Review: Tokai J-200 (Korean)
|Date:||February 3, 2003|
This is a 'made in Korea' Tokai copy of Gibson's J-200 jumbo body acoustic. It has a solid spruce
top, flamed maple back and sides, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and a bound body and neck. The
headstock has the opened book configuration of the original Gibson. The headstock is not bound.
The finish is natural.
It was purchased new, on eBay, from Mike's Music in Canada for $358 US
shipped. Case was not included. No serial number was located on the instrument.
Fit & Finish
The build quality on this guitar is extremely good. The body joint of the set neck is clean and
tight. The nut installation is clean. It overhangs the neck just slightly on the bass side. Tuners
are installed tightly and turn precisely. A few of the tuner grommets were not seated on the
headstock, requiring a couple of taps to remedy. The bindings are very attractive and are
installed precisely. The same holds for the center strip on the back and the bottom of the guitar
at the endpin.
The rosewood bridge is quite heavy with odd shaped, blocky inlays that stand in contrast to the
very attractive inlays in the fingerboard. All inlays show some small indication of filler around
them, though not enough to be a distraction. The guitar comes with medium frets that are well
installed. The fret ends are beveled and smooth. The setup is comfortable, requiring no
adjustment. The intonation is good, and there is no buzzing or note-out anywhere on the neck.
This guitar came in a natural finish that is quite striking in appearance. The high gloss finish
has an amber tone that gives the instrument an antiqued look. As attractive as the guitar is,
however, it is the finish (more specifically the finish preparation) that betrays this guitar's
price point. It appears that Tokai applied an orange/brown toner to the wood as a grain enhancer
prior to applying the finish. This is an effective way of 'pushing' the figure in the grain, but
also highlights any area where the finish sanding is lacking. On this instrument there are two
small spots on the back, near the edges, where rough areas held this toner and subsequently stand
out. There is also one spot where glue squeeze-out was not entirely sanded out, leaving a small
area that is lighter than the surrounding finish. However, that being said, these are small
imperfections that do little to degrade the overall attractiveness of the finish.
The solid spruce top has tight grain lines and the two sides are matched to each other. There is
some color variation in the spruce, but it is not unattractive. The flamed maple back and sides
are nicely figured. I am told the maple back is laminated, but I cannot confirm this. The flame on
the back and sides moves as your view changes, so it is the real thing - not photo flame. The one
piece maple neck has a small amount of flame and shows some very slight discoloration from mineral
staining. These are simply small indicators of the guitar's price point. They degrade the overall
beauty of the guitar only slightly.
Very high marks here. The guitar plays very easily with smooth action. The neck profile is
comfortable in the hand. The sound is very full and well-balanced, favoring the treble strings
slightly. The guitar projects well when you step on the gas, but enunciates cleanly when played
with the fingers.
With excellent build quality, a very attractive finish, decent woods, and terrific sound and
playability, the Korean built Tokai J-200 may be one of the great 'sleepers' on today's acoustic
guitar market. Although it can be purchased for beginner guitar prices, it is anything but. This
offering from Tokai Korea delivers tremendous bang for the buck.