Teisco E-110: Part 1

July 2011 brought a Teisco E-110 into my guitar collection. Yes, some people could spend thousands on a Gibson or Fender with historical significance. Other people find fun in a $40 guitar. Maybe I'm the latter type, at least in this purchase, or maybe I ingested to high a concentration of heavy metals growing up in the Pittsburgh area.

After unpacking the guitar, bought online unseen with a description that it was not working, it appeared to be in decent shape. Most of the chrome was still intact, with a little rust and some flaking on the pickup. The body bore only one ding of note, and covered with honest pick scratches. The body was solid, with no cracking around the loose fitting (but tightly secured) neck joint. It needed a good cleaning at a minimum and after the initial inspection; I really wanted to find out if there were any salvageable electronics in the guitar - especially the pickup. Pots and the jack I could replace if required and would be hidden under the pickguard, but the pickup is visible. That was really the point of this funky guitar, to have a different sounding pickup. This would be the anti-active electronics, squealing/barking microphonic, Model-T simplicity guitar in a world rushing to have every app possible in their smart phone.

Teisco Tulip guitar

E-110 in front of a '68 Fender Bandmaster with the G-nome approving.

Plugging the guitar into an amplifier produced some buzz, so at least something was going on. Putting one string on the guitar to hold down the bridge actually produced sound, if the jack was wiggled a bit. So I suspect a ground problem and maybe the jack is corroded or the wiring is loose.

This is an extremely simple guitar, just one pickup, one tone and one volume control. No switches or any other ulterior motives. I suspected at this point that at least the jack was bad, so now I had to get under the pickguard. Notice the buggered screw near the rusty jack. The rest of the screws came out easy, but this one has been played with and it looked like sweat has allowed it to rust to a point where a Phillips head won't back it out. To make things worse, the slots had been messed with so a screwdriver would not turn the screw. First I tried cutting a slot for a flathead, but there was not enough material to allow that. I ended up drilling the screw (very carefully!) to get it to back out and allow the pickguard to be lifted.

Teisco Tulip guitar

Under the pickguard is where any complexity is hidden, but it's all straightforward, a cap on the tone pot, volume and the jack.

Teisco Tulip guitar

Most of the wiring is around the tone pot; a little rats nest of wires around the cap. Note the blue wire shielding, which is slipped on over the leg of the cap to route it.

Teisco Tulip guitar

Completely straightforward wiring of the volume control.

Teisco Tulip guitar

As expected, the jack was corroded. With the rust on the front side and the corrosion inside, this will have to be replaced.

Teisco Tulip guitar

The design of the body is about as simple as it can be. I could imagine that the same body could be used for one, two or three pickup configurations and for all manner of tailpieces whether the tailpiece was fixed or vibrato.

Teisco Tulip guitar

The results of the restoration are covered in Part 2.