#1
Hi everyone. I'm looking for a single, reliable guitar that will get me through my next years of playing. I have about $1500 to spend. The two big obstacles in this situation are 1) I'm disabled and play lefty-slide exclusively, and 2) I live in rural Japan (and will over the next couple years at least).

So far I was looking at a new Gordon Smith GS1 primarily. A new one here, with import/setup/shipping is about $1000 USD.

BUT! I just found a used lefty 2010 Fender '52 American Vintage Tele at about $1400 USD (within Japan).

So...does anyone know anything about these Tele's, or have any experience with Fender that might help? I was avoiding buying used because of a sense that it increased the risk, but if I'm going sight-unplayed anyway, I'm not sure it matters. I keep hearing about Tele reputations as durable workhorses that sound good, too. I played a used lefty MIM at the local resale shop, so I'm familiar with the general feel, just looking for some reassurances that dropping $1400 on this Tele is conceivably worth it.

Thanks!
#2
I can't offer much help, except for a couple of thoughts:

1) If I was spending that kind of $, I would be sure to have a decent amp first. For decades, literally, I failed to connect with electric guitars because I went for good guitar/cheap amp. Now I go cheap guitar, good pickups and amp.

2) I would also be looking at new or used MIJ in your situation.
#3
I love Telecasters, and an AVRI will be a fantastic Telecaster if it's been looked after okay, but there are three things to consider specifically when looking at reissue Teles:

1) The bridge will be a three saddle variety. Generally they sound fine, but if you play high on the fretboard a lot and want your intonation to be perfect, as it comes out of the factory it wouldn't be the bridge for you. There are compensated saddles available from a lot of manufacturers that fix this, though. I have a three-saddle Tele and I've never felt the need for that; sometimes chords above the 12th fret sound a bit off but it's usually within the "colourful" range rather than the "nasty" range of out-of-tune.

2) The fretboard will be 7.25" radius. That's about as curved as electric guitar fretboards come, and if you do string bends you need to have higher action than on a flatter fretboard to get them to sound properly. Some people love these fretboards and say they're nicer for chords; others cannot stand them and want a lower action. I don't think very many people are just "okay" with them. Nearly all MIMs are 9.5" radius, and you really can't say how you like 7.25" unless you try it.

3) The '52 RI has a U-profile neck. I haven't tried it, but I'm fairly sure it's big, probably falling into the category known as "baseball bats". Not suitable for thumb-over-neck playing, not suitable for shredding, but probably very pleasant for chords otherwise. It's analogous to what Warmoth call their "Boatneck" or "Fatback" neck profiles (I think the latter, but I'm not certain; I think Boatneck is more like the soft-V profile), which should give you some idea of what to expect.

That means there's a lot of very polarising preference that comes into it. If you'll be happy with those things, particularly the latter two since there's bugger all you can do to change them, get that Tele ASAP and expect a wonderful instrument. If those things are going to bother you, it's seriously unlikely you'd be happy with that Tele.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Oct 17, 2015,
#4
Quote by Tony Done
I can't offer much help, except for a couple of thoughts:

1) If I was spending that kind of $, I would be sure to have a decent amp first. For decades, literally, I failed to connect with electric guitars because I went for good guitar/cheap amp. Now I go cheap guitar, good pickups and amp.

2) I would also be looking at new or used MIJ in your situation.


Thanks for the advice! I'm running a Roland Cube and an Orange Tiny Terror at the moment. I do have an Orange cab to go with the TT and a Fender Frontman back in the States, but out here it's very bare bones. I'll take another look at MIJ before I decide, though.
#5
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I love Telecasters, and an AVRI will be a fantastic Telecaster if it's been looked after okay, but there are three things to consider specifically when looking at reissue Teles:

1) The bridge will be a three saddle variety. Generally they sound fine, but if you play high on the fretboard a lot and want your intonation to be perfect, as it comes out of the factory it wouldn't be the bridge for you. There are compensated saddles available from a lot of manufacturers that fix this, though. I have a three-saddle Tele and I've never felt the need for that; sometimes chords above the 12th fret sound a bit off but it's usually within the "colourful" range rather than the "nasty" range of out-of-tune.

2) The fretboard will be 7.25" radius. That's about as curved as electric guitar fretboards come, and if you do string bends you need to have higher action than on a flatter fretboard to get them to sound properly. Some people love these fretboards and say they're nicer for chords; others cannot stand them and want a lower action. I don't think very many people are just "okay" with them. Nearly all MIMs are 9.5" radius, and you really can't say how you like 7.25" unless you try it.

3) The '52 RI has a U-profile neck. I haven't tried it, but I'm fairly sure it's big, probably falling into the category known as "baseball bats". Not suitable for thumb-over-neck playing, not suitable for shredding, but probably very pleasant for chords otherwise. It's analogous to what Warmoth call their "Boatneck" or "Fatback" neck profiles (I think the latter, but I'm not certain; I think Boatneck is more like the soft-V profile), which should give you some idea of what to expect.

That means there's a lot of very polarising preference that comes into it. If you'll be happy with those things, particularly the latter two since there's bugger all you can do to change them, get that Tele ASAP and expect a wonderful instrument. If those things are going to bother you, it's seriously unlikely you'd be happy with that Tele.


Thanks, that's very thorough! I'm disabled and use a slide exclusively; any thoughts on this model for that?
#6
I only play slide on electrics. I had to sell one nice electric because I couldn't make it work with a 7.25" radius fretboard. 9.5" is just usable, 12 or 15 is better.

FWIW, I like P90s, and the Modern Player Thinline Deluxe Tele really did it for me when I tried it:

http://intl.fender.com/en-AU/guitars/telecaster/modern-player-telecaster-thinline-deluxe-maple-fingerboard-3-color-sunburst/
#7
Quote by Tony Done
I only play slide on electrics. I had to sell one nice electric because I couldn't make it work with a 7.25" radius fretboard. 9.5" is just usable, 12 or 15 is better.

FWIW, I like P90s, and the Modern Player Thinline Deluxe Tele really did it for me when I tried it:

http://intl.fender.com/en-AU/guitars/telecaster/modern-player-telecaster-thinline-deluxe-maple-fingerboard-3-color-sunburst/


Oh, that's beautiful. I know what you mean about P90s. I've been loving my Epi LP Special. I wonder if I can find a lefty.
#8
Does anyone know anything about Tokai? I found a new ES166 (apparently a Japan-only model, can't find English language stuff on it, but it's similar to their 188) for about $1250 USD. Hard case and standard goodies, too.
#9
Quote by ADAP7IVE
Thanks, that's very thorough! I'm disabled and use a slide exclusively; any thoughts on this model for that?

Sorry, I misread that in your first post! I think Tony Done's the bigger authority on slide playing here, and if he says it's hard to play slide with 7.25" I'm inclined to accept that. Still, it's a personal preference thing so if you do get the chance to try a 7.25" fretboard you may not find it a problem.

Quote by ADAP7IVE
Does anyone know anything about Tokai? I found a new ES166 (apparently a Japan-only model, can't find English language stuff on it, but it's similar to their 188) for about $1250 USD. Hard case and standard goodies, too.

I don't know the model specifically, but Tokai certainly do have a good reputation from their work in the '80s and as far as I know their models in that kind of price range continue to live up to that. There are other people on this forum far more informed on that subject than I, though.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Oct 18, 2015,
#11
Quote by ADAP7IVE
Does anyone know anything about Tokai? I found a new ES166 (apparently a Japan-only model, can't find English language stuff on it, but it's similar to their 188) for about $1250 USD. Hard case and standard goodies, too.


the Japanese-made tokai stuff is normally pretty good, but i haven't tried that exact model. and the problem is you have the people who prefer the MIJ stuff and don't understand why people still buy gibsons, and the other people who prefer the gibson stuff who don't understand why people buy tokais

the tokai registry forum is pretty good if you have any questions or just want to do some research: www.tokaiforum.com/
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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
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#12
That's a lot of help, guys, thank you. I will check the Tokai forum.

I also learned a little more about the Tokai: it's an ES 166L, a lefty version of their ES 148. Must be Japan only, because I don't see it on Tokai's UK page.
#13
New development: the Tokai, while a beautiful guitar I'd love to have, is no longer an option. The seller, a small specialty shop, doesn't accept returns for any reason. So if it arrives damaged or the neck falls off in the first week, I'm out the $1200.

That means I'm back to the used Fender AV'52 ($1400) or the new Gordon Smith GS1 ($1200 with case).
Last edited by ADAP7IVE at Oct 18, 2015,
#14
I saw your thread on the tokai forum, glad you got it to work ok. Shame it's not an option (I agree with you, that sounds very risky indeed, it's not a risk I'd take on either), but just for future reference, the model number is normally the list price in yen. So the model numbers change every so often due to inflation etc. I'm not certain that that's the case with the one you were looking at, but it's possible it could be the same model as the 148 and just the price has gone up a bit.

I've heard some iffy things about Gordon Smith QC. The ones I tried were good (I think... I didn't get to go over them with a fine-toothed comb in a shop, plus it's possible I could have missed something anyway ), but I've heard enough people say about the QC that I'd want to try the one I was buying.
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?
#15
Thanks, Dave. They did say they'd put shipping insurance on it, but that's it. It was really strange for me that they wouldn't offer any warranty, even on new stuff, when they ship a lot of their instruments.

I keep hearing about the GSG QC, enough to make me wait when combined with the premium of buying in Japan.

The Tele is quite nice, and the least likely of the three to be a dud (plus a year warranty from Ishibashi, so no worries there). I'm just surprised a Tele ended up on the short list at all. I set out looking for something to get sounds like Freddie King or Derek Trucks. Don't like the SG spikes, and a real 335 is too much...The Tele headstocks look so weird to me, like they don't match the rest of the guitar, but it's hard to argue with the versatility in the sound.
#17
I did find this 2006 lefty DC LP on eBay, but wrote off eBay because of the risk in overseas shipping and counterfeits. Still, a double cut style Junior is what originally drew me, despite how hard they seem to be to find. What do you guys think?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-Les-Paul-Faded-Double-Cutaway-Electric-Guitar-Worn-Cherry-Left-Handed-/272016602101?hash=item3f5573f3f5:g:eBMAAOSw5ZBWHrZS
Last edited by ADAP7IVE at Oct 19, 2015,
#18
Quote by ADAP7IVE
New development: the Tokai, while a beautiful guitar I'd love to have, is no longer an option. The seller, a small specialty shop, doesn't accept returns for any reason. So if it arrives damaged or the neck falls off in the first week, I'm out the $1200.

That means I'm back to the used Fender AV'52 ($1400) or the new Gordon Smith GS1 ($1200 with case).


Err... 'No returns' doesn't mean that the seller can send a broken item. The seller is always responsible for getting an item to you in described condition - and if it is broken during transit, they are responsible for having insurance and filing the claim with the carrier, not you.

In Sweden, there's a 14 day trial period by law for every item bought sight unseen, but I don't know how that translated to other countries.
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#19
Quote by HomerSGR
Err... 'No returns' doesn't mean that the seller can send a broken item. The seller is always responsible for getting an item to you in described condition - and if it is broken during transit, they are responsible for having insurance and filing the claim with the carrier, not you.

In Sweden, there's a 14 day trial period by law for every item bought sight unseen, but I don't know how that translated to other countries.


Yeah, that's true. They offered to put the standard shipping insurance on it. I do love the look of the Tokai, and it's cheaper (of course) than the Tele. I'm not sure if Japan has a similar law about trials for sight unseen items...I'll check it out and see what I can find.
#20
Quote by HomerSGR
Err... 'No returns' doesn't mean that the seller can send a broken item. The seller is always responsible for getting an item to you in described condition - and if it is broken during transit, they are responsible for having insurance and filing the claim with the carrier, not you.

In Sweden, there's a 14 day trial period by law for every item bought sight unseen, but I don't know how that translated to other countries.


That's EU-wide I think.

And yeah, legally, you're correct. The problem is that to enforce your rights you often have to be willing to fight, and maybe even go to court. If you know before you even start that the seller is likely to dig his/her heels in and make it awkward, it probably makes more sense to buy from someone who's more accommodating.

Granted, it wouldn't be the first retailer to claim to have an amazing return policy and aftersales service up-front before making the sale, only to be found to have a terrible one once you've bought.
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?
#21
I do have a JD, too, but I'd rather not worry about going to court in Japan. For a first proper guitar, the one reliable one I really did into and learn how to play on, and buying sight unseen, I think I'll pass on the semi. I fully intend to get one because they're so damned cool and sound great, but I've heard so many stories about them being duds, or off in some way, that I want to play it first I think; but I'm so inexperienced I don't even know what I'm looking for yet. In another year I'm moving to one of the big cities (Yokohama, Tokyo, or Osaka), so I'll be able to start visiting guitar shops and actually playing different models. Right now I'm out of range of any guitar shops (I even talked to the local shops, but both of them said they don't stock lefty, and won't order one!)

Does that make sense, or did it only make sense in my head?
Last edited by ADAP7IVE at Oct 20, 2015,