OK! OK! OK!
All those that think the guitar is GENUINE raise your hand (or post here)
many thanks..........I think I have a lot to learn before I can buy with confidence
It's a genuine TST-40 in my opinion. The "made in japan" sticker is often missing, probably removed by a previous owner. My 1984 TLS-50 Love Rock also has that sticker and I bought that guitar new. I opened the box with the guitar myself at the distributors warehouse, it came directly from Tokai.
The difference between TST-40 and TST-50 are the tuners, the tremolo (cast in one piece with cast saddles on TST-40) and the pickups which have a ceramic bar magnet and steel poles instead of alnico magnets. It's a good guitar in my opinion but I would replace the tuners with Kluson type instead, they cover all the old screw holes except part of one at the last tuner (high E). The pickups are quite good but I would replace them too. I use Seymour Duncan Hot Stacks and Little '59 on my AST-40 (exactly the same as TST-40 except for the headstock).
The codes on the TST-40 should be on the neck end and in the control cavity like this (my 1984 TST-50, the code is probably a manufacturing date and MR stand for Metallic Red in this case):
My AST-40 (on this picture with a TST-60/80 neck):
I've kept the tremolo but the tuners are replaced with "Deluxe" stamped Klusons. It's easy to see that the "made in japan" sticker was on the original neck since the clear coat has not yellowed in that area.
Also, the TST/AST-40's do not have Fender related serial numbers, they have 6-digit serial numbers. No 5-digit numbers or Lxxxxx as on the 50's and 60's replicas, the 40 model is a generic strat copy not replicating a 50's or 60's model. You can see that on my AST-40, it has an 11-screw 3-ply '62 style pickguard and a one piece mapleneck, the 50's maplenecks had 8-screw single ply pickguards. Also, the cast trem with cast saddles was used on the 70's strats.
I like my AST-40 very much, it's a great guitar.
The serial on the black strat seems to be 229391 according to the seller.