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Belated NGD: 1981 LS-200 BS
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jacco
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Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 2871
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:20 am    Post subject: Belated NGD: 1981 LS-200 BS Reply with quote

I already put this up on MLP forum and forgot to post here.

Here's the review & pics;

My 1979 LS-80 is a really warm and mellow sounding guitar unplugged, my 1980 LS-120 is more bright and snappy. This one is right in between.
But when I plugged her in she was very dark sounding on all switch positions. The pickups are very articulate but have no balls whatsoever, too clean for my taste. They are non original btw and to me well known German brands; Haussel Vintage A2s in the neck position and Amber Classic Rock in the bridge position.

After playing her for a short while I realized that the neck feels different from my other LPs, very comfortable and at the same time like it almost isn?t there. Which was very strange for when I picked her up it didn?t feel like a thin neck. So I got the calipers and started measuring;
22.42 mm/0.883 inch at first fret and 24.70 mm/0.972 inch at 11th fret.
The average thickness at 1st & 11th fret of a 1959 burst (ref. BOTB) is resp. 22.40 mm/0.883 inch & 24.60 mm/0.970 inch. So that?s almost exact the average 1959 spec. I do have more guitars in that range, still this one felt different. So I used a profiler (don?t know the word for it in english) on the neck at 1st fret and surprise!; the neck isn?t profiled symmetrical, the bass side is just a tad flatter/less shouldered. I guess that?s what original owner asked Tokai to do when he ordered the guitar. And I am happy with it! I have attached a pic of the profile.
BTW she weighs 4.15 kg/9 lbs 2 oz.

Next thing I did was strip her and clean her up for she was very dirty. I noticed that not many original parts have survived over the years and has been well played. The original parts still there were tuners, TRC, pickup selector switch and jack input. Pots don?t look original but are branded CTS but strangely enough can only handle metric knobs. Maybe someone recognizes them.
One of the former owners had switches installed which have left holes in between the tone knobs which in turn have brass coloured covers now. Before I got the guitar I planned to get rid of those and have my luthier do some restoration work. But they actually look quite nice to me, like jewelry. It adds more character.

The seller told me it had 50s wiring but this wasn?t the case. And because of the dark sound I decided to treat her with a new Switchcraft switch, CTS TVT log pots, original 60s Sprague black beauty caps, Switchcraft jack input, wired the right way (please don't comment my soldering skills ). And while I was at it changed the tuners to Uncle Lou?s (because I don?t like green tuners), put on AOA pickup surrounds, jack plate, knobs & switch tip and Faber locking bridge & alu TP. And last; early 80s SD 59s.

The pickups will not stay in, still looking for a nice boutique set. I do have several Kloppmann sets, Wizz?s, Throbaks, Klein and Dry Zs of course. Have tried several other brands in the past and am now looking at Wolfetone?s.
I do not like clean sounding pickups but the highs must be creamy, mid range musical and low end not thick & pounding. I am open for suggestions!

So here are the pics, she looks way better than in the auction pics, though she really is BS finish, sometimes there?s too much red in the pic.















































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marcusnieman
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Joined: 22 May 2003
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Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful. Amazing how the flame is so vibrant through the cross section of the top.
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Sigmania
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Joined: 14 May 2012
Posts: 484
Location: Asheville, NC USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gorgeous.
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fatherjones
Power chords are my friend


Joined: 23 Mar 2014
Posts: 29
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incredible.

Question: Why do folks think this quitar would have cost 200,000 Yen in the first place? As far as I know, the only real difference between the LS200 and the LS80 was the grade of the top, the pickups, (and 120,000 YEN).
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jacco
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Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 2871
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, the LS-200 did not cost 200.000 yen. In 1979 and 1980 it did cost 200.000 yen INCLUDING 12.000 case and in 1981 202.000 yen including 14.000 yen case. So it did cost 188.000 yen. Same for the 150 and 120 = minus price of the case. The models 100 and lower were priced excluding case. So a smaller difference in price than thought.

The 200 was the only Tokai non production LP model, it was order made, hence the price.

Other differences with the 80 are cashew finish on the 200, choice of pickups (I have seen this range from DiMarzios, SDs to T-Tops, I think that the pickups were not includeed in the price or at least not the Gibson ones for they were very expensive in Japan back then), no circuit board, PIO caps and as you said the grade of the woods.

In the last pics you see from left to right my 1981 LS-200, 1980 LS-120 and 1979 LS-80. The 120 has a maple veneer and the 80 is one of the few flame top 80s known. The grade difference of the top is really evident when you see the guitars irl. And what I also noticed is that the maho back of the 200 is less beautiful than the 120 & 80 or for that matter other upper level Tokai LPs I have owned. I like to think that the back was tonally matched with the top for that reason She sure does sound great!!
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wulfman
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Joined: 07 Feb 2010
Posts: 867
Location: Ottawa

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have read many times in Japanese listings and articles that the LS-150 was also an order-only model. Does it say this in a catalog somewhere one way or the other?
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jacco
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Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 2871
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If that was the case, the difference between 150 and 200 wouldn't make sense but I would be very interested in any info on that subject.

The 1981 arch top catalog sports several pages on the subject. I can provide you with reasonable quality close ups for translation Harold.
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wulfman
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Joined: 07 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The listing for the LS-150 at Nico Nico says they were order-only and I have seen that stated before in auctions. With the nicer tops on the LS-200s compared to the LS-150s (I haven't seen anything less than jaw dropping!) and the cashew finish I think the upcharge would be a typical premium for the top of the line, order or not. I should have a look at the catalogs and if you have a decent scan I'd be happy to see if there is any info in there.

EDIT: I can read in the 1981 catalog that the LS-200V, LS-150V and LS-120V (Vintage) models are all completely by order only.
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Sigmania
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Joined: 14 May 2012
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Location: Asheville, NC USA

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An LS150 just sold on ebay that was listed as a solid flame top.
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jacco
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Joined: 25 Feb 2010
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Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 150 shpuld have a solid flame top.
From which year, link?
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Thomas/Sweden
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Joined: 05 Oct 2011
Posts: 102
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gorgeous stuff Jacco, congrats again!

It was a '81, here's the link:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1981-TOKAI-JAPAN-LOVE-ROCK-LS150-LP-FLAME-TOP-RARE-/181385289513?&_trksid=p2056016.l4276


Last edited by Thomas/Sweden on Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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wishbonz
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Joined: 02 Aug 2007
Posts: 224
Location: SW England UK

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:21 am    Post subject: '81 LS200 Reply with quote

Congrats Jacco, nice to see that they were still using the 'proper' Tokai headstock inlay on the '81 200 as per the earlier models, my '80 LR 200 is the same. But then you'd expect that attention detail for a top of the range model of the time.
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fatherjones
Power chords are my friend


Joined: 23 Mar 2014
Posts: 29
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the intel. I suppose the strange pricing is no different than Gibson CS which charges twice the price of an R8 for an R9.
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jacco
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Joined: 25 Feb 2010
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Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Glen, didn't know you had a 200! Where are the pics man!!

Last edited by jacco on Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:20 am; edited 2 times in total
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wishbonz
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Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:45 pm    Post subject: LS200 Reply with quote

You mean this one - early-mid 1980 Love Rock in cashew finish. Yes I still have at the moment . . .
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