1964 Teisco WG-4L

I've written a bit about Teisco before as, well, I love them.

Teisco was one of the biggest Japanese factories making guitars in the "boom time" in Japan, but was one of the older, and original of the big names having been started slightly later than Guyatone (Tokyo Sound Co) but both factories were located in the same neighbourhood of Tokyo. 

Building electric guitars from the early 50's, their early solid bodies were, crude in design and build and were loosely based on Gibson designs, but by the end of the 50's they were making medium quality solid bodies that were starting to be exported, mainly to the US.

At this stage both Guyatone and Teisco bodies were made in the same factory but by the early 60's they moved production to the Fugijen factory for higher volume production. There were issues with some quality control and several key players in the market set up the Teisco Gen Gakki factory to make all timber products for Teisco (which would get ... confusing later) and by the early 60's solid body production was in full swing.

These early solid bodies were of better quality and started to follow more "Fender" shapes with guitars like the T-60 (well before Peavey) that was famous for being used to great effect by Glen Campbell. The SD followed with a slightly more conventional "offset" shape which led into the WG series. 

In 1964 Teisco were producing lots of guitars in lots of shapes and the WG series started selling, and exporting really well. They were available in 2, 3 and 4 pickup versions. 

Very early versions still had the "hooked fender" style headstock which then moved quickly to this squared off 6 a side headstock with later ones having the classic 4/2 Teisco headstock that we know and love. These very early versions also had the currect Teisco single coil pickups which were plastic covers with rounded ends.

 

Early versions also had a plain aluminium scratchplate like this, which changed to the classic stripped metal plates in around '65 with the 4/2 headstock. The WG was the model shape number, the 4 was the number of pickups and the L designates the vibrato, which in this case is the earlier "platform" style vibrato used across the line for the 4 pickup versions. Here's some pics of a slightly later version with the features described.

These are well made guitars using typical Fender style construction although the design is still a "little" clunky compared to US guitars at the time, Within a few years Japan would go on to prove they could design great looking guitars but for the early to mid 60's it was still mostly about approximating popular US designs.

 

They generally need a fairly good set up and shimming the neck always helps. The (very) small frets and large round necks sometimes turn people off immediately but if you persist, they actually become very comfortable, very quickly. The vibratos work well and the bridge on these "upper" models is actually very effective. 

 

But the thing about these is ..... those pickups. These Teisco pickups are amazing and the options with switching on these gives you SO many amazing tones. ON/OFF switches for each pickup with a "tone choke" mini switch along with master volume and tone controls can make this sound like a thin Tele to a huge Les Paul. The option of all 4 pickups on is actually amazing for jazz style clean playing and many great guitarists have utilised these pickups (and guitars) to great effect.

This one is a little beaten up but after a full service and set up plays and sounds great. A lot of these have had a heard time over the years as there was a time when they were worth almost nothing. Relegated to the cheap "not even worth owning" category for many year. But people are starting to see the appeal in these early, well made Japanese guitars for what they are. This guitar is over 50 years old and is still all original and working. That shows the sort of quality we're talking about here. You can bet that cheap "insert country" made guitar you buy new off the wall today won't still be all original and fully functional in over 50 years.

 

Aug 19 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan