Tokais Made In Korea

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Sigmania

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Starting this thread as a place to sort out MIK Tokais since they are a bit of a mystery.

Korean and Chinese Tokais were typically lower priced models (roughly below 60,000 yen) built in Korea and China due to lower production costs in those countries.

Korean production of Tokais seems to be verified for the period of 1995-2005.

Production of lower priced models shifted to China by 2006 and continues to this day.



1970s Korean Made Tokais

Early Script Logo Korean Tokais In The 1970s
Early Tokai Script Logo Bizarre Electric Guitar Gallery EG-302 Korea

Dating Korean Made Tokais

Dating Tokais MADE IN KOREA With Serial Numbers, Etc.

Fender Copies & Other Bolt On Neck Guitars


Korean Stamped Etched Impressed Neck Plate Serial Number Guitars
Korean Stamped No Letter Prefix Serial Number Neckplates
Korean Fender Copies With No Serial Number

Gibson Copies & Other Set Neck Guitars

"Tohui" Tokai Love Rocks & Sharp Pointed "h" Korean 1995-1997
"Tohui" Tokai Love Rocks With Rounded "h" Korean 2000-2005
Closed "a" Tokais
Love Rocks Made In Korea 1995-1997
Love Rocks Made In Korea 1998-2000
Love Rocks Made In Korea 2000-2005

Made In Korea Sticker
Made In Korea Stamp
Korean ES60 Gallery



Suspicious guitars

There have been periods where a significant number of counterfeit or unauthorized guitars bearing the Tokai brand were made. Significant periods were 2003-2004 (Fakais with closed "a" and "Make in Korea" label), 2005 (six digit serial number closed "a" examples.


The Original Fakais ?
01 Six Digit Serial Number Paper Label Korean
Manufactured Under License For... Fakais
05 Six Digit Serial Numbers Unauthorized (?)
Letter Prefix Inked Serial Numbers Korean
The Mysterious Fake Tokai ES Models (Shine or Saein)
Goldstar Telecasters ?
Unusual Bell Shaped Truss Rod Cover, Korean?
 
Last edited:
reborn old's excellent 2013 thread on Korean Tokais.

*Edited here format for ease of reading. Content not changed.

http://www.tokaiforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=20753

I'll be first to admit this is an ambitious post based largely on limited catalog info and on too few MIK example pics, but it's a start that hopefully other members can build on for dating and/or reference purposes, and hopefully help members who think they may be dealing with a fake.

Dates are approximate and subject to change.

No genuine MIK Tokai models have or had serial numbers outside of possibly 2006 Fine Corp "FC" or "F" prefix models if these were in fact produced in Korea and not China,

2003-05 Dillion produced "unauthorized Love Rocks" had clear cello serial # rear headstock decals ... see last pic at bottom of this post.

Certain MIK (made in Korea) attributes can help date your Love Rock within one of 4 production categories.

The main ones being TRC (truss rod cover) differences shown in the pic below and possibly a MIK headstock stamp after 2002.

If your MIK TRC doesn't look similar to one pictured below, you may be out of luck, but control cavity routes may help where a TRC has been replaced.

Later MIC (made in China) models ALL have/had serial numbers and other features differentiating them from Korean examples.

Most if not all Korean Tokais were designated for export purposes and have a center dimple headstock style.

All featured alder or laminate body and maple neck construction.

Rare examples with open book headstocks were likely destined for countries that didn't have patent infringement concerns.

8612007326_33326310a7_b.jpg

-1995 ~ 1997 ALS------- ~ 1998 to ~ 2000 ALS---------mid 2000 to 2005 ALS-------2003+ MIK ink stamp-


1995~1997*

two screw pointed bell TRC,

ALS + ALC series catalog intro in 1995 had 3 models: ALS-36 bolt on neck + ALS-42, ALC-48 fixed neck.

1998 catalog

ALS 48 and higher alder models with set necks,
ALS 42 + lower alder or laminate body models.

Pearloid inlays and rosewood colored fret boards often found on set neck models. (may be actual rosewood... couldn't verify from pics)

opaque plastic instead of pearloid found on most bolt-on neck models.

1998 to early 2000

three screw pointed bell TRC.
Model specs appear to be otherwise unchanged.

mid 2000~2002

three screw arch shaped TRC introduced.
Model specs appear to be otherwise unchanged.

2003~2005

three screw arch shaped TRC
specs appear to be unchanged outside of introduction of "Made in Korea" ink stamp on headstock back sometime in 2003 or possibly 2004,

pic #4 (same as is MIJ ink stamp introduction on 2003 Japan models) until the end of documented MIK production.

Whether or not Korea continued Tokai production after 2005 and used serial numbers similar to Chinese ALS models, may be difficult to prove or disprove at this time.



Control cavity pics for various types:

1995-1999 ALS with pointed TRC

8612007424_d8708141ae_b.jpg



mid 2000 to 2005 ALS with arch shaped TRC

8612007446_324f280ab5_b.jpg



2009 Made in China ALS

8612007474_777360069a_b.jpg



Dillion unauthorized Canadian export

8612007460_fa42f53f5b_b.jpg


The Dillion cavity is different from others in that the cable channel and jack hole are at diagonal corner opposites (this pic was somehow flipped 180* on it's vertical axis), while Tokai ALS channels always route to the left side lobe and the jack hole is always in the right side lobe.

Arched TRC cavities have a flat routed right side lobe.

That flat is longer and follows route curvature, on the 2009 made in China example.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Catalog vol-18 1995-1997 LS-45 + LS-50 models + Catalogs vol-19 + 20 1998 + 1999 LS-50 + LS-55 models were all made in Japan but can be easily confused with early 2000 MIK models.

They share the same style of 4 screw bolt-on neck, same 3 screw pointed bell TRC, but were nevertheless produced in Japan.

External differences from MIK examples are mahogany neck and back construction instead of alder or laminate with maple necks. I believe most 1995-1999 MIJ bolt-on models have open book headstocks and necks aren't scarf jointed. I haven't found an export dimple MIJ headstock example of these yet.

Other MIJ differences include typical MIJ control cavity routes with all 4 cavity lobes routed flat and Japan stamped hardware. MIJ bolt-on neck base models were discontinued after 1999.

Note that on these MIJ 1995-1999 bolt-on neck base models , the nut shape is sloped rather than rectangular in profile, and made of bone instead of plastic:

8612007380_5507f25404_b.jpg

----------------------------------------------------------------

2008 ALS China headstock posted for comparison purposes:
8599385772_baae930811_b.jpg



2003-2005 Dillion unauthorized Tokai serial # example:
8599385734_d3e68e82bb_b.jpg
 
Reborn Old from:

Tokai advice needed.

As for this one possibly being Korean, double check the serial #, and check for spotting tips like paler fret board woods, a much thicker Tokai inlay with an almost closed "a" (Japan "a" is very open at the top, almost like a "u" ) square nut cross section instead of sloping down toward headstock, Possibly white rear covers, thick bridge posts with visible sleeves at post bases, cheap plastic inlays, as in last 4 pics below. A scarf joint can be located at the headstock instead of lower on the neck. Korean specs changed over the years so spotting tips are flags rather than definitive.
 
Last edited:
Harvesting info posted by reborn old in the mylespaul forum in 2014.

https://www.mylespaul.com/threads/identifying-tokai.294439/

reborn old:

Up to 2005 Korean models had no serial numbers.

A few Korean 2001 Limited Editions had model #'s on the headstock, that could be mistaken for a serial #, but these had no letter prefixes.

Sometime in 2005 Tokai moved export model operations from Korea to China.

Please post pics of the guitar front + back, using a 3rd party image server if you require more info.

***

Headstock center dimple = legitimate Tokai export ALS model from either Korea or China.
Serial number = 2006, Made in China

Any Chinese factory that would adhere to Tokai export headstock spec requirements is probably legit
and alpha-numeric serial number formats are legit in 2006.

Unauthorized early Chinese production numbers usually had 000, 100 + 200 prefixes.

***

All letter prefix serial number Tokais were made in China including FC prefix examples.

Made in Korea models do not have serial numbers.

Very few 2001 LTD edition Korean models have model numbers on headstock, but not serial numbers.

 
reborn old, if you are out there I would love to hear what you thinking about the above "Made In Korea" inked in gold (post 2005?) examples that do have serial numbers beginning with "J". Were these made in Korea or China?
 
Peter Mac said:
Hi guys,

This guitar is an LS-55 due to it's set-neck, not colour and MIJ.
LS-50 was MIK with a bolt-on neck.
I would agree that this guitar is a 1990's build - the S-84 is not a date stamp.
In the 80's there was no LS-55 model.
Beautiful guitar, just needs a set of Seymour Duncans :lol:

regards
Peter Mac

I'm now wondering if this guitar may in fact have been made in Korea and is the set neck version of the MIK LS50 of the time?

Korean production began around this time. Might be an early one or a test batch?

No serial number, red & blue cables in control compartment.

http://www.tokaiforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=20970

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1994 catalog

LS55GT

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I found this post by reborn old from 2012 on the mylespaul forum.

Here is a Korean Dimple headstock A-LS example , to help distinguish MIK from U-LS UK Richtone music examples that are MIJ , and similar to domestic Tokais, outside of headstock dimple and sycamore tops used on LS-150F's.

This A-LS-xx is a left handed example, which makes it a very unlikely fake candidate.
The headstock dimple is identical to UK models. Here are the most telling differences:

1-This 1980's - 1998 pointed bell style TRC is only 1 ply vs 2 ply with thicker white borders on MIJ examples
2-The nut is very rectangular vs Japan made nuts that slope up towards the fretboard
3-Fret board wood is very pale on early Korean examples. But they did use darker rosewood on later models
4-Inlays lacked pearloid detail on early examples
5-Many have no serial # and they never used black model # decals, but instead had a 3" adhesive tape decal running between tuners on the back.
6-Heel caps were often, if not always used.
7-Use of other wood species for backs (basswood), off center back seams, white cover plates were also common. I have seen black cover plates on later models.
8- You can clearly see bridge thumbscrew insert bushings and thicker thumscrew posts on the last pic.
9- I have seen instances where the Tokai headstock script is thicker and, sometimes but not always, the a more closed or completely closed on Korean models. (I don't know if these are year to year differences or possible fakes)

Later 1990's Korean made Tokais have the correct open book style headstock and 7 digit stamped serial number,
but usually have bolt on necks while earlier ones had set necks.
Korean serial numbers always have a high 3rd digit and Japan models a low one.
For example 1990 Japan LS models range from 9001xxx - 9002xxx
Korean A-LS model prefixes I have found started with 906xxxx

I don't think they could be confused with MIJ examples in any given year,
but might be when buying online, without detailed pics or enough pics.
Hope this helps...


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reborn old. March 31, 2013:

I'm in not in any way affiliated with any of these companies, but here is my understanding of Tokai's statement:

ALS + ALC model guitars might be drop shipped directly from China by Tokai in Japan, but purchase orders would be handled excusively through their head office in Japan or through authorized Tokai dealers in Japan, Australia, Germany, South Africa + UK.

If you purchase directly from Chinese vendors over the internet or by phone, or purchase sub $500 ALS + ALC model examples off popular online auction sites, there is a strong possibility the guitars are fake Tokais.

Given the current environment, re-selling a Chinese made Tokai might prove difficult without a valid sales receipt from an authorized Tokai dealer, I would think. :hmm:

Korea and Japan made models have always been easier to validate as being authentic or fake
(aside from Korean unauthorized Fakais shipped to Canada that shipped with 1 screw TRC's, 2 screw switch covers and
"make in Korea" transparent serial number headstock decals)
 
reborn old. May 10, 2013

RE: MIK date range posts above:

I was preoccupied with origins of what turned out to be 1995 Japan made bolt on LS-45 + 50 models and completely forgot about 1995 Korean LS-36 + 42 model introductions in the same catalog. :slap:

So dates range back to 1995, not 1998, and I can't say exactly when pointed bell TRC changed from 2 to 3 screw. Sorry.
No more Korean guitar speculation from me. :)
 
Discussion of Korean & Chinese factories from 2011:

themeinside said:
Hello there,

I'm a new member here, but I have got a Tokai, so I don't feel I'm trespassing :D

I need to ask you good folks a question about the factory that produces Tokai guitars in China.

Firstly, does any one know its name, and whereabouts it is, and secondly, if so, has anyone visited it.

Thank you.

themeinside said:
Hi again,

... I've ruled out one of the factories I thought it was- if you have bought a Tokai 3 or so years ago, it will most likely have been manufactured in the YueSen Musical Instrument Company Factory. I have an EX-55 from their factory and it is a very solid guitar- nice construction, but they lied about the body wood- said it was Korina, and when I spoke to the factory, they said it was most likely basswood or mahogany. Ah well- still sounds alright!

stratmoto said:
Close,

Fine Corporation made the guitars, firstly in Korea, then in their Chinese factory. Guitars with FC serial number prefixes, and a particular font are Fine Corp guitars.

Constant supply was always a problem with them, I waited 12 months for an order while production was being phased out in Korea and being transferred to China. Never received the guitars!

Tokai UK organised production with the Yue Sen factory around 3 years ago, because of the slow production and higher prices of Fine Corp. Tokai Gakki Japan also have their Chinese guitars made there.

Because of the production numbers for the UK models, Yue Sen overproduce. These guitars, with the dimple headstock, are sold into the Chinese domestic market and to any overseas buyers that want to take them.

themeinside said:
Ok- that was illuminating stratmoto- thank you.

I had talked to a representative of Tokai UK though and he did say categorically that they no longer use the Yue Sen Plant and that they have them manufactured elsewhere... I don't know XD


stratmoto said:
Actually, a little bit of a brain fart there.

You may very well find that they are made by Saein Musical Instrument Co. They also have their own brand, which I suppose is the same pronounciation as Saein, called Shine guitars.

Not Yue Sen, sorry about that chief!


http://www.tokaiforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=18105
 
2011

Big Willie Style said:
As I've said on other posts, I've visited a shop close to my house here in Korea and the owner said he used to have the contract for Tokai in Korea. He said he's been to their Japan factory a few times, yadda yadda. I know for certain he has commissioned other guitars made at the same factry that were long after Tokai moved out of Korea as I've seen them in his shop and he's showed me some in the box. Whether the bullseye and other Canadian Fakais were done in the same manner is anyone's guess. But I do know that the factory that made Tokai in Korea continued to make them for the asking, long after Tokai pulled out and moved to China.

Jason

http://www.tokaiforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10089&p=140945#p140945
 

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I live in Korea right now and the factory that made Tokai here also make Dillions, Burny, and a few others. Basically if you were to work out a deal with the parent company you could contract this company to make the guitars for you.

The quality here is really hit or miss. I still have a very strong suspicion that a large portion of what would be factory seconds are the ones that go on sale here; the rest being shipped abroad. You can find some great guitars for the money here but you can find lots of firewood too. My first electric was a Washburn Idol that I just can't seem to part with. Great guitar for the cash.

I'm still surprised that Tokai is making all of their acoustics in China now. I found this out last summer when I contacted Yoshi at Guitar Universe to order one. He contacted Tokai and they told him that ALL acoustics are being made abroad. I'm sure the Chinese factories have the capacity to produce good qulaity guitars, but I'm just surprised that Tokai would move production of their high end abroad as well.

Jason
 
I know for a fact they were once made at the Cor-Tek factory where Cort , Korean Fender and Washburns are made becasue I know someone who got a factory tour there when MIK Tokais were being built.


Inchon, South Korea


Its also the same factory where all Mighty Mite products are made ( although MM's wood is American timber sent out to the factory )

Hope that helps

Contact Details :
COR-TEK Corp.
660 Dungchon-Dong, Kangso-ku
Seoul, 157030 Korea
82-2-3361-1981 ~ 2
82-2-3661-1986, 7
 

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