Late 60's Teisco Spectrum 2 ET-220

The Teisco Spectrum is more famous for the top of the line big sibling to this model that was the magnificent Spectrum 5, which was in fact the deluxe version of the Spectrum SP62.

The humble little Spectrum 2 was a more conventional design and construction making it a more affordable way of getting in the "Spectrum" series. The ET-220 here is the 2 pickup version and there was a 4 pickup version (ET-440) and a (much rarer) short scale bass.

Initially these were manufactured for about a year by Teisco Gen Gakki until the Kawai takeover in '67 and then they were made in the Kawai factory in Hamamatsu where they were made until their demise in the early 70's.

Early ones had a one piece Asian mahogany neck with the Teisco crown logo badge, or Teisco Del Ray in the US, on the very "Fender" headstock shape not used on many Teiscos at the time. Once Kawai took over production the necks became the standard multi laminate necks as used by Kawai (and later Teisco Gen Gakki) at the time. This makes for a very strong twist free neck but is looked on as somehow being a "cheap" construction method. These necks rarely have issues 30 years later.

 

The Spectrum 2 was available with rosewood fretboards with dots, dots and binding or blocks and binding with no real indication of why. They were all listed as ET-220's but the dots and binding seems to be earlier (Teisco manufactured) necks with the blocks and binding being standard on the 440's and probably used on the 220 to keep up with demand of the cheaper model at the time. Kawai made versions tend to have just dots probably to keep production costs and times down.

 

These are a thin laminated body obviously influenced by Fender but with a really nice aesthetic twist. The Rickenbacker recess for the vibrato is a nice touch and the metallic red finish on this one, and others I've owned, is superb. 

The scratchplates had an intricate floral design printed on them, which would be a feature on some Kawai guitars soon after. Teisco/Kawai also made the E110/ET220 (1 pickup/2 pickups with Vibrato) guitars which were a tulip style body with a floral design printed on the plates in '68/69 with the same headstock but more common pickups. The floral print has mostly worn off this actual guitar but it can be seen when caught in the light. 

 

The pickups are very cool being not particularly high output at just under 5K and have plenty of sparkle and output. They are proudly branded as SPECTRUM pickups with a kind of Fender WRHB feel with 3 treble and 3 bass pole pieces evident. 

The bridge is the standard non intonatable affair used by a few manufacturers around this time with adjustment for height and string spacing but not, intonation. They generally work well until you get higher up the board. The vibrato is the heavy duty version used in the later sixties and is an excellent unit based on the Mosrite vibrato. 

 

The knobs aren't original and it's missing the headstock badge but it still looks great and plays really well. These are such smooth playing guitars and those pickups are very cool. They have more a Fender vibe but with their own character. The vibrato arm and spring have been changed as well but these are purely functional and work as the original.

  

If I was going to get serious about this guitar the only thing I'd change is the bridge to a more adjustable one, but I say that with most of these vintage Japanese guitars that feature this bridge. They're very well made and in this late 60's period Kawai was making great guitars for the money, that weren't, yet, just copies of US brands and still had some of that great Japanese design greatness. 

Oct 07 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan