Yep, that’s what we always called these guitars, “shark fin” Teiscos. In fact, there was a time that whenever I thought of a Teisco guitar, I thought of this model! For me, it’s just so iconic of the Teisco vibe. Plenty of switches, knobs, chrome, combined with those sharp horns and hooked headstock. To me, this was the iconic Teisco guitar!
That familiar striped pick guard really helps to date Teisco guitars, since the striped aluminum guard started to appear in and around 1965. And those square pole-piece pickups are just balls out! These shark fins had a pretty good run, appearing in catalogs from 1966-1970. Japanese catalogs had these listed as K4L guitars, but the WMI American catalogs had them listed as ET-460, and in other catalogs the Super Deluxe! I can remember James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins using one of these in a video back in the day. Here’s the vid, and the Pumpkins had such a thick sound on that album!!
Teisco must have sold a boatload of these guitars in the 60s, because this same guitar was also branded as a SIlvertone in Sears catalogs. These shark fins were around during the same time span as the famous Spectrum 5, but for whatever reason this guitar here is just so much more plentiful. I would see these all the time hanging in second hand stores and pawn shops. Most of the guys I knew bought these for the awesome sounding pickups, which usually read out in the 7k range, but curiously, the pickups read out weaker as the guitars got close to the end of their run, like the guitars from the later 60s. It’s probably a good way to date the guitar!! In fact, if you take the pickups apart (you have to be a nut like yours truly), you’ll notice that even the construction of the pickups changed, even though they looked the same from the outside. Tricky!!!
All of these Teisco guitars had a nameplate or sticker on them that identified the model and serial number, but mine has fallen off! I suppose a lot of them have over the years. What I think is really cool about these guitars is the carving around the edges of the body. Often called a “German carve” on the front, these bodies have a very silky feel and are really comfortable to play. They are very light, but the necks are slightly heavy so that strap button placement on the neck is a neat way to balance it all out.
I’m a total sucker for blue guitars, although when I look around the studio I have a ton of red guitars!! Anyway, the blue on these is a really cool metallic color and holds up rather well. When I was younger I knew about three other guys who swore by these guitars! They are real road warriors and build well.
This particular shark fin had two pickups wired out of phase, FROM THE FACTORY!! Too funny! Dano had to sort out a bunch of things with this guitar because of the neglect I had laid upon it’s sharp shoulders, but hey, any good tech can sort it out! This one got a refret, which can be a dicey proposition. See, often a refret will involve sanding the neck to work out all the humps and bumps, but the neck inlays on these Teiscos are really thin, and sometimes just wear right off with sanding! Dano is the man, I keep tellin’ y’all! Dano also had an issue with the rotary switch because mine just kept turning round and round. The rotary switch on mine was a two position switch, and those buggers are hard to find!! Buyer beware!! Anyway, after fixing it all up I have a great guitar that plays better than it ever did, even straight from the factory!! And to think I played it for so many years, fighting it all the way! Too bad I don’t play out anymore! And then here’s good ol’ Mike Dugan giving it a demo. He seriously did not want to put this one down. Enjoy everybody!