History of Tokai

Last Modified : July 6, 2022

Tokai Gakki Co., Ltd. was founded in 1947. The company began making harmonicas and then acoustic and electric guitars, basses and accordions. Tokai has produced some wonderful replicas of Gibson and Fender, including the “Love Rock Model” and “Les Paul Reborn” series (copies of the Gibson Les Paul), the “Springy Sound” series (copies of the Fender Stratocaster) and the “Breezy Sound” series (copies of the Fender Telecaster). Tokai also made replicas of acoustic guitars from Gibson and CF Martin.

In 1965, Tokai began making acoustic guitars and in 1968 it launched the Hummingbird electric guitar series. In 1970, Tokai began producing the Acoustic Hummingbirds.

In 1974, Tokai established a partnership with CF Martin to manufacture their acoustic guitars and to produce Sigma electric guitar, a subsidiary of CF Martin.

From 1978 to 1980, Tokai sold replicas of Les Paul under the name “Les Paul Reborn”. It was at this time that everyone started hearing about the “Lawsuit Guitars”. The replicas made by Tokai were, at the time, of incredible quality. The different woods used were of higher quality than those used by Gibson. Indeed, Tokai had researched and analyzed the original Gibson to be able to make guitars of superior quality.

Tokai Logotipo

Tokai’s most sought vintage series today are the “Les Paul Reborn” and “Love Rock Model”, produced in the late 70’s and early 80’s. These guitars are becoming increasingly rare on the market and their prices are high.

Fender’s replicas began being produced in 1977. Stratocaster’s replicas are from the “Springy Sound” series. The Telecaster replicas of the “Breezy Sound” series started in 1980. Just like the Gibson replicas, they are excellent guitars. Once again, Tokai has favored the best wood species and a highly qualified workforce.

Since Tokai already had its own factory, it made guitars for many famous brands like Fernandes and Fender Japan.

Note: Fender Japan has worked with several factories including Fujigen, Dyna, Tokai and Terada. The JV and E series were made by Fujigen. Fender produced by Tokai from 1997 to 2006 say “Crafted in Japan” under the serial number.

Tokai Serial Number for Gibson & Fender Style Models

1981 Tokai LS 100 | Vintage Japan GuitarsAll Tokai replicas of Gibson guitars, during the first 8 years of their production, had a serial number with 7-digits. The first digit was the year of manufacture. Serial numbers can be found at the following locations...

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Frankie – great website! Just one piece of info – I visited the Tokai factory in 2018 and got this straight from the president himself – they moved to the current factory in 2006, which is when they stopped producing for Fender Japan.

  2. I have a Franciscan F335 orange label inside it, Acoustic from the early 70s or late 60s … But I can’t find any info or what this might be worth… I got it in 1975 as a gift … and it still sounds great … anyone know anything about the F335? And yes, it is a Franciscan Model and does have a crowned head stock not a flat head stock on it if that helps ID it’s age and who may have built it…

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