Founded in 1947, Tokai Gakki Company Ltd, or Tokai Guitars, began as an obscure, small scale Japanese musical instrument manufacturer. But they started to gain notoriety in the 1970s and ‘80s with their production of high-quality Fender and Gibson replicas that captured the old school vibe of the original instruments at a fraction of the cost.
By the early 1980s, Tokai’s Stratocaster replicas—known as Springy Sound, Goldstar Sound, and Silverstar Sound—were surpassing Fender’s American-made Strats in popularity. Stevie Ray Vaughan posed with a Tokai Springy Sound on the cover of his 1983 album Texas Flood, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top was spotted with his Tokai Strat replica on the road around 1981.
Collectors often lump these models together with other Japanese replicas as “lawsuit guitars.” However, Fender never actually sued Tokai. In fact, the two companies made a deal in 1997 – Tokai could continue to produce some of its replicas with subtle changes to their branding and headstock shapes if they would agree to supply Fender with guitars. From 1997 until 2015, Tokai produced Fender “Made In Japan” models, which universally recognised as quality instruments.
While the popularity of Tokai’s replicas remained strong in the Japanese market, the introduction of Fender’s Japanese-made models (made by FujiGen Gakki from 1982-1997) into America and Europe largely forced Tokai out of these markets by the late 1980s.
At a time when Fender was struggling to find a viable direction for its own product line, Tokai and other Japanese manufacturers were already seeing the value in producing vintage reissues of these brands’ most popular guitars. Tokai began planning a product line of Stratocaster replicas in the mid-’70s that would be built to the original vintage specifications.
To this effect, the company’s engineers got hold of genuine vintage Strats, took them apart, and took measurements and photographs – a technique that Fender and Gibson would later adopt for their own vintage reissues.
From 1977 to 1983, Tokai’s pre-CBS era Stratocaster replicas were called Springy Sound. In late 1983, the pre-CBS replicas changed their name from Springy Sound to Goldstar Sound.
We believe this one is a high spec ST 100 Springy Sound from 1979. Tokai designated their models from the base model ST-42 up to the top-of-the-line ST-120. So this one is a very rare second-from the-top model featuring a V-shaped neck, nickel hardware, Kluson-style tuners, DiMarzio VS1 alnico pickups, and a 1- or 2-piece sen ash body with nitro finish. The ST-100 is one down from the ST-120 which was pretty much the same grade guitar but with gold hardware.
This ST-100 is essentially a ’56 Strat replica and it delivers in every way. Most discerning buyers seek out early Tokais for the quality of the wood and the craftsmanship – not necessarily for the pickups. But this one has a fine sounding set of highly regarded Mick Brierley Strat pickups, and they have brought this killer Tokai to life – see https://www.brierleyguitarpickups.com.au/.
Other changes include some top quality US made CTS pots, a pro refret and new nut done some time ago, a 3 way selector switch, and Fender saddles in the Tokai bridge. At some point in its past it had a Floyd Rose style bridge which has since been removed, and the small route at the back of the neck at the nut has been filled with a rosewood plug. Also some plugged screw holes in the face of the headstock. A previous owner has applied a vintage era correct Fender decal to the headstock, but the current owner will supply an original Tokai Springy Sound label with the sale if required.
Newer jumbo frets are 90%. Weight is 7.5 lbs
This guitar is a serious option for players looking for a super high quality, naturally aged Strat style guitar without paying typical Custom Shop prices. We challenge you to put this guitar up against any CS Strat and run an honest comparison. We think you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.
Comes in a later hard case in good condition.