Teisco Del Ugly

A Japanese/Australian home-built monstrosity that’s on it’s way to Melbourne…

As you know, I like weird guitars as much as anybody. I mean… I love Les Paul’s and Strats, but I get kind of tired seeing the same old shapes over and over again. So when a unique guitars comes along, I take notice. But when they look like this… I don’t know what to think. Do I like it? Do I hate it? It’s a conundrum… (oooh… big word.)

The story starts with my band playing a few gigs with an awesome Melbourne band called ‘Bodies’, fronted by the excellent Joel Morrison who happens to manage the also excellent Old Bar. Joel’s band is pretty f*cked up… sort of a cross between Mark Of Cain & Jesus Lizard. They’re awesome. Joel’s weapons of choice are an old Sakai/Teisco and an Audition… basically the same guitar with different badges.

Joel loves the pickups on these things as they’re so microphonic. At one point in the show, Joel screams into the guitar and his voice comes out of the amp heavily distorted and sounding like hells gates have opened.

Jump forward to a few weeks after the show and I was in my local op-shop (Goodwill Store to my U.S. readers) and found this thing sitting there with a price tag for 80 bucks. At first I laughed and thought what a frikken’ ugly piece of sh!t. Then immedientely I thought of Joel. He’d actually probably like this. Joel had given me one of his old distortion pedals, so I thought I’d return the favour and bought him this.

What we had here was an old Teisco that had been ‘transformed’ into a metal guitar sporting what looked like an Australian red gum body, or some other native hard wood. Before it’s transformation it probably would’ve looked something like this…

…and then through the magic of some Aussie home handyman and his various chisels, it got turned onto this.

The hardware is pretty much still standard Teisco, apart from the Samick machine heads. The 3 pickups have been scaled down to one, mounted in an equally home made plywood scratchplate with mismatching knobs.

The neck plate actually has the name of the ‘builder’… R. Robb from Victoria, take a bow. Your work is certainly unique. I’d love to know the back story to the creation of this beast.

The carving is actually pretty well done in place. The body has been rounded to look almost like Ibanez Joe Satriani model type. The bottom horn actually looks like a witches toe knuckle or something. It adds to this guitar’s weird alien feel.

The headstock had also been hacked… er… I mean carved. All in all, it wasn’t too bad a job. I guess R. Robb was trying to add to the illusion that this was a furious metal beast, not a 60’s jap garage band machine.

I tried stripping the stickers off, but it seems that they’d been put on since new, so the colour difference is certainly noticeable. A few gigs worth of sweat & beer would fix that, though. It’s not like this guitar was a beauty pageant winner before I took the stickers off anyway.

I have no idea if Joel actually is going to like this guitar. If after next weekend you see this guitar in the skip bin behind the Old Bar, you’ll know he didn’t.