LS70F-Is the whole cap Sycamore or just the top laminate?

Tokai guitar discussion

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zzjeff
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Post by zzjeff » Fri Nov 16, 2001 8:12 pm

Here is the $10,000 question I hope someone can answer? On a LS70F, of what kind of wood is the carved top made, the wood underneath the sycamore laminate? I just found a 1999 Japan-made LS70F. The beautifully flamed sycamore laminate seems to be a very thin two-piece on top of a different wood cap. Is this actually a foto-plame? I doubt it--all the specs say this is a flamed sycamore laminated top. In fact the cheaper LS60 has just a two-piece maple top. So, again, is the sycamore laminate JUST on top of a maple cap, or is the cap made of some other kind of wood? Thanks.

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Mon Dec 17, 2001 2:44 am

My money is on the maple top with Sycamore laminate. 2 reasons...
1) Except for the LS200, all Flamed LS models had a flame maple laminate on a solid maple cap. I know this personally.
2) any wood other than maple would not give the desired Les Paul sound or sustain.

nakamichi
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Post by nakamichi » Thu Jan 10, 2002 4:03 pm

Sycamore is maple. Maple is sycamore. The more expensive Japanese guitars (Ibanez, Aria, Takamine, Epiphone etc.) tend not to use laminates as their "gardens" are full of real tree-wood. Even when I paid top-dollar for a U.S. Strat I found it to be laminated.

The Japs bought up the mahogany and "maple" forests in British Honduras years ago - let's face it, the only place Buddy Holly would go to buy a guitar (if he was alive today) would be - JAPAN.

You won't find laminates on MIJ Tokais unless it's the quilted jobbie - I don't know how they do that. It may be a trick, but it's beautiful and I'll bet it's real timber.
Brian Robinson

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Mon Jan 14, 2002 6:26 am

OK nakamichi
Tokai's cheaper model Love Rocks definately had a thin slice of flame maple on top of a solid plain maple top. This was to give the guitar the 'right' look and tone and to keep the costs down. In the '80s only the LS200 had a solid flame maple top.
If you understand the qualities of maple then it makes sense. Flame maple only occurs in 10% of all maple trees - and then only a portion of the tree will be flamed. Then, to get the best flame the log must be quarter-sawn which is the opposite of what most mills saw, so logs must be identified first for flame. All this adds to the rarity and expense of using flame maple. Take into account the amount of maple lost in shaping and sanding the top and a solid flame top is very expensive. Tokai had the smarts to sand a maple top and only use a thin veneer of flame maple to get the '50s effect on the LS 80, 100 & 150 MIJ Love Rocks.
I have pulled these guitars apart and have seen the thin veneer on the top.
regards
Peter


nakamichi
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Post by nakamichi » Tue Jan 15, 2002 6:19 pm

Hi Peter,

It's not the three chords you know, it's how you play 'em!

Thanks for the info about the veneers - given the scarcity of the flamed maple I guess there's not a lot of choice but to use veneers. I'm glad I bought the LS-65 now - I loved the look of the LS-75 (quilted maple) but from what you say, that may have been a veneer too? The LS-65 played and sounded better but I assumed it was just normal variations between guitars.

I don't like veneers on guitars (the US Standard Strat has veneers on all the solid and semi-opaque finishes) and according to Ed Roman the glue ever-so-slightly deadens the tone of a guitar. I replaced the body on my recent US Standard Strat with a non-veneered one and it sounds sharper and plays "livelier".

I played a gorgeous looking flame-maple top guitar in Brian Haywoods guitar shop (Winchester) and wondered how it could be so cheap. "The maple's a photograph" sez he. I thought he was joking, but he wasn't. Good grief, is nothing sacred?

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Tue Jan 15, 2002 7:11 pm


Hi nakamichi

good luck with the LS-65, regardless of the top,all the Love Rocks play superbly. I would say the LS-75 would have a veneer.
If you look at the difference in cost between Gibson Les Pauls with plain tops and those with flame they ask at least US$500 extra for the flametop. The R-9 (1959 Reissue) is close to US$8,000.00 for a solid AAAA grade flame maple. As for quilted maple, check out the difference in price in Les Paul Elegants with flame to those with quilt - more bucks
I did some math about Tokais old models to the new models and this is how i see it.
In 1984 the AUS$ bought 400yen and US$1.20, the TLS 200 was 200,000yen with a solid flame top.
In 2000 the AUS$ buys 70 yen and US$0.52 and inflation has pushed the 200,000yen to 320,000yen so it appears the LS320 is made to the same specs as the TLS200 from the 80s. I did own an original TLS200 as well as many Gibsons and the TLS200 was a real Gibson-killer.
I believe the LS320 has to still be better value than the R-9, in much the same way the LS-65 is better value than the current Les Paul Standard.

regards
Peter


TommyR
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Post by TommyR » Wed Jan 16, 2002 2:31 pm

I spied an LS-65 in Gamlins in Cardiff recently - Violin Finish. In another Cardiff shop they had a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Plaintop Reissue in the same finish (Heritage something or other), looked incredibly similar. Is this what the LS-65 is based on?

Not sure if I should start another thread but I think the pricing in the UK is somewhat cock-eyed. The figures for each model refer to prices in Yen. 5,000 is roughly ?30. If the LS-65 is ?599, why is the LS-70 (flamed sycamore) ?749.00?

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Wed Jan 16, 2002 5:17 pm

Hi TommyR
All the LS series are based on the 1959 Les Paul Std. I find that the current Gibson R-9 (1959 Reissue)has a more baseball bat type neck than the Tokai and is a little awkward to play. The earlier R-9's 90-95 have a closer neck to the Tokai.
The figures refer to the RETAIL price in Yen forthe Japanese market and should be used as a guideline for quality, not an exact conversion. Having worked for importers, I know that prices can vary from shipment to shipment with exchange rates, freight, duty, customs clearance, etc. If the 2 guitars are 12 months apart, this could be the reason for the uneven pricing.
regards
Peter

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