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1981 Tokai Cats Eyes CE-1000S Clarence White Model Vintage Herringbone Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar w/ Case


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Up for sale, a 1981 Tokai Cat's Eyes CE-1000S dreadnought acoustic guitar in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order. An extremely unusual and exceedingly rare guitar, the CE-1000S is explicitly advertised as a Clarence White model in Tokai's catalog, with production limited to the '81 model year. Faithfully recreating one of Martin's most storied Pre-War D-28s, this Tokai features the oversized soundhole and bound, inlay-less fingerboard associated with Clarence White's Guitar, an instrument that would achieve greater fame in later decades in the hands of Tony Rice.

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."

100% original and complete with the original hardshell case, this vintage square shoulder herringbone dreadnought is among the finest steel string acoustic models ever to come out of Japan. A D-28 in every respect, the CE-1000S features a gloss finish, solid spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides, with a mahogany neck and solid ebony fretboard and bridge. A guitar befitting the reputation for extremely fine Japanese fit and finish work, this Tokai Cat's Eyes dreadnought is head and shoulders above many of its USA-made contemporaries. The guitar offers a broad, powerful sound, rich and detailed sound across all strings with a sparkling, dry treble register. The midrange is warm and smooth, and the guitar has an immediacy to the note attack, very responsive to both fingers and a flatpick. Overall clarity, sustain, and note separation befit this high-end, limited run Tokai model. Weighing 4lbs 6oz 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 mahogany neck has a slender C profile carve, measuring .835" deep at the 1st fret and .915" at the 9th. With 14 frets clear of the body, a 25.4" scale, 1 11/16" wide bone nut, and 2 1/8" string spacing at the bridge, this Tokai will feel right at home to the most discerning Martin fan. The original slender fretwire has its full factory height and well-rounded crowns, showing just a touch of wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-3. The ebony fretboard is bound and inlay-less, in keeping with the Clarence White aesthetic, and there are small side dots for easy fretboard navigation. The headstock features a diamond volute and rarely seen Martin inlay pattern, known as a "torch" inlay in some circles and particularly cleanly inlaid on the rosewood headstock veneer. The tuners are genuine single line Kluson replicas with tiny "Deluxe" text on the gear housings.

The carved ebony bridge sits flush with the top with no lifting edges, and the original drop-in saddle has modest height, yet offers optimal action. Cosmetic accents include herringbone top binding and a black pickguard. The instrument is crack-free and and the guitar has been very sparingly played, with a couple areas of finish behind the bridge that show a hair less ambering than the rest of the top, a few light finish scratches in the clear coat of the gloss, and a few shallow marks, mostly clustered on the bass-side lower bout where the forearm crosses the top.

The original black tolex hardshell case is included.