12/16/2010

c.1965 Teisco 8-String Electric Bass Mod


Ever wanted an 8-string electric bass? I always have, but haven't been willing to shell out the big bucks for a custom job or vintage Hagstrom and haven't been willing to sacrifice looks and style to pick up a cheapy new job (which tend to look like metal guitars... yick!).

So...? Enter this cool-as-beans Teisco (Japanese) short scale bass, with its 1920s-style big hunk of v-neck. I got this in trade and was drawn to the totally cool morphed p-bass look and (strange for a Japanese bass from the time) entirely solid curly mahogany body. From the looks of it, the neck appears to be a stained Japanese maple.


So... modding this up and using extra-light gauges, I turned this into an 8-string short scale bass. 8-strings have the typical low EADG but also have octaves on each course, so the tuning looks like eEaAdDgG. This gives it a punchy, aggressive tone that's very close to that of a Tejano style bajo sexto or bajo quinto in character. Chords also sound full and big, rather than mushy, because of the extra definition and clarity of the octave courses.


Weird headstock, I know. I managed to use old Japanese tuners for the extra four strings.


There used to be a string tree that went across all the strings, but I replaced it with a single string tree made from spare parts that guides the two G strings. The rest of the strings have adequate down pressure from the angle of the headstock.


Nice bound rosewood fretboard with pearl dots. Frets are in good shape.


Fortunately for me the individual saddles were wide and tall enough to let me cut a couple of slots in each. This bridge adjusts like an archtop guitar bridge with two big thumbwheels under the main saddle piece. Bridge cover is unfortunately missing.


Fun vintage-style knobs and (thankfully) metal control plate for durability.




Some replaced screws at the neckplate -- two of the originals were stripped.



Hard to see in the photos but this is a solid one-piece plank of curly mahogany. Absolutely gorgeous stuff, and it's in a fun two-tone black/red sunburst.


...and unlike a lot of other Teiscos, the body is ergonomically shaped like a Strat.

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