A Tale of two ES150's....

Area for Tokai's older than 1985

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BrianGT
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A Tale of two ES150's....

Post by BrianGT » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:50 am

I thought I would give some thoughts on an original ES150 and it's newer sibling the ES158. Sorry for the long post but just really loving my Tokai semi's!

I bought the ES158 earlier in the year and I have posted about it in this forum. I originally contacted Mark Fletcher (Villager) about the cherry ES150 he had for sale on his website but Mark was away for quite awhile. I couldn't wait so when the new ES158 came along I had to buy it!

I love the guitar, it is flawless and sounds really good. I have no intention of modifying it.

However, I still hankered after Mark's guitar and due to a stroke of fortune I found myself in a position to buy it.
Firstly, I have been around guitars now for a very, very long time but that only makes me an expert in what "I" like. I don't care what is on the headstock...a great guitar is a great guitar. Over the years I know how I want a guitar to sound and feel but that's personal to me. I am still as enthused about music and gear as when I was 14 and that's a long time ago!

The 1981 ES150 I bought off Mark wasn't original. The tuners, bridge and tailpiece had been changed which were all mentioned in the description. Luckily I have acquired a large number of parts over the years and I had spares.
I have replaced the tuners with aged single ring Klusons, the bridge with an aged nickel Faber and the tailpiece with an old Gotoh lightweight so it looks pretty much original.
The pickups are original DiMarzio Pafs and I have to admit they sound incredible! I have never been a fan of DiMarzio's and have used other brands but what they were making back in 1981 is a great clone of a PAF.

The guitar needed a good set up and a good clean to make it feel like mine. I had specifically asked Mark not to bother changing strings etc. because I would just have cut them off and used my preferred strings so it would have been a waste of money.
Having cleaned the fingerboard, polished the frets and set it up I am blown away. I can't believe how good it sounds. The guitar has a natural compression you can hear acoustically and when it is plugged in it's like having a compressor on but not an electrical one! The compression under your fingers even on a clean sound is bloody awesome! They are humbuckers but if you can imagine the intro to Best Friends Girl by the Cars then you have an idea what the mixed pickup sound is like. You can make it "plink" like the in between settings on a Strat and yet each pickup on their own sounds warm, full and fabulous!

I've read on here that apparently the ES100/150 are the closest you will get to a 59 Gibson 335 and I can believe it. The wood has dried out and when you tap the top it has a definite "knock" because the wood has matured whereas the new one has more of a "thud".
The neck is bigger (YES!) than the ES158 but is the same shape. They are both about the same weight. The new guitar is a rock guitar and more focused although it does have a great clean sound. Just when you get really in to it and smile at the sound you plug in the old one and everything is warmer and more refined...like a good malt whisky against a good blend.
Both are staying as I get the same smile out of both. The old one needs "waking up" again but it is already a fabulous guitar.

Those of you who own them and have posted on here...well now I get it!

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A set of Klusons I had to replace the horrible Gotoh/Grover replica's. Personal but I hate Grovers!

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Laquer cracks on the heel. Has same on the back of the headstock.

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"New" hardware fitted.

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Red is a notorious colour to photograph. Neither Marks or my pics do it justice.

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Two siblings together...

The ES158 I bought is a fabulous guitar. It will mature over the years and only get better the more it has music made with it.
The ES150 is already at that point and somebody one day will get a 2016 ES158 and be blown away with it.

I have looked on this forum and elsewhere but I can't find any information on what the difference is between the ES100 and the ES150. The pics I have seen of the 100's on here look the same and they all look fabulous guitars that age has just made better.

Now it's time to plug in and smile!

Thanks if you made it to the end.........

Brian

villager
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Post by villager » Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:56 am

Rounder wings and an ebony board on the 150 ...

BrianGT
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Post by BrianGT » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:07 am

villager wrote:Rounder wings and an ebony board on the 150 ...

Not sure about the wings but the fretboard is definitely rosewood of some species.

I have two ebony board guitars here which are extremely tight grained and look totally different to the 150.
The grain is much more open on the 150 and although it is dark it has brown streaks running through it which show up now that it has been oiled.....

guitar hiro
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Post by guitar hiro » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:47 am

never owned any of the older aka 'vintage' Tokai ES examples but I have owned a few of the newer (circa 2000 & later) Tokai ES models. These have been overall impressive guitars except for one issue; the necks seem to be smaller than I prefer. I ended up eventually selling them all because of the smaller neck thickness. If I ever go for another Tokai ES I may have to look for the older ones.

Glad to see you have two, and from different eras, that you enjoy so much. They are great guitars IMO. Thanks for sharing & Congrats!

BrianGT
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Post by BrianGT » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:29 am

guitar hiro wrote:never owned any of the older aka 'vintage' Tokai ES examples but I have owned a few of the newer (circa 2000 & later) Tokai ES models. These have been overall impressive guitars except for one issue; the necks seem to be smaller than I prefer. I ended up eventually selling them all because of the smaller neck thickness. If I ever go for another Tokai ES I may have to look for the older ones.

Glad to see you have two, and from different eras, that you enjoy so much. They are great guitars IMO. Thanks for sharing & Congrats!
Hi Guitar Hiro...many thanks for your comments.

I'm exactly the same with neck shape and size. The new 158 is the right shape but I could just do with it a bit bigger. The 150 is "that bit bigger" and couldn't be better.
I have a Yamaha SAS1500 that has a slim C shape neck and I just can't get on with it and although I love the guitar I can't really enjoy playing it! It might have to go!

Thanks...

villager
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Post by villager » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:40 pm

sure i read somewhere it was ebony.. lol but never looked hard at it!!!

Emiel
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Post by Emiel » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:44 pm

Congratulations, it sure is a looker! I love how it has aged, with the lacquer checking and the Tokai logo turning yellow.

You don't have a set of Kluson's left do you? My '81 ES100 has these weird (looks like original) locking tuners that I'd like to change out for regular ones :)

BrianGT
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Post by BrianGT » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:56 am

villager wrote:sure i read somewhere it was ebony.. lol but never looked hard at it!!!
I have to admit it is very dark but when you do look closely you can tell it's rosewood.

BrianGT
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Post by BrianGT » Sun Apr 23, 2017 2:06 am

Emiel wrote:Congratulations, it sure is a looker! I love how it has aged, with the lacquer checking and the Tokai logo turning yellow.

You don't have a set of Kluson's left do you? My '81 ES100 has these weird (looks like original) locking tuners that I'd like to change out for regular ones :)
Hi Emil....thanks for your comments.

I do have a set of Klusons but they are new and not pre aged.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aged-KLUSON-3 ... SwMpZUnYxO

These would fit and would look part of the guitar.

Stay away from current Tone Pros. They used to re-badge Kluson tuners which were good quality but now they re-badge cheap crap. I have a set but I wouldn't give them away! Maybe their bridges are still ok.

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Post by togps » Sun Apr 23, 2017 5:49 am

I can recommend my high sophisticated FABER guitar tuners.
All in glossy and as well with authentic patina available...

http://www.tokaiguitar.de/xtcommerce/pr ... -aged.html



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marcusnieman
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Post by marcusnieman » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:13 am

Fabulous guitar!!

BrianGT
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Post by BrianGT » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:09 am

marcusnieman wrote:Fabulous guitar!!
Thanks Marcus!

I really don't want to come across as "new boy with a new toy" but this thing is blowing me away.

You can't make it sound harsh. Even when you dig in really hard on the bridge pickup it just compresses and blooms but it's not amp compression it's coming from the guitar. It is unbelievably dynamic.

Gobsmacked!! :D

marcusnieman
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Post by marcusnieman » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:32 am

For those in the know, what was the difference between the first year 1981 issue ES100 which came in an R(ock) or J(azz) model and the ES150?

BrianGT
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Post by BrianGT » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:23 pm

marcusnieman wrote:For those in the know, what was the difference between the first year 1981 issue ES100 which came in an R(ock) or J(azz) model and the ES150?

I would like to know too please. Mine is also designated ES150 R so both models must have come in both versions.

Emiel
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Post by Emiel » Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:48 am

There is a 1981 Tokai catalogue on this website. Maybe someone with knowledge of Japanese can tell us?

I suspect the 150 has Dimarzio pickups, full sized pots vs the 100s Gotoh's and mini pots. Perhaps a more flamey top too?

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