Review: Tokai TST-50-FS Modern
The guitar maker Tokai is known worldwide for its high-quality versions of classic vintage guitars, and the instruments are loved and played by many.
But now there’s an interesting new model, devised by Tokai Guitars Nordic, called the Tokai TST-50-FS Modern (current price in Finland: 1,650 €; hard case included). This is an S-type guitar for the player who wants classic looks combined with modern features.
Tokai’s brand-new TST-50-FS Modern is available in three different versions, which share the same basic build and features, but which differ in terms of finish and pickup choice.
The Modern is available in a traditional Three-Tone Sunburst …
… a beautiful Sienna Sunburst …
… and in a cool, dark Ebony Transparent.
The TST-50-FS’ body is made from two pieces of beautiful swamp ash, with a – near invisible – centre glue line.
The new model makes it a jiffy to adjust the truss rod by moving the adjustment to the headstock side of the neck.
The TST-50-FS Modern sports a high-quality set of Gotoh Magnum Lock locking machine heads, resulting in lightning-fast string changes and rock steady tuning stability.
The neck comes with a thin satin finish.
We find a rosewood fretboard with a modern radius (9.5″), as well as 22 gleaming medium jumbo-sized frets (Dunlop 6105), making string bending much easier than on a vintage guitar.
The bridge on the Tokai TST-50-FS Modern represents Gotoh’s view of the perfect updated Strat-style vibrato.
Gotoh’s 510T-SF bridge is a two-post affair made of steel. The height-adjustable posts can be locked inside the threaded ferrules to increase vibrational transfer into the body.
In terms of its pickups, the Three-Tone Sunburst version is the most traditional of the new trio:
The neck and middle pickups are genuine single coils (Seymour Duncan SSL-1), while the bridge humbucker is Duncan’s vintage-voiced Model ’59 (SH-1B Zebra).
The Sienna Sunburst-variant is completely noise-free thanks to its stacked-coil neck and middle pickups (Seymour Duncan STK-S4; aka Classic Stack Plus). The bridge unit is a hotter-than vintage, covered JB (SH-4).
The hottest guitar in our trio is the TST-50-FS in Ebony Transparent, which comes with a pair of Hot Stack Plus pickups (STK-S7) and the sheer force of nature that is Seymour Duncan’s SH-14 Custom 5 humbucker.
The Tokai TST-50-FS Modern is part of the brand’s Made-in-Japan Premium Series, and all three instruments are perfect examples of the excellent workmanship Tokai has to offer.
The new model comes with a rounded neck profile (Tokai call it ”Thin U”) that feels and plays like a dream. The modern fingerboard radius and excellent fretwork make string choking a thing of the past.
The vibrato feels very precise and stays in tune far better than any vintage-style vibrato bridge ever could.
The ash body, locking tuners and steel bridge give the TST-50-FS Modern a sparkling unplugged voice with a long and clear sustain.
Played with an amp the differences between the three versions become very clear:
The Three-Tone Sunburst version gives you the tones you’d expect from a factory-modded vintage S-type.
Thanks to the vintage-style single coils – as well as the PAF-inspired bridge humbucker – you get a lot of clarity, dynamics and spank.
I’d call the FS Modern’s Sienna Sunburst variant the ”LA Studio model”, which will deal with any musical situation by giving you a first-rate West Coast sound.
The stacked coil pickups are free from hum and buzz, and they give you a fine, slightly ”pre-compressed” sound that sits well in any mix. The JB-humbucker offers just the right amount of ”push” to complement the neck and middle pickups perfectly.
If you look for an S-style electric that will take to high gain settings like the proverbial duck to water, you need look no further. The TST-50-FS Modern in Ebony Transparent simply loves gain and distortion, while still making a great figure when it comes to clean tones.
This is noise-free high gain heaven with a healthy dose of bottom end punch and a chunky mid-range.
The demo track features the trio in the following order: Sienna Sunburst –> Ebony Transparent –> Three-Tone Sunburst. Each guitar plays both the rhythm as well as the lead parts of its section:
The new Tokai TST-50-FS Modern really made a big impression on me.
This is a fantastic alternative to the traditional, vintage-flavoured Tokai models. Both the playability and sounds this trio has to offer are top-notch, and I’m sure you will find your favourite modern S-type guitar from one of the three alternatives.
Tokai’s TST-50-FS Modern offers you custom shop quality at a very fair price.
Tokai TST-50-FS Modern
1,650 € (hard case included)
+ three different pickup configurations