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Jazz Sound Bass Dating

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Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:35 pm    Post subject: Jazz Sound Bass Dating Reply with quote


Can anyone tell me anything about my Jazz Sound bass please? I believe that it is a copy of a 1963 Jazz, but don't know when it was made by Tokai. I don't know if the gold colour is original either - it seems to be, but is a bit unusual.

Would the machine heads have been chrome originally? They are really worn looking, but work fine, but I would like to replace them - does anyone know if they can be replaced easily? I also fancy the idea of a chrome pickguard - anyone know any companies who make them?

Maybe that is sacrilege to some, but I think it would look great ...

Also, any idea how much it might be worth? I'm embarrassed to say I only paid ?50 for it - but I imagine it's worth a bit more than that!


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Guitar God

Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 224
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Des,
Welcome to the forum! There are a few good clues from the photos you have posted to help you identify your bass. First the headstock and logo. If you look on the main part of this website there is a section for identifying Tokai Fender copies by headstock/logo type. The guitar info applies for basses as far as I know. Your logo/headstock combination is from between late '83 up to probably early 1985. You have the more desirable "lawsuit" (I shouldn't use that word) headstock--rather the headstock shape copied directly from Fenders. From 1985 or so, they changed the headstock shape to a pointier angle to keep from violating Fender's patent on the shape.

The colour is beautiful and probably fairly uncommon--you could check the 1984/85 catalogues on the main page to see if it is perhaps a custom colour. The L-prefix and laminated pickguard give this away as an early '60s copy (1964 copy I think--again it might specify in the catalogues). If you have to change anything on this (like the pickguard), tuck it away in a safe place for the day your grandchildren decide to sell this. I think the model on this is a TJS-50 (from the 50 sticker on the back--don't remove this as it helps you prove what model your bass is!). Also, if you need to replace the pickguard try not to put extra holes in your bass--Tokai pickguards tend to fit a bit differently than Fender ones and you might have to get one custom made to get it to fit properly.

The chrome tuners on Tokai basses have an unfortunate tendency to go cloudy. If they still keep this in tune I would keep them--they add real mojo and give a sense of the age of this instrument. 50 quid is a steal for a bass like this--they often go in the $500+ range plus shipping etc. or so on ebay, and likely higher in this colour. They're less common than the Precision copies. So, nice one!

Enjoy your beautiful instrument!
Honda cb250

Last edited by cheshirecatsmile on Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with cheshirecatsmile. You have a vintage instrument there - please don't tamper with it! The colour is gorgeous, and it would look silly with shiny new tuners on it, as it's over 20 years old.

?50? A huge bargain! I don't follow bass prices too closely, but the basses tend to sell for similar prices to the Strat copies, so I would guess that would sell for somewhere between ?250 & ?400 on eBay, (maybe a bit more because of the colour) and it's very unlikely to drop in value as time goes on.

Keep it all original, and it should only go up in value. In the meantime, you can play it and enjoy it. Norman Watt-Roy from the Blockheads (Ian Dury's former band) used a Tokai Jazz for years, I think he still does, and he is easily one of the UK's finest bass players. So you're in good company!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Guys and thanks very much for the responses - they are really helpful.

I will check the catalogues as you suggest Cheshirecatsmile, and Norman Watt-Roy is a true bass-guitar hero Stratman323 so thanks for that. I didn't even know he played a Tokai.

I didn't want to make any changes that would damage the guitar in any way, but maybe I will just leave it the way it is and enjoy the "vintage vibe". I also got a Marshall Bass State 65 for free as it wasn't working properly and is with Marshall as we speak being fixed. So once that is returned I will be ready to learn how to play the thing!

I am a 6 stringer usually, but saw this on the net and realised a) what a steal it was and b) what a great quality instrument it is - really lovely to play. It was a bit of a mess with stickers and the like when I got it, but a bit of polish and it looks great.

Right I'm off to find some TAB for "Reasons to be Cheerful" and some tips on poppin and slappin! The Blockheads were a VERY funky band. Ian Dury RIP ...

Thanks again guys!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Des wrote:
but maybe I will just leave it the way it is and enjoy the "vintage vibe".

Glad to hear it - I don't think you'll regret it. In the past, lots of Tokais have been altered/improved, because they were "only cheap guitars". And it's true, they were quite cheap, just surprisingly good for the money, and of unusually consistent quality it seems.

Now that lots of them are over 20 years old, they do have a real vintage vibe, and more and more people are appreciating them for what they are.

If I remember correctly, Norman's Tokai was a Sunburst model, and he removed the scratchplate. I know The Bass Centre in London were doing a Norman tribute JB, but it had a modified headstock shape. Norman is still gigging with The Blockheads, but maybe the best way to see him is with Wilko Johnson's 3 piece band - it's amazing how much funk and how many notes he can squeeze intoa simple 3 chord R n'B number. Gig details on Wilko's website, or if you can't make it, there are clips on Youtube under Wilko's name.

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