Saturday, December 19, 2009

Glen Campbell's Teisco Del Ray Guitar

Way back when I was 13 years old and knew everything about life, I discovered the guitar and submerged myself in all things 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 pat. They also had a 'house band' called the Shindogs, which featured Glen Campbell, Billy Preston, Delaney Bramlett, Larry Knechtel (on bass), Leon Russell, Glen D. Hardin, Ray Pohlman and Bill Aken. No one watching realized these were LA's top session players and members of The Wrecking Crew.

In those days James Burton was play a Fender Duo-Sonic instead of a Telecaster and the show's 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 TB-64 six string bass

Teisco produced a six-string bass similar to the Fender Bass VI.

Teisco T-60
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 as well as on the headstock. This guitar was offered in 1960 through '61 and did not have the Del Ray designation. The bridge saddle looks like it is right off of an old Telecaster.

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.

Ibanez Jem
Ibanez;  another Asian company that revived this concept when they introduced the Jem series of guitars for Steve Vai. Most guitarists today call this is a Monkey Grip.


Anonymous said...

that's a fake

Anonymous said...

This past summer I bought a 4-pickup Kingston. I couldn't stop thinking about it. It has amazing sounds. (you can see my guitar at youtube user vibratingstring). Then recently I discovered that Hound Dog Taylor played one! And now, I just found Glen Campbell with a similar guitar--3 or 4 pickup, can't tell, on Shindig:

He sounds awesome of course :-)

Great blog!

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Willard said...

I worked with Glen from 1986 to 1991. I played Bass and was his guitar tech as well. He called that guitar his "Session Guitar". it had 3 pickups and it sounded terrific! He brought it out on the road once while I was with him. I'm sure he still has it!

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Prof. John Amaral said...

"Wrecking Crew" is a promotional name cooked up by Hal Blaine to promote his biography and he has done that well.

They called themselves "The Clique" or "The Click," or nothing at all except "studio musicians."

I worked around Glen at United/Western in the summer of 1967 and saw him using this guitar for hot overdubs, possibly with a Benson Amp. Much of the time, he played acoustic guitars, particularly a 12 string and was known for improvising on 12 string, which was a rare skill, due to the tension.

RB Brown said...

Imagine it's in the early 60's and Glen goes to a recording session where there are some musicians who don't know him or his talent. Glen pulls out this green Teisco with the metal pickguard and a handle cut into the body. Everybody else is sporting Gibsons, Fenders, Gretsch or some other name brand instrument. You know they had to look at Glen with his green Teisco and wonder what the hell he was doing there. Then Glen cut loose on that cheap guitar and blew their minds. RIP Brother.