1960s Teisco EB-200 Electric Baritone Guitar Conversion

Update 2019: My buddy Steve, who bought this back in 2017, sent it back for souping-up. It got new jumbo frets, a new wiring harness, and new relic Kluson-style tuners at the headstock in a 4+2 configuration. It's also wearing 52w-12 gauge strings which make it feel and sound more substantial. I've updated the photos and added a video clip, but have only adjusted the description in minor ways.

A friend of mine dropped this off as a bit of a project and I took one look at it and said -- huh, these Japanese-made Teisco EB-200 basses are way cool, but what if this were made into a 30" scale baritone guitar? I'm a fan of Teisco basses, so it wasn't without a hair of reluctance, though. The mix of alternate-dimension Fender-guitar-style elements and the heft of the neck (medium C-shape with 1 11/16" nut width) just screamed for it. In addition, the refinished (and, apparently, half-sanded) body and neck didn't argue too much with deviating from the norm.

Anyhow, as you can hear in the above soundclip, it turned-out super-fun. My argument with the average baritone guitar is that the shorter scales (26"-28") don't really feel right for the pitch of the notes. At the 30" this one has, you can string it up tuned low-high B-to-B using a set of electric 10s and have the tension feel just fine (note: it has 52w-12 w/wound G strings right now). The lower-on-the-body bridge and body contours force the nut a little closer to the left hand, too, so it doesn't feel any worse exhaustion-wise on the left arm than playing an average short scale bass.

Work on this included a refret, new wiring harness, buffing-out the back of the neck, lightly-sanding the rough-sanded areas of the body edges, adding a sealer coat of finish to the body, adding string-mount holes and modifying the bridge saddle a bit, modifying the nut, adding guitar-style tuners (and two extras), and then setting it up. It's playing with normal electric guitar height (1/16" action at the 12th fret) overall, though I may knock the low B string up to 3/32" so I can really bang on it (note: I've set action to 3/32" BEA and 1/16" DF#B low to high).

There's a "tummy cut" at the waist and both the pickguard and control plate are thick aluminum. This is excellent for shielding.

A set of relic Gotoh Kluson-style tuners decorates the headstock. I've used 3 relic string trees to keep the tension on the back of the nut nice, too. Said nut is new and bone. This would've originally had a cool aluminum plate attached at the headstock's face, but it was missing when it arrived.

The nut is 1 11/16" in width and the board is lightly-radiused.

I love the Teisco position marks.

The controls toggle the pickups. Here, both are on. They're wired in series so "neck only" and "bridge only" are quieter. Just like on a Danelectro with two pickups, the sweet spot is when they're both engaged and in series. It pushes an amp nicely and sounds pretty thick for a single-coil setup.

These bar/blade-style pickups are odd ducks. The "cover" is metal, too, and they have to jut pretty high above the pickguard to make-up for the tall bridge.

Interestingly-enough, I didn't have to recompensate the saddle to work for stringing as a guitar. I did have to grind it down to a better profile to match the radius of the board, however, and slot it for better string spacing. This needs wound-G stringing to compensate correctly.

Now that the harness is replaced, the tone works in the normal "American" fashion rather than the reverse, Japanese-style functionality.


Al Milburn said…
Very nice! What amp/speaker/mic, are you using to record? I have several of these unmolested basses, plus a TG-64 guitar, and TB-64 6-string bass, which I keep in A-A baritone tuning. The tone you're getting is very natural and open. I build and repair guitars in Emeryville, CA.
Al Milburn