Tonika Model EGS-650 electric guitar, made in U.S.S.R.
The second model of the first Soviet mass production electric guitar

Tonika was the first electric guitar made in USSR, and it was the first experience of Soviet luthiers. In end of the 60's (most probably 1969), when this guitar was made, not too many Soviet citizens were allowed to go abroad, and probably noone of the Tonika creators had any experience in electric guitar building. There probably were a couple of Fenders and Gibsons to copy, but it's hard to beleive any of ordinary Russian workers had a chance to work at some place where normal electric guitar were made to gather some experience. The only possibility was to visit other Socialist countries - DDR, Czechoslovakia, Poland or Bulgaria to see how cheesy Jolanas, Musimas and Defils are being made. It could give Russians some impression of how the process is organized, but not how to build a quality electric guitar.
What they've made is an unplayable super-heavy guitar with sick body shape, thickest neck you'll ever find and sound suitable for anything but music.

The first Tonika was produced in Leningrad (today St.Petersburg) and looked a bit different. The second Tonika modification called EGS-650 that you see here was a bit more "designed" and manufactured at several locations. EGS probably stands for Electric Guitar Standard and 650 is the scale (650 mm).

Made at Sverdlovsk, Rostov na Donu and Ordjonikidze, USSR
Body - a very original shape and enormous weight. It is thicker than Les Paul and made of bich. The body on my guitar was covered with black laquer, which was actually very good and didn't peel off even at -30C temperature. My guitar was the only black one I've seen, other Tonikas were usually painted in poor orange or matte-gray.
There's no reason to talk about the body shape - it speaks for itself.
Pickguard - green or red pearloid. If you ever seen Soviet plastic picks, you can get the impression of how exactly it looks like.
Pickups - Two single coils of original construction with steel covers. Inside you can find a magnet with a coil glued to a steel plate. The bolts are screwed to this plate - next to the magnet! You can see all this on the pictures - the magnet and the coil are under the white plate, and the bolts are on the side. You can unscrew the bolt to make it closer to the string, making the particular string louder - or visa versa. The pickups themselves cannot be moved up and down (we can only add in the brackets that later Soviet pickups' designs, like on Ural, were a bit more conservative and the bolts were placed in the middle of the magnet).
Controls - volume and tone, plus a four-position "varitone" type switch. Three positions were regular pickups' switching (bridge, bridge+neck, neck) and in the last position all the pickups were switched off.
Output jack - DIN5 five-pin. Soviet guitar constructors were setting a new standard for all the guitar industry - five-pin jacks. The most popular explaination to this is that they were predicting the MIDI. It was very uncomfortable since you could either use only Soviet equipment (all guitars, effects and amplifiers had DIN5 sockets) or modify your Les Paul. Have you ever seen Les Paul with five-pin out? Fortunately, there were no Les Pauls in Soviet Union to modify.
Seriously talking, DIN-5 allowed several good things: stereo and mono outputs and phantom power for onboard preamp and effects. While Tonika made no use of this, later Soviet models, like Stella or Solo-II featured all the possible electronic tricks and all the pins on their jacks were wired.
Bridge - Combination of tune-o-matic with Bigsby type tremolo.
Tune-o-matic: two bolts on the sides allow to adjust the whole bridge height and the saddles move back and forth to adjust string lenght.
Tremolo: just like on Bigsby strings are wrapped around a roller which is attached to the body with two huge springs. Between the 3d and 4th strings there's a hole in the roller for the tremolo arm. There's a steel cover for the whole tremolo (which is missing on the pictures).
Neck - bolt-on, with two screws only (like Musimas), very thick with a very small radius. made of beech with ebony (!!!) fingerboard. Headstock is also covered with green or red pearloid plastic.
Price - 180 Soviet roubles - as indicated on the neckplate

Lordbizarre's Tonika family (left to right):
Tonika EGS-650 - made in Sverdlovsk,
Tonika EGS-650 - made in Rostov (with Defil pu added),
Tonika EGS-650 - made in Ordjonikidze.


Sverdlovsk (Ural)
Sverdlovsk (Ural)
Rostov (rusty!)
"Kavkaz" Tonika plates: Rostov and Ordjonikidze

Viljar Rosin
Ivan alias Lordbizarre -

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