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Tokai ATE-33

4 4 out of 5, based on 1 Review

A pretty well-made, inexpensive Telecaster clone from China. Not as bright as one would hope for and the bridge doesn't go through the body

16th December 2011

by paukkumaissi

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4

The ATE-33 is an inexpensive Chinese Telecaster copy, I paid around 280 euros for it here in Finland. Don't mix these Chinese guitars with the more expensive Japanese Tokai guitars which are of entirely different build quality (and three times more expensive).

The build quality is pretty amazing compared to the price. Under heavy strumming, the bridge screws unscrewed themselves but basic "screw locking glue" helped with that. It's not a real telecaster also because the strings don't go through the body. But anyway, I've left it for a couple of weeks without playing and when I pick it back up, it's still in perfect tune. Several parts (e.g. the pick shield) show that they haven't been made with the finest skills but there's really nothing that affects playability.

Tokais, both Japanese and Chinese are pretty good concerning the woodwork but the really mediocre part are the microphones. When I think of a tele I think it should be bright, bright enough for me to want to play with the tone knob. On this guitar I always keep the tone knob fully open because it's just not bright. I found the neck pickup really unusable due to the dullness caused by the metal shield (such as teles usually have in the neck pickup) but hand-removing the metal shield and playing the neck pickup uncovered has made it pretty OK. If my signal chain is long and I have a lot of effects eating tone the neck pickup still doesn't carry or just sounds plain muddy. Even the bridge pickup doesn't have the bite one would hope from a telecaster (and I generally hate treble, I just want some clarity in my guitar!)

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