Tokai facts, theory, photos & ID thread

reborn old

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I'll be first to admit this is an ambitious post based largely on limited catalog info and on too few MIK example pics, but it's a start that hopefully other members can build on for dating and/or reference purposes, and hopefully help members who think they may be dealing with a fake.

A few general guidelines:
1- No MIK Tokai models have or had serial numbers (outside of 2003-05 Dillion produced "unauthorized Love Rocks" that had clear serial # rear headstock decals) ... see last pic at bottom of this post.
2- Certain MIK (made in Korea) attributes can help date your Love Rock within one of 5 production categories. The main one being TRC (truss rod cover) differences shown in the pic below.
If your MIK TRC doesn't look similar to one pictured below, you may be out of luck.
3- Later MIC (made in China) models ALL have serial numbers.
4- Most if not all Korean Tokais were designated for export purposes.
Examples with open book headstocks were likely destined for countries that didn't have patent infringement concerns, except perhaps the first 1995-1999 LS category listed below, which were listed along side MIJ LS-60 models in 1995 and 1998 catalogs, but had 3 screw TRC's and bolt-on necks throughout their production.
5- Korean Tokai headstock inlays are somewhat inconsistent in thickness and whether or not the "A" in Tokai is closed at top or open (especially around 1999) suggesting they were possibly hand routed by different workers or by 3rd parties perhaps ?
1995-1999 LS-45 + LS-50 Tokai inlays are similar to most MIJ examples.


--1995-1999 LS--------1997 ALS---------1998-2000 ALS------2001-2005 ALS----2003+ ink stamp---

There is a MIK headstock picture for each variation as detailed below:
(dates followed by an asterisk are approximate, but order of introduction is believed to be accurate)

1995-1999 LS-45, LS-50 with three screw pointed bell TRC, Mahogany back + neck construction, Japan hardware, model #'s changed to LS-50, LS-55 in 1998 catalog + both models discontinued sometime in 1999.
Four piece matched plain top w off center seam for LS-45,
flame sycamore veneer top for LS-50,
Bolt on neck, three screw TRC, Mk3 pickups are the only other specs that differ from MIJ base models. Based on use of Japan hardware , partial production may be in Japan.
Later LS-50, LS-55 models could have two screw pointed bell TRCs. I couldn't find an example at the time of this writing.

1997* three screw pointed bell TRC alder back + maple neck ALS models introduced,
Fret inlays are opaque plastic instead of pearloid(on bolt-on neck models at least), move to a more rectangular nut profile, white cavity covers (except ALS-37 special model with back covers) please note the paler fret board and rectangular nut in pic #2 vs pic #1 on left.
ALS-48 and higher have set necks, lower models remain bolt-on maple , large bridge posts for all years other than LS models in category listed above this one. Some higher models may have pearloid inlays and rosewood fret boards.

1998~1999* two screw pointed bell TRC, ALS + ALC series catalog intro, ALS 48 and higher alder models with set necks, ALS 42 + lower alder or laminate body models all have bolt-on maple necks.
Pearloid inlays and rosewood colored fret boards often found on set neck models from now on. (may be actual rosewood... couldn't verify from pics)

2000~2002 three screw arch shaped TRC introduced. Model specs appear to be otherwise unchanged.

2003~2005 three screw arch shaped TRC Model specs appear to be unchanged outside of introduction of "Made in Korea" ink stamp on headstock back beginning 2003, pic #5 (same as is MIJ ink stamp introduction on 2003 Japan models) until the end of documented MIK production. TRC and headstock remain unchanged from 2000-2002 outside of MIK ink stamp. pic #4

Based on available data and available pics, Tokai began Chinese ALS production sometime in 2005. Whether or not Korea continued Tokai production after 2005 may be difficult to prove or disprove.
----------------------------------------------------------------

2008 Chinese headstock posted for comparison purposes:



2003-2005 Dillion unauthorized Tokai serial # example:
 

jcsk8

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I saw this yesterdeay and wondered, are the chinese Tokai fakes?
Tokai Guitar Company co., ltd.

"For Sellers
These days, the company which identify themselves as Tokai China distributes(or sells) Tokai Fake guitars.
Please do not buy Tokai Brand guitars directly from Tokai China, and also distributors in China.
Because they deal with Fake Tokai guitars.
There is no relationship between Tokai and Tokai China."
 

luis

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Very interesting.
It would be worth searching for the serials placed on "faked"Love Rocks.
 

reborn old

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I saw this yesterdeay and wondered, are the chinese Tokai fakes?
I suspect Tokai Gakki is saying they produce ALS models in China, but never market guitars from withiin China..
 

jcsk8

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Like they import those made in China for them and sell from Japan?
 

reborn old

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I'm in not in any way affiliated with any of these companies, but here is my understanding of Tokai's statement:

ALS + ALC model guitars might be drop shipped directly from China by Tokai in Japan, but purchase orders would be handled excusively through their head office in Japan or through authorized Tokai dealers in Japan, Australia, Germany, South Africa + UK.

If you purchase directly from Chinese vendors over the internet or by phone, or purchase sub $500 ALS + ALC model examples off popular online auction sites, there is a strong possibility the guitars are fake Tokais.

Given the current environment, re-selling a Chinese made Tokai might prove difficult without a valid sales receipt from an authorized Tokai dealer, I would think. :hmm:

Korea and Japan made models have always been easier to validate as being authentic or fake
(aside from Korean unauthorized Fakais shipped to Canada that shipped with 1 screw TRC's, 2 screw switch covers and
"make in Korea" transparent serial number headstock decals)
 

MauiCliff

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Aloha John,

Thanks for the great Thread!!.... posted to my desktop !! :naughty:
 

Falstaff

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Great thread! My P90 gold top is a 2007. Two piece back, though, but whatevs...it is fantastic. Anyone got a 2007 catalog?
Thanks!
 

reborn old

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A few changes to the MIK post at the top of this page:
The 1995-1999 LS-45 + 50 models were made in Japan, not Korea despite having a few Korean characteristics. Possibly assembled in Korea ?
... not according to Tokai sources. :thumb:
The other is the 3 screw pointed bell TRC models being newer than the 2 screw TRC version.
Edited thread is below ... since revisions came after the top thread was locked:
--------------------------------------------------------------

No genuine MIK Tokai models have or had serial numbers
outside of possibly 2006 Fine Corp "FC" or "F" prefix models
if these were in fact produced in Korea and not China,

(2003-05 Dillion produced "unauthorized Love Rocks" had clear cello
serial # rear headstock decals) ... see last pic at bottom of this post.

Certain MIK (made in Korea) attributes can help date your Love Rock within one of 4 production categories. The main ones being TRC (truss rod cover) differences shown in the pic below and possibly a MIK headstock stamp after 2002.

If your MIK TRC doesn't look similar to one pictured below, you may be out of luck, but control cavity routes may help
where a TRC has been replaced.

Later MIC (made in China) models ALL have/had serial numbers and other features differentiating them from Korean examples.

Most if not all Korean Tokais were designated for export purposes and have a center dimple headstock style.
All featured alder or laminate body and maple neck construction.
Rare examples with open book headstocks were likely destined for countries that didn't have patent infringement concerns.


---1998-1999 ALS----late 1999 to early 2000 ALS-----mid 2000 to 2005 ALS---2003+ MIK ink stamp--

1998~1999* two screw pointed bell TRC, ALS + ALC series catalog intro, ALS 48 and higher alder models with set necks, ALS 42 + lower alder or laminate body models.
Pearloid inlays and rosewood colored fret boards often found on set neck models. (may be actual rosewood... couldn't verify from pics)
opaque plastic instead of pearloid found on most bolt-on neck models.

late 1999 to early 2000 three screw pointed bell TRC. Model specs appear to be otherwise unchanged.

mid 2000~2002 three screw arch shaped TRC introduced. Model specs appear to be otherwise unchanged.

2003~2005 three screw arch shaped TRC specs appear to be unchanged outside of introduction of "Made in Korea" ink stamp on headstock back sometime in 2003 or possibly 2004, pic #4
(same as is MIJ ink stamp introduction on 2003 Japan models) until the end of documented MIK production.

Whether or not Korea continued Tokai production after 2005 and used serial numbers similar to Chinese ALS models, may be difficult to prove or disprove at this time.


Control cavity pics for various types:

1998-1999 ALS with pointed TRC



mid 2000 to 2005 ALS with arch shaped TRC



2009 Made in China ALS



Dillion unauthorized Canadian export


The Dillion cavity is different from others in that the cable channel and jack hole are at diagonal corner opposites (this pic was somehow flipped 180* on it's vertical axis), while Tokai ALS channels always route to the left side lobe and the jack hole is always in the right side lobe.
Arched TRC cavities have a flat routed right side lobe.
That flat is longer and follows route curvature, on the 2009 made in China example.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Catalog vol-18 1995-1997 LS-45 + LS-50 models + Catalogs vol-19 + 20 1998 + 1999 LS-50 + LS-55 models were all made in Japan but can be easily confused with early 2000 MIK models. They share the same style 4 screw bolt-on neck and same 3 screw pointed bell TRC, but were nevertheless produced in Japan.
External LS-45 + 50 differences from MIK examples are mahogany neck and back construction instead of alder or laminate with maple necks.
I believe most 1995-1999 MIJ bolt-on models have open book headstocks and necks aren't scarf jointed. I haven't found an export dimple headstock example yet.
Other MIJ differences include typical MIJ control cavity routes with all 4 cavity lobes routed flat and Japan stamped hardware.
MIJ bolt-on neck base models were discontinued after 1999.
Note that on these MIJ 1995-1999 bolt-on neck base models , the nut shape is sloped rather than rectangular in profile, and made of bone instead of plastic:
 

roxrob

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Heres a question for all you Tokai experts out there...

Around june-August 2001, I went to The Guitar Show in Birmingham UK, where I purchased my Gary Moore Signature Gibson Les Paul. On that same day I tried out a Tokai Les Paul (no idea what model) which was an aged replica of a 1959 sunburst. It had all the gunk of an old guitar and if I remember correctly, I was initially told it was about £750 but later the sales guy said he'd made a mistake and it was actually around £1200!! Lovely guitar with a MASSIVE neck, and Dark Tobacco Sunburst. Really looked the part but I've never ever seen another one since... Should've bought it...


Any ideas???


Rob
 

loverocker

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Heres a question for all you Tokai experts out there...

Around june-August 2001, I went to The Guitar Show in Birmingham UK, where I purchased my Gary Moore Signature Gibson Les Paul. On that same day I tried out a Tokai Les Paul (no idea what model) which was an aged replica of a 1959 sunburst. It had all the gunk of an old guitar and if I remember correctly, I was initially told it was about £750 but later the sales guy said he'd made a mistake and it was actually around £1200!! Lovely guitar with a MASSIVE neck, and Dark Tobacco Sunburst. Really looked the part but I've never ever seen another one since... Should've bought it...


Any ideas???


Rob
Sounds like one of the relic LS guitars, done by the UK importer using (IIRC) Japanese-made LS-75F models. I had one and it wasn't a bad guitar (although given its origins, it had a veneer top, so the relic wear couldn't be too hard). I'll have a photo somewhere around here...
 

playsbluz

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Does anyone know how to get a hold of Guitargai? I've been sending him emails for three days now and get no answers. I'm dying to buy a guitar from him but no dice. Any help?
 


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