Review: Tokai TTE-50 Modern

Tokai Guitars’ Finnish distributor, Musamaailma, isn’t only selling the Japanese brand’s products, they are also involved in developing certain new products. The newest result of this joint development is a Tele-version of the TST-50 Modern, called the TTE-50 Modern (999 €).

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The Tokai TTE-50 Modern’s basic idea is to combine the most sought-after vintage features of Tokai’s TTE-models with the most requested modern features. You could say the TTE-50 Modern is a factory-modded special edition. The new guitar is available in three beautiful finishes – 3-Tone Sunburst, Olympic White and Sonic Blue.

The new Tokai comes with a two-piece premium alder body. On the sunburst version the glue line runs down the middle of the body, with the pieces’ grain nicely matched. The TTE-50 Modern combines a gloss-finished body with a satin-finished maple neck.

Despite the TTE-50 Modern sporting a rosewood fingerboard, there’s a walnut ”skunk stripe” running along the back of the neck. This is due to the inclusion of a bullet-type truss rod, which makes relief adjustment a doddle. The fretboard’s 9.5-inch radius sits in the middle of Fender’s vintage 7.25 inches and Gibson’s much flatter 12-inch radius. The TTE-50 Modern comes with 22 medium-jumbo frets (Dunlop 6105).

As most Tele fans love vintage-style hardware, the Tokai willingly obliges. You will find top-drawer Kluson-copies, made by Gotoh, as well as a vintage-style bridge with three brass saddles with string grooves.

The most obvious difference between a bog-standard Tele and the TTE-50 Modern lies in the pickup combination. The new Tokai combines a vintage-type bridge singlecoil with a PAF-type neck humbucker. This combination became very popular in the 1970s, with the most famous users including Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), the late Albert Collins (aka The Iceman) and Andy Summers (The Police). Both pickups are made in Japan by Tokai.

We find the standard set of controls, comprising a three-way blade switch, a master volume, and a master tone control. Beneath the control plate you can see clean workmanship and quality parts. The volume control features a treble bleed circuit, which keeps the sound from getting wooly, whenever you turn the volume down.

The Tokai TTE-50 Modern comes in its own padded gigbag.

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The TTE-50 Modern is a quality instrument. The workmanship and quality of finish are of a very high standard, and the guitar’s playability and sound are excellent.

The neck profile is a comfortable, not-too-thin, modern C, which is easy to play.

If you’re new to the pairing of neck humbucker and bridge singlecoil, the higher signal level of the neck pickup might feel slightly unintuitive at the beginning. But, I’m sure, you will quickly get to grips with this feature, especially as the Tokai’s controls work nicely to give you a full range of different sounds.

Here’s a clip of the TTE-50 Modern played straight into a Bluetone Shadows Jr. -combo (Shure SM57), starting with the bridge pickup:

And here’s the demo song – with and without the other instruments:

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The Tokai TTE-50 Modern’s addition of a PAF-style neck humbucker turns the guitar into a very versatile instrument. From traditional Jazz to the ’60s British Invasion, from Blues to Rock, and from Country to Punk – this guitar can cover all the bases in style.

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Tokai Guitars TTE-50 Modern

999 € (including gigbag)

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ modern features

+ playability

+ sound

+ value-for-money

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