ST-50 The legend

Tokai guitar discussion

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Peter Mac
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ST-50 The legend

Post by Peter Mac » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:06 pm

Hello all

Have you wondered why there are so many ST-50's around?
This was Tokai's entry level guitar....and yet compared with other brands on the Market (Ibanez, Maya, etc) they were better built, better woods, pups, feel and sound. The maple necks were 1 piece instead of maple veneer board, the bodies were light alder instead of weighty multi ply - in short they were made the way Fender made their Strats in the 1950's.
Fernandes and Greco took note and followed suit and between the 3 of them paved the way for FJ and OBG.
The ST-50 is a guitar to be proud of. It accounted for nearly 60% of ST production, was built for affordability and if you wanted better features, upgrade to the ST-80.
It is disheartening when you read comments of " oh, it's only an ST-50"
That's like saying " oh, it's only an L-series Fender, I thought it was pre-L"

Cheer up owners, they may be entry level for Tokai but they were Top-shelf for the rest of the World.

Please add any comments / pics / observations / etc.

regards
Peter Mac
The world will not end today...because it is already tomorrow in Australia.

bluejeannot
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Post by bluejeannot » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:03 am

Never were truer words written Peter.
Big up to the st 50s and all who sail in them!:D Gabe.
bluejeannot

Del
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Post by Del » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:11 am

I thought st-40s were the entry level?

jacco
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Post by jacco » Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:25 pm

Only one ST in my house, not a 50 but a 55 from 1980, refin though..

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Nice birds eye maple neck

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Beautiful rosewood board, this is an old pic though. I have drilled the dots out and replaced them with coloured water putty to mimic the 59-65 strat

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Barks67
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Post by Barks67 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:36 am

I bought my ST50 in 1987 and have used/abused it professionally ever since. Never saw it as an entry level but a solid professional guitar. Although the hardware has been replaced as it wore out it still is a great instrument. Testament to the good woods and craftsmanship of Tokai. Never saw the need for a *real* one.

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Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:21 am

Hi guys

In regards to the ST-40 & 45's, these guitars came and went but the 50 series was always the staple for entry into the Tokai stable.

Jacco- very nice axe, but have you replaced the scratchplate or neck?

Unlike the ST-45, the ST-55 was essentially an ST-50 finished in a custom colour rather than the standard colours ( GS, YSO, BB, OW, )

Barks - that is my point exactly. They were designed as a professional guitar at a fair price, " an exact replica of the good old strat" to be precise.

regards
Peter Mac
The world will not end today...because it is already tomorrow in Australia.

jacco
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Post by jacco » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:04 am

Hi Peter, no neck is original; same code on body & neck. Pickguard also original. I did refinish the body in nitro surf green, it was a natural finish originally. Neck also refinished in nitro (I love that feel), left the front of the headstock intact, lost the 55 sticker which was on it when I bought it though.

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:21 pm

Hi Jacco,

As I'm sure you are aware, the 8-hole scratchplate was only for maple neck models generally, although some pre-1980 models rosewoods had them also. I take it yours is pre-1980?

By the way, awesome colour, it looks superb.

Peter Mac
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jacco
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Post by jacco » Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:35 pm

Hi Peter, mine is from 1980. I don't know where you got that info; there are so many 1980 RW board STs with 8 screw pickguards around like mine..

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:47 pm

+

just following the breadcrumbs....

Fenders used single layer 8 hole from 54-58 (Maple neck)and triple layer 11 hole from 59-65 (Rosewood neck). The body route was also different.

Tokai did tend to follow this design but from 1981 - not 1980. Sorry.

Peter Mac
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muccax
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Post by muccax » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:36 am

I had a 79 once ...with rosewood veneer neck ...and a plug like on a mable neck ...it too came with a 8 hole scratchplate .....sold it long ago

Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:31 pm

Hi guys,

In order to understand what Tokai was doing, you need to know what Fender did.
1954 :The first pickguard had 8 holes, was made of 1 ply Bakelite or anodised aluminium and had a large control cavity with an ash body.
1956 : Alder was introduced as an extra choice of body wood, pickguard and specs remained unchanged.
1959 : Rosewood was the fingerboard alternative, the pickguard was changed to 3ply 11-hole and to facilitate this, the control route was altered to include a 'shoulder' for the screw next to the pickup selector.

Tokai followed this method somewhat...
All 77-78 models (ST45-ST100) had ash bodies, 1 ply, 8 hole guards and maple or rosewood necks and the 54-58 route (no shoulder).
In '79 I believe, the route was changed to the 'shoulder' route due to the SS series Silver Star which had 11 screw guards
1980 was a BIG changeover year. All bodies had the shoulder, regardless of pickguard By the end of 1980 and into '81, the ST and SS had pure pre-CBS and CBS specs and 1982 they changed the serial numbers to create the most accurate replica since 1965.

Whew . . . . . . . .

Peter Mac
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Peter Mac
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Post by Peter Mac » Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:57 pm

Hi guys,

Time for an update. Looking back on the last 6 years I realise a lot of what we thought then needs to be updated.
Every Year since 2007 I've been buying close to 20 old Tokais of various models, shipping to Australia, pulling them apart, studying the features+photos, re-assembling them and selling them in the Australian Market. Most of the ones I have chased are ST SpringySounds and SS SilverStars as they sell the quickest here. I have also copped some flak for making statements that - at the time seemed correct - but were shown to be wrong. It happens. I can't be 100% about absolutely everything.
So, to clarify some statements from all the extra info I have learned . . .
1) When i talk 'Vintage' Tokai, I am talking pre-1985
2) No ST-40 exists, it is TST-40 and introduced after 1986
3) ST-50 is 'Entry-level' . ST-42 and ST-45 are 'Budget-level' due to non vintage machine heads and pickups.
4) Model Years were changed around September-October, so an October 1980 guitar with 1980 serial number is actually Model Year 1981.
5) Breezysounds were 'officially' released in mid-1980. My hesitation at some Breezys with early 1979 serial# is that when the date stamps are taken into consideration and compared with date stamps and serials from Springys of the same time of Year they don't follow the pattern. the other thing is the ease at which 1978, 1979 and 1980 neck plates can be interchanged to create an "earlier" model. It's not just about the serials and stamps - it's also the features.
6) From Tokai Gakki themselves : production stamps first 2 numbers are month, next 2 numbers are production run then colour. At times only 1 number may appear. eg 10=12 BB or 3=5 GS or 12=1 or 9=20
There is more but not today

regards
Peter Mac
The world will not end today...because it is already tomorrow in Australia.

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Post by iainblack » Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:15 pm

Peter, I follow your logic and hope this stuff made it into the book!. Imagine how boring if all Tokais were the same and all 'wrong' - I guess we wouldnt be collecting them. It is the mystery that makes Tokai so interesting to research, a bit like searching the valley of the kings and finding a bit more of the puzzle
Please check out my Tokai Strat Book: http://www.blurb.co.uk/my/book/detail/2060524 Image

javelin70
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Post by javelin70 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:54 am

Just one thing - the TST-40 was available already in 1985. This is from the 1985 catalog:

http://www.tokairegistry.com/images/cat ... kai859.jpg

/Mike

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