Upgrade Tokai Love Rock (not MiJ) or switch to Gibson

Theador

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Hi all. Been 'meaning' to learn guitar now for several years and finally - with lockdown - managed to find time over the last year to start my journey. I've got a TOKAI Love Rock (Not a MIJ one) which plays nice, goes out of tune fairly easily but on the whole not too bad.

Question: Am I better off keeping the Tokai and upgrading pots, tuners etc. or going for a cheaper Gibson? If it's the Gibson route, what's the best one to look at? Studio?

In a few years I'll no doubt make the plunge on a decent Standard, but for now, while I'm learning, what's the best option? I'm playing a mix of Jazz, Blues and general exploring.

Thanks in advance :)
 

J-Dizzle

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I assume it's a Chinese Tokai? What year was it made?

I have a Chinese Tokai (made in 2010) I gigged with for years and it was a beast. I upgraded tuners, nut, pickups, all the electronics including jack and toggle. Once you make the upgrades they are really decent guitars. Definitely better than an Epiphone. I still have the guitar. The upgrades weren't that expensive and as a gigging guitar I absolutely got my moneys worth.

They can make a nice stepping stone if you aren't ready yet to drop more money on a Gibson.
 

AJK1

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I’ve owned and still do own various Tokai’s and yes, they are amazing guitars, but I always change the pickups in them
You could get a great used set of pickups for not much money and get a big improvement in sound
Don’t worry about wiring or pots or whatever, just changing the pickups will make a massive difference
That’s my advice
 

Theador

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I assume it's a Chinese Tokai? What year was it made?

I have a Chinese Tokai (made in 2010) I gigged with for years and it was a beast. I upgraded tuners, nut, pickups, all the electronics including jack and toggle. Once you make the upgrades they are really decent guitars. Definitely better than an Epiphone. I still have the guitar. The upgrades weren't that expensive and as a gigging guitar I absolutely got my moneys worth.

They can make a nice stepping stone if you aren't ready yet to drop more money on a Gibson.


Thanks Yes it's a Chinese one, does play nice, had it set up recently and the guy said it might be worth putting in some CTS pots. I've got different pickups in there installed by previous owner.


I’ve owned and still do own various Tokai’s and yes, they are amazing guitars, but I always change the pickups in them
You could get a great used set of pickups for not much money and get a big improvement in sound
Don’t worry about wiring or pots or whatever, just changing the pickups will make a massive difference
That’s my advice

Nice, the previous owner had swapped out the pickups, they sound good to me.
 

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Grenville

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EMG pickups are good. Might be worth new pots.

Is the guitar STILL going out of tune after the recent setup? A badly cut nut is more likely the culprit than the tuners. I would have thought that a setup would include getting the nut seen to.
 

InTheEvening

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Hi all. Been 'meaning' to learn guitar now for several years and finally - with lockdown - managed to find time over the last year to start my journey. I've got a TOKAI Love Rock (Not a MIJ one) which plays nice, goes out of tune fairly easily but on the whole not too bad.

Question: Am I better off keeping the Tokai and upgrading pots, tuners etc. or going for a cheaper Gibson? If it's the Gibson route, what's the best one to look at? Studio?

In a few years I'll no doubt make the plunge on a decent Standard, but for now, while I'm learning, what's the best option? I'm playing a mix of Jazz, Blues and general exploring.

Thanks in advance :)
If it goes out of tune fairly easily, or makes it difficult to play in any way, I would definitely replace it.

When you’re learning, having a guitar you need to fight with or constantly be tweaking can make the learning process even more difficult and frustrating.
Also generally, even if you upgrade a guitar, I’ve heard many people say you’ll rarely get that money back on the mods if you resell it.

Since you mention you’ll be upgrading to a Gibson down the road any ways. I say go for a guitar you’ll want to keep now, rather than drop a bunch of money in the Tokai.

I know many folks, including myself who bought a cheaper knock off guitar like Epiphone or Squier and then ended up upgrading to a Gibson or Fender later on. But it would have saved me time and money if I had just gotten the Gibson from the beginning.

So I say go for the standard if you can swing it now. That’s a guitar you’ll likely never need to replace or upgrade unless you just get bored with it, and it might inspire and motivate you to practice more if you have one you really love.

In summary, I say get the Gibson standard rather than put money in the tokai that you might not get back. Especially if you plan on getting the Gibson anyway.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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Theador

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EMG pickups are good. Might be worth new pots.

Is the guitar STILL going out of tune after the recent setup? A badly cut nut is more likely the culprit than the tuners. I would have thought that a setup would include getting the nut seen to.
Actually no it isn’t ha. The guitar went in to have a bit of soldering done as one of the pick ups had stopped working. The guy did a bit of set up while he had it so wasn’t a full set up job. It does seem to be holding tune a bit better. Doesn’t go out of tune when playing by the way, only when left on the stand. So it’s highly likely it’s just getting brushed passed or just heat change in the room
 

J-Dizzle

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I replaced the tuners with Gotohs and had a bone nut installed. Tuning was rock solid after that.

New pots do make a difference IMO. The Chinese ones were basically like on or off. CTS pots made the tone and volume controls really usable, especially as I had it 50s wired.
 

Theador

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If it goes out of tune fairly easily, or makes it difficult to play in any way, I would definitely replace it.

When you’re learning, having a guitar you need to fight with or constantly be tweaking can make the learning process even more difficult and frustrating.
Also generally, even if you upgrade a guitar, I’ve heard many people say you’ll rarely get that money back on the mods if you resell it.

Since you mention you’ll be upgrading to a Gibson down the road any ways. I say go for a guitar you’ll want to keep now, rather than drop a bunch of money in the Tokai.

I know many folks, including myself who bought a cheaper knock off guitar like Epiphone or Squier and then ended up upgrading to a Gibson or Fender later on. But it would have saved me time and money if I had just gotten the Gibson from the beginning.

So I say go for the standard if you can swing it now. That’s a guitar you’ll likely never need to replace or upgrade unless you just get bored with it, and it might inspire and motivate you to practice more if you have one you really love.

In summary, I say get the Gibson standard rather than put money in the tokai that you might not get back. Especially if you plan on getting the Gibson anyway.

Just my 2 cents.

I like this comment :)

I might get the pots done on the Tokai and leave it at that; they do seem very binary in their action. Draw the line on it and start looking for a decent Les Paul standard and keep the Tokai as a beater.
 

Roxy13

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Make sure you are stretching your strings too when you change them. I do it until they stay in tune.

And yes, I'm quite a believer in using a pot with a good taper on it so I would change the pots.
 

truckermde

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Make sure you are stretching your strings too when you change them. I do it until they stay in tune.

And yes, I'm quite a believer in using a pot with a good taper on it so I would change the pots.
this

We talk a lot about not staying in tune, and the various culprits, but in all reality, stringing technique is actually to blame, more times than not, IMHO.
 

Theador

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this

We talk a lot about not staying in tune, and the various culprits, but in all reality, stringing technique is actually to blame, more times than not, IMHO.

Yep, hear you. I certainly had that experience on my acoustic. Now it holds tune incredibly. I've restrung the Tokai too and am fairly confident in my restringing abilities :-D. I do believe now the tuning issue may just be down to getting knocked or heat. the winder pegs are very easy to turn.
 

Roxy13

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this

We talk a lot about not staying in tune, and the various culprits, but in all reality, stringing technique is actually to blame, more times than not, IMHO.

Yep. I tune it and then stretch every string 20x. Tune it again and stretch them all again, and keep repeating until every string stays in tune after stretching.
 

truckermde

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Yep, hear you. I certainly had that experience on my acoustic. Now it holds tune incredibly. I've restrung the Tokai too and am fairly confident in my restringing abilities :-D. I do believe now the tuning issue may just be down to getting knocked or heat. the winder pegs are very easy to turn.
I can understand that. When I need them, I like to use Gotoh locking tuners, & I usually get them from Philadelphia Luthier for like $50.

For those who eschew the locking convenience, I recommend Grovers.

:cheers2:
 

Theador

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Of course the follow up question to all of this then will be "Which LP Standard to go for?" however I imagine there are a million threads already on that.
 

InTheEvening

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Of course the follow up question to all of this then will be "Which LP Standard to go for?" however I imagine there are a million threads already on that.
Haha, yes and a million options! So many to choose from.

I just got my first Gibson Les Paul after playing Epiphone and Fender for a long time and I’d say best place to start is to go into a local store if you can and try out all the Les Pauls they have, even the studios, customs, pretty much every model. That was the best advice I got on here.

I did lots of research before going into the stores, but no amount of reading could substitute for actually holding the guitar and feeling and hearing it in person up close. i was surprised to find what features I actually liked and what features I didn’t like when I tried them out. Based on what you like and dislike in the store you can further narrow down the search and at least see what might suit you better.

I ended up loving the slim 60’s neck profile, so that allowed me to immediately rule out any models with chunky necks. And there were some other features that I found I liked and others I didn’t care for as much as I thought I would. I ultimately decided on the new Standard 60’s and couldn’t be happier.

Also worth keeping in mind, Even within the same model, no two LPs are exactly alike and they can vary in weight, how the finish looks, level of flame on the top, and playability.
 
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heartburn

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I think upgrading the Tokai is worth doing, not necessarily to replace the desire for the standard or further postpone but to use as an educational, maintenance and mod'ing platform. I have used cheaper guitars to learn skills and maintenance techniques. Learned to level and crown frets, replace electronics, improve soldering, polishing and finish maintenance on cheaper guitars that I would have never thought about doing with expensive gear. I have no fear in replacing a set of pickups or pots in a Gibson any more than I would an Epiphone now.

If your upgrades you are considering are things like electronics, hit youtube and figure out what you need to do the work yourself. Get a decent cheap soldering irona nd go to town, try out different pickups and setups. Cleaning, filing, or replacing the nut and tuners are all things you can do yourself and is a skill that will save you money down the road on your Standard.
 

01GT Eibach

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Shockingly in this forum ... I am saying "Life is short. Get a Gibson." I think they are well worth it.

Just remember, we are all your friends here trying our best to help you ...

bad-influence-friends-clipart-17.jpg
 

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