Teisco was a Japanese manufacturer of affordable musical instruments from 1948 until 1969. The company produced guitars as well as
keyboard instruments, microphones, amplifiers, and even drums. Teisco products were widely exported to the US and the UK.
Teisco guitars sold in the United States were badged Teisco Del Rey beginning in 1964. Teisco guitars were also imported in the U.S.
under several brand names including Silvertone, Jedson, Kent, Norma, Kingston, Kimberly, Lyle, Tulio, Duke, Heit Deluxe, and
World Teisco. Likewise, they were imported in the U.K under such labels as Arbiter, Audition, Kay and Top Twenty. While guitars
manufactured by Teisco were ubiquitous in their day, they are now very collectable. In fact, highly sought after models are now being
From 1948 to the early 1960's Teisco products were often, like many Japanese products of the period, close copies of American and
Western European products of the time including Hagström and EKO. However, in the early 1960s Teisco products became increasingly
unique. Teisco guitars became notable for unusual body shapes, such as the May Queen design resembling an artist's palette, or
other unusual features such as having four pickups (most guitars have two or three). The vast amount of controls, typically an
individual switch for each pickup, plus a tone or phase-cancellation switch, along with as many as five tone and volume knobs,
gave a wide variety of sounds yet were easily switched while playing. After Kawai bought Teisco in 1967, they started to produce
all the Teisco guitars, as well as their own brand, Apollo. Hound Dog Taylor famously used a variety of these Kawai-era Teiscos,
which he bought at his local Sears department store. Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain used a Spectrum V.
Many Teisco guitars had a primitive tailed bridge in their extended tail bridges with limited timbre when used in an extended
technique. When the strings are attacked behind the bridge, a 3rd bridge sound is created. This is one of the reasons these
guitars became popular again during the 90's among many noise artists as a cheaper alternative for the Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster,
which were beginning to attract collector interest.
Teisco also produced a six-string bass similar to the Fender Bass VI which was itself an uncommon instrument. The Teisco
six-string bass followed an unusual body shape that was used on one of their guitars. It had an off-set body shape similar to a
Jazzmaster, but with an extended top horn, a 'handle' cutout on the left-facing side of the bridge and a Fender-style headstock
with an over-sized scroll.