Kaoru's new guitar, D-KV-440, is the most perfect instrument in this family. The interesting feature of this guitar is the ESP Flicker-III tremolo-system.
Released under the Edwards brand, the E-K-130VP and the E-K-150VP have kept the same sound pickups as the D-KV-440, but they are equipped with a fixed bridge. Two replicas of guitars of the Ganesa family are also being released. They are the E-K-117GA/TM and the E-K-105GA. The last one is the inexpensive version of the K-GA-650. The E-K-117GA/TM is a replica of the Ganesa VIII no longer serially released. This black-blue guitar is equipped with the same sound pickups and the fixed bridge as the prototype.


One of the magnificent guitarists of Dir en grey and a very talented musician, Die has repeatedly said that he admires the playing of Ichiro "Cipher" Takigawa, the guitarist of legendary D’ERLANGER. It has left a certain mark on his instruments and style of playing. At the same time his skill and approach to the guitar sound have led to the creation of a number of interesting instruments by Die and ESP.

Today Die's main guitar, the ESP D-DR-300, is a baritone-guitar focused on an aggressive sound. Also interesting to note is the aggression that underscores the pointed headstock.

At the beginning of Dir en grey's career, Die's main guitars were created on a base of the Telecaster. This explains the relation of the musician to the sound of this classical electro guitar and his technique of playing. Fortunately for the admirers of Die, the version of his previous guitars is available - the ESP D-TE-580. This red guitar is equipped with the EMG SA sound pickups.

Replicas of both guitars are released under the Edwards brand. But in fact the E-D-95DR is an independent instrument, though outwardly it resembles the ESP D-DR-300. With its normal scale length, it is not a baritone-guitar, which gives this instrument a different sound. The E-D-85TE is a replica of the ESP D-TE-580.


Toshiya started to co-operate with ESP simultaneously with Die and Kaoru. Now the company releases his bass guitar, the D-TR-300. It is a very interesting instrument with respect to both sound and appearance. Also noteworth are the sound pickups closed by plastic and the scheme of their switching.

The Edwards E-T-100TR is a replica of Toshiya's main bass guitar. Despite the simple sound pickups this guitar has kept many features of the senior model and it is an excellent acquisition for any bassist.


Mana began to work with ESP when he was the guitarist of MALICE MIZER, and the collaboration continued after the creation of Moi dix Mois. The design of the guitar developed for him became a fine demonstration of the skill of the ESP Custom shop. Mana wanted to get a guitar which would not only have the sound his music demands, but also he wanted it to be an unusual and outwardly unique instrument. This guitar has received the name jeune fille ('young girl'). Beautiful and graceful, it corresponds to the name. Subsequently different guitars of this family became frequent items of various guitar exhibitions.

Now there are three jeune fille guitars presented in the ESP catalogue. The ESP jeune fille X is equipped with the Floyd Rose tremolo-system and the EMG 81 sound pickup. The ESP jeune fille X Bronze and the ESP jeune fille X Gips differ in colouring and the tremolo-system - Kahler #2315 is set on them.

The replica of the jeune fille X, called E-JF-X, is released under the Edwards brand. This guitar was created achieving a minimum of differences from the ESP model. Therefore it is equipped with the same sound pickup and the same tremolo-system. If you need an inexpensive guitar with an extremely unusual appearance and powerful sound, the E-JF-X will be a good choice.


Közi became an endorser of ESP simultaneously with Mana. This collaboration proceeded after the break-up of MALICE MIZER. At the creation of his guitar , like Mana he wanted to create an outwardly unique instrument with suitable sound. This guitar was called akauzu-kun. This beautiful instrument of red coloring is equipped with the EMG sound pickups.

There is also a bizauzu in the catalogue. This instrument is interesting for the unusual selection of sound pickups and the scheme of their switching. All this gives a large quantity of variations in sound. Undoubtedly the bizauzu is an interesting instrument with considerable possibilities.


A legend in the Japanese heavy-metal scene and the leader of SEX MACHINEGUNS, ANCHANG is one of the recognized virtuosos in Japan. His collaboration with ESP has continued for many years and it has always been expressed in aggressivel looking, heavy sounding instruments.

Today ESP offers two signature guitars of this guitarist; they are the ESP-Anchang Star and the ESP-Anchang Star II. Both guitars belong to the family star, one of the most aggressive released by ESP. The ESP-Anchang Star II is a guitar of metallic colouring with Seymour Duncan sound pickups and a tremolo-system. Like all of ANCHANG's guitars traditional points on the neck are replaced with drawings, in this case a skull with the crossed bones. Concerning its sound, the ESP-Anchang Star does not give in to the Anchang Star II though it differs in colouring.

Replicas of these guitars are released under the Edwards brand. The Anchang Star II has become a prototype for the E-AS-II 155SM, and the Anchang Star for the E-AS-105SM.


It would be hard to name a Japanese heavy-metal guitarist who received greater recognition among professionals than Syu. The skill and masterful technique of this guitarist's play are being praised in Japan, Europe and America. Today Syu is the leader of the power-metal band Galneryus. They are notable for the improbable skills of every musician and their music has become a fine demonstration of Syu's potential.

It's no wonder that such a talent who chooses instruments carefully has decided on ESP's guitars. Both of his main guitars are now serially produced: the ESP Crying Star and the ESP Crying Star Rebel. These instruments belong to the family star, but concerning their appearance the main difference is the form of the headstock designed specially for Syu. Besides the appearance these guitars possess an interesting sound which is defined by the selection of sound pickups, 27-fret neck and the choice of wood. The ESP Crying Star is equipped with a tremolo-system, and the ESP Crying Star Rebel with the fixed bridge. The ESP Crying Star Rebel is notable for tits interesting selection of sound pickups and the scheme of their switching.

The E-CS-160, a version of the ESP Crying Star, is released under the Edwards brand. This guitar has kept the main features of the senior model.


Undoubtedly, Kagrra, is one of the outstanding phenomena in the Japanese rock scene. First of all this talented band has attracted attention with their interesting and carefully thought-out music. The main guitars of the musicians are released serially by ESP.

Akiya's main guitar is the ESP Mugen-AK. This guitar is for those who need a low sound. The Mugen-AK is a seven-stringed guitar with a long baritone-scale. Its version, called E-AK-120 Mugen-AK, is released under the Edwards brand.


Also from Kagrra,, Sin's main guitar is the ESP HIMAWARI. This instrument is based on the Telecaster, but differs from the classical guitar in its selection of sound pickups. Two singles and a humbucker are set on the HIMAWARI. The appearance of the instrument is also noteworthy- the guitar has kept the natural colour of wood, with an inlay of black
The E-S-120 HIMAWARI is released under Edwards. This instrument has kept sound pickups of the same model as the ESP HIMAWARI.


Nao is the bass guitarist of Kagrra,. ESP releases his signature bass guitar ESP Doumin no yume. This rather interesting instrument is notable for the unusual form of the body.

The version of this bass guitar released under Edwards is called E-N-125. It has kept the main features of the senior model.


the GazettE needs no introduction. This band is one of the most successful J-rock collectives in recent years. Initially they ordered their instruments in the ESP Custom shop, and now the main guitars have begun to be released serially.

Aoi's main guitar is the ESP A-1. First of all this guitar attracts attention with its aggressive appearance. Like many others, Aoi wanted to get a guitar with a unique appearance. If one looks at the instrument attentively, you can see a number of peculiarities, fpr instance the set of four sound pickups - two humbuckers and two singles. The scheme of their switching allows for simultaneous usage of humbuckers or singles. It also allows for the broadest range of sounding - from aggressive, characteristic for hard rock, to pure and warm for ballads. Also this guitar is equipped with the Floyd Rose tremolo-system.

The version of this guitar, called G-A-68, is released under the GrassRoots brand. Unfortunately, it has not kept the interesting switching of sound pickups from the A-1, but nevertheless, in itself it is a good instrument.


Reita is the bass guitarist of the GazettE. His new bass guitar, the ESP RF-00SL, is notable for its extended scale. This allows for its low sound low that we hear in the band's recent releases.

There is also an RF-00 it the catalogue; It differs from the previous model in standard scale. The ESP Cinnamon system is set on both the RF-00SL and the RF-00 what gives a wide range of sound
GrassRoots has an inexpensive version of the RF-00, which has kept many features of the senior model.


Another member of the GazettE, Uruha differs from Aoi in his thirst for the sound of classical sound pickups. Therefore, after SUGIZO and INORAN, he began to use the SP-90. His guitar ESP U-01 Hellion presented in the catalogue is equipped with two sound pickups of that type. Uruha wanted an instrument with a classical appearance; Therefore the U-01 Hellion looks like LesPaul. However, unlike classical guitars, on the U-01 Hellion the switch of sound pickups is transferred to the volume circuit. This placing corresponds more to Uruha's playing style.

The inexpensive version of this guitar is released under the GrassRoots brand, iand is called the G-U-65. Unlike the senior model, it is equipped with GH-1 humbuckers. Nevertheless, it is an interesting and at the same time inexpensive instrument.


A guitarist in Nightmare, Sakito's main guitar, the ESP N-SS-500, is being released serially. The appearance of this guitar was developed according to the wishes of the musician. It is necessary to note the application of tuning keys unusual to electro guitars.

The GrassRoots G-NS-70 is a replica of Sakito's main guitar. Its main difference is the application of standard tuning keys and less expensive sound pickups. Nevertheless, this instrument is close enough to its prototype.


Histugi is the other guitarist for Nightmare. His main guitar, the ESP N-HH-460, is the unusual red instrument which draws attention to its appearance. This guitar is equipped with the Seymour Duncan sound pickups and the Floyd Rose tremolo-system.

The replica of this instrument is released under Grassroots, and is called G-NH-70. This instrument has kept the bright appearance of its prototype, but the GH-1 sound pickups are set on it.


After the break-up of successful band LAPUTA, Kouichi created the project Everlasting-K. His collaboration with ESP still continues.

Today his main guitar is the ESP EL-K-I. The beautiful white instrument is equipped with EMG sound pickups and has the Floyd Rose tremolo-system.


SID's bass guitarist, Aki, also collaborates with ESP. Now the ESP S-AL-350 is presented in the catalogue. It is a four-string bass guitar which is adapted for Aki's style of play.

The E-AK-125 is released under the Edwards brand, which has kept not only external features of the senior model, but also sound pickups.


D’espairsRay is one of the most appreciated bands in the Japanese rock scene. Karyu's main guitar today is the ESP Micawber. This is a beautiful white guitar with black drawing. This instrument is equipped with Seymour Duncan sound pickups and the Floyd Rose tremolo-system. In this guitar everything is subordinated to the convenience of play - the deep cut in the body provides easy access to the top frets, and the guitar is perfectly balanced.


Zero is the bass guitarist of D’espairsRay. The ESP Tricksy is probably one of ESP's most beautiful bass guitars. This instrument, black-green with gold accessories, instantly demands attention. Besides its appearance, this guitar is notable for the excellent sound which is provided by its long scale and the ESP Custom Lab CL-P-J5 sound pickups. It is also equipped with the ESP Cinnamon system. As a whole, the ESP Tricksy is a magnificent instrument for the true masters.

Akira Takasaki

Akira Takasaki is the most legendary heavy-metal guitarist of Japan. The leader and the founder of legendary band LOUDNESS, at the same time he is one of the best guitar virtuosos who was recognized not only in Japan but also in the USA and Europe.

ESP releases some of his guitars. Not so long ago they released two magnificent guitars, ESP Random star tribal and ESP Random star nishikigoi. Both of them are notable for the unique drawing on them, and they are equipped with Seymour Duncan sound pickups and the ESP fixed bridge.

There are two more guitars in the Random star family - the ESP Random star lime gold and the ESP Random star NT. They are equipped with identical sound pickups, but the Floyd Rose tremolo-system is set on the ESP Random star lime gold.

And in the end, here is one of the first guitars of the family - the ESP Random star. This guitar with the LH-200 and Floyd Rose sound pickups has been released for more than 20 years.
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