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Vintage vs New Tokai
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hekdiesel
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Joined: 23 Aug 2014
Posts: 150

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:17 am    Post subject: Vintage vs New Tokai Reply with quote

Hey guys,

I see a lot of 80's vintage Tokai instruments on eBay, and with all this idle time i have waiting on my Tokai arriving, it has me coming up with questions.

Are there discernible differences in the vintage vs old guitars?

Gibson for instance, the Norlin era stuff is widely regarded as inferior to the 90's and the McCarty years. Similarly to how a lot of people are turned off by 2000's Gibson weight-relieved models, and richlite fretboards.

So, are there any changes in methods or materials between the 80's tokais and the new ones?
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Lucke Luke
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Joined: 23 Mar 2014
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Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slightly unrelated, but does it annoy anyone else that Gibson has so many different models that change on a year to year basis and then end up repeating the same spec of a different model, but now with an entirely different name?

Just to be clear, I have nothing against change, improvement and development, but what I mean is:

If you're looking for a certain spec Les Paul lets say, you might come across the same-ish spec across different models.

You may have a reissue model. The following year, the 'standard' model will be exactly the same as the reissue model. 5 years later, you may end up with some other model, let's say traditional. (there might be a few teeny, possibly pointless differences) but you can end up often with many different models of different years that happen to be the same spec guitar.

Wouldn't it be just nicer if they kind of stuck to some kind of formula for each model? It's almost like iPhone advertising that they revolutionised image sending when the technology existed for the past 15 years... just different packaging.

Rant over, apologies hekdiesel.
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hekdiesel
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Joined: 23 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No problem, I agree with you though, Gibson is trying to sell their guitars by gimmicks now, instead of the quality of the product. I think they are heading into another Norlin-like era if they dont change their business/QA practices.

This is why I am getting a Tokai and not a Gibson (I owned a '98 LP Custom Plus), which was a fairly underwhelming guitar, especially when you consider the price tag. Then I had a Gibson ES 335 which was amazing, and I was sad to have to sell it, but as much as im not a corporation-hater, I think Gibson has made a lot of bad choices in the last 10-15 years.

But back to my initial question, have you played the new Tokai vs the old?
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villager
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Joined: 03 Mar 2005
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Location: Middle of Nowhere.. France.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i like the new ones i love the old ones..
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Barks67
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Joined: 01 Jan 2011
Posts: 271
Location: Leeds UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

villager wrote:
i like the new ones i love the old ones..


Yep!

My new LS160 is a superb instrument. It feels tight and stable and rings true acoustically. Excellent woodworking and fretwork and is fit for purpose out of the box - or off the rack. Neck is comfortable but has a slightly broad feel as you go down the nut end. Slightly tame bass resonance acoustically but very lively, bold and tactile when amplified with some twang and bite.

My 1985 LS is also a superb instrument that has melded itself to how I play over the last 25 years or so. Excellent woods and mojo if maybe a little clumsier in the finer details of the finish on the body binding. The neck is similar to the LS160 from about the 5th fret but has a very elegant, slimmer and progressive taper toward the nut and to the headstock which is very comfortable. Very resonant acoustically with a deeper defined bass than the 160. I actually like walking around playing it acoustically. Very pure in tone and not gritty when amplified.

What is my point here? Tokai quality from Japan is guaranteed to be assured, but you should try play one before you buy as the age gap does not define their personalty and tone.
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hekdiesel
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Joined: 23 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear you on that Barks, the problem here in the US is that you cant find them, so we'd have to order them on faith.

It has been argued in some forums that in the US you're silly to get a Tokai and not a Gibson because the price different is so meager, but to be honest, I don't like what Gibson has done to their instruments over the last decade and a half, they feel/look cheaper, but continue to get pricier...
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Barks67
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Joined: 01 Jan 2011
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Location: Leeds UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Point taken.
I'd say I'd be confident in the consensus (on these and other forums) that an LS160 and above would guarantee a quality instrument you would be very chuffed to have - even maybe to the point of buying unseen maybe?
Also if it turned out that you did not feel totally at home with it - you'd find a very willing buyer in the US for it so it's a good risk!
I'm not sure the same could be said for a Gibson in the same price point. QC is something that historically the Japanese have always excelled.
There are youtube videos of Gibson les Paul's being made. It looks very automated and General Motors. Compare that to a guided tour of the Tokai factory - a much smaller operation - and you get a good feel for the care and attention to detail.
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hekdiesel
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that is exactly my point with Gibson. Seems like the folks that work there, good people, im sure, are not luthiers as much as they are machine operators...
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Paladin2019
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Joined: 06 Sep 2002
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Location: Cardiff, UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you look at Gibson's history you see wild variation over time and distinctive eras.

Tokai have changed over the years but it's evolution rather than revolution. Their core values and core product lines are very consistent.
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brokentoes
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Joined: 01 Jul 2008
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Location: Bronte by the Sea, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't speak to the older 70's and '80's Tokai's... i have a 2005 LS150F though that is one hell of a guitar, i'd say it easily compares to a well done custom shop Gibson. I live in Canada and i thought at one time that Gibson sent a lot of the dogs up here, but it seems that Gibson has some quality control issues that even people from the U.S. complain about. Its always a gamble buying a guitar sight unseen, but your odds of having a well finished and well made guitar go way up when choosing Tokai i believe. I bought my guitar at the very least 2nd hand and it was almost flawless. Every time i pick it up i'm impressed and have no regrets rolling the dice on it. Worth every penny i paid for it, and i can't say that about every guitar i've ever bought. Gibson's resell easier though i must say 100 %.

Here's mine.

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marcusnieman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful and well said
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hekdiesel
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Joined: 23 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a pretty top, I got mine in VF as well, so hopefully it's as nice looking as that!
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zbillster
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Joined: 14 Mar 2007
Posts: 27
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm over here in Tokyo right now (from the U.S.) for three weeks and have been hitting the Ochanomizu shops and trying out some brand-new Tokai Les Paul Customs (a black one is on my bucket list before I die). They even have the binding over the ends of the frets, with different MIJ grades ranging in price from about $900 all the way up to $2000. Played a couple, the neck is too chunky for my taste though. But they were sweeeeeet and the shops over there SET THEM UP as you pick them off the wall and tune them for you (unlike a certain U.S. megachain). Also spotting Burnys, FujiGen, Yamaha, Greco, Edwards, yadda yadda. I found a MIC used but recent Burny with a thinner neck for $250. Not fret end binding but not too shabby.
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hekdiesel
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Joined: 23 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah the neck is a little bit thicker on mine, but I have to say that I find it very comfortable.
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Pegcityrocker
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Joined: 20 Dec 2005
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Location: Winnipeg Canada

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

brokentoes wrote:
I can't speak to the older 70's and '80's Tokai's... i have a 2005 LS150F though that is one hell of a guitar, i'd say it easily compares to a well done custom shop Gibson. I live in Canada and i thought at one time that Gibson sent a lot of the dogs up here, but it seems that Gibson has some quality control issues that even people from the U.S. complain about. Its always a gamble buying a guitar sight unseen, but your odds of having a well finished and well made guitar go way up when choosing Tokai i believe. I bought my guitar at the very least 2nd hand and it was almost flawless. Every time i pick it up i'm impressed and have no regrets rolling the dice on it. Worth every penny i paid for it, and i can't say that about every guitar i've ever bought. Gibson's resell easier though i must say 100 %.

Here's mine.



Thanks for posting this pic of my old 2005 LS150 Brokentoes. It's been a long time since I've seen a picture of her - of the hundred or so Tokai's that I have owned (Half of them pre- 1982) the 2005 LS150's with the solid flame tops have been the ones I have regretted selling the most. I have had two of them and they were both amazing and ridiculously cheap for what you're getting. If they had thicker necks I would never have sold them. That being said - I just bought one of the newish HLS series Tokai's with Montreux parts and it may end up being my favorite one yet. Whatever they are doing with this "historic line" (3.5 degree neck angle, thicker neck, accurate top carve, accurate pickup placement etc.) it seems to make an amazing playing and sounding guitar.
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