Features: You can go ahead and call me Mr. Clich or whatever, but when I first heard Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' album, I wanted to BE James Hetfield (truth be told, part of me still does). But living in Plymouth has it's disadvantages... it's almost impossible to find other people (let alone musicians) with the same passion for metal as myself. This, coupled with my disabilty to grow a Papa Het style beard at aged 20, the only thing left to seek was an Explorer. Disadvantage number 3. I'm left handed. After about 5 years of seeking said guitar, I finally found one and it arrived this morning. And what a guitar.
Firstly, it's a goddamn Explorer guitar. Tokai have hit the nail right on the head this time, satisfying all the needs for southpaw players of all styles. Seeing as the moneygrabbing 'big name' guitar companies won't mass produce left handed models, we all need an alternative to seek, and this is it.
A decent representation of the big name companies, it's 22 jumbo fret maple neck with rosewood fingerboard provides the necessary comfort and speed thrash maniacs desire. The Korina style body gives it the classic look, too. This, with a fixed bridge for rhythm nuts and pretty sturdy tuners makes it a worthy metal guitar. I was saddened by the lack of a suited gig bag or hard case; unfortunatly my guitar rack does not suit the extreme shape of this guitar so now a fitted hard case is on the way from the internet and I am a further 60 quid poorer! // 9
Sound: The electronics are pretty decent although a little quiet for my liking; passive humbuckers, a chunky sound clean or distorted at the bridge, and a warm, thick tone at the neck. Given the oppurtunity, I would replace the stock PAF-Vintage MK4 Pickups for some DiMarzio Super Distortions... but that's just me. I like it loud. All in all, I couldn't hear any unwanted feedback, fuzz or earth noise, so not a lot of complaints in this department. I played this guitar through a 150 Watt Line 6 Spider II amp. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: I swear the Tokai manufacturers were trying to invent a guitar to Park a bus between the strings and the neck! Immediately before playing I had to lower the action and adjust the intonation, and this will need further attention from my tech guy! Other than that, I was pretty chuffed with the setup of the guitar. A fiddle around checking all the screws, the neck join, pickup selector and tuners, everything seemed tight and sturdy. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I would play this guitar Live with extreme caution, but this is a personal remark because I prefer my guitars without dents and dings, and with a guitar as 'fragile' as an Explorer or other guitars with big pointy things poking out of it's sides, I try to be as careful as possible. I never play gigs without backup guitars, and this guitar still won't make me reconsider. The angle of the top strap button seem quite akward, as if the strap would just fall off, ut I always customise my guitars with Dunlop strap locks. Well, since I had such an accident at a gig with a Les Paul! // 10
Overall Impression: This is an ideal metalhead's guitar, and unfortunately, it isn't that versatile, but that doesn't bother me as a pretty dedicated metalhead! I have been playing for about 6 years and is now one of my favorites in my collection, along with my Les Paul and heavily customised Fender Stratocaster. Possibly my favorite feature on it is the 2 Volume / 1 Tone controls with 3 way selector. I don't really know anyone Who USES the tone control on their guitars, and I have been having the world of fun pretending to be Randy Rhoades / Zakk Wylde using my toggle Switch for the staccatoed string bends.
I just wish they would throw in a hard case! // 9