Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jonnytexas, Jan 23, 2019.
The SD 59 bridge pickup on my T486 sounds like a beefy Tele bridge pickup. I like it a lot.
While not a Tokai, I have a Conn C Series from 1981 that is MIJ, probably Matsumoku. At the moment I have a 2008 Eastman T185mx, the Conn, a 1972 Aria 5502 and a 1983 Yamaha SA800. The Conn is my new favorite if the bunch. It does have the narrow nut, 1 9/16, but it has a thicker neck which works well with the nut.
I also have a 1985 Tokai LoveRock LS60 and I think the Conn and the Tokai feel similar in neck shape and feel, though the Tokai is larger. If you are buying online, I think it might be easier to just buy a Tokai, but if your out shopping around, try every MIJ semi hollow you can get your hands on. Additionally I suggest giving the Eastman semi hollows a chance too, as they are quality.
Totally agree about the Eastmans! Very well made guitars and getting rave reviews. Some good advice here.
It might be easier for you to try an Eastman rather than finding a Tokai online. As I said earlier, if you buy a MIJ Tokai it should play great then you just have to like the guitar! Having an Eastman to try out might be a better plan. Forget the China label they are well made guitars.
in general, I have to agree about Tokai vs Epi.
but MIJ Epis with upgraded PUs can be serious guitars as well.
I have an early 80s MIJ Sheraton (with BBs) that isn't going anywhere, even though the neck is too skinny for my taste.
fantastic build quality, and especially fretwork - lowest action ever, zero buzz.
still, I prefer the Tokai's beefy neck with large frets.
to be fair, Tokai have cheaper lines as well, just like Epi, but I'm talking about the serious models, in both posts.
I just picked up an 84 Guild
Starfire IV. Awesome ebony board, maple body and neck. Nice small neck on it. In great condition. $1500.
New ones are MIC. Haven’t played one.
Didn’t wanna create a whole new thread... How do Orvilles compare to Tokais? I like my Orville more than most “true” Gibsons I’ve played. I want a backup, but if Tokai is better I’ll pick that, instead.
(Not trying to hijack, OP. Sorry!)
I was looking at those too. Thanks for the reply.
It’s been a great guitar; it’s undoubtedly my favorite of all I’ve had. Mine is an Orville, not Orville by Gibson, but the biggest differences from what I understand are the superior electronics, pickups, and nitro finish in the ObG. I replaced all the electronics in mine, threw in Lollar Imperials, and I don’t mind the poly finish. It’s so good that, if the Tokais are better, I can’t conceive of just how good the Tokais are, in fact.
Anyway, I hope you find the right one for you! You can’t really go wrong with either.
What a beautiful guitar. A good friend of mine swears by his Orville Les Pauls.
I've had my Tokai Springy Sound ST-120 for about 40 years. It's not a "copy" but rather a "replica" of a '50s v-neck Strat. I would prefer a vintage Tokai 335 over a post-1964 Gibson any day.
Would an 80's MIJ Tokai be preferable to say a 2006 MIJ? I don't know a ton about their history.
There are too many variables and unknowns to answer definitively. For example, my ST-120 has staggered magnet polepieces and other period correct details. The ST-60 was a few models below and differed in quality of materials and workmanship. By the 1980s Tokai had changed their headstocks to address copyright infringement. Wish I could be of more help.
Try and nab this one. I have one, love it as much as my DGT and Suhr.
in general - no, not ime.
MIJ build quality, especially with Tokai or Gretsch, has slightly increased since the 80s, if anything.
starting on a high level back then already ...
no dark ages like e.g. with Gibson or Fender.
so "vintage Japanese" is mostly snake oil, imho - an attempt to cash in on the general vintage hype these days.
(not denying the fact that a select few vintage (50s, 60s) instruments are really hard to beat, but frankly, from a player's standpoint, most are criminally overrated ime).
but I'll say it again, Tokai model numbers are not comparable between years at all, only go by specs alone !
funny little story :
when I had just put the Pearlies in my blonde Tokai (pictured above), two colleagues came by for a geeky Sunday afternoon, bringing a real '59 ES 355 and an '80s 335, both in great original condition (the guitars, not the guys )
between the 3 of us we covered the entire spectrum from bebop over blues to classic rock, played through a variety of good amps, and guess what - at the end of the day, the clear consensus was as follows :
Tokai, hands down
355 (how much Varitone and ebony board messed with its placement is up for debate)
tied between my MIJ Epi (w. 57 Classics back then) and the 335 - ironically, I favoured the Gibson, due to its bigger neck, but its owner (the bebop guy) liked the Sheraton better, go figure.
mojo, monetary value and who owned what turned out to be irrelevant that day, of course a '59 355 in near mint condition is a thing of beauty , but we really were interested in player's criteria.
if you have a chance to organize similar meetings, by all means do - everybody learns something in the end, regardless of eventual "shootout results" (often there's no clear winner, only "different").