Late 60's Teisco Vegas 40

I have of course written a lot about Teisco in the past and even though I've owned a few of these, I've never written about them, so ....

The Vegas was introduced in 1966 by Teisco who were on an absolute roll when it came to guitar manufacturing in Japan. They were one of the biggest brands and probably the best known overseas. They had been making hollowbody electrics since the 50's but in '66 they got a complete overhaul with double cutaway hollows now being offered and the Teisco Vegas 40 and 66 were the top of the line hollowbodies in the catalogue and only 1,000 yen apart in price. The only hollowbody dearer than this was the 12 string version with slotted Ric style headstock sold as the '66 Vibra Twin.

The only difference was the thickness of the body with the 40 being 40mm thick and the 66 being, you guessed it .... no ... 60mm thick. 

 

Let me start by saying this is a BIG body. I've owned 66's and they're a BIG guitar and even this thinner, more comfortable version still feels big. 

It's a thick laminated archtop and back body body with top and back binding and bound F holes. The quality and finish is superb as to be expected from the Teisco factory by this stage and this being the top of the line. 

The bolt on neck is set into the sometimes used pocket with sides that some Japanese manufacturers used and is attached with four screws into a thick metal plate hidden under the plastic plate you see here. It's a very strong and accurate joint but the square heel and pocket sides may deter some people from heading up the dusty end?

 

This one has the earlier Teisco made big bar magnet pickups that are clear and wonderful with great output. Later versions had the square pole piece type after the Kawai takeover in '67. Some had mixed hardware as the transition happened and this one has the same tuners as my Excetro and Honey guitars that were made in the Tesico Gen Gakki (NOT Teisco) factory but all the other hardware is pure Teisco. 

 

These vibratos appeared in '66 as all the hollowbodies got vibratos as well. The "cut down" version of this vibrato was used on solid bodies without the "fake" tailpiece and it's basically a Mosrite unit in squarer, less aesthetically pleasing form, although, like the Mosrite unit it works very well.

The bridge is the same as the more upmarket solid bodies with adjustment for height and intonation. It adjusts from the top for height with four screws that "pull" the bridge up on two metal housings on each side rather than "pushing" from below.

The neck is rock maple with a bound rosewood fretboard and is super thin/flat. This era Teisco in the upper range had amazing necks and this one is no exception. The bound flared end headstock is beautiful but unfortunately this one is missing the original badge. 

 

The pickups are run through a standard master volume, tone and three way rotary switch which doesn't have it's original selector knob but works fine. Everything else is original although it has, at some stage, had a small access hole neatly cut in the back to work on the (original) electronics, which doesn't change the tone and playability of the guitar and makes it easier when/if you ever do have to work on the pots. It's the only thing that detracts (slightly) from the original guitar and it never bothered me, so it might not bother you? The original scratchplate is unfortunately gone as well as it was common to remove these. 

 

These were imported into the US in reasonable numbers but seem to be getting harder to find now. They were also sold under the Silvertone brand name there through the Sears catalogue for a couple of years or as the Teisco Del Rey EP-11T with a different, futuristic Vegas 40 or 66 logo on the headstock.

These are GREAT, well made hollow bodies that play and sound great. They are starting to become more collectible in Japan as collectors realize how good these top of the line Teiscos really were. 

This one will be in the shop on Sunday along with a bunch of other stuff.

 

Mar 09 2018 Written By: Tim Brennan