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Tokai Love Rock Guitar Review

Highly rated Japanese copy of Gibson Les Paul. 22 fret rosewood fingerboard, and aesthetically and feature wise, a replica of a Les Paul. This particular example was a secondhand example from approximately 1990.

The finish is good, and the Love Rock really does look the part. The plastics felt flimsy and the pick guard had cracked, whilst the plastic mounting the jack plug did seem flimsy and I had concerns about how much abuse it would take. The action is ok, but not brilliant on this particular example with strings choking in the higher reaches, and frets protruding enough from the edge of the fretboard for the top E string to get trapped under the edge of the frets on occasions.

Sound wise, it sounds similar to many of the mid-priced Les Paul copies. I personally find it lacked the subtlety of the genuine PAFs of an original, and certainly doesn’t sound as sweet. Cranked up through a rock style back line (Marshall, Boogie, etc), I think would be ok, but for cleaner styles, I felt it lacked something, and to my ears, didn’t sound similar enough to the Gibson.

My main problem with this guitar was the stability of the tuning. This particular guitar literally would not stay in tune for more than a couple of songs. I don’t know if all Love Rocks are like this, but seeing as the guitar belonged to a friend of mine, my advice was to stick some heavy gauge strings on and use it for rhythm work, otherwise sell it.

Conclusion

I like to think that I’m not your guitar tech-head gear snob, in fact, I’ve played some lousy expensive guitars over the years and some great mid range ones, however for me, it is simple as being able to get a tune out of a guitar. Obviously, other factors come into it such as tonal response, action, sustain, etc, but unfortunately, I really struggled to get a tune out of this example. I don’t know if this one was particularly bad, but the only way I could live with this one would be to replace the pickups with some Seymour Duncans,  replace the machine heads, and put some heavier gauge strings on it – probably to the tune of £300 or more. With secondhand Love Rocks asking in excess of £800, that’s some considerable investment, hence my advice to my good friend. Sorry, I wouldn’t buy one based on this.

Video demo (complete with string choking) below:

By | 2017-04-01T20:25:35+00:00 July 1st, 2011|Guitars|1 Comment

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One Comment

  1. Peter Warren June 23, 2016 at 10:43 am

    The guitar model isn’t mentioned but from the picture it isn’t a premium grade Tokai and should be compared to Gibson low/mid range products like studios. I have had many MIJ mid and high end guitars including Tokia’s, Orville’s, Edwards etc, through my workshop, I generally don’t see a guitar unless there is a problem with it, however I do get new guitars in where players are not getting the best from their instrument and in this respect I see as many Gibson’s LP’s as MIJ LP’s. Weak stock pups is an easy fix and better nut and bridge/tail piece can often fix the chime and timbre. IMO there are good and mediocre examples of each. Working guitars generally take a beating and its these I see the most and from my experience no brand is better than any other. If a MIJ premium guitar was the same price as a Gibson LP I would buy the Gibson, not for quality but for better resale value.

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