There are plenty of things to consider when buying a guitar – how it looks, how it holds up over time, and of course, how it sounds are all very important.
Still, it’s easy to look past the electric hardware and beyond the body design, with eyes fixating right atop the headstock.
Why is this?
Because buyers have become accustomed to shopping by brand value alone, meaning the bigger names usually see more interest from consumers.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing – humans like to be able to identify things quickly. It’s a common need of our species to order our options and link things with others for the sake of familiarity. If you’re buying a brand that millions of others have already purchased from and gotten good results off of, you may feel a little more secure.
But what about buying from lesser-known brands?
The flip side of shopping only by brand value is that you could miss out on a lesser-known gem. Stumbling upon a rare find that offers a unique look and a competitive price is something musicians love – as do collectors.
This is why Teisco guitars are worth checking out.
But what does this brand offer? And is it worth your money to invest, or should you pass and seek other brands instead?
Teisco Guitars: A Japanese-Made Brand with Retro Flare
During the 1960s, many music genres and studios had almost completely abandoned their acoustic instruments for electrics. The era of amplification was in full effect, and although acoustic instruments would make an eventual comeback, this period saw many electric guitar manufacturers rise to prominence.
Teisco guitars, also known as Teisco Del Ray guitars, were created in this time period in Japan. They had everything instruments of the time needed – electronic components, eye-catching body shapes, and unique design choices. It was a time when electric instruments were viewed as the bringer of the next generation of music, so an out-of-this-world design meant more appeal.
The body design of many Teisco guitars is reminiscent of the Fender Jazzmaster and other similarly styled instruments. An angular body with exaggerated cutaways wasn’t exactly a rare find in this era, and still isn’t – other instrument makers like Danelectro use the same style.
But what about the performance and the price, though?
Are the two close enough to make this brand worth looking at?
And because it is a bit dated, does that factor into the decision of whether or not to buy?
While some people prefer to buy the latest and purportedly greatest instrument released on the market, others find value in older models. Maybe it’s the vintage vibes or the retro style, but this old-school design is something many musicians and collectors appreciate.
A Great Find for Retro Instrument Enthusiasts?
There’s a big market for retro products – classic cars, antique furniture, and even vintage musical instrument can be a gem in any collection.
While not all Teisco guitars are in the same price range, some can go for hundreds while others fetch thousands. Why the disparity?
The answer is simple – some of the body types used in the Teisco line are almost impossible to find elsewhere. They’re not hugely popular among other guitar manufacturers and their rarity means they’ve seldom been copied or used to model new brands after.
One-of-a-kind instruments (or those that are close to it) can fetch a lot of money. Teisco guitars with rarely seen body shapes and design styles make it easy to see why some of them are worth $1,000 or more.
But retro guitars are also known for something else – their vintage sound.
Older guitars usually have older pickups provided they haven’t been updated or modified. Therefore, a person who wants to get their hands on an instrument that sounds noticeably different than most modern models could also benefit from finding a brand like Teisco.
So for a collector, would an instrument that costs a couple grand be worth it?
Depending on said collector’s budget, this type of brand is perfect as an addition to any collection. Finding something that looks and sounds special can make any collector’s day and give them bang for their buck.
What about how the Teisco line appeals to guitarists on a budget?
Though it’s hard to create a good collection without a big bank balance, not everyone wants to do this. For some people, they want to find a solid guitar for getting their musical aspirations started or even for traveling.
Any instrument that costs less is usually safer to travel with, as a few dings won’t constitute a big loss of money.
So does the brand offer anything for guitarists on a budget?
Sure, modern brands offer starter and travel guitars in a comfortable price range of a few hundred dollars or less. But does Teisco offer anything similar?
Unique Choices for Guitarists on a Budget
Teisco can certainly offer some great options for guitar and instrument collectors.
But what about those people who don’t want to spend a sum as high as four figures?
Consider how practice guitars or beginner guitars are viewed. They should be affordable but should also offer a good sound and look.
A model like the Teisco ET-200 fits the bill perfectly. Coming in at just around the $200 price range, this guitar is perfect for someone who is just starting out or who wants a rare vintage treat that doesn’t break the bank.
This model has the type of unique body style and sunburst finish that screams “old school.”
Combine this with a unique tailpiece, decorative pickguard, and even retro-style controls, and you’ve got a solid value-based purchase option to consider.
If you’re looking for something that is out of the ordinary and offers old-world charm for a very reasonable price, this is a great guitar to consider.
This is just one of the guitars Teisco has in this price range. As with most guitars from their line, this one was in production during the 1960s. And while the low price indicates the pickups and setup aren’t anything that will greatly enhance your sound, it does open you up to some creative options.
Let’s say you buy a model like this – then put some work into it. If you’re not a luthier, you can always hire one.
Modifying old-school guitars with updated hardware is a great way to get the perfect combination of vintage looks and modern playability.
Old-School Guitars as a Modern Template
Most guitarists take great pride in the features their instrument has. The finish, the pickups, and even the action setup all play a big role in how the guitar performs and provides value to the musician.
But just because a guitar is old doesn’t mean it has to look like it – or sound like it.
A person who buys a guitar from Teisco may want to keep the antique-style bridge piece and pickguard.
But what about the pickups?
It’s possible to swap them out for a set of modern humbuckers and give this blast from the past a modern roar.
Some pickups may require a little bit of body work and wiring rerouting to make things work. But under the skilled eye of a talented luthier, it is possible to make sure the instrument maintains its vintage appearance with modifications.
Even the neck could be set up, the fretboard redone, and minor body imperfections doctored.
These are just a few of the ways a person may modify a budget guitar from Teisco. This is a great way to get a unique looking instrument that sounds great without spending a lot of money. For those who are on a budget, using a Teisco as is or enhanced can be a great choice.
Is this brand worth your money?
Should you check out the line and maybe even look into turning one of their cheaper guitars into a personal project?
The Final Verdict: Teisco is a Hidden Gem
Whether you’re looking for the type of rare guitar that makes a great addition to any collection or a solid starter model with a retro flare, Teisco is a great band to consider.
Often overlooked as their line was in production over a decade ago, Teisco is the type of rare line that doesn’t get a lot of notoriety.
But this can also speak to their value – and their hard-to-find design style.
Whether as a standalone model used as it is or a guitar that is destined for numerous upgrades, a low-cost Teisco model is a great option to try.
If you’re looking for a solid beginner guitar with pickups geared toward modern songs, you could probably find a starter pack from Fender (Squire) or Gibson (Epiphone) for around the same price as a low-cost Teisco.
But those starter packs include guitars that don’t offer that vintage style. When you want to get an instrument from yesteryear that either adds a lot of collection or gives you a ton of value, look into Teisco guitars.