Stratocaster: Tokai vs ESP vs Edwards vs Fender Japan

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andrius
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Stratocaster: Tokai vs ESP vs Edwards vs Fender Japan

Post by andrius » Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:50 am

After owning a Tokai Les Paul and realizing Les Paul is not my thing and thinking of getting a stratocaster for two years, I recently bought an Edwards Snapper superstrat which has a thin, I believe U-shaped, neck (at least judging by the info on ESP E-II ST-1, with its neck thickness being 20mm @ 1st fret, 22mm @ 12th Fret and with 305mm fingerboard radius), and I like it very much. However, I still find myself wanting to own a Stratocaster as a second guitar. I never played an original strat from the 50s or 60s, so I don't have a particular sound in my mind and therefore I am not hunting a 100 percent vintage-accurate sound, but I am after those classic Stratocaster looks.

After having filtered various options out, this is what I might be choosing from:
* Tokai AST series
* Edwards E-SE series
* ESP Vintage Plus
* Fender Japan STR-ALLVC

I don't have a good access to used guitars and I am afraid of buying used from overseas online, so this is current production models we are talking about.

Two most important factors, to me, are:
1) thin neck. With Stratocasters, to me, the thinner, the better, because I know none of them is going to be Ibanez Wizard-thin (which might be too thin for me) and I doubt any is going to be as thin as on Edwards Snapper. I guess I'm interested in C, modern-C, thin U types of shapes, not V.
2) good and well prepared wood. I know I'm not aiming at custom shop level here, but I want what's best out of these. That is, this is more important than the quality of the pickups and electronics, because these can be replaced.
3) Fretwork has to be good out of the box, because I don't think I will be able to find someone who'll be able to do a good fretwork where I live.


Having actually tried a current American Strandard Fender, I approximately have an idea about its neck thickness. How are the necks of those other options compared to current American Standards? Does any of them offer thinner necks or at least those that are not thicker than current AmStds?

hekdiesel
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Post by hekdiesel » Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:13 am

Having gone through a similar experience than you recently, doing research for a star, that is. I played a lot of guitars in the last few weeks ( as it turns out I won't be able to buy anything but that's besides the point).

The main difference is that I was looking for thicker necks, but I can tell you that of all the US made guitars I tried, Fendsr American modern C is the thinnest I tried. I tried a lot of the boutique US strats, and unless you custom order a thin neck, they tend to ship out with "vintage C" or soft v necks.

In doing research, I also found that most of these builders will not charge extra for custom necks, but they're not cheap, as I'm sure you can imagine.

Just so you know what I'm talking about I tried Suhr, Tom Anderson, K-Line, LSL, Grover Jackson, Sadowsky, Calavera and a few others.

I am also considering (when I get some cash), a Tokai AST100, but I can't seem to get a consensus on on what necks tokai uses on these. I've read/heard anything from vintage V and C to modern C but I can't verify.

The more expensive japanese strats VanZandt, moon, momose, seem to have vintage specs too, but they are hard to find to test in the US.

I don't know about edwards but fernandes does have thinner necks but they are more cheaply made (in China i think some of the edwards models are mic too).

andrius
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Post by andrius » Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:36 am

Thanks, hekdiesel. But my budget is not in the territory of custom orders... It's a shame Tokai doesn't list their neck shape.

andrius
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Post by andrius » Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:37 am

Although ESP Vintage Plus comes with a hardshell case, it still seems to be considerably more expensive than Tokai and Edwards. Does it translate into increased quality or something?

hekdiesel
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Post by hekdiesel » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:09 am

im sure someone will correct me, but Edwards I think is made in China, or parts made in China and assembled in Japan for the better Edwards models. ESP is top materials and fully made in Japan.

I'd say, from the MIJ choices the best bang for the money would be Fender Japan, Bacchus or Tokai, as far as new. But indont think many in the forums have played the new tokai strats.

andrius
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Post by andrius » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:12 am

hekdiesel wrote:im sure someone will correct me, but Edwards I think is made in China, or parts made in China and assembled in Japan for the better Edwards models. ESP is top materials and fully made in Japan.
Yeah, it's blurry as to the country of manufacturing in Edwards case, but here's the deal:
ESP Vintage Plus is from E-II series, which is the cheapest ESP series and it seems it's made for distribution outside Japan. They don't sell E-II series in Japan; ESP start with more expensive models in Japan. And it seems like Edwards are an equivalent of the ESP E-II series in Japan.
This is why I think so: Edwards has a model named Snapper (E-SN) whose prices range from 130000 to 155000 Yen (depending on a specific model), 150000 Yen being about 1400 USD. And in the ESP E-II series they have ST-1 model, which essentially the same Snapper, except it has different pickups and a different FR (Original instead of 1000), and costs 1400 USD. An other example is E-II M-II guitar and Edwards E-MR - I think they are equivalents too and the prices are similar.
Therefore I reckon that Edwards and ESP E-II series are essentially an equivalent of each other (both low end ESP guitars), not only quality, but price-wise too. That is, I don't think Edwardses are priced cheaper than E-II, even if they are made in different countries. Therefore if an E-II Stratocaster costs considerably more than an Edwards Stratocaster, it's not because of where it's made, but because of what's it made of.

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Post by Dave_Mc » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:19 am

The USA standard Fenders normally have 1 11/16" (43mm) nuts, combined with a flatter (9.5") radius, while I think most or all of those ones you listed have the more vintage, narrower 1 5/8" (~41-42mm) nut and most have a smaller, more vintage radius too.

Some people notice, and some don't. I do. :lol:

andrius
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Post by andrius » Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:07 pm

Dave_Mc wrote:The USA standard Fenders normally have 1 11/16" (43mm) nuts, combined with a flatter (9.5") radius, while I think most or all of those ones you listed have the more vintage, narrower 1 5/8" (~41-42mm) nut and most have a smaller, more vintage radius too.

Some people notice, and some don't. I do. :lol:
I think ESP Vintage Plus is a 9.5" radius.

Anyway, by neck thickness I mostly mean the thickest part of it (the center) - the point against which a thumb rests when holding neck in a classical position. In other words, the slimmer the center is, the easier it is to grip barre chords, I assume - and that's what I want. I suppose fretboard radius has more to do with neck thickness on closer to the edges of the fretboard.

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Post by hekdiesel » Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:10 pm

Radius also affects how low you can set the action, smaller/vintage radii tend to yield higher action.

I'm pretty sure that the modern c fender necks have a 12" radius.

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Post by Dave_Mc » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:59 am

andrius wrote: (a) I think ESP Vintage Plus is a 9.5" radius.

(b) Anyway, by neck thickness I mostly mean the thickest part of it (the center) - the point against which a thumb rests when holding neck in a classical position. In other words, the slimmer the center is, the easier it is to grip barre chords, I assume - and that's what I want. I suppose fretboard radius has more to do with neck thickness on closer to the edges of the fretboard.
(a) Yeah that may be true- I think I've seen Diamond saying that the Tokais might be 9.5" now as well (not certain on that, though).

(b) I don't think the radius is really anything to do with the neck thickness (though in practice, vintage radius tends to go hand-in-hand with vintage-style necks, which are often thicker).

As hekdiesel rightly said, a bigger radius lets you set the action lower without "fretting out". I find it lends itself better to more modern (shreddier) playing styles.

I think the USA standard strat has a 9.5" radius, though. But it still probably has a more modern neck profile, and the wider nut, which makes it feel more modern (in my opinion) than a guitar with otherwise more vintage neck specs. (I should add though that I haven't tried a USA standard strat for some time, they may have changed the exact neck shape since I tried it. :lol: )

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Post by hekdiesel » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:08 am

I just checked the Fender site, youre right the American standards are 9.5", the deluxes are compund 9.5 - 14"

andrius
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Post by andrius » Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:11 pm

Dave_Mc wrote: (b) I don't think the radius is really anything to do with the neck thickness (though in practice, vintage radius tends to go hand-in-hand with vintage-style necks, which are often thicker).
I don't think either, but most of the times I asked about comparisons of neck thickness of different guitars online, people would go "they have different radius, so you can't compare neck thickness".
Dave_Mc wrote:I think the USA standard strat has a 9.5" radius, though. But it still probably has a more modern neck profile
Could you please explain what is a "more modern" neck profile? Does it mean that the C shape is flatter or does it mean something else?

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Post by marcusnieman » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:48 am


Dave_Mc
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Post by Dave_Mc » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:04 am

hekdiesel wrote:I just checked the Fender site, youre right the American standards are 9.5", the deluxes are compund 9.5 - 14"
Yeah :)
andrius wrote: (a) I don't think either, but most of the times I asked about comparisons of neck thickness of different guitars online, people would go "they have different radius, so you can't compare neck thickness".

(b) Could you please explain what is a "more modern" neck profile? Does it mean that the C shape is flatter or does it mean something else?
(a) Just had a thought- unless they mean that since the radius is quite curved the neck will be thicker in the centre than at the ends? Or maybe they just mean the radius affects how the thickness of the neck feels.

(b) Haha I'm not sure it's got a specific definition :lol: To me a more modern neck is a bit flatter on the back (rather than the V on a lot of the more vintage-style Fender-style necks), and often the nut width is a bit wider too (which accentuates how flat the thing feels, in my opinion/experience). It's a bit closer to the shreddier necks like Jacksons, Ibanezes, Charvels etc. (though not as modern as those, either).

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Post by stratlt » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:13 pm

Labas Andriau,

First of all not all Edwards is partially made ​​in China. This I know from ESP. You probably bought your Edwards from the company where I work. We have a number of Stratocasters, as well as a few of current made in Japan Fenders with various necks. Sometimes dealers receiving them by limited basis. We also have several current production Tokai TST50. They basically have 7,25 radius C shape neck and are clones of Fender 60 reissues with one difference. Fender Japan 60 reissue guitar bodies are made from alder or basswood. Current Tokai TST50 bodies are made from 2 or 3 piece swamp ash.
If you are the person who recently bought this Edwards Snapper from us, you only an hour drive from us. Come and try out all the necks in real time.
Then you decide what neck is the most suitable for you.

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