SG88 review by Tokai

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.6 (5 votes)
Tokai: SG88

Price paid: $ 699

Purchased from: ebay

Sound — 8
I love the sound of this guitar, the PAF style pickups really sing. I use it at home through a little 2watte amp which sounds great but it's at band practice through my Orange Rockerverb 50 when it's cranked that it really comes to life. Really rich sound, very full, easy to manipulate the feedback and stacks of sustain. The bridge pickup is bright yet still really punchy and the neck still retains the punch and adds that thick warmth and breadth beneath. I play a blend and mix of rock, punk, surf, garage, stoner and this guitar is absolutely well suited to all those styles in terms of the way I play. The cleans Spectrum is also crystal, nice and glassy, but maybe someone else should tell you about that.

Overall Impression — 9
I play various styles of music but I bought this guitar principally to play loud distorted rock with and as a backup for my main guitar, a late '80s Greco SG. Now I'm unsure which one will be the backup. I was looking for ages for another '80s era MIJ SG (either Tokai, Greco, Burny, Orville, Bacchus etc) but they don't come up too often any more, so when this one came up and being at about half price of a new (they currently go for around $1,600 in Oz) I figured I'd jump on it and I'm glad I did, it's a beast! If you can't afford the $'s for a custom shop and don't care about a Gibson badge this is the way to go. Video from YouTube:

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Reliability & Durability — 9
This SG feels great and it's so solid, it weighs 3,770 grams (8.3 lbs) which would make it one of the heaviest SG's I've played. The neck is thicker than what I had expected also which put me off a little at first but am used to it now and it just feels great to play. I couldn't think of any reason why it wouldn't be reliable and I'd be happy to gig with it without a back up. As I mentioned earlier the finish is beautiful and looks as though it will last forever with proper care. Simply put, it's a really well made guitar that works perfectly as it should.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The finish on this guitar is absolutely flawless, very impressive to set eyes upon I must say. The factory settings were really pretty much spot on with a nice comfortable low action, accurate intonation and pickup settings. Neck pickup had a little movement in it but was easily fixed. It came with factory fitted 10-46's on it which I changed to my preferred 10-52's after about 2 weeks and the neck didn't move at all. Tuning pegs hold just fine. Beautifully finished guitar all round really, if you're familiar with MIJ guitars and the standards and QC levels they were making guitars at from the late '70s/early '80s (I have several) I would have to say it looks as though nothing's changed.

Features — 10
I got a great deal on this guitar (ex-display model) and bought it through eBay. This one was made in 2012 and is one of the newer high end Vintage series Tokai's. It's a '61 style SG with 22 frets, 2 piece mahogany body, one piece mahogany neck, has a beautiful finish, the usual 2T 2V, Japanese made PAF style humbuckers, rhythm/treble selector. I'm giving it a 10 because I would expect these features on any worthwhile '61 style SG before picking it up. Also came with a gig bag and truss rod adjuster.

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