Phoenix Guitars: Were they made by Tokai?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by SteveStevens, May 29, 2008.

  1. SteveStevens

    SteveStevens Member

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    I have recently seen a couple of Phoenix Les Paul replicas come up for sale here in Montreal. The story both sellers have told is that Phoenix was the Canadian rebrand of Tokai in the 80s. I can find absolutely no info on these guitars and am more than a little curious. Any Canadians remember these and have any corroborating evidence?

    Steve
     
  2. SteveStevens

    SteveStevens Member

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  3. tim gueguen

    tim gueguen Member

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    Never heard of the brand, but I'd take any claim they were made by Tokai with a big grain of salt. Despite what a lot of people seem to think there were more guitar factories in Japan in the '70s and '80s than Tokai and "the Ibanez factory," which is actually Fujigen Gakki who made guitars for other brands besides Ibanez, such as Greco, and wasn't owned by Ibanez parent company Hoshino.
     
  4. treeofpain

    treeofpain Member

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    There was a line of electrics marketed here in the States and distributed by St Louis Music. It was originally called Electra, then Electra-Phoenix, then just Phoenix. They were initially made on Japan by Matsumoko and by the mid 80's werre Korean, I believe.

    Not sure if this is the same guitar as what you are describing, but Google it and you'll see what I mean.
     
  5. SteveStevens

    SteveStevens Member

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    Thanks for the replies. A friend actually had an Electra guitar and it was definitely cool. But I don't think these are the same guitars. This is definitely a full on replica with the open book headstock and sunburst Les Paul vibe. The Electras are a little more wacky and have bolt on necks. I guess this will remain a mystery!

    Steve
     
  6. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    I've never seen a Phoenix "Les Paul", but bought and sold many Phoenix-brand Strat, Tele, and P-Bass copies during my music-store days in Vancouver during the ’80s. The best of them were comparable to Tokai's vintage reissues in overall build quality, but IIRC the electronics weren't as consistent. I owned (and gigged with) one sunburst Strat copy that was memorable, though.

    Can't shed any light on where they were made, though.
     
  7. SteveStevens

    SteveStevens Member

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    Snarkle: do you mean you can't remember where they were made (country of origin) or what company was making them in Japan?

    Steve
     
  8. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    They were definitely MIJ, but I was mostly selling used gear so can't vouch for which factory they came out of, or even who was distributing them in Canada.
     
  9. aliensporebomb

    aliensporebomb Member

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    You might go to the Ibanez Collectors forum and go here specifically:
    http://www.ibanezcollectors.com/forum/other-replicas/

    It's possible it's a Matsumoku or Fujigen built replica but may be some other
    brand as well. The people at that site, though, are very good at identifying
    build traits via photographs so I'd suggest you check it out.

    One thing is for certain, the Japanese replica/derivitives of the 70s and 80s
    are something special so they are worth looking at.

    I know that Ibanez was known as Antoria in the UK, there are certain guitars
    that look like Ibanez bodies with Antoria headstocks and they're all Fujigen
    builds but a bit surprising.
     
  10. bluesjunior

    bluesjunior Member

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    Here in the UK in the 70's and 80's there was a range of guitars called "Fenix by Young Chan" which got rave reviews comparable to the Tokai's of that period.

    As the story went Young Chan worked at Fender and was highly regarded but left to manage some big copy factory in Asia. The Fenix Strats that bear his name have a small scallop on the headstock to avoid the lawsuit issues of the time.

    I'm not sure if these are the same Phoenix guitars mentioned in the original post but the ones sold here in the UK are well sought after.
     
  11. Dave L

    Dave L Member

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    If the Fenix and Phoenix stuff is the same, I can vouch for what Bluesjunior just said... I had an old Fenix strat way back, and it was definitely a good strat fully comparable to the Tokais and what not of the same era. They also had the full range of lawsuit stuff, not just the strat; teles, LP´s, SG´s, P- and Jbass and so on.
     
  12. weezy

    weezy Member

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    Hey, SUPER old thread here I know... but I came across it while Googling Phoenix guitars.

    Here is some info!

    They were made in the Tokai factory in the early '80's for only about 3 years. (I got my info from the former owner of NJAMS in Vancouver, he used to sell them in the 80's and imported them from Japan)

    Larry DiMarzio is the guy that commissioned them to feature his new pickups.

    They were only sold in Canada.

    The line eventually became the Degas and el Degas line.

    I have an awesome Phoenix Les Paul with the original DiMarzios in it. It sounds crazy good. (I lost the pickguard years ago)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. wwit

    wwit Member

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    Back in the early 80's I bought an Pheonix Electra bass. Was realy nice bass. But didnt take age well. Electronics went to heck and neck twisted badly.
     
  14. translucent_tubes

    translucent_tubes Member

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    ... back in the late 80s. It was a Strat replica, sunburst, maple neck. It was my first guitar, bought in London, Ontario. I sold it when I was hard up for cash at one point. It was a pretty decent guitar, I definitely regret the sale!

    I don't have a specific recollection but I believe it was made in Japan.
     
  15. AD

    AD Supporting Member

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    My first electric guitar in '84 was a Black LP Custom w/ Dimarzio pups made by Phoenix.
     
  16. Wileyone

    Wileyone Member

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    They were a Canadian only import made between 1981 & 1983. From the research I have done they were made by Tokai and imported to a distributor in B.C. I have seen Strats Tele's Bases and LP's and only 1, 335 style which I am the lucky owner of. All seem to have had Dimarzio's in them.
     
  17. King Loudness

    King Loudness Member

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    I had a sunburst Phoenix Strat on loan for a while from the shop I work at, which was a '50s reissue Strat, but the pickguard was changed out for an EMG active setup. My dad's buddy has a black P Bass copy of theirs as well, but I'd have to check to see if it has the original DiMarzio electronics in it.

    W.
     
  18. gevans378

    gevans378 Silver Supporting Member

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    I owned a Phoenix blackguard tele. Great guitar. It, and my 59 National Lap Steel, were liberated from my basement. With the insurance I bought a MIK Squier Strat and a Tascam recorder. At the time I thought I did well. Now, not so sure.
     
  19. tim gueguen

    tim gueguen Member

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    El Degas was a brand name used by distributors B&J in Canada, and was apparently active by the late '60s, although I've never seen any that looked older than say '74 or '75. Fender may own the rights to El Degas these days, as B&J were purchased by Kaman in 1994, and were part of the Fender purchase of Kaman Music.
     
  20. Wileyone

    Wileyone Member

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    Not sure if you really understand the thread. Phoenix Guitars were made in the early eighties. And no where on my Phoenix does it say El Degas.
     

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