Price paid: £ 450
Purchased from: Mancinis
Sound — 8
I kinda play rock, pop, indie, folk, new romantic, blues and some singer songwriter stuff, and to be honest it does suit it quite well. The mini humbuckers are brighter than regular humbuckers, and I never was a big fan of them in the first place, but darker than single coils. I'm using it with a Harley Benton GA15 with an Eminence Rajun Cajun speaker, through a Coloursound wah, a Vintage Big Muff, a Marshall Guv'nor and an EHX Holy Grail Nano reverb and it does suit the Tokai quite well. However, I feel as if it doesn't take the wah as well as my Strat does, baring in mind I have tried this with two separate pedals. The guitar can get noisy with the Big Muff, but then aagin that's more of the Big Muff's fault rather than the guitars. When I first got the guitar, the neck pickup was extremely bassy, and I wasn't really satisfied with that tone, since it sounded like the tone control had been turned down even when it was on full. The bridge pickup was also a lot lower in volume than the neck pickup as well, but after a few tweaks it sounded great. I suppose it isn't the most versatile guitar in the world, and it doesn't do heavier styles very well. The clean tones aren't as impressive as my Strat either, but they're better than what I've heard in other guitars. I suppose the best thing about this guitar is the amazing tone I can get using the Marshall Guv'nor, it's just one of the tones I've been looking for for a long while. It's just got this bite which I can't get with my Strat, and the sustain is amazing.
Overall Impression — 7
Again, I play rock, pop, indie, folk, new romantic and blues. I've been playing for 4 years now, and I think I know what guitars are right for me, and which aren't that good. The other guitars that I own are a Fender Classic Players 50s Strat, a Vintage V100 and a Yamaha Pacifica 102. I suppose I wish I played it a bit more in the shop so I could really tell that the neck was as wide as I thought it was, but I can get used to it, and I suppose the sounds and the looks of the guitar overcome that problem for me, and I wish I noticed the tuning problem as well, which really does annoy me and let this guitar down. If it was stolen or lost, I think I would go and look at other Firebirds, but there would be other guitars that I would be interested in, like Telecasters which I was looking at before I found this Tokai. I think my favourite thing again is the sound I got with the Marshall OD, which is amazing. I suppose in the future, I would put a Bigsby on it, but that's just something that I've been thinking about, although I think it would be quite cool.
Reliability & Durability — 6
This guitar would withstand live playing quite well I think. It's a sturdy thing, and it does take a lot of bumps without denting (apart from that one gash I said before). The strap buttons are a lot more solid than the one on my Fender, and the controls and Switch are high quality, and they look as if they aren't going to break soon. The only gripe I have, and this is a big gripe: the tuners. They are horrible. They fall out of tune quite easily, and it's really annoying. They look a lot cheaper compared to the rest of the guitar and I feel as if it's just something on a guitar that really shouldn't be forgotten about. It does stay in tune however after a bit of fighting, but it isn't really good enough. I think if you're going to get this guitar, you might have to change the tuners.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar was set up alright from the factory. Not great, but not bad either. The pickups were set quite badly however: the neck pickup was set so that it sounded as if the tone control had been turned down, and the bridge pickup didn't even have half the output of the neck pickup I'm not sure if that was the factory or just by the way the shop set it up though. The action was good, there was no fret buzz and it's still quite low. There was a slight gash on the paint on the lower left of the guitar, but it's not cause by the factory, just by a minor bump, but it still managed to get me 100 off the guitar, so I guess it was more of a good thing than a bad thing. Other than that, everything was alright, and only required minor adjustments.
Features — 8
The guitar was made in 2004, in Korea. I've decided to give this guitar 6 months of playing time to review it, to get out of the honeymoon period and say what the guitar is really like. 22 frets on a rosewood fretboard and a 24 3/4" scale. The body is made of alder, and the neck is made from maple, so it's a wee bit brighter than your average Firebird, which is made from mahogany and walnut. A set neck, which is different than your neck through that you get on a Firebird as well. It's finished in a gloss gold which was only made in 2004 I believe, so I suppose it adds to the rarity. Tune-o-matic bridge, and your normal 4 controls (2 volume 2 tone) and the one selector Switch for the two mini humbuckers. Standard Kluson-style tulip tuners, which is different than the banjo tuners on the Gibsons as well. It came with a case, which I haggled in free. The neck is quite wide, and quite thin, which is something I'm not as comfortable with compared to my Fender, but it was an acquired taste for me.