210

Teisco Guitars, Part II

Rock 'n' Roll Dreams, Part II
 
Rock 'n' Roll Dreams, Part II

Teisco Del Rey
In 1964, the company name changed again, this time to Teisco Co., Ltd. At some point in ’64 the Japanese Teisco logo changed from the circle Swan-S to a stylized, modern sans-serif type set in an italicized T shape.

In about 1964, Jack Westheimer began bringing in Teisco guitars bearing the Teisco Del Rey logo. This had an italicized Teisco superimposed over a crown with a script Del Rey underneath, backed by a round circle. Occasionally, you may see plain Teisco logos from this period with the crown in the background, but no Del Rey.

Del Rey, of course, is Spanish for “of the king,” which explains the crown. This was no doubt added to the Teisco name, in part, to suggest quality. However, it was also a way to add the de rigeur Spanish cachet necessary for “Spanish” guitars of the time. It was convention that “Spanish” guitars carried Spanish names, except for the well-known brand names – Gibson, Fender, Martin or Kay; thus the plethora of imported guitars named Greco, Ibanez, Goya and Espaa. Of course, none of these were made in Spain, but rather in Japan, Japan, Sweden and Finland, respectively!

It was also in January of ’64 that the Westheimer Sales Company, 1414 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, began advertising its New Kingston, the “S” line of quality guitars. These double-cutaway guitars included the #S-1 single pickup, #S-2 double pickup, #S-3 three pickup, the #S-2T double with tremolo, and #S-3T with tremolo. These were most likely versions of the little MJ and WG guitars.

Classics
What most of us know as the classic ’60s Teisco line began in 1964. The year marked both the debut of many new guitar models, noted by a transition to a new headstock designs (which can help you date a particular guitar). As already noted, Teisco headstocks through the ’50s were mainly variants of the Gibson three-and-three. Indeed, these remained into the ’60s on Teisco hollowbodies.

Beginning in 1960 with the T-60 solidbody, Teisco began to use the elongated “Strat” six-in-line headstock. This lasted through 1963. In 1963, the squarish Strat headstock appeared with the GB-1 solidbody bass. This seems to have lasted through 1965, but only on selected models, and with several subtle variations, including a slightly more rounded version. In 1964, probably later in the season, most of the Teisco solidbody line acquired a new hooked Strat-style headstock with four-and-two tuners on the guitars and three-and-one on the basses. This had the little hook at the throat like a Strat, and a larger hook on the tip, almost like a Woody Woodpecker plume.

Still in the ’64 line was the MJ-2L, pretty much unchanged, except for the new hooked headstock in later ’64. Given the evidence of Westheimer’s Kingstons, the MJ-1 and MJ-2 were probably still available. The BS-101 solidbody bass also remained, with the new, hooked three-and-one headstock. Also still in the line were the WGs, including the WG-2L, WG-3L and WG-4L. Many of these are found with the squarish Bizarro Strat head well into ’65, but they are also pictured in the ’64-65 catalog with the new, hooked four-and-two head, so expect to find either.

Also apparently still in the line in early ’64 was the SD-4L, which had adopted four of the two-tone, metal-covered pickups found on the SS-4L guitar. This still had the old, elongated Strat head. It also had the platform vibrato system found on the previous SS guitars. The SD-4L probably didn’t make it into ’65, but the shape was taken over by the more conventional TG-64.

New in ’64 were the TG-64 (named for the year) and a matching series of solid basses. The TG-64 was essentially a Fender Jazzmaster shape with a slightly extended bass horn, the new, hooked four-and-two headstock (usually with a metal plate on the front), and best of all, our old friend the “monkey grip” handle in the lower bass bout, handed down from the old T-60. The pickguard was two-part, with one large piece under the strings and a little extension on the lower bout for knobs and jack. These had three single-coil pickups, usually the chunky, metal-covered kind with a black insert and exposed poles, although some have smaller oval metal covers with exposed poles, all controlled by three on/off rocker switches above the strings. A small sliding switch served as a rhythm mute, or lead boost, depending on your point of view.

Some versions of the TG-64 had the same floating-table vibrato system as on the SD-4L; my guess would be that these were earlier versions, although one can’t place too much faith in dating Japanese guitars by hardware appointments. Others had the more typical Japanese version of the Bigsby vibrato. This guitar was sold in the United States in ’65 as the Teisco Del Rey Model ET-320, but by ’66 had been dropped from the line.

Companion to the TG-64 was the TB-64 bass. This was virtually identical to the guitar – including the three pickups and monkey grip – except it was a bass, so it had no vibrato. Two other basses debuted in ’64, the NB-1 and NB-4. These were basically the same guitar as the TB-64 except they did not have the handle cutout in the body. The NB-1 had a single pickup and the NB-4 had two.

Amp-in-guitar!
The TG-64 was definitely a boss guitar, but even cooler was the TRG-1 transistorized guitar, also introduced in ’64. This guitar did Nat Daniels one better and, instead of putting the amp in the case, put a transistorized amp and speaker in the guitar! To be fair, Danelectro did produce some guitars with a miniature tube amp built-in, but it’s not known if these ever made it to production status. But the TRG-1 is a remarkable guitar available in a confusing number of variations.

The 1964 TRG-1 was a slightly more asymmetrical variant of the WG body style, with offset double cutaways and offset waists. It had the squared-off Bizarro Strat head introduced in ’63 and rectangular-edge fingerboard inlays. The tail was a primitive top-mounted trapeze. Most of the face of the guitar was covered with a large metal pickguard, which had one two-tone neck pickup. The volume and tone knobs were above the strings, as was a small sliding on/off switch for the amp. In the off position, the guitar played out as a normal electric guitar. Horizontal grill slots were cut into the pickguard, behind which sat a 3-inch speaker. The amp operated on two 9-volt batteries installed in back. The TRG-1 shown in the subsequent ’64-65 catalog had a new, hooked headstock, but all the examples I’ve seen have the squared-off Bizarro Strat head. Also, the model I have has a TRE100 designation on the back sticker, so at least some were called this.

There was a second single-cutaway version, also called the TRG-1, with a thick waist and vaguely tubby Tele shape. It had a different grill shape and a slightly more rounded version of the Bizarro Strat head, but otherwise it was the same. There was also a version of the double-cutaway guitar with a vibrato. This was a small, metal-covered tailpiece with three springs in the housing and a handle that screwed into a hole in the cover.

The TRG-1 was an amazing guitar and any serious collector of electrics should have one. The little amp worked quite well. While one wouldn’t win any audiophile awards with the tiny radio speaker, a player could easily cause a ruckus in the back seat of a convertible with one of these babies. The TRG-1 is a Star-A-Star guitar!

Information on the hollowbodies is available from catalog pages reproduced in the Japanese Teisco history. They are not dated, but they show the “new” TRG-1 and EP-9 guitars, which debuted in ’64, so presumably this reflects the ’64 line. The line included four thinlines and four thick-bodies.

Still among the thinlines was the old Model EP-7, a non-cut archtop with bolt-on neck, non-dipped three-and-three head, dots, single neck pickup, trapeze tail, elevated pickguard and controls on a rectangular plastic strip on the lower bout. This was described as a guitar “…for beginners.”

Also available was the Model EP-8, the small thinline with a single rounded cutaway, bolt-on neck, non-dipped head, dots, two pickups, fancy harp tailpiece, elevated guard, rockers on the upper shoulder and controls on a rectangular plate on the lower bout.

The Model EP-17-T was a regular-sized thinline with a single round cutaway, bolt-on neck, non-dipped three-and-three head, dots, three pickups, adjustable bridge, plain trapeze tail, elevated guard, three rocker switches plate-mounted on the upper shoulder, and controls on a rectangular strip on the lower bout. All three were offered in shaded mahogany finish.

Double Cuts
Brand new in ’64 was Teisco’s first double-cutaway, the Model EP-9, a small-bodied thinline hollowbody archtop. The EP-9 had a pair of pickups, mainly the oval kind with center poles. This had the old center-humped three-and-three head (no open-book dip), and the rectangular edge inlays. Controls were placed on the lower treble bout on a triangular plastic plate, with one volume and one tone, and two on/off rocker switches.

There were also four full-sized archtops; the Model EP-14, Model EP-15, Model EP-17 and Model EP-18. These were basically all variations on the same guitar, with glued-in necks, non-dipped heads, mini-strip plastic inlays, single rounded cutaway, f-holes, adjustable bridge, trapeze tail and translucent pickguard. Rocker switches were mounted on a small plate on the upper shoulder, while the volume, tone and jack were on a small plate on the lower treble bout. The EP-14 (shaded mahogany) and EP-15 (natural) had two pickups. The EP-17 (shaded mahogany) and EP-18 (natural) had three pickups, some two-tone, some flat rectangular metal-covered.

At least three 6-string Hawaiian lap steels remained in the Teisco line in ’64-65. The H-39 was a cool piece with a rectangular body, tapered neck and slothead with tuners pointing up. This had two pickups, volume and tone, and the neat diagonally split fingerboard design as seen on the ’63 EG-M.

The H-905 was a similarly shaped and outfitted lap with a light colored fingerboard with black outlined rectangles for position markers.

Then there was the new TRH-1 (transistorized Hawaiian). You guessed it. This was the H-39 with an extension behind the bridge where the built-in amp and speaker of the TRG-1 was situated, yielding a self-amplified Hawaiian lap steel guitar. Yowza!

Teisco offered at least seven amplifiers in the ’64-65 catalog; three Teiscos and four Check Mates. This apparently marked the first appearance of transistors, although tube amps were still available in the 1966 catalog. About this time, many companies began jumping on the transistor bandwagon.

The three Teisco amps included the Teisco-88, the AMP-71R and the Miny. No details are available on these, but they were fairly rectangular cabinets with top-mounted controls. The Teisco-88 had “Teisco” and a big “88” on the grillcloth. The ’66 model was a tube amp, so this likely was, as well. I suspect the others shown were tubers as well. The Miny had the italicized T logo on the front. The AMP-71R had reverb.

The solid state Check Mates were the 15, 20, 25 and 50. A good guess would be that the numbers represented the output wattage. These had lightly-covered rectangular cabinets with dark grillcloths and front-mounted controls. The Check Mate 15 and 20 were combos, while the 25 and 50 were piggybacks. No other details are known about these amps.

Finally, Teisco also began marketing two portable electric organs and two electric console organs at this time.

Just exactly when W.M.I. began selling Teiscos to Sears is unknown, but the ’64-65 line was the first to appear with the Silvertone logo.

Go! Go! Go!
The Teisco guitars introduced in ’64 essentially continued into the ’65 line. In ’65, Teisco was heavily represented on “Go! Go! Go!,” the Japanese TV version of “Hullaballoo.”

Also in ’65, W.M.I. produced a Teisco Del Rey catalog that offered some interesting wrinkles in the story. For starters, the guitars shown are the same as in Teisco’s catalog, but the models were all renamed with a one or two-letter prefix followed by a dash and a three-digit number. Solidbodies were designated E- for stoptails, and ET- for those with tremolos/vibratos. Basses were labelled EB-. The numerical suffix signalled the number of pickups in the first digit; the ET-320 had three pickups, the ET-200 had two pickups, etc. Hollowbodies retained the original EP- prefix and either single or double-digit suffix. Amps remained as the Checkmate line.

So, the monkey-grip Teisco TG-64 became the Teisco Del Rey ET-320. The WG-2L became the ET-220, while the WG-3L became the ET-300 and the WG-4L became the ET-440. The old MJ-2L became the ET-200, while the MJ-2 became the E-200. The TRG-1 self-amplified guitar became the TRE-100 or TRET-110 with tremolo. The NB-4 bass became the EB-200.

Tulips
Two new models that would eventually become mainstays joined the Teisco line in ’65. Theye were two double cuts with slightly more flared horns, in a sort of tulip shape. Both had a single, wide, chrome-covered pickup with poles exposed along one edge. This was similar to the old MJ-1 but by ’65 would become the new SM series. Both had bolt-on necks with bound rosewood fretboards and the top-edge rectangular inlays. The E-100 had a bridge/tailpiece assembly, volume and tone on a small pickguard, and one of the elongated Strat-style heads. The ET-100 had a platform vibrato. As a sign of things to come, the Teisco Del Rey ET-100 had a regular Strat-style headstock, the first to appear on Teiscos, as far as I’m aware.

Finishes shown in the ’65 Teisco Del Rey catalog included a black/brown tobacco sunburst, a fire-engine red and a metallic silver. Many pickguards were brushed metal.

Another point to remember about ’65 Teisco Del Rey guitars. While, in reality, Japanese Teiscos were never too particular about consistency in headstock design, they at least tended to show consistency in the catalogs. The American Teisco Del Reys were even more varied, and the ’65 Teisco Del Rey catalog shows a mix of the Bizarro square Strat head (the most predominant), the new ’64 hooked design, and the older elongated Strat design. This is probably explained by the vicissitudes of stockpiles and shipping to the new American market. In any case, it makes it a bit harder to date these instruments.

One very interesting and strikingly modern Teisco guitar, the YG-6, appeared in Japan in 1965. It was very near the classic Strat shape, with offset double cutaways and Strat-like contours, but the horns were more pointed. The neck had the new hooked headstock and the rectangular edge inlays. A large multi-laminated pickguard stretched from the upper horn down to the lower bout control extension. Three large rectangular single-coil pickups, with chrome sides and black center insert (exposed poles) sat in front of a roller bridge and the clever platform vibrato design. Three on/off rocker switches sat above the strings, plus a small sliding switch, presumably a mute. It had one volume and one tone control, and is an exceptionally handsome guitar.

1965: Changing Their Stripes
A significant cosmetic change occurred in Japan in ’65, which can help determine dates. Previously, almost all models had plastic pickguards. In ’65, most models switched to striped metal guards, with the alternating matte stripes etched into the metal. Thus, if you find a guitar Teisco with a plastic guard, it’s probably from ’64 or early ’65. If it has a striped metal guard, it’s probably from ’65 or later.

’60s Bizarre Guitars shows a pair of full-size hollowbodies, our old friends the sunburst EP-14 and blonde EP-15. These remained consistent except for a sort of axe head-shaped plastic control assembly down on the lower bout, and a rather large, distinctively shaped elevated pickguard.

Period III: A New Spectrum of Originality
In 1966, Teisco guitars shed some of its adolescent awkwardness of the early ’60s in favor of a svelter, hipper look. While some of the tubby bodies and monkey grips remained, they were joined by leaner shapes, thin, pointed, flared cutaways and German carve contours. In many ways, the ’66 Teisco line is the quintessential year for Teisco, which is fitting since it would be the last under the original ownership.

There are, by the way, a number of discrepancies between Japanese Teisco and American Teisco Del Rey literature from 1966. Many of the older models continued to be promoted in Japan, but not in the U.S. Virtually all guitars in U.S. literature are also seen in Japanese catalogs. This does not mean that just because W.M.I. did not promote certain models, they were not still available in America. Many may have gone to Sears as Silvertones, and it’s possible that W.M.I. still brought in guitars other than those in its catalog.

Of course, the big news was the introduction of the Spectrum 5. This had a slim, highly contoured body with a pointed upper horn pointing up and a hooked lower horn. The body featured a German carve relief along the edge. The head was the new hooked kind from ’64-65, while inlays were triangular “picks,” sort of like Kays of the time. Pickguards were two-part plastic covering the entire area under the strings, with volume and tone controls and stereo and mono jacks. The “vegematic” push-buttons came in five groovy colors.

This guitar is cool enough to warrant an extensive quote from the ’66 Teisco Del Rey catalog hype: “The Spectrum ‘5’ Electric Guitar is one of the finest guitars ever produced. It has unique features which no other guitar in the world can match.

“Designing and making the Spectrum ‘5’ was a labor of love. It required infinite patience and craftsmanship to sculpture solid mahogany wood into the graceful and intricate design.

“The magnificent lustrous finish is the result of individual coats of hand rubbed lacquer not two or three coats but seven coats of lacquer individually hand rubbed.

“The trim which follows the contour of the body is inlaid by hand. A beautifully styled triple ply laminated pick guard protects all working surfaces.

“Spectrum ‘5’ has an unusually thin neck. To achieve the proper rigidity in this fast action neck Teisco had to select the hardest (and the costliest) material available…Ebony. The adjustable neck is fashioned out of 5 plys [sic] of laminated Ebony to insure maximum strength. The fingerboard of the Spectrum ‘5’ is likewise fashioned out of Ebony. Note the unique position markers and the extra wide, easy to finger frets.

“The name SPECTRUM ‘5’ was coined to denote five different basic color tones which can be produced with this unusual guitar. Flick any of the five self-cancelling switches and this amazing instrument will reproduce sounds ranging from treble to bass – any combination of switches can be played to achieve an infinite variety of sounds.

“What appears to be six pick-ups on the Spectrum ‘5’ are actually three split pick-ups to produce stereo. The Spectrum ‘5’ can be played monaurally or stereophonically at the flick of a switch. There are two channel outputs and a volume control for each channel.

“The tremolo tail assembly was engineered specifically for the Spectrum ‘5.’ The bridge is an integral part of the whole assembly and is, of course, universally adjustable. The marvel of it all, however, is that the tremolo does not exert any friction (hence no wear and tear) on the strings. The tremolo action causes the whole bridge assembly to move smoothly back and forth.

“No amount of time and expense has been spared to create the finest and most unique guitar in the world. Length 41″.”

Now you see why these Spectrum 5s are so desirable! It is not clear, by the way, how many (if any) were ever made with ebony necks. The few I’ve personally seen had maple necks. Certainly the expense of the ebony would have been enormous and hard to justify on the Teisco brand name. Also, with the density of ebony, the guitars probably would have been hard to balance. In any case, these are the Holy Grails of Teisco!

A companion to the Spectrum 5 guitar was a solidbody bass version with the Spectrum 5 body shape. This was the Teisco EBX-200/Teisco Del Rey EBX-200 Super Deluxe Bass. It had two small pickups with two center half-slots and two sliding on/off switches, with volume and tone and was described in the U.S. catalog as having the 5-ply ebony neck. The neck had the three-and-one hooked head and an ebony board with dots, not the picks.

K-cars (I mean guitars)
Situated just under the Spectrum 5 were the Teisco K guitars. Indeed, these Ks may have been introduced slightly before the Spectrums, since they appear in a 1966 Japanese Teisco brochure that does not contain the Spectrum. A second ’66 Japanese Teisco brochure contains both Ks and Spectrums. The K guitars were very similar in profile to the Spectrum, except that the horns were not curved, and flared out more or less equally in a more tulip shape, though still pointing slightly inward. These still had the German carve relief, 22-fret rosewood fingerboards, plus the new hooked headstocks. Inlays, however, were dots, and the vibratos were the more pedestrian Japanese version of the Bigsby. Pickguards were the new striped metal affairs introduced the year before, extending from above the strings down through the lower bout control area.

The K-4L (Teisco Del Rey ET-460 Super Deluxe) had four of the large, chunky, single-coil pickups with chrome sides and black center insert revealing six square poles. These were controlled by four sliding on/off switches, plus a 3-position switch for solo, rhythm and super bass sounds, as well as volume and tone. The roller bridge had a spring-loaded muffler/mute.

The K-3L (Teisco Del Rey ET-312 Deluxe) was similar to the K-4L except for having three pickups, two back by the bridge and one up at the neck, as if #3 had just been removed. This had the sliding on/off switches, another sliding switch for solo and rhythm tones, two volume and two tone controls.

The K-2L (Teisco Del Rey ET-230 Deluxe) was the two-pickup version, otherwise identical. This had two sliding on/off switches and the third solo/rhythm switch.

There was also a companion K bass, the KB-2 (Teisco Del Rey EB-220 Deluxe Bass), with the K body shape. This was pretty much a bass version of the Ks, with the thick rectangular pickups and striped metal pickguard.

A Little S & M
Also new in ’66 was the SM series, a variation on the E-100 and ET-100 introduced in the previous year, very similar to the Ks except the cutaway horns were flared outward in the classic Teisco “tulip” shape which would dominate later in the decade. These had fairly flat rectangular chrome-covered pickups, with a rectangular indentation stamped in the center and six flat round poles, plus to long half-slots along both outer edges. The SM-2L (Teisco Del Rey ET-210) had the hooked headstock, small striped metal pickguard along the lower body, two on/off sliders, volume, tone, roller bridge and Bigsby-style vibrato. The SM-2L retained the German carve relief of the K series. A plain-Jane SM-2 (Teisco Del Rey ET-200) followed, sans German carve, and with a bridge/tailpiece assembly. The SM-1 (Teisco Del Rey ET-110) had just a neck pickup with volume and tone controls, bridge/tailpiece assembly, no German carve or striped metal pickguard, and the Strat-style head of the previous ET-100.

The SM series, by the way, would spawn a number of descendents and eventually form the beginnings of the early ’70s imported Kay guitar line.

Solid Holdovers
Still available in Japan in ’66, but not promoted in the U.S. by Teisco Del Rey, were the Teisco TG-64 “monkey grip” guitar, its companion TB-64 bass, plus the similar non-grip NB-1 and NB-4 basses. The three-pickup TG-64 had a striped metal guard and the four-and-two hooked headstock with a metal plate on the front. The TB-64 probably still sported a plastic guard and three pickups. However, in the Japanese catalog from ’66, the TB-64 appears to be a 6-string bass, with an elongated variant of the hooked headstock with a rounded tip and a four-and-two tuner arrangement.

The same Japanese Teisco catalog from 1966 that introduced the K series, but not the Spectrums, also still features the boss TRG-1 guitar with a built-in amplifier and speaker. By the time the ’66 catalog featuring the Spectrum guitar and bass had appeared, the TRG-1 was no longer to be seen, so it probably bit the dust in early ’66.

Also still in the line in ’66 were our old friends, the MJ series. These were essentially unchanged except for a new striped metal guard, the new hooked headstock, and a new chrome-covered oval pickup with an oval indentation stamped in the center and six flat, round poles. Available were the MJ-3L (Teisco Del Rey ET-300), MJ-2L (promoted in Japan, but not the U.S.) and MJ-1 (Teisco Del Rey ET-120). The MJ-1 had a new on/off rocker switch and a second rocker for solo/rhythm. Promoted in Japan, but not the U.S., was the little BS-101 bass, pretty much unchanged from before.

Also promoted only in Japan were the old WG series. Still around in ’66 were the WG-2L, WG-3L and WG-4L, with striped metal guards and four-and-two hooked headstocks.

Ringing Hollow
The Teisco hollowbody line continued into 1966 with some interesting changes and additions. All were double cutaways, but gone were any traces of the single cuts of yore. New features included vibratos on the thinlines – something that, to my knowledge, had not previously been offered.

The top of the archtop line featured two very nifty new models called the Vegas 40 and Vegas 66. The Vegas 40 (Teisco Del Rey EP-11T) double-cutaway thinline was promoted both in Japan and the U.S. It was a full size ES-335-style with two pickups (the large rectangular type with chrome sides and black insert, square poles), bound f-holes, volume and tone controls on the lower bout (no plastic plate) and a fancy new angular archtop Bigsby and roller bridge. The pickup selector was a rotary switch on the lower horn with a new round knob with a lever (versus the old chicken beak). The bolt-on neck had a new three-and-three head with a flared “check mark” indentation in the top, with wide wings on either side, a shape that would characterize a number of other models later in the decade. The fingerboard was bound, with dots. On the Japanese version, the headstock carried a zippy new typeface proclaiming “Vegas 40,” while the pickguard used a similar angular script for the Teisco logo. The Teisco Del Rey carried its regular sticker.

Along side the Vegas 40 in the Japanese catalog (but not the Teisco Del Rey) was the Vegas 66, presumably named for the year. No descriptions of this are available, but it appeared to be almost identical to the Vegas 40. It cost just slightly more than its brother (1,000 yen), possibly due to better materials.

Even cooler was the ’66 Vibra Twin (Teisco Del Rey EP-12T), a twelve-string version of the Vegas. This had a slothead variation of the check mark head, with tuners facing alternatively out or back. The trapeze tail picked up the same angular design of the Vegas vibrato. Despite the Del Rey number, the EP-12T did not have a vibrato. The Teisco Del Rey in the ’66 catalog differs from the Vibra Twin shown in ’60s Bizarre Guitars in that it adds a third rotary select for solo/rhythm/bass sound tones, whereas the Teisco omitted this feature. Figure on finding either.

Another swell new hollowbody for ’66 was the EP-200L (Teisco Del Rey EP-10T Deluxe). This had an offset double-cutaway body basically like a Strat, with offset waist and a groovy single f-hole shaped like a stylized T. It also had the hooked four-and-two head, dots, twin square-poled pickups, roller bridge and Bigsby, and an elevated pickguard and semicircular control plate on the lower bout. Controls included two on/off rockers and a third solo/rhythm rocker, with volume and tone.

The EP-200B Bass was a hollowbody bass version of the EP-200L (for once, both sides of the Pacific used the same number!), with standard f-holes, trapeze tail, volume, tone, and simple rotary select with the new chrome lever knob.

In the ’66 American Teisco Del Rey Catalog, the small, humble EP-9T was left over from before (formerly EP-9), with the quasi-Gibson style head and triangular control plate. The only thing new was the Bigsby (thus the T). In the ’66 Japanese catalog, the small thinlines were represented by the EP-2L and EP-1L. The EP-2L looks for all the world like the EP-9T, with the large rectangular pickups with black inserts, controls on the triangular lower bout plate, and a long-armed trapeze vibrato with a curved handle. The EP-1L was the same except for having a single metal-covered pickup at the neck.

Hula Bula
Hawaiian lap steels are not in the American Teisco Del Rey catalog, however, five laps remained in the ’66 Japanese Teisco catalog. Still available was the Harp-8, an 8-string console with two pickups and some sort of electronics controlled by four floor pedals. Still around were the H-39, the H-905 and the self-amplified TRH-1. Also available was the H-850, a single-pickup 6-string very similar to the H-905.

Powered up
Amps offered by Teisco in the ’60s can sometimes be confusing, because they were a mix of tube and solidstate, and sometimes particular models shift back and forth. Amps promoted in the U.S. tended to be solid state, whereas many amps promoted in Japan were mainly tube.

At least eleven solidstate Checkmate amps were offered in U.S. Teisco Del Rey catalogs in ’66: the 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 25, 50, 100C and Infinite. These were basically rectangular cabinets with dark tolex covering and large checkered grillcloths with the Teisco Del Rey and Checkmate logos on either corner. Controls were front-mounted.

Specs for combos were as follows: Checkmate 10 (6 watts, 6″ speaker, two inputs, striped grillcloth); Checkmate 12 (9 watts, 8″ speaker, three inputs); Checkmate 14 (14 watts, 8″ speaker, three inputs, tremolo); Checkmate 17 (20 watts, 10″ speaker, tremolo, reverb); Checkmate 16 bass amp (20 watts, 10″ speaker, volume, tone); Checkmate 17 (20 watts, 10″ speaker, reverb, tremolo); Checkmate 18 (30 watts, two 10″ speakers, reverb, tremolo); and Checkmate 20 (40 watts, 12″ speaker, reverb, tremolo). Piggyback amps included the Checkmate 25 (50 watts, 15″ speaker, reverb, tremolo); Checkmate 50 (two-channels, 100 watts, two 15″ speakers, reverb, tremolo, “E tuner”); Checkmate 100C (two channels, voice input, 200 watts, two 15″ speakers, reverb, tremolo); and the big hugger-mugger Checkmate Infinite (200 watts, two 15″ speakers, stereo/mono preamp section, reverb, tremolo and a bunch of other switches). The one shown in the catalog actually has a block Teisco logo and carried the Japanese-marketed name – King – in the lower corner.

The 1966 Japanese Teisco catalog shows several additional amps, including the Teisco-88 combo (8 watts), Checkmate-15 combo (15 watts), and the Bass Note combo bass amp. These were tube amps.

The Japanese catalog also shows a number of neat Teisco accessories, including guit

This entry was posted in Classic Instruments. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.