81-83 Tokai ES-100/150 or 80-81 Greco SA-900/1200

riscado

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the early 80s Tokais and Grecos are probably the closest to 50s Gibson ES gutiars. I've had the pleasure of playing or owning examples of both kinds on separate occasions. But I've never been able to do an A/B side by side comparison.

My experience is limited to early 80s super real SA (900 and 1200), but I guess it's also valid for early 80s Mint collection era SA guitars (59-120 and 61-90). The Grecos I tried seemed to have a bit more top end sweetness. A bit clearer and with more sparkle. Also a wider width at the nut.

The early 80s Tokais (I've only tried ES-100s), seem to be a bit throatier sounding. A bit rounder or thicker. I've never tried 150s, but I'm assuming the ebony board has an impact on the response of the guitar.

Does anyone with experience in both types have a preference.

I'm considering whether to keep a Tokai ES-100 I have at the moment, or go for a Super real. I'm even considering getting the super real now, trying them side by side and then selling one of them later.

So any help is appreciated.
 
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currypowder

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The only way you'll truly know is to have them side by side.

For awhile, I had both an SA1200 and an ES-150J, both from 81. I found them to be pretty similar in tone with a very slight preference to the Greco. However, I really liked the neck profile on the Tokai. And, for me anyway, the feel of the neck in my hand is one of the key features I focus on. Plus, the wood figuring on the Tokai is just gorgeous. So ultimately, I've kept the 150 and let the SA1200 go.

Also, FWIW, the Tokai doesn't have an ebony board, it's rosewood.
 

riscado

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Hi @currypowder thanks for that.

That's interesting, I thought all ES-150s had ebony boards, my ES-100 is definitely rosewood.

I'm not super picky with neck profiles, I've learnt to adapt over the years. I do have a slight preference towards thinner 60s type necks on 335s. Which means the SA-900 would probably suit me a bit better, but neck profile is not a main factor for me.

I do agree with you, that playing them side by side is the only way of making a fair decision, because it's quite hard to make a comparison based on memory alone. So I might have to do it.
 

luis

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I also own a 1981 ES-100 with some birdeye wood. After a correct set-up it sounds great! Neck is a bit below regular 43 mm. nut however. It is a truly 335 for sure. Very hard to find a 335 with such quality and sound nowadays without breaking the bank.
 
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riscado

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You're absolutely right, great guitars. I do think it's a difficult choice between an early Tokai ES-100 and a super real SA, from what I remember they are similar in ways.

But I did find the Grecos more open and the Tokais woodier, even unplugged.

I think the only way, will be to get one and compare them side by side.
 
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JamesT

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The only MIJ 335 that made my jaw drop was an SA-1200. Those ES Tokai models are fantastic but the Greco would be my holy grail early 80s MIJ 335. I did play an early 80s Navigator that was in the same stratosphere and the pickups were dynamite.
 


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