Tokai Talbo Blazing Fire

Tokai Talbo Blazing Fire

Guitar Gavel Lick Of The Week with Keith Amyx - Serious D

There's a lot of ways to skin this cat. There's a lot of ways to skin this cat, bluesy, dark, or have a little banjo rolling feel when played at tempo. Short, sweet, and pretty neat!

Tab is at the end of the video. Thank you Keith for your time, treasure, and talents!

Tokai Gakki began as a harmonica and piano manufacturer after the end of WWII. Based in Hamamatsu, Japan, the company’s first guitars were classicals beginning in 1965. Despite being late to the party, Tokai hopped on the electric guitar boom in 1967 with the introduction of “Humming Bird” badged guitars. These were offset beasts with elongated horns, rooted in a Mosrite style and no doubt capturing Japan’s affinity for The Ventures. Their initial foray into electric guitars was short-lived, ending in 1968.

Tokai’s products entered the U.S. market in 1970 under the C.G. Conn label of acoustic guitars as a contract builder.  Historically, Conn was a brass and woodwind instrument company. 

A couple of years later C.F. Martin used Tokai as a parts supplier for their Sigma acoustics and to build the Sigma solid-body electrics.

Surprisingly, in tandem while working for Martin, Tokai launched the Cat’s Eyes series of acoustic guitars which were/are Martin copies. 


As the American copy guitar wars were heating up in the 1970s, Tokai did not hesitate and introduced the “Les Paul Reborn” guitar in approximately 1976 or 1977. Then came Fender renditions as the Springy Sound and Breezy Sound guitars being a Strat and Tele copy the following year. Tokai’s renditions of American classics are considered to be among the best that came from Japan, quite a distinction.

In 1982 Tokai introduced the Talbo Blazing Fire, their first original body shape since 1968. Built from cast aluminum and (generally) consisting of an HSS or SSS pickup configuration it somewhat resembles a Rickenbacker 400 with the tulip shaped horns. The unusual name “Talbo” is short for Tokai Aluminum Body.

Weighing in around 8 ¾ lbs the body is routed under the pickguard to ease shoulder load and house the electronics. It was predominantly distributed in Japan, though a few made their way to Europe and the U.S.

A three single coil version made it into the hands of Rory Gallagher and was used to record “Road to Hell”.  

Specs: AC-4B aluminum body, Maple neck, Rosewood fretboard, Tokai pickups, Master volume and tone controls, 3-way switch 

1 comment

Love the Tokai iterations and have missed too many an opportunity to add them to the “herd” over the years. Great Gavel. Thank you.

Pierre Moatti

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