The absolute cream of the "lawsuit" basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KF2B, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. KF2B


    Jan 28, 2013

    I have a liking towards all things vintage and given that I´m not rich I´d rather spend on quality instead of brand names...

    So lets hear it - in your opinion what would you say are the absolute best of best what comes to vintage Japanese "lawsuit" era basses? - If possible please point to a particular model or models instead of blanket approach as just "Aria".


  2. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    One I had in the late 70's that was outstanding is a Aria Pro II Primary Bass jazz copy that was a clone of its 70's Fender contemporary except better built. The other was a Tokai Jazz Sound jazz bass copy I had in the mid 80's that was as good as any jazz I've ever owned.
  3. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Tokai Fen-Clones... "Hard puncher?"
  4. A-Step-Towards

    A-Step-Towards Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Los Angeles California
    yamaha pulser
  5. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Van Nuys Schecters (which were mace in the US) were probably the best of the bunch. Some of the Tokai stuff was very good.
    VelvetyClank and Bob_Ross like this.
  6. A former bandmate owns an Electra P-Bass copy. I think the model name was the Phoenix.

    His looks just like this:


    Not a clone from the appearance, but it sounds just like P-Bass.

  7. People just have nooo idea how good the old, early Schecter Basses are. Great, great basses.
    VelvetyClank, petrus61 and Bob_Ross like this.
  8. Gmclachlan

    Gmclachlan Supporting Member

    May 11, 2011
    Ibanez Challenger P Bass
  9. Just be patient and the right brand name bass will find you.
  10. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    Fernandes "Alembic Series I" has to be the cream of all lawsuit basses. They copied every aspect of it. I think I read the Fernandes company was founded by ex Alembic employees.
  11. Late 70's / very early 80's FujiGen Greco basses are the bomb. This is the company Fender went to to make their Japanese line, and we all know how good early Fender Japan was.

    Anything made before mid 81 was before FujiGen got CNC machines, so they actually were hand crafted and wonderful instruments. I have a 77 Greco Mercury and an 81 Greco Spacy Sound. The Mercury is a little better quality instrument, but both are better than anything made by Fender during the same era.

  12. aaronious

    aaronious Supporting Member

    May 23, 2011
    Denver CO
    This thread don't get enough love. Let's revive it.
    MrUsefulAlien and reddog like this.
  13. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    Im on the lookout for any of the Japan "lawsuit" types.....i own 4 early Fender Japan guitars, a Japan Washburn Strat, Tokai AST62 and some other excellent Japan guitars.

    As for basses i am new to searching for Japan "lawsuit" basses and other copies that were very high quailty (Schecter etc)....i am looking for variations on Fenders too but own an excellent 34" scale Aria Pro II with a pair of humbuckers, almost a Ric sound......late 80's USA Peavey Fury are great Fender clones of sorts for dirt cheap (the ones with Fender type pickups and layout).
  14. I'm no expert on this topics but maybe the old ESP surveyor. The last gen of the surveyor was pretty different, a p bass pickup(in a soapbar) and a musicman pickup in a somewhat generic looking body. Great sounding basses for the money btw. IMG_3394.JPG

    But the old 80s surveyors were pretty much dead on on copy's in finishes that appealed more to the rock and metal crowd and some little tweaks like different pickups and stuff.
    IMG_3393.JPG Frank Bello from Anthrax had one and ESP did kind of a reissue of it recently but the. discontinued it He now has a jazz shaped sig. The body is still pretty much an exact copy of a p bass as far as I can tell. The headstock is different and if I'm not mistaken the headstock is the only thing Fender can actually sue other companies over. Not an expert on the topic, so don't quote me.

    Here's that reissue of Franks old surveyor. Basically P bass in satin/matte black with EMG pickups. At Namm they said that this particular model was the most requested by ESP endorsees.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  15. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    It all depends on what sort of "Lawsuit" instrument you're after.

    Also, what "era" of "lawsuit" are you looking at? If you're thinking of looking at late 70's/early 80's era instruments, then most of the decent ones will not be cheap these days. There is a big following of the MIJ "lawsuit" era instruments, and subsequently, they're still rising in value (and getting harder to find).

    Most manufacturer's make numerous, decent Fender-a-like, or Fender-inspired instruments. Take your pick. Anything away from the Fender-a-like/inspired instruments takes you into the world of not only doing a lot of research, but also a lot of searching. The rarity factor bumps the prices up.

    Ibanez and Greco are possibly the "better" names to look for, however, they're also some of the most sought after. Aria Pro, especially the SB series, are another well thought of make.

    Instead of looking for copy/replica guitars from this era, look at some of the manufacturer's own designs from the same era, which are more "inspired by" or "developments from" the popular, name designs. I used to have a very good selection of Ibanez guitars from the late 70's that were superb, as well as some Aria & Westone basses from the early 80's.
  16. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    The old Tokai Hard Puncher PBass and Jazz Sound JBass are da bomb.
    Aria and Greco made great Fakenbackers too.

    reddog and petrus61 like this.
  17. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    My first bass was Aria 1540 with some sort of mini humbuckers. Greco and some others had the same model with some variations. The wood was good and amazing quality of paint, decent hardware. However..
    Pick ups were pitiful. I hated that thing more than anything else. That guitar was responsible why I did not become professional musician. I see, now, people are going crazy about it... Prices going up to $1k.
    For that $1k, I can get these days, at least, 4 or 5 Squiers (or Yamahas) and be happy. Never wanted it back, even as memorabilia.
  18. aaronious

    aaronious Supporting Member

    May 23, 2011
    Denver CO
    Awesome revival guys. I'll take some pictures later. I have a nice little collection of cool, old Japanese basses. That's mostly what I'm after, not just Lawsuit stuff. I figured you guys would know about some stuff I may have missed.

    On the way I have my first "true" lawsuit bass, an Ibanez Challenger Jazz Bass.
    I'd like to get my hands on Lawsuit era Rickenbacker copy. The way things are going though, I might as well get a new one.
    Skybone likes this.
  19. Lee Kirkham

    Lee Kirkham

    Jan 14, 2013
    Gilbert, AZ
    Two names: Greco & Tokai.
  20. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Feb 18, 2017
    I loved those 80's Japanese basses; I never saw these in the flesh, but two I'd have liked to tried were two Tokais, one a Jazz with three pickups, no doubt modeled after a Strat, and the 'redneck' Jazzes, maple fingerboards with the entire neck, fingerboard and all, tinted fire-engine red. Maybe someone could find the catalogs online, I'm not having any luck.