Importing Tokai to the USA (single guitar)

Tokai guitar discussion

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Importing Tokai to the USA (single guitar)

Post by TSL » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:27 pm

Hi All,
I'm new here, but own several expensive Gibs, Fenders, Etc. I was recently in the UK, and fell in love with some Tokais. I can't seem to find a dealer here in the USA. All this talk of lawsuits with Gibson and such have different stories, which I don't really need to know the details of. For whatever reason, it does seem extremely difficult to get one of these guitars to the USA.

All the dealers in the UK, Austraila, Japan, and so on, are willing to ship them to me, but all say "customs is up to you".

What will I have to pay in custom charges, and import fees?

I tried to do an internet search to find general rates, but would rather hear from someone who has actually done it.

Thanks much.

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Post by TUNAFREAK » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:44 pm

I have bought many guitars from Tokai and had them shipped to California. You don't pay any tax or duties here in the U.S. But if you buy from those countries you will pay alot more cause they have to pay more than we do. You can get any Japanese guitar from Ishibashi music in Japan. They charge about $100 for shipping and it gets her in under a week. They have been very easy to deal with. Just email them with the model you want and they will get back to you in a day. You will love these guitars because we get the models that are made for the Japan market. You just have to give them your card# and you shall have your dream axe! I have to say that I bought a LS 145s gold top a while back and it is the best guitar that I have ever owned, and I've had a few in my time. It cost me $1,115.00 all told. It would sh_t on a Brand G 1956 gold top with P-90's at almost 3 times the price.


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Post by orvilleowner » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:44 pm

Over the years, I've purchased a couple used guitars from a popular Japanese guitar store and haven't been charged any fees by the US Customs.

I don't know if the story would be different for new guitars.

They were shipped via EMS which cost about $100 (depending on exchange rate Yen-2-USD, of course).

I remember finding Customs fees/import duties information at some some .gov site ... it was a long time ago.

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Post by EunosFD » Wed Apr 12, 2006 6:55 pm

I just purchased my Edwards LP from Ishibashi earlier this year and I wasn't charged any customs fees either. I did a lot of research before I bought mine & I rarely encountered someone who had to pay anything. That doesn't mean you won't, but it seems very unlikely that you will. As mentioned most Japanese dealers will use EMS to ship and I think mine came out to be around $115, but it may be less now depending on the current exchange rate. Mine was shipped on a Monday from Japan and I recieved it here in MD by Wednesday morning so it's very fast.
-Big Ben

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Post by bigmike » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:20 pm

I got a great deal on a used Tokai Talbo (hollow metal bodied guitar: TALBO for Tokai ALuminum BOdy...) I got it from Music Ground of Leeds, England - really good chaps. They used DHL as the shipper and it cost me almost $200.00 to go that route (guitar AND shipping was just under $950.00, still a very good price for a clean Talbo). But a week after the guitar arrived I got a notice from DHL that I owe THEM more money in Customs Fees that they prepaid for me at Port Of Entry. Almost $90.00 American.

I've purchased instruments from Japanese dealers on eBay and considered many from Japanese guitar sites. Most ship EMS and usually that means no Customs Fees.

So in conclusion one must look at the price being charged, the fees for shipping and consider the possibility the method of shipping used by the seller MIGHT incur Customs Fees, further driving up the price. The trick is finding the right guitar at the right price with the right method of shipping used.

All in all I'm still tickled pink with the Talbo and it still was cheaper than I'd seen any Japanese dealers selling them for, even tacking on the DHL Customs Fees.

Guitars are like women, there's a million out there but I'm looking for that Holy Grail (of both).

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Post by TSL » Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:41 am

Thanks everyone!

It looks like the Japaneses ones are more like $1000USD, and use EMS, but the ones from elsewhere are likely made in Korea, and are more like $500, but you will be paying customs fees.

Can someone tell me are there actual differences in the models between Japanese made and Korean made? I would expect the quality would be better in Japan, but I've played astounding Korean made instruments as well...

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Post by JSD » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:13 am

The ones here in Canada are the Korean made models and there are no customs fees when I send stuff to the US. The quality is good, if do a search in the forum and you'll find many positive comments about them.
Your online source for great guitars
JSD's Guitar Shack / JSD's on Myspace

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Post by magentaplacenta » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:28 am

I've purchased a guitar from Japan, EMS shipping was $105 (that was with a hardcase) and it was here (west coast) in 2 days. Japan postmark on the 19th, delivered to my door on the 21st. I thought that was absolutely amazing.

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Post by whitehall » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:12 pm

The yen is trading a little under a dollar, the pound is trading a little under two dollars. What that means to us here in the states is that any Tokai you buy from the UK will cost you almost TWICE what it cost to buy it from Japan. If you want a Japan Tokai just pick up the phone and call Ishibashi at -- 011 81 3 3291 7090. I've bought from them for years. Once I bought a MIK Tokai from the UK distributor. It cost me a fortune AND I got a customs bill a month later.

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Post by detroitace » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:52 am

I'd go with Ishibashi:

If you don't read japanese, slide your mouse over the gray tabs at the top of the page whilst looking at the link at the bottom of you browser. I think the first gray tab is something like .../guitar/index.html. This shows their typical stock, but they can get basically any Japanese guitar you want, I think. I've bought a Fender and an Edwards from them, neither of which were listed on their web pages. I just hunted around elsewhere, found the model number and asked for a price. 8) Koichi was great to deal with and here's the email:

There is also a tab for ENGLISH pages if you don't (like me) read japanese).

Oh, and go for a Japanese guitar. The wood, electronics and finish are better and so is the resale if you plan to sell some day. Good luck!

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