CANTA is (was) a mascot for SCANDAL from the band’s very early pre-major label days. I had the chance to take a photo with this Arrancar-like plush character in Tachikawa-shi during the band’s HELLO WORLD Hall Tour back in 2014. And without any announcement, CANTA disappeared thereafter from any further SCANDAL promo events or news. I guess, the lasses have indeed grown up by then.
This guitar is, I guess, a piece of the band’s history. And I bought it secondhand online on Yahoo! Japan Auctions (Japan’s eBay) at the tail end of 2015 as the seller had a placed a buy it now option on the guitar. Easy. However, getting the history on how this guitar came about involved a bit of research online from fan blogs and SCANDAL HEAVEN.
Despite first listening to SCANDAL in 2010, I wasn’t that big a fan to follow the lasses’ activity to a T but in 2011, SCANDAL was involved in a flurry of activities which included the SCANDAL VIRGIN HALL TOUR 2011「BABY ACTION」 that went on for two months ending in early December at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tōkyō. During the time of the hall tour, SCANDAL announced that they have collaborated with ESP in the production of the CANTA guitar. Fans could pre-order the guitar from Kitty (what Feedback! used to be) and the guitar would be delivered in March 2012. The price was 65,000円 which was pretty much in the similar ball park of the Squier guitars the band was selling a few years later.
In November 2011, the CANTA guitar and bass were on display at the ESP Musical Instrument Fest held at the PACIFICO Yokohama, together with a number of other ESP collaboration guitars, like the one with SEGA of Sonic the Hedgehog, as seen in the photo below.
Back to that last show of the 2011 hall tour in Tōkyō, MAMI, HARU and TOMOMI performed DOLL and 少女S during the main set with a CANTA guitar each. Interestingly, TOMOMI’s CANTA bass (with Jazz bass-styled pickups) was the only one made by ESP and it was never made available for fans to buy, although there was an indication that commercial production of the bass will be considered depending on demand. Obviously not much in the way of demand from the looks of it.
During one of the show’s MCs, HARU even asked if anyone in the audience had ordered the CANTA guitar yet. That was the first and last time the CANTA guitar was used by the lasses together live, parking the guitars onstage as they proceeded to perform 少女M thereafter. One of the CANTA guitars was later given away to No Name, a band from a high school in Osaka, who won the judge’s special prize at the SCANDAL Copy Band & Vocalist Contest Vol.4 held at Shibuya-AX in 2013.
The CANTA guitar is essentially an offshoot of an earlier Doraemon X ESP guitar built in 2008, which houses an ESP-made Speak Up® speaker in the place of a pickup. For CANTA, this speaker in placed on the sole of his left foot. The bridge humbucker is a Grass Roots model and there is a sole control knob for the volume. A switch is present on the left foot to switch between the bridge pickup and the speaker. The speaker runs on batteries. CANTA otherwise has a fixed bridge with a ToM.
The headstock is, interestingly, Fender in shape, with an added CANTA skull cowl and has Scandal on it in a suspiciously Fender-like font. I was actually half-expecting the headstock to be similar to those on ESP’s Snapper series guitars. The fretboard is painted white and has inlays of CANTA’s foot prints, and his eyes on the 12th fret. One can’t be faulted to look at this as a children’s guitar, really! The guitar comes in a faux leather ESP soft case and includes an owner’s manual and warranty.
To tell you the truth, I’ve only played this guitar a couple of times (I have this guitar for about 4 years now – nope, not selling it!). Playing a short scale feels a bit weird! I have never tried the speaker but the Grass Roots humbucker at the bridge packs a punch. Check out the sound bite I made (immediately after picking the guitar up!) below:
As the full specs of this interesting collab guitar, I can only make a guesstimate from a short ad for the CANTA guitar and the specs for the 2008 Doraemon ESP mini guitar.
COLOR: CANTA Illustration
NECK: Maple / 22Frets
SCALE: 24″ (Short Scale)
ATTACHMENT: 4 bolts
PICKUP: Bridge – Grass Roots GH-1G humbucker
SWITCH: スピークアップ/SPEAK UP speaker ON/OFF