Tokai Hard Puncher PB40 MIJ

Not much of a restoration, more of a save from the clutches of disuse and grime! I remember seeing these Tokai Hard Punchers (best bass name EVER) when I was playing the big-hair head-banging scene. When CBS bought out Fender and the quality went down the toilet the Tokai Gakki Co. located in Hammamatsu, Japan were making these very high-quality Precision-bass (P-bass) copies. Oft referred to as "lawsuit guitars" because of the legal wranglings going on across the Pacific, the Hard Punchers consistently rank high among bass players and on-par with some of Fender's better built models. I came across this one, a copy of the 1977 Fender P-bass, at my local second-hand store and was floored by two things: it was placed on the top row with all the pricey guitars (MIA Fender P/Jazz basses, Music Man, etc.) but was listed for only ¥17800 or about $190US. Alas, no money in el-pocket. Sad face. Two weeks later it's still there. Another week passes, still there. Next day, still there and I made the sad puppy face towards my purchasing agent (my lovely wife of nearly 25 years) and a stellar pitch on what I just told you above and..... she has a new home. The Hard Puncher; not my lovely wife.


Gross doesn't begin to describe this guitar. I swear there was enough DNA on it to clone a number of bass players. A thick film of nicotine/smoke deposits covered it, the metal was tarnished and I felt I need a vaccination every time I touched it.

Supposedly that's chrome on the bridge....ugh.

The oval sticker means the retail list price was ¥40000 which was about $181US in 1982. Think about that: gas hadn't hit $1.00/gal. yet and minimum wage was $3.15 an hour where I lived. A decent starter car by Oldsmobuick was $500, was the size of the Queen Mary and had a V-8 under the hood.

This gouge is out of the neck at about the 4th fret. It looks kind of like a burn but the wood is gone, not banged in so steam treating it won't work. I'm trying to get used to it to see if I can just smooth it and lacquer it or if it bugs me too much and I'll need to fill it.

Big open-back machine heads. Such a horrible sticky feeling when you touched anything metal on this at first. 107927 on the neck plate.

I was really worried about the decal, when you ran your finger across the headstock it was like sand paper. It would make you shudder, I kid you not.

The body has a few small dings and scratches but nothing major at all.


But there was no shortage in the grime department! Removing the bridge revealed this crap-festival. Eventually it would take a handful of hours using warm soapy water, naptha and occasionally some spit to get everything clean. If you ever need to trap a cat, lay out an empty box.

Discoloration from age, smoke, who knows what else. Faintly you can see the indentations from stamping marks on the machine heads.

Removal of the pick guard reveals copper(?) plates used to commonly ground the electronics negating the need to run grounding wires to each individual component. As far as I could tell this is the original wiring.

Same common ground theory applied to the pickups. Wiring was very brittle, I ended up re-soldering one connection even though I had the kid gloves on.

Color code underneath pickup assembly, OW meaning off white.

Not sure if this is from the factory like this or not. Notch cut out to allow adjustment of the truss rod without removing it from the body but you still have to remove the pick guard which is no small feat with strings on.

Nice clean neck pocket and writing on the end of the neck.

The dreaded brown bubbles of poop; scrub brush and rags over and over again and this was just the neck.

Three of the machine heads ad the number "3" on them and one had the number "2" on it, I could tell no difference between any of them. All metal parts got the long soak in WD-40. The bridge pieces ended up going into penetrating oil to help loosen the corrosion. A little chrome came off of two saddles but not a significant amount.

Hey, check out that shine!!!!

Another view of the electronics setup.

Things do not stay put together long in this house!


Holy cow there's some clean and shine after all for the logo!

Machine heads back on. I resisted the urge to polish to living daylights out of them. I dig the look of a 30-year old guitar as long as it is age and not dirt.

And there she is, just finished with the ground continuity check since the ground wire is pretty brittle. Strings went on with no problem and she plays like a champ! I must admit my Peavey Cirrus 5-string has been gathering a little dust since the Hard Puncher came along. About the only thing left to do is find an appropriate case for her to snuggle up in.