Up for sale, a 1977 Tokai Cat's Eyes CE-500 dreadnought acoustic guitar in exceptional, crack-free condition, complete with the original hardshell case. As part of a rarely discussed partnership with Martin, Tokai produced Martin's Sigma brand of instruments while also offering Cat's Eyes-branded instruments with Martin's blessing exclusively to the Japanese domestic market.
Clearly channeling the D-28, the Cat's Eyes CE-500 is a vintage square shoulder dreadnought featuring a spruce top, rosewood back and sides, and a mahogany neck. A bold strummer with tons of projection and a clear percussive cut, the CE-500 has ample top end and a focused, muscly bass register. Individual notes on the plain strings retain plenty of punch and pop for single note lines, and the guitar is freshly restrung with 12-53 bronze strings, dialed in to play its best by our tech staff here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar.
The mahogany neck has a round profile carve with just enough sloping in the shoulders to infer a very soft, yet substantial V shape, measuring .865" deep at the 1st fret and .960" at the 9th. The ebony fretboard features snowflake inlay and original slender frets which retain their full factory height, showing only light wear on the crowns of frets 1-3, extending beneath the plain strings until fret 5. The guitar conforms to traditional Martin spec with a 25.4" scale length and 1 11/16" wide nut, hand-carved from bone. The headstock face features a bound rosewood veneer, and the original heavy duty Tokai-branded gold tuners have a smooth gear ratio and hold pitch well.
The ebony bridge sits flush with the spruce top, and the saddle has modest height, offering action that's nice and comfy in every register. Visible through the soundhole, the original label is intact, matching the model and serial info stamped on the neck heel. Crack-free and sparingly played over the past 40+ years, cosmetic wear is limited to some faint finish scratches across the back, a few shallow marks on the neck profile, and a few requisite small nicks and pick scuffs on top.
The case is an exacting replica of the original Harptone case design that accompanied Pre-War Martins. The case has a blue interior, lightly textured black exterior, vintage-style latches, and even a small metal badge above the handle that reads, "This is the exact replica of the Martin guitar case of the good old days"