Question about a Flame on Tokai tops

Discussion in 'Other Single-Cuts' started by Andy California, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Andy California

    Andy California Member

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    I noticed that flamed tops on Tokai guitars tend to be very narrow, even, dense, consistent and precise, for a lack of a better words, like in the photos below. I mean, most of them are like that (not necessarily all). Whereas with Gibson Historics, there are different types of flames available. I wonder: why is that? Is it about the specific type of maple Tokai use?

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  2. GammyBird

    GammyBird Senior Member

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    I believe it's called pinstripe.

    Maybe it's more readily available than the thicker stripes.
     
  3. Thomas/Sweden

    Thomas/Sweden Senior Member

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    There are some really nice tops sometimes, like this recent LS128F:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Andy California

    Andy California Member

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    This one's cool, but I'm not a fan of the other ones :)
     
  5. currypowder

    currypowder Senior Member

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    Maybe those are veneers? I have 2 Tokais with solid flame tops that I like because they are not very precise or consistent.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. villager

    villager Senior Member

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  7. currypowder

    currypowder Senior Member

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    Always loved the look of that one, villager
     
  8. AbbeSauniere

    AbbeSauniere Senior Member

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    I seem to remember it being more common in the early 2000s. Had a '02 LS200 with the "BBQ grill" style flame. I've noticed a return to the more classic style flame in the last several years.
     
  9. RayTorvalds

    RayTorvalds Senior Member

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    [​IMG]

    An LP without a pickguard, but with the screw inserted always remind me of those beauty mark piercings. It's probably silly, but it does.
     
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  10. J-Dizzle

    J-Dizzle Senior Member

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    those pinstripe flames are almost always veneer tops.

    Tokai uses veneer maple tops for lower model flametop designations and solid maple tops for the high end flametop models.

    Veneer flame tops are usually very symmetrical, almost overly so. Solid flame tops usually have more random variations in the flames.
     
  11. Udonitron

    Udonitron Psychedelic Stoner Rock Premium Member

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    And they are not very pretty, just my opinion.
     
  12. Andy California

    Andy California Member

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    I apologize for a n00b question, but what exactly is veneer? Does it have anything to do with actual maple or is it a completely different material?
     
  13. villager

    villager Senior Member

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    thin layer of ( in this case) flamed maple
     
  14. Andy California

    Andy California Member

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    Is there a sure way to tell if a guitar has veneer top when physically inspecting it?
     
  15. GammyBird

    GammyBird Senior Member

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    Pull the pickups and check the cavity. A solid FM top should show some flame down through the maple top. Also, check the center seem on the maple top to see if it matches the veneer join on the top along with the wood grain.
     
  16. SingeMonkey

    SingeMonkey Senior Member

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    It's not just veneer. A lot of Tokai flame tops are less than overwhelming. Maybe it was the wood they had, or maybe the market they appeal to in Japan. But a lot of flame top Tokais in the last ten years have these pinstripe flames. They're fantastic guitars, of course. But the flame on the Bacchus classic solid flame top models was much more exciting.
     
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  17. Mosster47

    Mosster47 Senior Member

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    I have two solid flame tops and they are both monsters. I had an 81 veneer that was a really good flame too.

    Honestly I think you just see a lot less Tokai guitars than Gibson. There are thousands of reissues that aren't very impressive and hundreds that are and those hundreds are crammed down everyone's throat. I don't think I've seen 100 Tokai LS models with a real flame.
     
  18. SingeMonkey

    SingeMonkey Senior Member

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    No one will take us seriously if we can't criticise our own brands. My mate and I, both huge Tokai fans with four Tokais between us, have remarked on the pinstripe flames of solid flame-top Tokais for years–as opposed to old Tokais, Navigators, Bacchus, and Momose.

    Admitting that Tokai hasn't been using the most interesting solid flame tops doesn't stop them being incredible guitars. And of course there are exceptions like the second image posted by currypowder, which is a recent solid top Tokai.

    But in general, this has been accurate for years.
     
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  19. moreles

    moreles Senior Member

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    Without giving a long lecture, I will simply report that it is easy to get exactly bookmatched patterned tops when using veneers, while actually carving the top exposes the wood at varied depths, making it far less likely that you'll get consistent symmetry. Many of us prefer the somewhat irregular look rather than the hyper-exact bookmatched pinstripes. And using veneers, it's far easier to source dramatically figured woods, and single boards can be used to make many, many tops because veneer is pretty much like gift wrap -- all looks, no substance. In fact, precisely symmetrical flame is one of the "tells" that lets you know you're seeing a guitar made out of other wood, with only the appearance of a flametop.
     
  20. SingeMonkey

    SingeMonkey Senior Member

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    We're not talking about the veneers. A great many solid tops look like this too. It's pointless pretending it's just veneers. Look at LS200s from the past few years.
     

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