In the 1960s, the world was hungry for electric guitars, and Japanese manufacturers such as Teisco, Guyatone, and Matsumoku seized on the opportunity to export mass-produced axes. The market for affordable electric guitars grew so much that in 1966 over 750,000 guitars were exported from Japan. Most of their design elements were price-driven, which ultimately led to quirky but intriguing instruments that resembled American-made classics but captured their own unique vibe.
In 1967, Teisco was taken over by the Kawai corporation who moved much of the guitar production to Taiwan, where even more guitars could be produced at an even lower cost. As Kawai forged ahead, the number of Teisco models exploded, and specs became much less consistent. Many guitars produced during this era are blantant copies of American shapes and designs, but they always have interesting pickups and their own unique charm.
This single-pickup Teisco was made in Taiwan during the Kawai era (probably late-'60s but possibly early-'70s). Many of the MIT Teiscos were outfitted with surplus Teisco Japan parts and pickups, and this little rocker is rigged up with a single Gold Foil in the middle position. Teisco developed the Gold Foil pickup in the mid-'50s, and it shares some characteristics with the more-widely-used P90, but it has much lower output. Its tone is warm, and it has an ability to sing and growl (almost like a resonator). Thanks to Ry Cooder and his infamous "Coodercaster," the Teisco Gold Foil has become a popular choice for slide. But it covers a lot of territory beyond that, too!
We aren't sure of the specific model of this Kawai Teisco, so we've taken to calling it the "Kawaicaster." It has a short 24" scale, and like a lot of these old imports, it's a little wonky—but that's just part of its charm! It's got authentic vibe, and the pickup sounds fantastic. The setup is pretty good, and all in all, the Kawaicaster is hard not to like.