1980's Tokai Love Rock LP
It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Japanese guitars. Over the years they have made some of my favorite guitars, both copies and original designs. Tokai is one of those brands that have made, and continue to make some of the best clones of US guitars ever, in some cases WAY better than the originals they were copying.
The '80's Love Rocks stand out in an already impressive array of Tokai clones as being some of the best and when you play and work on them, it's easy to see why.
These are accurate in nearly every way but especially in the timber quality and workmanship in construction. Tokai from this period were using high quality American timbers the same as Gibson had used for years and their production techniques were more consistent and quality control was MUCH MUCH higher than Gibson at the time.
The first thing you notice when you take these quality Japanese copies out of the case is that top carve. When the LP was designed the carve was VERY ........ organic. It had an almost concave lip around the edge that came up to the binding. Gibson lost this carve over the years as their machinery got worn and tired. When the Japanese started copying "properly" in the late seventies, they got this carve right and continued to do it right.
Copying something "right" is something these Japanese companies have always done well. It's in their culture and it's a mater of pride. Like so much else they copied (cars, motorbikes, cameras, electronics) they quickly surpassed the stuff they were copying and starting making "better" versions of the originals.
This came in for a new bone nut and fret dress and set up. It played well before coming in but the owner knew it had more potential to play like (or better than) the real thing.
The old nut was removed being careful not to chip the finish around the binding and neck as it was the original nut. Once out a new blank was fitted up and cut to suit.
With the new nut in and frets dressed it was a pretty simple set up.
Quality guitars like this generally set up pretty quickly and this played well before it came to me so it was a joy to do.
Once set up properly this thing SANG. It certainly plays better than most Gibsons I've done. The pick ups are original Tokai PAF's and sounded amazing. Full big clean bottom end with just the right amount of sparkle.
For a 30 year old guitar it's in great condition despite being played fairly well. It's another great sign of quality when guitars get to this age and all the really need is a new nut and a quick set up. I cleaned out the electrics and it was right to go. VERY nice.