Late 70's-early 80's Tokai LS50 vs 100 vs ? - Big difference in build quality?

circusinthesky

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Happy Friday. Looking to dip a toe into the market referenced in the subject.

Before spending $2k-3k on a nice one, I'm considering getting a lower end model, such as an LS-50/60, to decide if I want to spring for the more expensive model. I realize the body composition (2-3 piece top/back) is going to be a step down from the higher models, but I'm not concerned about that aspect at the moment. And, I realize the tuners, nut, and saddle might be cheaper, but again, I can deal.

What I am concerned with (from an evaluation perspective) is overall build quality and pickups. Is the fit and finish on the LS-50/60 going to rival the more expensive models? I don't know if they were all given the same level of attention, with just the components/wood/finish being the big difference. Or, is the LS-50/60 going to feel cheaper/more pool made? Are the pickups different on lower end models?

1978/79 : LS-50 and LS-60 both polyurethane
1981 : LS-50 polyester, LS-60 polyurethane

Well, thanks for your opinions!
 

Roxy13

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I doubt you would see any difference in quality of workmanship. I've never had the pleasure of owning one of the vintage Tokais, but I'ver never once read anything but praise about all of them.

The higher models are rarer, have nitro I believe and possibly nibs.

But, I've had some of the lowest Greco and History models and they not only compared well to the higher ones, but even beat some of them out. So I would expect the same from Toaki. I had a Greco black beauty custom here that I think might have had a 3 piece top and as many as 5 pieces on the back. I put new frets in it and geez, that guitar not only came to life, but was one of the most resonant things I've ever played. That sure flies in the face of what most of us accept as a what a guitar needs to be "high quality". I'm still wondering if I sold the wrong black beauty.
 

Lumi71

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Yes, there are differences in specs, like Roxy said.
LS50: 3 piece back and top, no nibs, poly-finish
LS100: 1 piece back, 2 piece back, nibs, nitro-finish.
Pickups are different as well.
However, it does not have to do something with how they play and sound neccessarily...had some "lower end" Tokais playing and sounding better than a LS120 for example.
 

jlee

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Neck angle is different on the LS50/60 I believe.

I think the higher end early 80s models came with DiMarzio rather than Gotoh. My LS120 had DiMarzio PAFs. Whether that’s an upgrade depends on your personal taste.
 

circusinthesky

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Good info, all. Thanks.

Lumi71, is that Polyester or Polyurethane? I believe the ester is the thicker, cheaper of the two.
 

restless

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My 1985 TLS 60(?) does not give up much to any other Singlecut Including a few of the G brand Lesters.
 

Olds442

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60's are poly. but you'll never notice a difference of the 2 piece back etc. yes the pups are maxon and not dimarzio, so there's that. but they don't suck so bad you need to remove them, it's preference.

the difference in going to an 80 or 100 from a 50 or 60 is the way the finish feels. poly is poly and the 80s and 100s and up feel different. that's the biggest difference you'll notice imo. all the guitars are very well built down to the old LS-50s. (had em, 50, 60, 80, 100, 120, all 78-80 years.)

the downsides to the old guitars can be fret wear or a fallen bridge. the nice thing about a 60 or 50 is no nibs. so if you do need fret work, you don't have to cry about losing nibs.

overall, my rec is to buy the best one you can afford. if it has an "upgraded" bridge, that may be a good thing. they were a bit too close to accurate with the bridges and they suffer the same fate as many old tune o matic bridges, they can sag over time. (insert age joke here.)
 

zeneffect

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I have a couple of old tokais. Ls60, ls100, tlc80, and a tokai made mseeker. What I can tell you is that I prefer my greco egf850 over all of them.

My 60 is an 81, my 100 is a 78. If I were to swap the pickups, I'd prefer the 60 honestly. The gotoh don't do it for me. Neck carve feels nearly identical between the 2, fit and finish is excellent. Hell they even pretty much look the same minus some headstock script. Minus nibs, Nitro (and I have suspicions and possibly of Nitro overcoat on the 60 due to color line and feel) its the same guitar. The seam on the 2 piece back is so nicely matched it looks like 1. Nothing wrong with the 50s and 60s at all, and they are getting just as collectable.

The pcb was the same between the 2, I believe the pots may not be 500k in the ls100 (def are in the 60) The pickup selector switch was different, ls100. It was more vintage style and had a metal cap over the back, however both were high quality. Green chicklet caps in both, DiMazio PAF in the 100. Tailpiece was aluminum on both with same markings. Only difference in tuners was single ring vs double. TOM bridge was the same on both. Nut is bone on both. I can compare headstock angles if you want.

Why do I prefer the greco? Neck is chunkier and I don't know.... it just has something extra i can't define other than "mojo." Not saying go get a greco, but you find that "one" where you aren't expecting it and it will make you open your eyes a little more. Don't get hung up on a brand thinking "its the best"
 
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Grenville

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I've owned a 1980 Tokai LS80 Reborn Old for a few years and last year helped a friend acquire a 1979 Tokai LS59 Les Paul Reborn.

The workmanship on both is impeccable. Apart from the 3-piece top on the LS50, and that one being cherry sunburst and mine brown sunburst, the bones of the guitars were pretty much the same.

If I could no longer keep my LS80 I'd have no trouble keeping an LS50 instead. I would prefer brown burst to cherry though.
 

hackenfort

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Headstock angle is different and imo win make it feel and sounds different. I like the maxon pickups on the lower models
 

circusinthesky

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Oof!!! So many great, informative, and helpful replies in this thread. Especially the comparisons replies. Thank you all so much!!! I'm going to re-read a few times, take notes, and being the waiting/searching process.

* Annnnnnnd, he buys a $300 Chinese Dean Razorback! (Just kidding.)
 

circusinthesky

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Why do I prefer the greco? Neck is chunkier and I don't know.... it just has something extra i can't define other than "mojo." Not saying go get a greco, but you find that "one" where you aren't expecting it and it will make you open your eyes a little more. Don't get hung up on a brand thinking "its the best"
Yeah, I have included the Greco's in my search. I figured using Tokai as an example was good for me, because I'm more familiar with the model names/numbers. I'll check out the 850!
 

zeneffect

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For the egf-850 there was a brief period that they had Braz boards iirc

Pretty sure mine is not one of those but I'm not missing it either.
 

jimmyjames

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My '81 ain't Braz, but kicks arse. PU-2s had been pulled (and I know where they are :thumb:), but my Double Tricks work well with it :yesway:
 

luis

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Going back to question asked on the tittle.... They are not so different in building process but in materias used on the build from Tokai. I had a very good '81 LS50 , a light one 3,7 kg. and still own a '78 LS80 3,85 kg. Finish is different as the fret edge binding attached to 80 model. I just recorded both the same morming one before the other. There it was a sonic difference.I kept LS80 which sounds so good.... LS50 is a really good all around guitar and I missed it a lot.
 

brokentoeswalker

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Do you need vintage ?? They still make a great product. I have Tokais from 1981 to 2014.

If you like an old axe and want higher end specs i would say an LS80 would be the way to go. Anything higher is just window dressing until you get into the order made LS150's of the day and thats just a guess because my '81 is only a LS120
 

Whoopysnorp

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I have an LS60 and an LC100, both '79. As has been noted, the 60 and below use a 14 degree headstock angle (same as Gibson did at the time), while the 80 and above used a 17 degree angle (as Gibson did in the '50s). The stock pickups in my 60 were bland, weak, boring, while I like the stock Gotoh PAFs in my 100 and have never changed them.

Although my 100 has more bling and seems to resonate more freely than the 60, the 60 has something unique that makes it my #1 on most days. I swapped out the pickups for Seth Lovers and it just screams through anything Marshally. I definitely don't feel like I'm stepping down if I switch from the 100 to the 60; they're just different instruments with their own personalities.

I feature my 60 in this cover video I made:
 


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