Mid 60's Teisco MJ2L

I know, you're saying how much can you write about Teisco? Well, a lot more it seems.

I know I've covered A LOT of Teisco models in this blog but there's still A LOT more to talk about and these little MJ2Ls were not only reasonably common, but one of my first introductions to the brand. 

This model appeared as early as 1962 and formed from the J series guitars from the previous year which was a slightly more symmetrical, yet simple shape and fittings like these initially were. The early MJ2 was a 2 pickup without vibrato and earlier long thinner six a side headstock with a more pronounced "ball" on the end, like the SD4L. This simple yet effective model was a hit and sold well throughout the '62-66/67 period it was made. with only cosmetic and harware changes to keep up with current production. 

 

The MJ2 cost a whopping 9.050 JY which was the same price as the Guyatone LG55 and the MJ2L (with vibrato) cost 12.000 JY which was comparable with Guyatones of the time. There was a bass version of the MJ2 in the form of the BS-101 which, like many early Teisco and Guyatone entry level basses were the guitar with bass hardware.

These are a great little entry level guitar and this one here is a slightly later early '66 with the striped scratchplate but with the middle period vibrato with the arm coming out of the chrome cover in the middle. Earlier ones had the vibrato with the arm coming out on the treble side and later ones had the classic Mosrite style Teisco vibrato and this model ended up with the 4/2 headstock before being deleted from the line. 

 

This model is a small but substantially thick enough solid timber body with a very accessible double cutaway and body contouring. Despite being so small they feel big enough and not "toy like" like some early Guyatones and Teiscos with their very small, very thin bodies. 

The scale is 24.75" and the neck is .... substantial in size. Some might say ... thick. Necks seem to vary dramatically on these Teiscos with no real meaning. Some lower end and higher end models have thick necks, and visa versa. I've owned MJ2Ls with quite thin necks. These have the classic Teisco block inlays and binding on a rosewood fretboard which is pretty impressive for an entry level guitar. The headstock is the middle period shape and is, quite big. This one still has the earlier metal Teisco badge which a lot of them are missing.

The pickups are basic chrome covers with a simple yet very effective "gold foil" sounding unit. They have plenty of output and great frequency response with a clear great tone. They are adjustable by removing the cover and adjusting them on the foam inserts they sit on. 

 

The bridge is a very simple pressed metal unit with height only adjustment with two screws on a metal base attached to the guitar. The vibrato, like all Teisco vibratos is well designed and built and works well for slight string bending, but, no dive bombing here.

This model always had a volume and tone control for each pickup with two on/off switches which again, is pretty impressive for an entry level model. 

The finish and fit is all well executed and this guitar is all original and working properly, which shows the quality of these guitars with this being 54 years old and still playing and functioning as it left the factory. 

While I'm writing about these I thought I'd add this little oddity for your interest?

This one looks "similar" on first inspection but was actually probably sold directly out of the Teisco-Gen-Gakki factory, which manufactured the woodwork for Teisco, as a "no name" guitar for another brand. The body and neck are similar with this one having a thinner, much more playable neck and a completely different headstock not used on any Teiscos. 

 

This one also has a completely different (awesome sparkle acrylic) scratchplate which may, or may not have been been fitted from the factory as Teisco-Gen-Gakki may have supplied the body and neck to another "brand" just like Teisco and left them to fit their own hardware? The plate itself could be supplied from Mitsuya (or similar company) , who offered aftermarket plates and pickups for common guitars at the time although this does have the VERY sought after and famous (in vintage Japanese circles) early Teisco-Gen-Gakki gold foil pickups. These particular pickups have become quite legendary for their tone with good reason. They sound AMAZING and are quite rare. 

There were no mods done to fit this plate which makes sense if it was original and/or a direct replacement but the odd thing is this has a factory drilled side jack with plate as well as the top jack in the scratchplate so maybe this model had a side jack in it's original brand version? 

 

This one also has a different bridge and the earlier side arm vibrato which was used by many brands in the early sixties. It also has a plate fitted over the trussrod adjuster to cover the end of the rod which Teisco left exposed. 

 

Teisco-Gen-Gakki made bodies and necks for Teisco but also sold those bodies with and without hardware to anyone who wanted to sell guitars which is why it's sometimes hard to identify an actual Teisco and one of the reasons why any cheap vintage Japanese guitar is called a "Teisco" by the uneducated. 

Whatever this is it's a fascinating little piece of history and like Mosrite, I love the fact that things just keep turning up that can't be nailed down or accounted for with absolute certainty. Japanese manufacturers worked together in the 60's to produce better guitars and factories made guitars and parts for whoever wanted them which in itself is a fascinating idea. 

I'll probably never own another one of these just like this but, that's all part of the fun. Finding them, fixing them up, playing them and selling them to someone who loves them .... then finding more. 

Feb 27 2020 Written By: Tim Brennan