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1985 Tokai APB-'57 Precision - Initial Thoughts

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FenderP, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. FenderP


    May 7, 2005
    I have always kinda wanted a vintage Fender P, but my '78 is just awesome. I have had a hard time wanting to part with thousands for what is essentially the same bass. Plus, I already have four basses :help:

    I've been kicking around getting another custom bass made by Rob Allen (a P bass copy actually), but it's a bit out of my price range right now. I want a bass I can gig with, not a museum piece. Right now I have other basses, but none is a "true" backup for my 78 P.

    Anyway, a few years ago my friend started talking about the Tokai guitars from Japan. The early 80s ones are supposed to be excellent, and he has the Love Rock (Les Paul clone) and a Strat copy. They got sued by Fender in the early 80s because they were (arguably) doing too good a job of doing reproductions even down to the headstocks. They supposedly even analyzed the waveforms of the pickups of the instruments they were copying so they are that dead on.

    Their basses, for those who bought them, have raved. I've been looking at a few Hard Puncher basses (the P copy) on eBay recently, but none have been the '57 or the '60s copies. I could tell because the site http://www.tokairegistry.com has copies of the old catalogs.

    My friend sent me the link to this one, and I figured if it went cheap enough, I'd get it. Sure enough, I wound up winning it for $330. To put things in perspective - I paid $400 for my P back in 1988 or so, so I value a good bargain. One of the reasons this one goes cheap is because the lawsuit era which had the exact Fender headstock copies are more wanted, but this one is the same except a headstock tweak. It's still almost the same.

    The APB-'57 is a copy of the 1957 Precision. For specs, check out: http://www.tokairegistry.com/images/catalogs/tokai_85-86_electric_p5.jpg

    My APB-'57 is sunburst. I haven't plugged it in yet (will do so tomorrow), but once I took it out of the shipping box and played with it unplugged, I knew I had a good bass. The neck is great out of the gate - it plays at least as good as my current P. It's a blond neck, while my other P is a rosewood fingerboard. The V shape is a bit different than my current hunk of wood, but feels similar as you get closer to the body.

    The setup is not me at all - roundwounds and low action, but it's fun to play. I'm glad I pulled the trigger on it.

    I'm going to get it set up with my strings (Rotosound RS77LE set) and put a BadAss II bridge on it like my other one with extra metal plates to raise the action more, and then I'll report back. I would never mod an original, but for $330, no problem!

    I'll also post once I plug it in and do a comparison of my '78 P to this one.
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Congrats on your Tokai win.

    I used to have a Fretted Jazz Sound which unfortunately I had to sell, I still have a freless one, though and it's a sweet bass.

    Post pics when you get it.
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Nice one.

    A lot of those Japanese lawsuit-era guitars and basses are really nicely done...and these days are getting more and more popular.

    Good catch.
  4. FenderP


    May 7, 2005
    Finally got my BadAss II, so it's going in tomorrow to be put on the bass. I'll try to snap some shots once it comes back.

    For grins and yucks, I went to Guitar Center and played the Tokai through a B-18 as well as one of the $2499 Fender Custom Shop "aged" 1959 P basses. The Tokai (IMHO) sounded a bit better. The neck shape was a tad different, but in no way did I feel the Fender was worth nearly $2100 more than I paid ... and I have a Rob Allen Deep 4. The Tokai is that good.

    The build quality was also a bit better, sadly, on the Tokai over the Fender. I felt especially that way about the knobs. They felt kinda cheap and didn't have the same quality feel.

    So I really did make out well in this case!
  5. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    FWIW, you've got the same bass as my primary bass:


    Unfortunately the original pickup was long gone and some crappy thing was in there. I replaced it with a Antiquities II that I already had. I shielded it as long as I had it opened up. The tuning machine on the D was pretty sticky so I got some Fenders that are also reverse and have the rivet where the clover leaf meets the shaft. They're a higher ratio than the Tokai's were. The posts for the strings fit through the grommets on the headstock just fine - they dropped in.

    I have it strung with Lakland Joe Osborn stainless steel flats, the heavier strings for the D & G, the lighter set for the E & A. I'm absolutely thrilled with it. I had to wait almost 10 years before my rhythm guitarist was ready to sell it, but it was worth the wait.

  6. I've been through many Fender P basses. My all time favorite and KEEPER P bass is a Matsumoku factory, 80's Aria "Primary Bass". It just has the magic tone, feel and playability that I like more than the Fenders.

    Congrats on a cool bass!!
  7. emblymouse

    emblymouse exempt Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    W' Sconsin
    Lakland artist
    I had the exact bass and it was excellent. As a matter of fact, does yours have a little 'x' scratched in the back?