Price paid: ¥ 29000
Purchased from: Tokyo store
Sound — 10
I'm mainly a slide player in open tunings. The inbuilt speaker sounds fine with volume at 4, nice greasy clean, also sounds fun all the way up, same trashy sound you get from a maxed Pignose. But it can also sound harsh and brittle. The bass response from the builtin speaker is terrible. It's still OK for practice in a hotel room or airport. I travel with this and a Pignose in my suitcase, use with a Zoom G2 or G1 or just the amp, and this setup makes a terrific Delta blues sound. The sound through a full size amp is startling, like an amplified resophonic, a metallic hollow sound. For a travel guitar, it's a 10 -- just blows away the Fernandes models.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing since I was 13, more than 40 years ago, and I've gotten pretty good at my blues/R&B slide repertoire, which runs from Handy to Sting with stops for Motown, the Beatles, Stones, Robert Johnson, etc. I bought this on a whim, sort of -- I was in Tokyo, one of the world's guitar capitals, the wife saw this and said, "I like it." She has great taste and so I bought something different from my other guitars. I am SO glad I did. I do not buy expensive guitars, I buy guitars that offer value well above what I paid; the rest of my collection is mainly USA and import Reverends, terrific axes that always get me compliments for my sound. This guitar isn't nearly as versatile, but it has soul, it goes where I go, it looks amazing and sounds plenty good enough for what I ask of it. I wouldn't buy another because they've become collector pieces and are very hard to find. But I'm keeping it, period. If you see one for USD 350 or under (I paid about $300), you cannot lose on the purchase. If you travel a lot for business other than music, this thing will make your nights on the road much happier. It's not a Les Paul through a Mesa Boogie? How sad. Try lugging them around the world. Traveling guys do need a travel guitar; this one has features the others don't, and they work very well.
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's very well made and well put together. As to whether you can gig with it... I have used this at parties wih colleagues around the world, and people love looking at and hearing it. In that context, it's all I need. I would not take it on stage with a band, and I have other guitars for that task. Again, for what it is, it's excellent.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I always change setup on my guitars to suit the slide. It intonated fine, tuners work well (except for the G, as on a lot of 3X3 guitars, go figure). Frets are well done, the neck is easy enough to play even with the high action I prefer. Though the specs say it's Gibson scale, it feels shorter, maybe because the neck is VERY narrow. The raw aluminum finish is not flawless, I think my guitar was a second that never got a paint job, because this finish is NOT in the Tokai catalogue. But it still looks great.
Features — 10
Made around 2000 in Japan. 24.75" (630 mm) scale, 22 frets, the whole guitar is 32" long. Built-in 4 in. 9v battery-driven speaker, headphone and amp output jacks, one volume that pulls up to activate the speaker, cast aluminum body with inbuilt carrying handle, weight is no more than 6 lb. I think. One blade pickup, tele-style bridge, gotoh-style tuners. Neck seems to be maple. It's like a space age travel guitar, never saw anything like it. Came with a canvas gig bag. In its class, it's tops.