Teisco K4L

I've written about the K series Teiscos a few times, but I thought I'd do something a little different with this blog since I have had these 2 here waiting to go on the site after getting cleaned up and serviced.

The K4L is of course the 4 pickup version of the K2 and K3, also known as Teisco (and Silvertone) ET-460 in the US and ran for about 5 years from the mid 60's. In the late 90's Teisco (Kawai) re-issued some of their favourite old designs and the K series was one of them, along with the May Queen and the Spectrum.


The standard K series version was the K-56 with the same body and neck, with cheaper hardware and available in a choice of metallic colours and 3 chrome covered mini humbuckers. The K4L was a more historically accurate, more expensive re-issue of the original 60's version. While the K-56 cost 56.000 JY (in 2000) the K4L, which was listed as a "1966 Re-issue" was a whopping 150.000 JY. This was the price of having a historically correct, modern manufactured high-quality guitar.

By 2000 the Teisco catalogue showed several more re-issues in the TG-50 (the monkey grip 64), the BS-36 (the BS-101) and the May Queen and Spectrum in different versions like the K4 in the 1966 Re-issue May Queen (150.000 JY), the MQ-56 (56.000 JY) and the MQB-58 bass (58.000 JY) along with the SP-5 1966 Re-issue (160.000 JY), the SP-65, the SP-62 and the SPB-200 bass (120.000 JY) 

So, with the opportunity to have 2 original K4L guitars side by side I thought I'd write a quick (yeah right ...) blog about the difference between the original and the re-issue.


As I've said before by the mid 60's Teisco was making some great quality guitars, especially in their higher end models and the K series was a great guitar in design and execution. While the K2L had cheaper hardware (bridge, tailpiece and tuners) it essentially had the same good quality body and multi laminate neck. The K3L and K4L had the higher quality very smooth vibrato and "hanging" bridge (also featured on some higher end Matsumoku made guitars) and of course had more pickups 'cause more is always better, right?

The originals play well and sound GREAT with these wonderful square pole pickups. The necks are thin and very playable, and all feature the beautiful 4/2 headstock. The only issue some original 60's versions have is for some people the frets may be a little low and small but coming from the Mosrite world this doesn't bother me (in fact I see it as a plus) at all.


The re-issue is a wonder to behold with essentially being the same guitar but with modern manufacturing and very high-quality hardware all based squarely on the original. Kawai did an amazing job with these higher end re-issues and every one I've played has been GREAT.

The original (3.5KG) and re-issue (3.7KG) both weigh about the same and have almost identical neck profiles with the re-issue having bigger (more modern) frets and a slightly thicker rosewood fretboard. The tuners on the re-issue are also modern geared but the overall "feel" is one of almost a mirror image.


I haven't poked around inside the re-issue pickups like I have with the originals, but they sound identical so if Kawai didn't use the original designs, they did a great job in recreating the original sound and look.


This original is a '65 (maybe early '66) with the blank aluminium scratchplate and has its original hardcase while the re-issues, all being "1966" have the great stripped plates and they did a great job of getting the switches, knobs and hardware exactly right.  


I'm a huge fan of the K-56 as it made a great looking guitar play and sound like a modern instrument with a great vintage look and those modern Firebird style mini humbuckers. I've owned a bunch of originals and re-issue Teiscos over the years and while I love both versions for what they are, these modern re-issues are probably more playable and these higher end "1966 Re-issues" sound and play GREAT. 

Much like the originals these re-issues lasted "about" 5 years and were gone with the more basic, cheaper models selling really well while these higher end re-issues were probably just too dear for the market they were aimed at? when these "66 re-issue" K4L, May Queen and SP5s turn up on the market now they tend to fetch as much, or even more than the originals and with good reason. They're a great quality modern guitar that looks like a beautiful mid 60's bizarre guitar.

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