Tokai Cat's Eyes

What's Hot
Steve-OSteve-O Frets: 27
edited June 2017 in Acoustics

I have been collecting Japanese vintage guitars for just over decade now and I must say these Tokai made Cat’s Eyes dreadnought acoustics slipped under the radar. I’m not all together sure about their history so maybe someone here can help out but it seems that Tokai had some relationship with Martin to make replicas for the Japanese market. I have no idea why Martin would agree to do this but there was definitely some agreement between them from the Mid 1970s to early 80s.  

I recently picked up a used CE 600 for 28,000 yen at a local shop. (CE stands for Cats Eyes and the number refers to the price so this was originally sold for 60,000 yen.) The serial numbers are easy to read with the last 2 digits referring to the year so this one was made in 1975. It has a spruce solid top, Rosewood back and sides and Mahogany neck. The back of the headstock has the diamond indent familiar to Martin. The rosewood fretboard has a lovely dark grain. The tuners are Grover.

The label inside reads as follows:

“This guitar Cat’s Eyes is a masterpiece in folk guitar elaborately manufactured by handicraftsman aiming at a revival of the old Martin guitars."

This is my first post so I will try to refrain from unnecessary hyperbole but I will only say these guitars give you serious bang for your buck. It plays fantastic, holds its tone and has the quality craftmanship you expect from a Tokai made guitar from this era.

 

https://i.imgur.com/a3PYvih.jpg

 

https://i.imgur.com/I4HCYHe.jpg

 

https://i.imgur.com/3eKHAfT.jpg

 

https://i.imgur.com/O77ypHl.jpg

0reaction image LOL 2reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Comments

  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1940
    edited June 2017
    I have their Martin D45 replica, not cheap and the Grover machine heads were next to useless, great sounding box of air though  The story goes that Tokai made neck and bodies for Martin US to be assemble in the US due to some factory issues
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • KKJaleKKJale Frets: 700
    I've never got to the bottom of the Tokai/Cat's Eyes supposed CF Martin hook-up. I have a sneaky feeling it may be one of those "lawsuit" type myths, but I'd love to find out more. Did Tokai have anything to do with the Martin Shenandoahs?

    I became aware of Cat's Eyes in about 1979 when as a teen I went to a folk club gig by the great American fingerpicker Happy Traum. He carried a 000-28 model for touring that was a real stunner and he let me play it afterwards - a formative experience. 

    0reaction image LOL 1reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • bugilemanbugileman Frets: 13
    I have a Tokai Cats Eyes CE-500. Incredible guitar. They dont come up often here in the UK over the 400 model.  Im a collector of Japanese acoustics and it is one i will keep with me. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • DominicDominic Frets: 4094
    I have had one .......very good
    I have also had one of the new ones
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • NiteflyNitefly Frets: 2182
    @KKJale you mention of Happy Traum brought back a memory.  

    When I was learning to play, and living the impoverished student life in Manchester in the early 70's, I wanted (but couldn't afford!) his book of James Taylor songs with the tab for the finger-picking arrangements.  

    I used to go into the Portland Music shop on Portland Street, leaf through the book, and memorise a page at a time.  Then I'd shoot off home and play the bit I'd memorised.  I did this for weeks, until I'd learned all the songs I wanted!

    Did anyone bring the petits-fours?
    0reaction image LOL 6reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • KKJaleKKJale Frets: 700
    @Nitefly Gets a wow from me...
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • By the way, Tokai made the original Sigma guitars. So the quality is really there
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • K-toneK-tone Frets: 0
    Hi! I know it’s been a year since there was any activity on this thread, but wanted to chime in non the less. 
    I picked up a Cat’s Eyes D-28E, have never been able to find any info about it or why it deviates from their normal model naming system. It is a very good copy of a Martin D-28, solid spruce AND rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard and bridge and scalloped bracing. A great sounding guitar. If anyone of you know anything about it I would be appreciate any all responses. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 5060
    OK, Springy Sound makes some sense, Hard Puncher is a good description of what it’s copying, Love Rock works when they copy the script, and even Breezy Sound is reasonably evocative. But where the hell does Cats Eyes come from?
    1reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • KKJaleKKJale Frets: 700
    Maybe a symbolic "good luck" thing? It might be connected to something such as this...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maneki-neko
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 5060
    I’ve just remembered about the Japanese cycle computer/lights company Cateye, so there might be something in that.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • AliGorieAliGorie Frets: 304
    yeah, remember seeing the odd one in the 80's - love the inadvertent? irreverence - decent quality guitars. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Steve-OSteve-O Frets: 27
    The CE600 Cats Eyes guitar I listed in this thread is up for sale so if anyone interested can PM me.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Steve-OSteve-O Frets: 27
    edited September 22
    I translated a spec sheet for the CE models just in case anyone here was interested.
    The years of each model are in brackets next to the model no. 
    Solid tops and sides will be marked, anything without solid next to it is laminate.
    The info seems to be very accurate, as far as I can tell but there may be a few discrepancies with the years, for example my CE600 was made in 1975 according to the serial no but is listed as 1976 here. 

    I have more info about other models too which I will translate when I get some time.


    https://i.imgur.com/usaB85L.jpg

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • prowlaprowla Frets: 1126
    bugileman said:
    By the way, Tokai made the original Sigma guitars. So the quality is really there
    I have a Sigma, a DM1S (a bit scruffy - my boy takes it to uni).

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Steve-OSteve-O Frets: 27
    K-tone said:
    Hi! I know it’s been a year since there was any activity on this thread, but wanted to chime in non the less. 
    I picked up a Cat’s Eyes D-28E, have never been able to find any info about it or why it deviates from their normal model naming system. It is a very good copy of a Martin D-28, solid spruce AND rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard and bridge and scalloped bracing. A great sounding guitar. If anyone of you know anything about it I would be appreciate any all responses. 
    What is the model no? If its TCM then Its made in 1984 I believe
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Steve-OSteve-O Frets: 27
    The CE 600 was sold to Fretboard member Emiel. Hope he enjoys it!
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • bugilemanbugileman Frets: 13
    I own quite a few Japanese acoustics,  I have some rare guitars that I would be hard pressed to ever replace. I have a Tokai CE-500 Made in 1980, it does not have a lable, but a stamp instead, but I believe stamped Cats eyes came in from 1980. It's a great guitar, great strummer and plays with a nice action. 




    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Sign In or Register to comment.