#1
Was just paroosing Thomann , while waiting for a music society meeting in uni , when I saw these

http://www.thomann.de/ie/tokai_guitars_sc_2_vb.htm
http://www.thomann.de/ie/tokai_guitars_sc_2q_ib.htm
http://www.thomann.de/ie/tokai_guitars_sc_2f_cs.htm

I know that back in the day (80's to 90's) that these ,well the love rock models, were known as being as good if not superior to Gibsons while being a hell of a lot cheaper.

Anybody know about modern Tokais? I read a few times that production was moved to Korea and China in later years , however , these are labeled as made in Japan ..and even in images they have a made in Japan stamped on the back of the headstok...except the blue one.

So anybody have a clue about them are they worth going for instead of modern gibsons? these seem like they are more atune to traditional 50's gibsons
#2
Tokai Gakki makes everything from entry level to super-high end guitars with pricetags of thousands of dollars, for their own "Tokai" brand, and they also serve as a manufacturer for other brands, notably Fender Japan. Yes, they have plants in Japan, but also in China and possibly somewhere else too.

Specifications are typically very good on the Japanese ones - you get single piece bodies and other premium features on models that are comparable to mid-range Gibson USA (for example the Les Paul Studio).

The problem has been availability - due to both threat of lawsuits and Gibson's demands on the retailers (also compare large export vs almost non-existent). Finland is the only exception in the EU where Gibson have lost the trademark "Les Paul" and the design, making it the place to buy imported Tokai/Edwards and other similar brands who make replicas/copies.
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#3
Quote by PhilDuggan
Was just paroosing Thomann , while waiting for a music society meeting in uni , when I saw these

http://www.thomann.de/ie/tokai_guitars_sc_2_vb.htm
http://www.thomann.de/ie/tokai_guitars_sc_2q_ib.htm
http://www.thomann.de/ie/tokai_guitars_sc_2f_cs.htm

I know that back in the day (80's to 90's) that these ,well the love rock models, were known as being as good if not superior to Gibsons while being a hell of a lot cheaper.

Anybody know about modern Tokais? I read a few times that production was moved to Korea and China in later years , however , these are labeled as made in Japan ..and even in images they have a made in Japan stamped on the back of the headstok...except the blue one.

So anybody have a clue about them are they worth going for instead of modern gibsons? these seem like they are more atune to traditional 50's gibsons



A bit of information is being lost in the repeating. The Love Rock were OK but not the top level Tokai LPs that were gaining them their reputation. It was only a few years ago that I was still able to see these top end models listed at $97000 yen or approx $5000 USD. EDIT I actually don't remember the yen just what it was when I converted it on the currency exchange calculator.
Moving on.....
Last edited by KenG at Oct 1, 2015,
#4
As far as previous model Les Pauls go the Chinese/Korean had alder body and maple neck. The traditional all mahogany stuff were all MIJ. Actually it seems like Thomann is not carrying the lower end Tokai at all since the lower end stuff cost about 500-600€ here in Finland. Which actually makes the choice of alder+maple wood just wierd.

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Last edited by MaaZeus at Oct 1, 2015,
#5
Quote by PhilDuggan


Anybody know about modern Tokais? I read a few times that production was moved to Korea and China in later years , however , these are labeled as made in Japan ..and even in images they have a made in Japan stamped on the back of the headstok...except the blue one.




The ones you linked in your OP (The SC-2 models) are in fact MIJ.


Quote by PhilDuggan
So anybody have a clue about them are they worth going for instead of modern gibsons? these seem like they are more atune to traditional 50's gibsons


That's up to you, your budget and what you're looking for out of a Les Paul.


The Tokai guitars you have listed are closer in spec to a 50's style LP but with a few cost cutting measures to keep them reasonable. They come with an ABR-1 style bridge, vintage style HBs and rounded neck profiles.

Compared to a more expensive Gibson RI or even more expensive Tokai guitars, what you are missing would be:

A nitro finish
1 piece mahogany back
better hardware
Better wood selection (arguably)
No weight relief on the backs.


A modern (as in standard Gibson USA) Les Paul Standard will be a bit different compared to a classic LP (although they still have some classic style LPs in the USA lineup). Neck shapes tend to be a bit wider and flatter, you get robot tuners, hotter pickups and different hardware. They also tend to weight relieve most modern LP models if I remember correctly. They also cost a bit more than a Tokai as well.

So with a modern LP you're getting:

Nashville bridge
Robot tuners
hot pickups (sometimes with a built in boost for gain that replaces a tone pot)
different neck profiles
weight relief


So really it depends what you're after at the end of the day. Do you want a reasonable LP with 50s style Gibson appointments that doesn't cost an arm and a leg like a reissue? I would check out a few MIJ guitars then. Do you want classic looks but a guitar with more modern features? Maybe a newer Gibson would be up your alley. Or maybe you need a Reissue like they did in the 50s and Gibson HAS to be on the headstock? Well then you know your answer.
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Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Oct 1, 2015,
#6
Oh wow thomann's stocking tokai now? Sweet.

Yeah the dearer ones are MIJ. If it says MIJ on it, and it's from a legit dealer, it's probably MIJ. Normally with the gibson-style ones the MIJs have two screw truss rod covers.

I think thomann also stocks fujigen, which are also MIJ, and might also be worth a look (haven't tried them, but the Japanese Ibanezes are made in the Fujigen factory).

Tokai versus Gibson- it's up to you, really. Some players prefer them to Gibsons and think they're more consistently QCed, others still think the Gibsons have more mojo.
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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.

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#7
I have a MIJ Tokai LP and also Gibson LP Standard. The Jap Tokai is perfect in every respect and cost one third of the price of the Gibson, which has some minor issues and needed more work than a simple setup when bought new.
Some would say that the Tokai lacks the 'character' of the Gibson, however I am old enough to remember folks saying that about British motorcycles when the Jap bikes first arrived in the UK - 'character' seems to be a polite way of saying 'not as good as it should be'.
I have also had a good look at the Chinese Tokai guitars - the ones I have seen are better than Epi by a good margin.
#8
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R


The Tokai guitars you have listed are closer in spec to a 50's style LP but with a few cost cutting measures to keep them reasonable. They come with an ABR-1 style bridge, vintage style HBs and rounded neck profiles.

Compared to a more expensive Gibson RI or even more expensive Tokai guitars, what you are missing would be:

A nitro finish
1 piece mahogany back
better hardware
Better wood selection (arguably)
No weight relief on the backs.


Worth noting a few things, however.

Despite Gibson's marketing efforts, most guitar players now realize that a nitrocellulose lacquer finish is more of a disadvantage than a positive. It makes sense on a Gibson model dedicated to tradition, but little sense on anything else. Gibsons have certainly shown up with two and three-piece bodies, including '50's originals. Regarding hardware: generally speaking, Gibson guitars that echo traditional "standards" are copying a milddle-of-the-catalog guitar, not a premium one. Gibson sources its hardware from the same asian sources as most other guitars, and doesn't offer anything "better" about it.
And there's certainly an argument over whether Gibson does much selection of wood for any of its production (including most of the guitars stamped with "CS..." serial numbers) guitars. If anything, it's prefunctory, and probably no better than what Tokai does with guitars at the same price. Gibson once may have sorted out its wood; it's easier to do when you're only producing a couple of thousand Les Pauls a year (as Gibson was in the '50's). Not so much when you're cranking out production numbers an order of magnitude larger.
And finally, there are those who will suggest that drilling a bunch of holes or, certainly, turning the entire guitar into a semi-hollow via chambering in search of weight savings changes things from what you get with a true solid body guitar. If you agree, then "weight relief" might not be a positive.

And finally, a one-piece mahogany neck has been available, traditionally, on Gibsons in the middle to bottom end. Higher end Gibsons have traditionally had multi-piece maple necks, both for looks and stability. You'll find this to be true on their acoustics, archtops, early solid bodies, etc. The top of the line solid body in the mid-70's, for example, was the L5-S, which is done completely in maple (body) with a multipiece figured maple neck. It was nearly double the cost of a Gibson LP Standard. The same was true of the '78 Gibson 25/50 Anniversary model -- the neck was also a multipiece maple construction. It's always been considered more stable than a one-piece mahogany neck.

You really need to consider what items are really negatives, which are positives, and which are simply pandering to "tradition."
#9
The TOKAI LS-STYLE LC-195S costs around $3295 in Australia. As far as I know it is the top of the line Tokai Les Paul available.
The TOKAI LS-STYLE LC-98S is about middle of the line up and can be had for around $1800 in Australia.
At the Entry level you have the TOKAI LP STYLE ALS-48 in solid colours which you can pick up for around $500 in Australia.

I'm not sure of the prices in the USA but if people search the models I have listed they should be able to find what they need.

Cheers.
#10
Thanks for bumping an almost year old thread and breaking forum rules before your email is confirmed


Future reference. If the thread is more than a few months old and isnt a general discussion or group thread then it probably shouldnt be bumped. Especially when all youre adding are prices and no info. Thats called necro'ing a thread.
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