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Old 08-16-11, 07:57 AM   #1
Bluuzman
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Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Some weeks ago, I made a comparison of some Historic R8 and R9 Les Pauls versus a 2010 Tokai Les Paul. I was very astonished, that the Tokai was very open sounding and extremely balanced in sound. In my opinion, the sound quality was comparable to the mentioned Historic Les Pauls.

Did you make similar experience? Does Tokai meanwhile know how to build great sounding guitars?
BTW, the Tokai costs just one third of the price of the Historic Les Pauls.
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Old 08-16-11, 09:16 AM   #2
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Ive only tried a few Tokais from the 70s, so I can't say I've made a side by side comparison.

-but-

Comparing one to another is like comparing a Mercedes to a Toyota. Both drive extremely well and are well regarded by most all auto buyers and critics, however at the end of the day one is a Mercedes the other a Toyota.

Most people on this forum will not "down" anyone for owning whatever guitar works for you, but comparing as a rule is a fruitless endeavor.
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Old 08-16-11, 10:03 AM   #3
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Navigator markets that they use Honduran Rosewood for their fingerboards. I think Tokai may use this as well. Honduran Rosewood as a fingerboard is known by luthiers to brighten up the tone of a guitar - it is one of the most characteristic tonewoods out there. I have a Navigator - and yes, they are very comparable to Historics. My 06 Navigator kept most at bay, and forced the sale of some earlier Historics. But I think from mid-2009 on, Gibson has pretty much outdone the high end Japanese clones. Though the best Japanese ones still use a much more vintage-correct finish.
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Old 08-16-11, 10:08 AM   #4
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

What access said.
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Old 08-16-11, 11:55 AM   #5
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

I have a 90's Tokai Love Rock, which is a fantastic instrument. I had to upgrade the pickups, the wiring and the hardware to get the best out of it though. But then, that's what a lot of people do with Historics, right? As far as I can tell the Tokai LS1-R9, the closest model to the Historic R9, is selling in Germany for around $3500 including Lifton case. We can't get one here in the US though...
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Old 08-16-11, 03:29 PM   #6
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Had a few "Reborn" Tokai's. Before the historic reissues really took off in the late 90's, the high end Greco's and the Tokais were the guitars to have. Set of decent pickups and it was all good. Now, those late 70's early 80's Tokais and Grecos are just too expensive. May as well buy the real thing.

Anyway, I always thought the Tokai Strats and Teles (78 through to 82) were better than the Lesters. Had a heap of those.
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Old 08-16-11, 04:13 PM   #7
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

+1

(sad to say) the "lawsuit" Tokai's (Les Paul REBORN and Reborn OLD) of the late '70s were much better guitars IMO than what Gibson was producing at the time and are actually quite good in their own right, but at the end of the day they're not much more than forgeries, hence the lawsuit
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Old 08-16-11, 04:32 PM   #8
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Quote:
Originally Posted by access View Post
Ive only tried a few Tokais from the 70s, so I can't say I've made a side by side comparison.

-but-

Comparing one to another is like comparing a Mercedes to a Toyota. Both drive extremely well and are well regarded by most all auto buyers and critics, however at the end of the day one is a Mercedes the other a Toyota.

Most people on this forum will not "down" anyone for owning whatever guitar works for you, but comparing as a rule is a fruitless endeavor.
Actually, more like comparing a Caddy to a Lexus.

I haven't played any new MIJ Pauls but have recently played a couple of early 80s (and own one) and they are fantastic musical instruments.

I have played my early 80s beater MIJ Burny side by side numerous times with an exceptional (to these ears and hands) R0 loaded with Vintage PAFs and the Burny holds up VERY well in all respects.

Last edited by Rude Dog : 08-19-11 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 08-16-11, 06:12 PM   #9
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Andy Latimer's (Camel) "Les Paul" is about the best sounding one I have heard and it's a Burny Super Grade... I have not played one yet but would like to compare one to my historics. Would be nice when I have to play in bad weather or a dangerous place.

My pedalboard half under an awning last week (I played my '99 R9).

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Old 08-17-11, 03:38 PM   #10
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogmike View Post
My pedalboard half under an awning last week (I played my '99 R9).

No offense, but that's one of more unusual photos I've seen posted here on the LPF. Sort of like the goop inside a Klon Centaur, but on a much larger scale.

This emoticon seems appropriate:
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Old 08-17-11, 06:56 PM   #11
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flavum View Post
No offense, but that's one of more unusual photos I've seen posted here on the LPF. Sort of like the goop inside a Klon Centaur, but on a much larger scale.

This emoticon seems appropriate:
Nice, LOL!!!

Someone threw some garbage bags on my pedalboard while we were playing when the rain came, but two pedals died, one switch and one LED. All fixed up now and the R9 stayed pretty dry under the awning.
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Old 08-17-11, 07:54 PM   #12
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

I've owned both and while the higher-end Japanese Tokai guitars compare (very) favorably to the Gibson Historics, my R8 is the finest guitar I've ever owned.

That's my $02...
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Old 08-17-11, 08:19 PM   #13
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogmike View Post
Nice, LOL!!!

Someone threw some garbage bags on my pedalboard while we were playing when the rain came, but two pedals died, one switch and one LED. All fixed up now and the R9 stayed pretty dry under the awning.
Suggest shrink-wrap next time.
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Old 08-17-11, 11:52 PM   #14
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

My instructor has a Tokai goldtop with P90's strung with .12 flatwounds. Fantastic sounding guitar. My R8 is a one piece body as opposed to Tokai's 3piece. Nothing wrong with a Tokai, if you can even find one...Better than my R8: no.
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Old 08-18-11, 01:59 AM   #15
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

I have one of the higher spec (LS80) 1979 "Reborn" guitars and it's a really good guitar. Beautiful woods and beautifully made with a very flamey solid top and a nice pink-lined Cali-girl case. It has a set of Shed "PAF Daddies" in it and it sounds and plays fantastic all for under 1K. I've been offered twice that for it recently but it's not going anywhere soon. Not sure if it's nitro finished (as some say they are) but it's very thin and the guitar resonates and sustains extremely well. The inlays look 'right' and It's one of the few Les Paul's I've owned where you can't feel that goddamn binding 'ridge' on the neck - which is the reason I usually hate Guitars with fingerboard binding.
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Old 08-18-11, 07:54 AM   #16
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Talk about 2 piece backs - the only Tokai Love Rock that I've owned was an LS125SEB - which had a multi-piece mahogany body. The idea with the "SEB" bodies was that sound travels better along the grain than through it, so the center of the guitar was made with wooden blocks with the grain facing the top and bottom of the guitar to transfer the vibrations to the top of the guitar (I think). Just imagine a Jenga puzzle glued together, and that's a bit like the body construction!

Anyway, the guitar had great fit and finish (as with the Tokai "ES 335" I've also owned), and for about 2/3 of the price of a USA Standard Les Paul, actually compared very favourably, with good quality hardware, fittings and electrics (CTS pots/Switchcraft switch, Tokai PAF Mk II pickups etc). It was an '05 model and had the proper Gibson shaped headstock. Sounded great although not as raunchy as the ceramic 'bucker equipped LP Classic I had at the time.

And as for customer service, I e-mailed the UK Rep. to enquire about the availability of a pickguard. I received one in the post within days (free of charge) complete with a free guitar cable and some other stuff.

I've lost count of the number of times that I've read of higher end Tokai owners say that their guitars compare well with Historics, and many claim to have both so should be in a good position to judge (and hopefully non-biased).

However, on balance and given a choice I would always go with a Gibson over a Tokai, especially if spending a few grand for a Historic level instrument. But if I was on a tight budget then I wouldn't have any qualms about putting a decent sized amount of cash into a Tokai. They've had long enough to get it right when it comes to building Gibson and Fender style guitars.

Anyway, here's a pic of the Love Rock LS125 SEB (it had a veneer flame top and wasn't nearly as clown bursty as you'd think from this photo!):-

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Old 08-18-11, 07:59 AM   #17
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluuzman View Post
Did you make similar experience? Does Tokai meanwhile know how to build great sounding guitars?
As I said in my post Bluuzman, Tokai have had long enough to perfect the art of imitating Gibson and Fender models, and I know plenty of knowledgeable gearheads who take Tokai instruments seriously, at least as a substitute for the bigger named brands. Some of the cheaper/Korean stuff might be a bit flaky, but I definitely rate their MIJ stuff.
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Old 08-18-11, 10:10 AM   #18
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

Ok Il bite, I have had some Tokais and Burnys all 1980s stuff.
And they all Equaled great Historic Les Pauls if not sounding somewhat better.

The historics are hard to find if you want a bright killer one without the wrapped-in-a-blanket-sound.

The Tokais or Burnys dont have that. They have a sligthly Brighter more vintagy tone.
And I have also done this test with alot of different Guitars both Tokai,burny and Gibson.
And the Result was always the same.
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Old 08-18-11, 11:15 AM   #19
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

I had a fantastic '81 Tokai LS80 that was better than many Historics I've played. The current Tokais are great guitars -- I'm not sure they're on the same level as a new Historic, pound for pound, but I'd definitely take one of any USA / Standard Gibson model. The problem is that for the price of the higher-end MIJ models you could get a nice used Historic.

That being said, are we even supposed to be discussing these guitars on here?
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Old 08-18-11, 11:20 AM   #20
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Re: Historic Les Pauls vs. Tokai Les Pauls

[/quote]
Really cool 71, looks the part IMO. Needs the pick guard though...
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