Kaoru (musician)

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Kaoru 2009.jpg
Kaoru at Maquinaria Festival, 2009
Background information
Born (1974-02-17) February 17, 1974 (age 44)
Origin Hyōgo, Japan
Occupation(s) Guitarist, composer, record producer
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts Dir en grey, La:Sadie's, Charm, Die:Steria

Kaoru (, Kaoru, born February 17, 1974 in Hyōgo) is a Japanese musician, best known as the leader and one of the guitarists of the extreme metal band Dir En Grey. He has been with the group since its inception in 1997 and was previously a member of La:Sadie's. He has composed most of Dir en grey's songs (at least up to the Vulgar album, at which individual credits for the music were dropped). His contributions display a fair amount of variety, ranging from slow ballads such as "Zakuro" to upbeat numbers like "Jessica". He performs many solos for the band, which vary strongly in feeling and tempo, similar to his compositions. Kaoru cites X Japan guitarist hide as his biggest influence and the reason he plays guitar, saying "If I had never known him, I wouldn’t be who I am today."[1] Revealing "Kaoru" to be his birth name in his book Dokugen (読弦), he's one of the two Dir En Grey members with a known real name, along with Shinya.

Since 2014, Kaoru has suffered from nerve paralysis, and has sometimes resorted to taping his guitar plectrum to his hand. In 2015, he hosted a radio program, "The Freedom Of Expression".[2]


Kaoru is endorsed by ESP Guitars in Japan, who provides him with most of his guitars, picks, and straps. In the past, Kaoru primarily used ESP Custom Shop guitars from his signature-series, Ganesa. He stopped using the Ganesa guitars around 2005 and switched to the Viper series, in which he has his own custom model, the D-KV-420. Recently a limited edition Edwards version of his D-KV is being sold.

ESP has released several replicas of Kaoru's signature guitars in Japan through the ESP and Edwards product lines. The ESP artist series offers replicas of the D-KV-420 and the Ganesa II. Edwards offers a miniature Ganesa and replicas of the Ganesa IV and VIII. Kaoru uses guitar amplifiers by Diezel and cabinets by VHT.


Brand Model Notes
ESP Ganesa I Originally made with a see-through purple finish on an alder body, which was covered when the guitar was sent to the ESP Custom Shop for repair. ESP also refers to it as Ganesa Sabe because of its faux-rusted metal finish.[3]
ESP Ganesa II Has a quilted maple top, which is typically used for aesthetic purposes on instruments, that has been covered by opaque black paint since the guitar's creation.[3]
ESP Ganesa III Has a purple quilt maple top, and is fitted with a sustainer system
ESP Ganesa IV Same as the Ganesa II, but with an all alder body instead of the usual quilted maple top and mahogany back.
ESP Ganesa V Kaoru broke the headstock during the Tour 00 >> 01 Macabre and the guitar was fixed by the ESP Custom Shop, but the damage was not painted over.[3]
ESP Ganesa VI First Ganesa to feature the slimmer body of the later models.
ESP Ganesa VII The seven-string Ganesa model. Two were made so Kaoru could use two different seven-string tunings.[3]
ESP Ganesa VIII First of Kaoru's guitars to have his "Japanese Zombie Heroes" slogan painted on the back of the neck, which was then added to most of the existing Ganesas.[3]
ESP Ganesa IX Little information is released on this guitar. It features a metallic silver finish, and can be seen in Dir En Grey's music video and television performance of "Embryo".
ESP VP-200 none
ESP VP-CTM Custom made for Kaoru, has a quilted maple top and a custom see-through pink and purple sunburst finish.[4]
ESP VP-SL7 Owns several in black, purple, and green tuned to either ADADGBE or A# Standard.
ESP VP-Prototypes Early versions of Kaoru's recent signature guitar. These and the models which followed have more definition in the body than regular Vipers.[4]
ESP VP-DKV-420 His signature model from ESP.[4]
ESP Horizon III Kaoru Custom A see-through purple Horizon, maple body and neck. Used same as the other Horizon.
ESP MA300 Custom The MA300 Custom has an alder body, maple neck, and it uses EMG pickups. A sustainer was installed after a performance at the Budokan
ESP Throbber Black finish with a white pick guard. Used for 'Toguro'.
Jerry Jones Baby Sitar The Sitar is used only for the recording of mazohyst of decadence.
PRS Custom 24 Has a see-through grey-black flame maple top with tremolo bridge.[5] The guitar can be seen during the performance of "Kodoku ni Shisu, Yueni Kodoku." on the It Withers and Withers DVD.
Gibson Les Paul Standard They were used only for recording on Gauze.

Pickups and other accessories[edit]

  • Custom Audio Electronics 3+SE Preamp
  • VHT Pitbull Ultra-Lead amplifier
  • Bogner Fish Preamp
  • Peavey 6505+[6]
  • Dunlop Cry Baby wah-wah pedal
  • Vox V847A wah-wah pedal
  • Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer Pedal
  • DigiTech Whammy Pedal
  • EHX Frequency Analyser
  • EHX Deluxe Memory Man
  • EHX Micro Synth
  • MXR Flanger
  • Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb
  • Boss LS-2 Line Selector
  • Boss GE-10 EQ
  • Seymour Duncan SFX-01 Pick-up Booster
  • MoogerFooger MF-101 Low Pass Filter
  • EMG 81 on neck and EMG 85 on bridge of Ganesa I, II, and IV
  • EMG 81 on bridge and Sustainer Driver EMG SA on neck of Ganesa III
  • EMG 81 on bridge and neck on most recent Viper
  • EMG 707 pickups on Ganesa VII
  • Seymour Duncan SH-1n and SH-4 on all older 6-string Vipers
  • Seymour Duncan SH-1n-7 and SH-4-7 on Viper-SL7
  • ESP custom-printed picks
  • ESP Dir En Grey series guitar strap
  • Diezel VH4 amplifiers
  • VHT Custom 6x12 Cabinets w/custom Japanese Zombie Heroez grill cloths


  1. ^ "Dir En Grey Guitarist Kaoru Discusses Latest EP, Next Album + Scream for the Truth Campaign". Loudwire. 2013-11-25. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsQD9OdRUx0
  3. ^ a b c d e "ESP Ganesa series information". espguitars.co.jp.
  4. ^ a b c "ESP Viper series information". espguitars.co.jp.
  5. ^ "Dir En Grey Pure Essence of Machiavellism", Gigs, Sept., 2004.
  6. ^ "ESP Ganesa series information". musicpic.net.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]