From the VT vault: Tokai Super Edition VS-80

Every so often, I take a hard look at the gear I’ve accumulated over the years, with an eye to whether it might be better placed with someone else

[though, in reality, I seldom actually get rid of anything!]

So it was that I spent some time revisiting my first ‘proper’ guitar, a 1985 Tokai Super Edition VS-80.

Tokai Super Edition VS-80

Though my first ever guitar was an Encore Stratocaster copy

[black, with white pickguard which I subsequently swapped out for a black one, and painted the pickups black]

my Tokai was the first I bought with my own money – the stereotypical working of weekends and school vacations to earn the money – based upon a review in Guitarist magazine

[still one of my go-to sources of gear info and reviews]

There’s very little information online about the model, so I thought I’d drop some here for folk who may be looking.

It’s a pretty cool guitar, Made-in-Japan S-type, mahogany (I think) body – it’s heavier than my Les Paul! – with a figured maple cap and medium C-profile maple neck, medium jumbo frets.  The tremolo is Tokai’s own locking unit, a bit of a pain to restring, but fairly stable

[though I rarely use a whammy bar, to be honest]

Tokai Super Edition VS-80

As for electronics, it has twin humbuckers

[proprietary to Tokai, I think]

with coil split on a push-pull tone pot. The secret weapon is a boost on the third push-pull pot, which offers up to 20 db

[as I recall, though it may be 18db]

of boost, more than enough to push any clean tube amp channel into gritty overdrive.

Tokai Super Edition VS-80 Headstock

I haven’t played it much since the early-90s, when I began to add other guitars to my collection. Spending time on it the other day, I was reminded how it really is a great guitar – top-of-the-line for what was a budget line with a great reputation to this day. The neck pickup is nothing to write home about – unless using the coil split, then it has some spank – but the bridge is nice in both HB and single-coil modes.

As far as I can tell, Tokai lost their way

[and reputation]

when they got pulled into the hair-metal madness – before that, they’d built a strong brand for copying Les Pauls and Strats on a budget. I think the brand was always more popular outside of the US.

As my first guitar, the Super Edition holds such a sentimental weight for me – I can still remember waiting for it to be delivered from

[I think]

Peter Cook’s guitar shop in West London. The box arriving, opening up the hard case, the smell of it. I learned my basics on this guitar, before I lost my hands for 15 years. While I wouldn’t use it live now

[I have several much, much better axes]

it’s still nice to play once in a while, and has aged well. Interestingly, when I think of making my own guitar, it usually ends up looking something like this one

[though I’d definitely swap out that floating trem for a fixed bridge]

which to me at least feels like a subconscious nod to how much the Tokai meant to me at the time


Vince Sig 131x89

ps: Let me know if you like this stuff, I have a couple of other rare guitars which I’d be happy to share with you.



7 thoughts on “From the VT vault: Tokai Super Edition VS-80

  1. Learned on a Harmony Rocket H53/1 semi hollow and even though it was a budget copy 335 it it was and (if I could find one) would be the sweetest guitar this side of heaven to me — something about what you learn on.


    1. Right. In fact, most of my guitars have soft spots for me – I only ever sold one, that I just couldn’t find myself in. I have a couple that I own specifically for their recorded voices, and they feel more like machines than friends. But otherwise, each one is its own love affair!


  2. I have the same guitar but with a rosewood board. I’ve found it to be about the most versatile guitar I’ve ever picked up. I bought it in about 1984\5 in a now extinct music shop in Glasgow called Thompsons. If my memory serves me correctly the body is alder and the top is a material called tortoiseshell mahogany. The Super Edition IS my desert island guitar.


    1. Cool guitar indeed. I don’t use mine now at all – mostly because I don’t use the trem and restringing is a pain. I always found the boost to be the ace-up-the-sleeve.


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