Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Invasion of the Japanese Guitars

Warning:  Those of you familiar with my Two Wheels blog know how I can geek out about bicycles.  Be forewarned that I am fully capable of doing the same in regards to guitars.
In the past month, I have acquired three vintage 1960s Japanese electric guitars.  All three were acquired at less than the going market price, for which I am grateful.  I am not the only one who appreciates these things, it seems, and the prices are well above the $5.00 to $20.00 I paid for similar instruments back in the late 70s/early 80s.

The first guitar I got, from eBay, is this nice Teisco ET-220 (Electric Tremelo 2-pickups),  also called the Spectrum 2.  The Teisco DelRey nameplate is missing from the headstock, so I have to assume the previous owner did not know the brand, nor did the "we sell your junk on eBay" company which listed it.  I happened to see the listing, but I think the Teisco collectors must have all missed it, since I got it for less than half of what a similar model sold for in the same week.

The Spectrum guitars have cool pickups with offset treble and bass pole-pieces.  Plus, they have the nice, flower engraved, pickguards for which the Teisco DelRey is famous.

The nicely bound headstock still shows the mark from the missing nameplate.

The ET-220 arrived complete with this cool vintage strap, as well.  I have seen these go for $25.00, on their own, lately.

This is the guitar for which I traded the ROAD amp.  It was presented to me as a Teisco, and while I am sure it was built in the Tokyo Electrical Instrument and Sound Company facility, I don't know if it was branded as a Teisco.  I have never seen a Teisco E-100 with the polished aluminum pickguard, but everything else matches up.  Of course, Teisco sold guitars with many, many different brand names to different importers/department stores/music store chains in the 1960s.

This guitar has the thickest, most baseball bat-like neck I have ever seen, which is good since it has no truss rod.

This mystery guitar, which I got in between getting the other two, shares a lot of features with the E-100-type guitar, above.  But, it also has some differences.

Other than the obvious difference in body profile, and two pickups rather than one, the neck on the mystery guitar is not nearly as thick as the E-100 neck.  And, it is a semi-set neck, rather than a pure bolt-on. 

Under that 5-bolt plate are two bolts holding the neck to the body.  There also appears to be some glue involved in the joint, as well.

Click this picture for the big version, and you can see the difference in neck thicknesses and profiles between the two guitars.

The pickups are identical, between the two, as are the tailpieces.

As usual, the two rocker switches are in bad shape.  I'll probably replace them with toggle switches, since I can't find replacements for the rockers.

I can't find a picture of an exact match for this guitar, but I have found some similar ones branded as "Winston" and "Zen-On".  I suspect that the E-100 was the same, due to the polished pickguard.

I plan on trying to get this one in as good shape as the E-100.  I stuck the one string and a bridge on it, just to see if the electronics work, and the tone is great, as it sits.  I think it will make a nice player, once it's spiffed up a bit.


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