Friday, May 24, 2013

Vintage project guitar! Teisco? Kawai? Silvertone?

Meet my new project - my first ever vintage guitar. m0j0!  tonz!

I have no idea what it is. Something Japanese and from either the 60's or 70's. I have not been able to find this exact model anywhere. Here's a 1965 Silvertone that's close, with obviously the same pickups, but it's not the same guitar. It's the only one I've seen with these exact pickups, though, and in this configuration. If anybody knows what this really is, please email or comment! (Update: looks like it's probably a Kawai/Teisco. This Apollo shares many of the same features, including headstock shape, "string tree", false nut, neck shape, tremolo and truss rod style.)

It's missing the screws and springs for one pickup, something's not right with the knobs or pots because they don't fit together, and it's not wired.  The switches above are not the problem they appear to be - I have those two white ones that actually are wired to two pickups, but the seller also sourced four vintage black ones that I could use if I wanted to. I kinda like white, though - I may try for two more white ones.

As messed up as it looks now, I've already made some progress on it since last night:

I attached everything to see what's missing (pretty important first step) and I really cleaned it up pretty good. The fretboard was (and really still is) kind of a disaster - all gunked up with caked on dirt and oil, and the frets themselves were actually brown - that's not just the lighting. I cleaned the fretboard really well and polished the frets as much as I could - they're as shiny as they're gonna get now. They're still in pretty bad shape, though, but then I bought this guitar as a piece of wall art that I can play at parties, so I'm not too worried about it.

You'll notice above that it came with a new, custom made pickguard. It actually looked like this before I got it:

I'm convinced that somebody dropped a bowling ball on this thing. One of the original pickups is also smashed (one pickup in the top photo is an exact replacement - it's not the one you think!). The previous owner was good enough to order a new pickguard for it.

I'm debating with myself about trying to go all vintage for the parts I need, or just getting it in playing shape with modern parts.  Leaning toward the latter - this guitar isn't worth anything and likely never will be.  As long as it looks the part and works, that's probably good enough.

My only real challenge is the wiring, but then that's partly why I wanted it - to learn how to really wire an unfamiliar guitar basically from scratch. I have no idea what I'm doing with four separate pickup selector switches like this. And three of the pickups have three wires (huh?) while the fourth has two. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with that, but I guess I need to LEARN OR DIE.

I'll post a new update when I'm done!

MINOR UPDATE: I believe with 99% certainty that this guitar is a 1970's Kawai-made Teisco. I found a 2-pickup version of it with otherwise the exact same body, hardware and features in a 1977 JC Penney catalog, with a Teisco badge on the headstock. It also just looks like Teiscos of that era and uses the same pickups and other hardware. So I'm pretty confident in my diagnosis.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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