#1
A friend of mine has been looking at a Gibson SG Special for quite some time.
We went to check it out and it sounded quite good. Especially on the higher end Marshalls it was awesome.

Now some guy who knows quite alot about guitars, told him to check out the Tokai SG and put some Seymour Duncans in it, as it's considerably cheaper ($500ish) and it would sound beastly too.

We are both quite inexperienced when it comes to the Tokai brand. After some research it seems it's somehow related to Gibson, but i'm not sure about the quality of these guitars. And even if the quality is good, is it better than the Gibson SG Special?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Down here are links to both guitars:

http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/SG/Gibson-USA/SG-Special.aspx

http://www.tokai-guitars.co.uk/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=32&category_id=16&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=31
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others.
#2
i'm no Tokai expert but my uncle & dad both rave about them, my uncle says he used to have a Tokai SG and Les Paul and modded the p-ups and it was the best guitar he's ever played. he wants it back, even though he currently has a yamaha SG2000, SG700 and Gibson Standard SG (1986 model i believe... might be 87 though... mid to late 80's)

but that's just my 2 cents, just sayin' that Tokai are a brand that's very underrated.
Belief is a beautiful armour but makes for the heaviest sword.
#3
the trouble with tokai is that they have some very good guitars and they have some meidocre ones and it's often hard to distinguish which is which by just looking at them.

you're only going to be getting anywhere near the level of quality of a gibson from tokai if you're paying nearly as much as you would for an "equivalent" gibson. if that tokai is the exact same model you posted.. then the gibson would probably be a much better guitar.
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Last edited by Blompcube at Mar 30, 2011,
#4
^ +1

you have to get up to the japanese ones to get the ones which rival gibsons. The non-MIJ ones rival epis (if even, they tend to be made of the "wrong" woods).

USG 85, in other words.

And they're not related to gibson at all, they're copies (albeit very, very good ones if you're talking about the japanese ones).
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#5
So what you're saying is that a tokai is equivalent to a gibson when they are equally priced? That doesn't make much sense to me because in Japan the labour is much cheaper (and in the tokai factory which seems to be in China its even more cheap). And when the labour is cheaper the endprice of the guitar is cheaper as well. So I doubt if whether you are right..

Btw; I'm this friend eddeh is talking about, I made myself an account to join the discussion.
#6
Nope, that's not exactly what I'm saying.

The Tokai prices have gone up a lot recently, because the yen is so strong, but they're still a bit cheaper than gibsons.

For example, the LS80 or 85 have 3-piece (i think) african mahogany bodies, one-piece african mahogany necks, poly finish. That's a bit lower in spec than a Gibson Les Paul standard (which tend to have one- or two-piece bodies, i think, and a nitro finish), but then they're £600-£700 while the LP standard is £1500 (if not more). I think the neck tenon on even those cheaper MIJ Tokais is better than the Gibsons before you hit the custom shop, though. The Tokais tend to have much better QC, too- you'll hear a lot of stories about Gibsons about having to try 20 to find the really good one, that's not the case with Tokai. However, some would say that that means if you do find the really good gibson, it'll be really excellent, whereas you don't have that chance with Tokai. I dunno

Then the ls150 has the nitro top coat, one-piece back, long neck tenon etc.. Its spec is similar to gibson custom shop ones (though they may have a full nitro finish, not just top coat, not sure), and they're maybe £1000-£1500 while the custom shop Gibsons are £2200+.

Then the really high end tokais probably have a spec even higher than the gibson custom shop- brazilian rosewood 'boards, honduran mahogany backs and necks. But then they're like £3000-£4000

I guess what I'm trying to say is, in Europe anyway (US prices are different), MIJ Tokais are still normally a bit cheaper than the equivalent Gibson (though as the specs of both brands vary so much because no models really match up 100% in terms of specs, it's really a judgement call for each individual as to which specs you need and which you don't care about- if you don't need nitro or single-piece backs, even the cheapest MIJ Tokais are very good guitars, for example, with QC to rival anything Gibson is putting out which isn't custom shop), but you're not getting a Tokai which'll rival a custom shop gibson for £200 either, because that'd be just crazy.

Bear in mind that some people will say that they can tell a difference with Gibsons, and that they don't like Tokais. I don't agree, but that's their prerogative- you'd need to try both yourself first just in case you prefer the gibsons too.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Mar 31, 2011,
#7
Thanks, I think about it some more. I actually played on both of the guitars already, and I liked the gibson better, but I dunno how much I like the tokai when I put some new pickups on them. And btw, I do not really need a nitro finish, that's why I preferred the gibson sg special over the gibson sg standard. It's gonna be a tough decision, but thanks a lot for your help
#8
yeah i mean if you're comparing a gibson to a non-japanese tokai, then the gibson is going to be better, unless it's a lemon or something like that.

Just don't base your opinion of tokais on the cheaper, non-japanese one you tried. The japanese ones are in another league.

But certainly if you're only picking between those two, I'd take the gibson too, and I'm a tokai fan.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#10
oh did it?

well then your friend linked to the wrong guitar, lol. Something more like this, then?
http://www.tokai-guitars.co.uk/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=86&category_id=15&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=31

If you preferred the gibson, then that's fair enough. In my experience (not sure if we get the rejects here in NI), the faded gibsons I've tried have sounded pretty good, but the finishing was pretty rudimentary and the fretjobs were pretty terrible to non-existent.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#11
no the one i had in mind is a sg-35 although it doesn't look quite the same as the one on the picture eddeh showed.
#12
was it a much older model? The model names relate to the price in yen. Certainly a new USG35 (or one even from the last several years) is NOT going to be a japanese one, it's too cheap. If it's one from like 1980 or something, then I guess it could be a japanese one, as 35000 yen then might be worth 75000 now.

Either the shop has described the model name wrongly, or there's some faking going on or something.

Did it definitely say "Made in Japan" on it? Stamped in ink into the back of the headstock?

EDIT: how many screws did the truss rod cover have? If you can remember...
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Apr 3, 2011,
#13
You can buy Vintage MIJ Toakis cheaper than New Made In Japan Tokais. $3000 for a Les Paul copy from Tokai? No way, no matter how "good" it is. But, I recently bought a 1978 "springy Sound" Strat Copy, and it is one of the best overall axes I own. I have played MIJ Les Pauls and Explorers from Tokai of late 70's and early 80's vintage, and they were top notch. I also own a recent Gibson SG Special, which I bought off Craig'slist, and it is a real Gem. If you can buy a Toaki SG Standard MIJ, for the same or less money, I would do it.
#15
The real problem is actually getting your hands on a MIJ Tokai in the US. I have only saw 3 since the 80's. You can buy them on Ebay, but.....
#17
yeah i guess all those gibsons i tried with shitty fretwork were just a mirage
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#18
Quote by Dennis_SG
Tokai isnt even good enough to blow Gibson..

think about it realistically, and you'll realise how stupid that statement was.

there's really nothing about gibson that makes them objectively better than other guitars in the same price range (including copies like tokai) that are built to the same level of quality.

of course if you'd actually played any guitars from either tokai or gibson you'd already know that
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Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
Last edited by Blompcube at Apr 21, 2011,
#19
yeah i mean I guess an LS470 (which is like 450,000 yen) isn't as good as a gibson faded

lolyeahok
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#20
Gibson make good guitars, so do tokai but yeah, id get a japanese made one.
Same with a lot of manufacturers, ibanez and ESP are the same, get MIJ if you can.
Depends on how much you can afford, and gibsons vary a lot so yeah play before paying.
That said, theres nothing holy about gibsons, sold mine for a PRS and its a better instrument.

Nice to see somebody else from Norn Iron anyway :p
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#21
^
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#22
Tokai's are nice and there's nothing wrong with them, but if you're willing to go used, you could easily find Gibson SGs for cheaper than Tokai's and for much less. I've found several SGs on ebay selling for 400-500 dollars. I'm bidding on one right now
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No AMP
#23
If it's japanease get one cause they can be better quality than the gibson, Japanease made anything is renowned for being of a better quality than the chinease or american equivelent.
The country prides itself on it! Also I think people should get away from always buying the same brand guitars like gibsons and fenders, cause that just causes them to make better quality instruments, when a company makes to much money like gibson did they tend to let quality slip a little or sometimes alot, like epiphone and squire.
#24
^ i don't think you could say categorically that MIJ is better than american made- I mean a Japanese Jackson isn't a good as an American Jackson, but a Navigator or high-end Tokai is going to be better than the cheapest Gibson.

But Japanese manufacture is certainly good enough that if they're trying to make a quality high-end guitar, it'll be just as high-end as a quality high-end American guitar.

If anything Fender and Gibson's current quality is almost directly attributable to people like Tokai in the late 70s. They had to up their game.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?