As you all know I've written pretty extensively about Teisco in the past. A quick search on my site will bring up MANY pages of blogs and stuff for sale. It's no exaggeration to say I'm a huge fan.
I have written about these "monkey grip" TG-64's before as I have owned (and still own) quite a few over the years but I haven't done a blog on these early "grey pickup" versions before, so ...
The WG series entered the market slightly before the TG series and is a little more "industrial" looking with the new Offset look taking over Japan around this time. The earlier T60's had been a very Jag/JM influenced shape and the SD had been more European (Framus) influenced but by around '64 Teisco was making A LOT of guitars and needed new and fresh shapes to fill the catalogues, and price ranges.
The TG-64 was introduced in 1964 and was the most expensive guitar in the Teisco catalogue, being beaten in price only by the TB-64, the bass version of this guitar. The TG-64 was 22,000 yen it was over twice the price of the BS-101 at the time, and with good reason.
This year was not only a huge step up in manufacturing numbers for Teisco but also for quality as they had their sites set on larger export markets like the US which was secured less than a year later with W.M.I in Chicago signing the exclusive rights to bring Teiscos into the country in large numbers.
It was also the year of the now famous 4/2 headstock and the TG-64 was one of the first to sport it. Previous headstocks had been a more squared off look on this slightly earlier WG but soon most Teiscos would have the great 4/2 headstock with plain aluminium scratchplate and matching headstock plate.
This is a particularly early example of the Monkey Grip TG-64 having the rare, quite short lived grey bobbin pickups. These were introduced in '64 and appeared on a very few TG, TB and WG models before being replaced with the (more famous) square pole piece pickups. While I'ma huge fan of the square pole pickups (as I've stated in many previous blogs) these have a tone unique to these models, and Teisco. They are medium output and have great volume and a real clarity to them that probably is most reminiscent of a P-90.
While the catalogues in '64 (and '65 in the US) feature these pickups on all three of these models, they didn't last long and may have been seen as being a bit "unfinished" looking for a high end guitar with chrome and aluminium everywhere. The metal square pole pickups certainly look more exotic and upmarket.
While the specs of this guitar are very similar to the others I've owned and sold, these early pickups, plain aluminium scratchplate (stripped plates came in in '65) and the earlier vibrato all make this one kind of special to a Teisco nut like me.
The other big difference is the small control plate for the output jack. These early versions have the TONE control on the main scratchplate and the VOL on the smaller black plate with the output jack. This was changed soon after to both controls and the jack all being on the smaller plate.
In '65 these got the stripped plate and the deluxe fully adjustable Teisco bridge and new improved vibrato. The red one in the other blog mentioned before is a transition one with a "mistake plate" over the routs for the previous (this version) vibrato while moving into the new style. These plates appeared on several Teisco models in '65/66.
With the improved bridge and vibrato the newer model also got upgraded tuners and of course the square pole pickups so versions like this are a real find for vintage Japanese guitar nuts as the TG-64 in this configuration was made for less than a year and it was the most expensive guitar in the catalogue meaning a lot less were sold and although I've owned a couple (well, a few) of this spec model, it is the hardest to find on the market.
These play well and sound great. Tesico were really starting to make great guitars by '64 and would go on to make some of my all time favourite guitars and supply a generation of budding guitarists, both in Japan and overseas with good quality guitars for another three years when Kawai bought Teisco and integrated the two (well, a few other brands as well) big names into a huge company.
These TG-64's stand as a short lived model that showed Japans ever changing and always improving guitar manufacturing process throughout the sixties and beyond.