10/06/2017

1960s Teisco Violin-Shaped Hollowbody Electric Guitar





This came to me via trade. It's a Teisco-made (Japanese) instrument and I've known several versions of these from walk-ins in the shop. This one has the nicer-grade, 5-piece maple neck with a Gibson-style profile and 24 3/4" scale length. The body is hollow and has one center brace supporting the top. It's cut like an oversize Hofner "Beatle bass" and has a couple of fairly-hot single coil pickups with adjustable poles. There's also a whammy unit at the tailpiece but it's not the most reliable unit, so I've left it without a bar.

There were a number of annoyances to solve with this when it came in. For starters, the neck has an innate backbow which meant it was hard to level and dress the frets with the accuracy I like. I did manage to do the job, however, and after that the work was pretty straightforward: add a ground wire to the tailpiece, fudge the pickup height adjusters and mounting rings until I could get them close enough to the strings, and general setup-side tweaking. I replaced the iffy original tuners with some Kluson-style repros, too, and they look pretty snazzy at the scroll headstock.

The neck still has just a hair of unresolved backbow even strung-up to tension with a set of average 11s and a wound G. I'm thinking that this guitar really needs to be rocking a set of 12s. The sound is super-cool, though. It's got that Japanese vibe, for sure, but the hollowbody build and absurd neck access remind me more of the handling of an SG or ES-335 combined with an oddball '50s Gretsch sonic footprint. Action is 1/16" at the 12th fret.


The body is all ply maple and has an arch to the top and back. It's fully-hollow with no center post and that makes it pretty lightweight, too. I like the weird "orange juice peach sunburst" finish. The body is 13" across the lower bout, giving it the fit of a "parlor" instrument.

Aside from the tuners, the guitar is 100% original and it even has its original bridge cover (not seen in the photos). The whammy bar is long missing, though I tried another and gave up on it because the unit does not work that wall.


The scroll headstock shape is way fun. Note the zero fret and 1 5/8" nut width -- this neck handles like a mid-'60s Gibson -- it's a mild/shallow C-shape profile with a 24 3/4" scale length -- and super-fast.


The board is rosewood and has something like a 12" radius to it. The frets are lower and smallish, recalling vintage Fenders. It's a bound board, too.



The Jazzmaster-ish adjustable bridge is not the best, but it does work just fine after some tweaking. I have it compensated for 4-wound, 2-plain stringing.



The knobs are actually metal, surprisingly.





Someone took the trouble to grind-off the "made in Japan" imprint at the bottom of the neckplate.




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