1960s Teisco EB-200 Electric Baritone Guitar Conversion

This is EB-200 baritone conversion number two, and judging by local friends' reactions, it looks like I may be doing another two in the future. Unlike the first one, the owner decided to go "all-out" for this one and decided to modernize with a new set of pickups and relocated selector switch, too. With a StewMac "Golden Age" P90 at the neck and Seymour Duncan '50s-ish Tele pickup in the bridge, it has a very classic approach to modding, but the 30" scale and low tuning gives that setup some serious girth.

Work included: a board plane and refret with new jumbo stock, a number of repairs to multiple splits in the headstock, replacement inlay in the neck, new "relic" tuners and string trees, a new wiring harness, parts-bin strap button replacements, recutting of the thick aluminum pickguard (ugh!), a lot of routing/cuts to the body to fit everything in the new format, speed-necking the back of the neck, mod of the bridge, a lot of cleaning, and a good setup. It has a straight neck and plays spot-on with 3/32" to 1/16" action at the 12th fret, strung with 52w-12 gauges with a wound G, tuned BEADF#B low to high.

Scale length: 30"
Nut width: 1 5/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at saddle: 2 1/8"
Body length: 21"
Lower bout width: 13 1/4"
Upper bout width: 11
Side depth at endpin: 1 1/4"
Body wood: something mahogany-like
Neck wood: 3-piece mahogany-like
Fretboard: rosewood
Neck shape: 6-7" radius board w/slim-to-medium C-shaped rear
Bridge: adjustable-height original, modified
Nut: new bone

This came with an aluminum plate on the headstock, but I liked the "bright" Fender look better and the holes were all cut into the plate so it wasn't useful, anyhow. Also, no -- I didn't try at all to hide the mahogany plugs for the old bass tuner holes. Instead I just tried to make everything look as "weathered" as the rest.

Note the pearl dots at the sides of the headstock -- they're a fun way to cover some reinforcement screws I added. This headstock was really split-up and hadn't been repaired ever, so I figured a little extra help would go a long way compared to just gluing them back.

This EB-200 came with a Fender-like neck profile -- a slim-to-medium tapered C-shape on the rear and a very tight 6-7" radius on the board.

I am not expert at cutting thick aluminum beautifully, but I did manage to get that StewMac P90 in there nicely without too much of a mess. It has a Fralin aged/bare nickel cover and had to be set at an angle so the poles lined-up with the strings.

The square "window" is where two pickup-selection rocker switches used to be. It was blank space, so I filled it with a little playing-card image of a WWII Japanese torpedo bomber -- an Aichi D3A "Val." It even has a plastic protective cover on it, too.

The owner wanted a Jazzmaster-style 3-way switch in the usual position.

The old original single coil pickup on this instrument was mounted straight, so to get a Telecaster pickup in the bridge (more like sort-of-middle) position, I used a plastic adapter ring and simply cut a rectangular hole in the pickguard below it.

The beauty of this ugly original bass bridge is that for 4-wound, 2-plain stringing, just a few minor adjustments and new string-slots serve to get it compensated nicely up the neck. There's something nice about a crusty old bridge, too. Teisco originally hid these monstrosities with a chrome cover but they're almost always missing.

The 3-piece neck becomes very obvious on its now-speed-necked rear. This had some gloppy, gloss original finish on it when it came in, but the owner wanted it removed for a faster feel -- so I sanded it down, buffed it up, and gave it a few coats of wipe-on poly to seal it. It feels like bare wood to the fingers.

Because the Teisco bodies are thinner and made from lighter wood than your average Fender, the instrument is (overall) a lot lighter than a comparable period Jazzmaster or Jaguar, even. To me, lower weight means I enjoy playing it more and you get to feel the low notes ring against your belly better, too.


Reese said…
Radical. And professional. What a glorious musical tool this is.
jo'el said…
This is great. Keeping that bridge is an amazing feat. A lesser person would have jumped to the wrong conclusion and tossed it.