For aficionados of copy guitars – ie replicas of American classics that give U.S. manufacturers apoplectic fits – perhaps no company is more respected than Japan’s Tokai, whose 1970s and early ’80s Love Rock and Breezy Sound models are among the most desirable of that breed, and command relatively big bucks in the collector market.
By the early ’80s, Tokai had progressed to producing superb replicas of a range of historic American guitars, true to both the originals’ physical specifications (neck profile, colours) and sound.
Armed with the sophisticated expertise it acquired in developing these accurate copies, Tokai turned to creating a guitar unique unto itself. The result was the Tokai Talbo Blazing Fire, which commenced production in January, 1982. Talbo is actually an acronym for Tokai Aluminium Body.
Made of cast aluminium alloy AC-4B, which is commonly used in racing car engines, the Talbo’s design is simple and elegant, combining new and traditional elements. Basically, it’s like two superimposed teardrops with the tips pointing right and left to yield a bi-level, sculptured double cutaway. Its headstock decal reads “The New Legend Of The Guitar History.”
The idea behind the Talbo was to create a cool design that would also serve as shielding for the electronics. Most of the body is solid, but there’s a large cavity under the pickguard that serves as a sound chamber, and lessens the weight. The neck is straightforward maple attached with four bolts at a scalloped, contoured easy-access neck joint.
The Talbo Blazing Fire is a fine guitar, comfortable, easy to play, with a great sound. Perhaps the most famous appearance of the Tokai Talbo in the 1980s was in the hands of the band Devo, and later in the 1990s with INXS.
This particular Talbo is in amazing condition for a 35 year old guitar. Admittedly the aluminium construction adds to its hardiness, but there are no dings, dents, marks, or blemishes of any kind. The frets are in good shape with lots of life left. The only change appears to be a 5 way switch which offers up all the lovely Strat like tones you can now enjoy with this guitar. It has a 25.5” neck scale that offers plenty of twang factor, with a solid trem system that stays in tune.
There were later variations of the Talbo including wooden bodied versions, a Junior, double humbucker models and a bass. But the company’s flagship models are its high-tech Talbo aluminium guitars, with modern alternative materials and an alluring original design.
The older Japanese Talbos are pretty rare and are difficult to find in this original condition. While the Tokai copy guitars are definitely fine instruments, we think it’s the totally unique Tokai Talbo Blazing Fire that takes the prize.
Comes in a hard case that has a few vinyl tears, but is functional.
Link to video demo – https://youtu.be/5htOvM_9DAk