27 March 2009

Cheapy "vintage" guitars

My brother's first guitar was a Gibson ES-125TDC.

My first bass guitar was a used Danelectro-made Sears Silvertone. $20.

This is the same model as mine, found on eBay.
Many thanks to the original photographer and BCR.

It had a neck that only Paul Bunyan could love. I can't even say i liked its lipstick pickups so beloved by Danelectro fans, but i believe this was an isolated case as i do generally like lipstick pickups. It was a crap guitar.

I later found at the flea market a Vox Bill Wyman bass with its original body replaced with a Phantom-esque slab of clear lucite. $10. No photo, sorry. Now this bass i fell in love with. Short scale neck, crappy Italian single-coils, exposed wiring, Bill Wyman's name on the teardrop headstock (apparently Bill had next to nothing to do this model! HA!). But i'm the first to admit that it was also a crap guitar.

Many years later, i found this exact Teisco Del Rey EV2T at the defunct Guitar and Drum Center in St Clair Shores. $200 (i probably paid $150 too much for it).

This is the same model as mine, found on the Squinternet.
Many thanks to the original photographer.

I just loved it for its body, not its mind. I can be so superficial. Cheap Japanese single-coils, Vox Phantom rip-off design, knobs, switches and a whammy bar...what's not to love? I've even recorded with it! Eventually i had replaced the tuners, bridge saddles and had the pickups potted (they made Rema-Rema or Sonic Youth sound controlled). Say what you will, but yet another crap guitar.

Which brings me to this recent eBay auction...

Buy It Now: US$890?!? Are they kidding??? Nostalgia and "vintage" aside, it's a crap guitar!!! We're not talking non-uniform Quality Control; all these Teiscos, strangely enough, were uniformly crappy! Let's call it for what it is: a knockoff guitar just this side of a toy that because of demand created by the 1960s "British Invasion" were mass-produced very cheaply in Japan, then today's equivalent of the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut, because they couldn't produce them fast enough or cheaply enough in Italy (the original source for cheap imported guitars into the American market).

A conversation between me and my brother about this very guitar up for auction had me wagering that the highest bid for that guitar would be around $300, $350 max but that's because the seller had found his patsy. Well, ever optimistic, i never thought that someone would offer almost half of the Buy It Now price.

Believe me, i understand that whole "look" thang, hence my ongoing infatuation with 1960s "fetish" guitars. But for my money, that same $405 could get you a MIM Telecaster or Stratocaster or maybe a Gretsch 5235 Pro Jet. Cheap guitars but with a whole other level of quality.

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