Other Guitars

Teisco Del Rey

1

.. As if I need another guitar, and I may still pass on this one. It's not mine, yet.

The fellow selling it says it's an EP-9T, but it appears to be either an 8T or an L2.

I'm guessing it would be most comparable to my Casino, tone-wise.

The pros:

  • It's about 30 minutes away from me.

  • His 83 year old dad bought it new in 1966. So, one owner.

  • It's virtually unplayed, he says it's about as clean as it gets for a 55 year old guitar.

  • Asking $400, HSC included

Any personal experiences or takes on 60s Teiscos?

.. oh for godsake someone talk me out of this before I shop again!****

2

with a pro-grade setup they can be really fun guitars. Japanese pickups from that era are amazingly diverse, and many of them sound fantastic. yes, the electronics and hardware can be rather primitive, but they're generally quite able to be tweaked into a good state for playing. and the woods can be remarkable...i have a Kent body that's one solid piece of mahogany. with a guitar in the condition of this one you're getting the best possible option, and if you don't like it you could likely flip it for 150-200% of asking price.

3

Old japanese guitars vary wildly in quality and playability. Some are/were great, and some are hopeless no matter how much tinkering you put into them. The only way to tell is try it in person.

4

They're worth a lot. Unique tones. Traded mine for a set of Neumann mics. As much as I dug the look, I always ended up grabbing for another guitar.

5

you often have to come to this sort of guitar and adapt to it rather than expecting to play the same ideas you can on a "better" guitar, but IMO the sounds from the pickups are worth it. one reason i have 11 electric guitars is that they make me play differently.

6

you often have to come to this sort of guitar and adapt to it rather than expecting to play the same ideas you can on a "better" guitar, but IMO the sounds from the pickups are worth it. one reason i have 11 electric guitars is that they make me play differently.

– macphisto

Truth! I have that justification memorized for whenever my wife starts counting my murder of guitars!

7

I'm already sold on the square pole single-coil pups. Well-regarded by many players.

I've heard Teiscos were still very decently crafted for inexpensive Japanese-made guitars, but then quality control wasn't as consistent back then, either. I remember them showing up for sale in the Sears catalogs.

Yes @FritzTheCat I'm definitely glad it's within driving distance, I want to check it out thoroughly. Even if it's mint I still don't want an unfixable neck twist, or the like. The upshot is; after this long everything should be pretty stable.

Generally, I don't seek vintage gear. I can't justify investing thousands in an heirloom, even if it is a joy to play.
So I reasoned if I landed anything vintage it would likely be something affordable, like an old Danelectro.

update: I did get an image text from the seller, confirming the model as an; EP-9T, right by the serial number.

He also conveyed that his dad 'would be willing to accept whatever I offered'.

JEEZ!

.. man, it's like the universe is taunting me.

9

If this is up for vote, I vote “yea” (unless of course there’s something drastically wrong with it.)

10

I have several mid-60's Japanese guitars-- Teisco, Kent, Norma, and a few others. If the neck hasn't warped or bowed, they can be set up to gigging specs. However, a word of warning about gigging with them-- many of the pickups are extremely microphonic at anything above bedroom volume levels. In fact, I had one where you could actually talk (loudly) into the pickup. I wax-potted several of mine to counteract this, and they are quite serviceable now. Surprisingly, the rather simple vibrato unit is pretty stable on most of them.

And yes, the guitar picture is a mid '60's-model EP-9T-- around 1966-67. Earlier EP models had a wooden bridge, and later EP models did not have the striped aluminum pickguard.

11

The only bummer about it is the 400 clams! The cool thing about these guitars is that you'd find them at a yard sale for ten bucks 30 years ago, or the bottom rack at a music store for 50 bucks (that's mine...used to be) 15 years ago. Now they are the price of a lower end Gretsch.

BUT like I said, they are worth a good amount and should you ever sell it you'll get your money back....or trade it for Neumanns!

Mine, BTW, played great after a setup. The 4 pickups left little room to dig in, but "yours" shouldn't have that issue.

12

Good ones are great ones. Average ones are frustrating. Bad ones are sculptures.

The good news is there isn't much to go horribly wrong. The necks (especially on the better Japanese guitars of the era) are more stable than given credit for. Unless: bad twist, or un-trussrodable bow or backbow. Check for those things. (With excessive toomuch relief - that can't be relieved - you still get a slide guitar. But you should pay lots less for it.)

The necks are usually chunky and/or weird in profile, but they can be made to play nicely on top by the same process used on any guitar. Don't expect a really consistent, level, smooth fingerboard, with comfortable rolled edges. They usually feel a bit primitive. Frets were probably thinnish, tallish, and rough when new. If played enough, they can smooth off nicely. And if the rest of the guitar is worthy, it might even be worth a fret job and some fingerboard profiling.

Finishes are a step above high-schooler with a rattlecan. Usually smooth, but the wood won't have been filled and blocked for a dead-level surface. That's part of the DNA.

If the pickups work, any other electronics can always be fixed. (And pickups could be re-wound, if you find a guy wiling to take them on - and it will always be an open question whether he should try to replicate the original wind or "improve" it.)

So yeah, tone. Using your Casino as a benchmark for the build - thin hollowbody with single-coils - is likely to deceive, disappoint, or dazzle you. The pickups on these rarely sound P90-fat. They sometimes approach DeArmond 2000 territory (as in the early 2000s Electromatic 512x series) - or a little weaker. And, yes, often microphonic. In some ways, the weaker the pickups sound, the more interesting the sonic possibilities - depending on your tolerance for hiss, and up to the threshold where signal-to-noise ratio becomes noise-to-signal. (Updating all the rest of the electronics with well-grounded and shielded pots and wires will make the most of the pickups.)

But count on a competent setup regardless.

You know the primitive, almost-in-tune, always-on-the-edge, broken sound Jack White always seem to chase in the Stripes? Most of these guitars do that without trying. Some more, some less - and a few simply sound great by any standards.

And sometimes all of the above factors come together in the good-enough-to-blessed-by-fairies zone, and you get one that's simply OK all-round, no reservations or attention needed. You 'bout have to have it in hand, even plug it in, to know what you're getting. (Even with one that's been little used. Time does what time does, even without human intervention.)

Absolutely check it out. If it does check out, offer less and go home happy.

All of the above references to inconsistency and mystery aside, 60s Japanese electrics do all seem to share a certain funky charm, and are a flavor most any electric picker will find a use for. Given an affordable opportunity on a decent choice, everybody ought to try at least one.

13

.. As if I need another guitar, and I may still pass on this one. It's not mine, yet.

The fellow selling it says it's an EP-9T, but it appears to be either an 8T or an L2.

I'm guessing it would be most comparable to my Casino, tone-wise.

The pros:

  • It's about 30 minutes away from me.

  • His 83 year old dad bought it new in 1966. So, one owner.

  • It's virtually unplayed, he says it's about as clean as it gets for a 55 year old guitar.

  • Asking $400, HSC included

Any personal experiences or takes on 60s Teiscos?

.. oh for godsake someone talk me out of this before I shop again!****

– Edison

That looks kinda cool. I could get into it. The pickups on 60s Japanese guitars have a sound all their own, which also makes them kind of cool.

It makes me wonder whatever happened to that Castilla (a rebranded Teisco IIRC) my brother had, that sort of became my first electric guitar, after he pretty much abandoned guitar playing. I wonder if it's still at my parents' house. I don't remember it ever being sold. The pickups to say the least, are kind of funky. I remember them being pretty microphonic. Still, in retrospect, they have their own sort of offbeat cool. The guitar was decently playable (though admittedly, the last time I played it was 40 years ago). I'll have to search around my parents' house the next time I manage to make the 90 mile trip there, during these Covid infested times.

A Castilla Like The One I Had (mine was missing the vibrato spring and viberato arm)

14

The only bummer about it is the 400 clams! The cool thing about these guitars is that you'd find them at a yard sale for ten bucks 30 years ago, or the bottom rack at a music store for 50 bucks (that's mine...used to be) 15 years ago. Now they are the price of a lower end Gretsch.

BUT like I said, they are worth a good amount and should you ever sell it you'll get your money back....or trade it for Neumanns!

Mine, BTW, played great after a setup. The 4 pickups left little room to dig in, but "yours" shouldn't have that issue.

– hilosean

Jon Spencer (of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) got his Zimgar that way - his wife bought it for like $20 at a flea market in New York City, to play it in a band she was in. She quit playing it, and he started playing it. He's been playing it ever since. That weird/skronky sound you hear on the Jon Spencer and The Blues Explosion albums is the Zimgar doing its thing. It sounds so gnarly and cool!

15

Jon Spencer (of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) got his Zimgar that way - his wife bought it for like $20 at a flea market in New York City, to play it in a band she was in. She quit playing it, and he started playing it. He's been playing it ever since. That weird/skronky sound you hear on the Jon Spencer and The Blues Explosion albums is the Zimgar doing its thing. It sounds so gnarly and cool!

– EllenGtrGrl

I've got one exactly like his. Its a Zimgar branded Fujigen EJ-2. Love it!!

I'm amazed it survived the journey to the UK...it was just shipped in a box wrapped in newspaper! Neck is straight and chunky...frets are good.

16

I've got one exactly like his. Its a Zimgar branded Fujigen EJ-2. Love it!!

I'm amazed it survived the journey to the UK...it was just shipped in a box wrapped in newspaper! Neck is straight and chunky...frets are good.

– tabletop

Very cool! I found a similar guitar to his (yours is spot on!) for 30 bucks at a thrift shop years ago. It's called a Layfeyette.....spelling that wrong, I'm sure. Love the chunky neck and pickups....not foils like yours though. Foils are cool- The strangest pickups I own.

17

I've got one exactly like his. Its a Zimgar branded Fujigen EJ-2. Love it!!

I'm amazed it survived the journey to the UK...it was just shipped in a box wrapped in newspaper! Neck is straight and chunky...frets are good.

– tabletop

Very cool! I found a similar guitar to his (yours is spot on!) for 30 bucks at a thrift shop years ago. It's called a Layfeyette.....spelling that wrong, I'm sure. Love the chunky neck and pickups....not foils like yours though. Foils are cool- The strangest pickups I own.

18

i believe the Lafayettes were imported into the US as a brand sold in Radio Shack stores, which had a number of Lafayette-branded products.

19

i believe the Lafayettes were imported into the US as a brand sold in Radio Shack stores, which had a number of Lafayette-branded products.

– macphisto

You're close... Lafayette Radio Electronics was not associated with Radio Shack as a going concern, but was a different competitor company with a very similar business profile. They had both retail stores (mainly in the northeast) and catalog sales as well.

And yes, they did sell Japanese imports at the height of the guitar boom in the mid-60's-- sometimes branded as "Lafayette", but they also sold Univox and Maestro-branded instruments as well.

20

First bass I ever played in 1966 was a Lafayette bass ... and yes, no relation btween them and Radio Shack, but RS lasted a lot longer tho

21

You're close... Lafayette Radio Electronics was not associated with Radio Shack as a going concern, but was a different competitor company with a very similar business profile. They had both retail stores (mainly in the northeast) and catalog sales as well.

And yes, they did sell Japanese imports at the height of the guitar boom in the mid-60's-- sometimes branded as "Lafayette", but they also sold Univox and Maestro-branded instruments as well.

– Tartan Phantom

Oddly, our local electronics parts shop is---Lafayette Electronics. It had a different name a few years ago, but, as I live in Lafayette IN, it seems appropriate. I do remember the chain Lafayette Electronics stores. They were a Radio Shack competitor.

22

i guess my 63-year-old memory conflated the two.

23

Don't expect a really consistent, level, smooth fingerboard, with comfortable rolled edges. They usually feel a bit primitive. Frets were probably thinnish, tallish, and rough when new. If played enough, they can smooth off nicely. - Proteus

That's been my experience pretty much every time I've picked up a budget guitar, whether Japanese, Italian, or American. Frets smooth as sandpaper. Perhaps because I tend to gravitate towards extra clean examples that probably weren't played much.

24

Old japanese guitars vary wildly in quality and playability. Some are/were great, and some are hopeless no matter how much tinkering you put into them. The only way to tell is try it in person.

– FritzTheCat

FritzTheCat, you're right about the older Japanese electric guitars, some were not so good, and others were supurb.

I have this Suzuki guitar, that I bought in 1982 while I was stationed in Belgium. It rivals anything Terada is producing today, and blows a Gibson LP away on every count. The mahogany/maple capped body is double bound, and the ebony fretboard (Jumbo frets) and headstock are bound (WBWBW). While this guitar is not a Les Paul copy, an LP is the closest thing to compare it to. It does sport an open book headstock, but the upper bout takes a little dip before joining the body.

I actually own two Gibson Les Pauls, one from the 1970's and one from 2019. This Japanese example is a better instrument than either of the Gibsons. Suzuki had just entered the electric guitar market in about 1980, and apparently went all in with superior craftsmanship. They were used very often in Western Europe, as an alternative to the higher priced American guitar. Suzuki made killer neck through body Strat too. I also bought one of those, but I gave it to my nephew a few years ago. Suzuki only produced electric guitars for nine years, and they weren't imported into the US. If you ever see one, it was probably brought back from Europe by an American GI.

Fit and finish on this guitar is supurb, and the DiMarzio pickups are out of this world. Suzuki put real DiMarzio pickups in their high end guitars. I paid BF 15,000 for it, which was almost a months pay for the typical Belgian household at the time. But the US Dollar was experiencing an all time high (thank you President Regan), we were exchanging $1 for 85 Belgian Francs, so I only paid $176 for it. Had I bought it a year earlier when the exchange rate was $1 to 12 Belgian Francs, it would have cost $1250.

I lucked out on this one, I was twenty one years old, and very inexperienced. I had absolutely no idea just how great this guitar is, until I gained more experience and exposure to other electric guitars. I had bought it simply because it was the most expensive guitar in the shop, so it had to be the best one, right? The owner told me that it was, and in this instance, he was right!

Time and time again, other more experienced guitarists offered to buy it from me. I gigged with this guitar as my main instrument for my entire heavy gigging years. It is a great rhythm guitar, but comes into its own as a lead solo guitar. It sustains forever, and cuts through the band like no other guitar that I have. The tone is like something off an album, just amazing.

My first actual Gibson Les Paul was a long awaited purchase. In my mind, it just had to be better than the Japanese knockoff. I bought a 1976 Les Paul in about 1994, and I was so excited to finally have the real thing. But.........pfffft.....the Suzuki looked (up close), played, and sounded better. The same thing happened with the 2019 Les Paul. That's not to say that I don't like the Gibsons, I like them very much, but I prefer the Suzuki (and so do other people who've played it).


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