Up for sale, a 1981 Tokai Cat's Eyes CE-1200D dreadnought acoustic guitar in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. A rare guitar virtually unseen outside the Japanese domestic market, the CE-1200D is an upper-tier, faithful replica of a proper D-45. And with an abalone rosette and top binding, hexagonal abalone inlay on the bound ebony board, and diamond volute, this square shoulder dreadnought is a visually stunning example with all the necessary tonewood ingredients.
While the exact nature of the relationship between Martin and Tokai in this era is somewhat opaque, Tokai purportedly signed a contract with Martin in 1972 for the official use of Martin's design elements for their Japan exclusive Cats Eyes line, while also conclusively being Japan's distributor for Martin guitars in the era. Tokai's marketing for the Cats Eyes line, as well as the text on the serialized instrument labels, also directly references Martin with some models stating "C.F. Martin & Co. Japanese Counterpart."
The Cats Eyes models are among the finest steel string acoustic instruments to ever come out of Japan. The CE-1200D features a gloss finish, ambered spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides, with a mahogany neck and ebony fretboard and bridge. A guitar befitting the reputation for extremely fine Japanese fit and finish work, this Tokai Cat's Eyes dreadnought offers a warm, sweet, rich tone with a sparkling treble register and plenty of power when strummed with authority. Weighing 4lbs 11oz and professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, this Tokai is dialed in with comfortable action and fresh 12-53 phosphor bronze strings.
The one-piece mahogany neck has a full-feeling soft V profile carve, measuring .865" deep at the 1st fret and .965" at the 9th. With 14 frets clear of the body, the ebony fingerboard features abalone hexagonal inlay and the original very slender fretwire. The frets are pristine with their full factory height, playing cleanly up the 25.4" scale. The nut measures a full 1 11/16" in width, and string spacing at the bridge measures 2 3/16", dimensions familiar to the most discerning Martin fan. The bound headstock features a rarely seen Martin inlay pattern, known as a "torch" inlay in some circles, particularly cleanly inlaid on the rosewood veneer. The gold-plated Rotomatic-style tuners turn smoothly and hold pitch well.
The carved ebony bridge sits flush with the top, and the original drop-in saddle has modest height, yet offers optimal action. Cosmetic accents include an abalone rosette, top, and back binding, with a detailed purfling strip down the center of the back. The instrument is crack-free and exceptionally clean, with cosmetic wear limited to just a few faint scuffs and marks mostly relegated to the treble side of the body. The neck profile sports a clean gloss finish.
The original hardshell case is included.