1954 Strats From Greco, Fernandes and Tokai
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
In 1980-81 there were some major battles brewing between the big brands in Japan. At this point they all were going for builds that were hyper accurate to the most desirable vintage years, something Tokai gets the credit for starting a few years earlier. Moving away from copying how the big US brands were making them at the time, to follow the growing interest in vintage instruments from late 50’s and 60’s, probably because of the drop in quality by the US guys at that time. I hadn’t really focused on it, but Greco, Fernandes and Tokai were clearly competing with really similar models. Thought it would be interesting and fun to compare these three side by side: 1981 Greco SE 800 Super Real, 1981 Fernandes RST-80 ’54 The Revival and 1980 Tokai ST-80 Springy Sound. All three were priced at ¥80,000 and all three are meant to be highly accurate copies of 1954 Strats. The gallery below has pictures of these three side by side. Specs are very close as well. Each have center seam two-piece bodies in Sen or Alder, one piece maple skunk stripe necks, Kluson style tuners and round string trees. All three have soft V neck profiles. Pickguards are all eight screw single ply, with the Greco coming with an aluminum pickguard. For each brand going to 80K price point also got you a nitro lacquer finish. Going a bit deeper, each model got the brand’s vintage pickups with Fernandes using vintage style cloth covered wiring. Interestingly, all three brands broke with historical accuracy, using more desirable five-way pickup selectors. All three are beautifully made. It’s interesting how close the specs were across all three brands, clearly looking like they were meant to be competing models. I haven’t spent a ton of time yet with all three, but from my perspective, all three are at the same level and equals.
Some of the pictures are cut off - click on the main image to see the full picture!