Mid 60's Teisco BS-101

Being not much of a bass player I love short scale basses. I don't own a lot of basses but nearly all I do are short scale. Mosrites, Rics (well, medium scale) and Mustangs and a few more odds and ends.

But, when it comes to short scale, there's short, and then there's these.

The Teisco BS-101 came out in 1963 and is basically the bass version of the MJ guitar series. It has a small solid timber body with asymmetrical double cutaways and short scale, bolt on thin neck and feels very small for a bass, because, it's basically the guitar version made as a bass from the factory.

The scale is a woping 24.75" which at first seems a little ... silly for a bass, but ...

 

Once you get over the fact that it's so small it actually feels and sounds pretty great. Obviously it doesn't punch like a P bass but it was never meant to compete in that arena. These early 60's Teiscos, and all budget Japanese guitars from this period, were meant to get people playing and be able to supply demand with something of good quality, for a good price. 

 

With this plugged into a bass amp it does a pretty good impression of a bass and it's SO easy to play. You kind of forget you're playing a bass except it has more bottom end than a guitar. 

The single gold foil pickup is nice and punchy but not high output so it has great frequency response. The bridge is a very rudimentary two saddle unit with intonation and height adjustment on each saddle. The cover, which is usually missing off these hides the folded steel bridge and has a foam mute mounted to the underside. 

 

Early versions had a more Fender headstock and the typical early neck plate that ran from the body to the neck heal. These slightly later ones had the standard 4 bolt neck plate with the serial/model number plate underneath. 

 

This one would be around '65 and has the stripped scratchplate and 3/1 headstock, but still has the top block fretboard inlays which went to dots soon after. 

This one is all original and in pretty good condition overall. It still has the Teisco badge on the headstock and original knobs and bridge cover, most of which are usually long gone.

It plays really well and like I said, feel like a guitar because, well, it is a guitar, strung like a bass. It is also A LOT of fun running through an old Japanese fuzz pedal and can be "beefed up" considerably with effects. 

 

I have an original Mosrite Celebrity bass with a 24.5" scale which is also a joy to play and sounds a little more .... bassy being a hollow body but the idea is the same. For people with small hands, learning, or just for guitarists playing bass these are really fun. Sure, you look like a giant, but it's a lot of fun. 

Oct 13 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan