Telestar Lisa

These are a kinda forgotten modern classic and were the brainchild of Gibson R&D man, JT Riboloff in the very late nineties.

Is is of course, VERY Danelectro/Silvertone in looks and construction and although only about 400 of both the Mona and Lisa (yep, Mona and Lisa) were made in 1999-2000 they have become a bit of a holy grail of the modern vintage guitar world. 

 

Some time in the late nineties JT went to the Korean manufacturer Samick and worked out a deal to make these hollow body guitars based heavily on Danelectro ideas. The body is a laminated "frame" with composite top and back like a Dano but with top binding instead of the tape edge like Dano used. The construction is VERY good as you'd expect from this great Korean factory. The sparkle fleck finish is flawless and covers the body and neck.

 

The neck is a bolt on maple neck with 24.75" scale and is a wide but very comfortable neck with big frets. It's very playable and feels modern compared to even the Dano re-issues. 

The hardware is all great quality and the "toaster top" looking mini humbuckers sound great. Great output with plenty of sparkle and switching between neck and bridge gives a wide variety of tones. The bridge is a six saddle heavy string through body cast unit and makes the body very resonant with a loud acoustic tone. All the control plates and trussrod cover are chrome metal and add a nice quality touch to the whole package. 

 

The headstock feels more Silvertone and looks great on this shape. The tuners are modern sealed gear Gotoh style with pearl buttons that look the part. 

 

The overall construction and finish is amazing and apparently this is what JT was going for. A modern, quality, great playing and sounding Dano/Silvertone inspired guitar. So much so that these were available with "amp in case" hardcases like the originals except the 10 watt transistor amp runs through a 6" speaker off 6 x AA batteries or an external 12V adaptor, not mains like the valve originals.

The Mona is heavily inspired by the Danelectro 1457 and also came with the amp in case option, like the original. 

This idea didn't take off for JT and after less than two years the project was abandoned. Maybe it was the new Danelectros coming out or that the world wasn't ready for a better quality version of a "cheap" guitar but it's a shame really. These play and sound better than any Dano I've played. The combination of good hardware (intonatable bridge), quality contruction and mini humbuckers makes this a very nice guitar indeed. When these turn up they don't sell for huge money (about the same as Dano re-issues) despite their quality and rarity, although they have started to increase in value slightly recently. These are GREAT playing guitars and are really well made while keeping that vintage vibe. 

 

Oct 27 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan