Saturday, December 19, 2009
Glen Campbell's Teisco Del Ray Guitar
There were a couple of television shows on around this era (mid 1960’s) that were geared to young guys that liked guitars, drums, organs and bass and girls that liked the guys playing the guitars, drums, organs and basses. One of the shows was called Shindig! (with an exclamation point).
Shindig! had everything that appealed to these two audiences.
There were musicians, mostly imported from the U.K. that wore Mod clothes, played groovy instruments and had Fab haircuts. There were also dancing girls that wore min skirts and go-go boots. And the house band was at one time comprised of James Burton, Leon Russell, Delaney Bramlett and a few other guys. The show was hosted by a D.J. named Jimmy O’Neil that had that 60’s radio patter down.
Aside from the fact that James Burton was play a Fender Duo-Sonic instead of a Telecaster and the bass player used a Danelectro Longhorn bass, one of the things I found unusual about the show was the guitar preference of a young singer/guitarist named Glen Campbell.
Most of the acts on Shindig played Gibson, Gretsch, Fender or Epiphone guitars exclusively. These were well known cool guitars. Campbell played this weird looking off brand type of guitar that looked sort of cheap. But as the song goes, he played that guitar like-a’ ringin’ a bell.
It turns out this was a Teisco Del Ray guitar. The Teisco brand name is an acronym for Tokyo Electric Instrument and Sound Company.
The original name was Aoi Onpa Kenkyujo, which translated is Hollyhock Soundwave or Electricity Laboratories, which is a mouth full in any language.
By 1964 the tag Del Ray was added. This has happened several times during Asian guitar history to make the brand sound Spanish. Greco is another company that comes to mind.
Teisco was acquired by Kawai Musical Instruments in 1968 and the guitar brand was discontinued in 1969. I believe the English translation for Kawai is "that appears to be a piano, but is not."
Teisco produced a six-string bass similar to the Fender Bass VI. The guitar version of this instrument was what Campbell is playing, although it is definitely strung with normal guitar strings. The shape is off-set and somewhat like a Fender Jazzmaster, however the top horn is extended and there is a handle cutout on the lower bout. Like many of the Teisco Del Ray instruments the headstock was unusual with 4 tuners on the upper side and 2 tuners on the lower side.
I have read somewhere that Campbell made good use of this instrument on a number of recordings for other artists.
Before becoming a major television and recording artist, Campbell had a successful career as a sought after session guitarist.