Teisco – King of the knock-off guitar

The Teisco brand name stands for Tokyo Electric Instrument and Sound Company. Teisco was founded by Renowned Hawaiian and Spanish Guitarist Atswo Kaneko and Electrical engineer Doryu Matsuda. The company was originally called ‘Aoi Onpa Kenkyujo’ meaning (Hollyhock Soundwave or Electricity Laboratories). In 1956 the company name was changed to ‘Nippon Onpa Kogyo Co’ then changed to Teisco in 1964.

Teisco - King of the knock-off guitar

The Vintage Electric Guitar

In 1967 the company was aquired by the Kawai Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. They discontinued the name Teisco for guitars but used it for their keyboard brand until the 80’s. In the USA Teisco guitars were imported with at least eight brand names.

Cheaper Than a Jaguar or a Jazzmaster

Teisco - guitar

When the strings are attacked from behind the bridge, a third bridge sound is created. It was unconventional and unorthodox but made Tesco guitars were very popular & cool in the 90’s as an alternative for the Fender’s Jaguar (used for the Surf Sound) or the Jazzmaster which were starting to become popular with collectors. Teisco also produced guitar amps and a six string bass similar to Fender Bass VI. It used a Fender style headstock with an oversize scroll.

Fender Features on The Japanese Guitars

For some, Teisco, was the king of the Knock-off guitars and are truly considered an oddity and for years ridiculed as cheap. Still, like the vintage Harmony guitars and Kay guitars, were the instrument that today’s musicians weaned on. It was the guitar they learned their first chops on. Times change and some of the cheap Japanese guitars that sold in the states for $59.00 now can fetch $400.00 and some like Teisco Del Spectrum above $1500.00. So check the attic out, you never know.

The most famous Gibson Guitar – The Les Paul

That’s quite a feat when you think of it. Fender did it with the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision bass. Gibson got all the right eggs in their basket with the Les Paul solid body.

Why Les Paul

The then revolutionary concept of a solid body guitar was being pursued on a number of fronts. One Lester Polsfuss, of Waukesha, Wisconsin made one out of a length of 4X4, a railroad sleeper so he says. Les says he played it in a club (under his stage name Les Paul of course) and folks were confused. So he added guitar-like wings and they accepted it a little better. He took this design to Gibson around 1945 but they weren’t happy with it. They remembered Les however. This was not surprising as he had become a very famous recording artist and they recognized the marketing value of an association with him. It was with this in mind that Gibson approached Les in 1951 with a proposition. They had been working on a solid body electric guitar design and wanted to put his name on the headstock as a promotional tool. Not surprisingly, Les wanted to at least have some say in the design of the guitar. It is unclear exactly how much say he had, but there is agreement that the trapeze tail-piece and the gold top were Les Paul design contributions to the Les Paul solid body electric guitar.

What are the features of a Les Paul guitar

The 1952 Gold Top Les Paul guitar featured a carved top, a one piece “trapeze style” tail-piece/bridge assembly, and two P-90 pickups with creme colored plastic guards. The mahogany and maple construction made the guitar very heavy and, to be truthful, Les Pauls from the period ’52 to ’57 are not great instruments. They are, however, very collectible guitars. In 1954 Gibson made a guitar that has become known as the Black Beauty though its official designation is Les Paul Custom. This guitar with its black top, fitted with Gibson’s new tune-o-matic bridge and a better neck pickup, is a genuine contender in the “best guitar of all time” polls.

Teisco guitar musical instrument

The Les Paul, unlike the iconic Fender Strat and Tele, appeared in very different configurations, though the one that’s generally thought of as the Les Paul is the Gold Top/Custom single cutaway, carved top instrument. Here are some of the variations:

The Les Paul Junior has a flat top and single pickup.

The Les Paul TV was essentially a Junior with a “natural” finish (actually more like a see through mustard color), that worked better on black and white TV.

The Les Paul Special was a two pickup version of the Junior, normally seen in the TV color.

In 1958 the Junior, TV and Special were offered with a double cutaway, giving a radically different overall look.

The beginning of the end.

Finally, in 1961, Gibson went one step too far for the man whose signature appeared on the headstock. They made an instrument with two horn like cutaways, a very light body and a vibrato system. When Les saw one of these he demanded they take his name off it. Thus, the man and the company parted ways for some years and the new guitar was dubbed the SG (solid guitar). Angus Young is very glad things happened this way.

Les Paul and Gibson made up in the late sixties but the golden era for Les Paul guitars was over.

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