The Boat Paddle! – 1965 Telestar 4T Japanese Guitar

Telestar 4T 6Here’s a strange model that I bought a while back from a truly wonderful dude in New Mexico.  Dating from 65-66, the earliest Telestar guitars were made by an unknown manufacturer in Japan.  Telestar only imported guitars from this particular manufacturer for a year or two and then switched to the Kawai company to build Telestar electric guitars throughout the 1960s.  These earliest Telestar guitars are very cool though, and have design features that were never again seen on any other Japanese electric guitar from the 60s.Telestar 4T 5OK, so check out the thin pick guard.  You can actually see right through it!!  Several guitar manufacturers used this thin, fragile pickguard material in the early 60s.  Be careful with these pickguards!  Hoshino Gakki (Ibanez) used a similar pickguard material and if you ever work on these guitars be careful, because the guards can being to shrink as soon as the screws come out!  On this model you can already see where some pickguard has shrunk around the screws.Telestar 4T 4The headstock on these is HUGE!!  It reminds me of the later 60s Kay headstocks, or the later 60s Custom Kraft headstocks, but this design predates both of those guitars.  There’s also that interesting bevelled edge there, like a sharpened hatchet!  Little details like that always interest me!  And you have to remember, during this time the wood portions were all done by hand.Telestar 4T 3One of the most interesting parts of these guitars is the neck profile, it’s totally unique!  The fingerboard is wide and the feeling in your hand is real full.  The shoulder profile is nice and chunky, but then the back profile is almost totally flat!  It’s very strange since no other guitar really features this profile.  Some Guyatone and Hoshino guitars featured a profile that was kinda similar, but these early Telestar guitars have it with the most exaggeration.  It’s an interesting guitar playing experience!  Also of note is the short, squat bodies that resemble big ol boat paddles!  I had a friend back in the day that owned a two pickup version of this same guitar and he lovingly called his the “boat paddle”!  Telestar 4T 2The bodies on all these early Telestar guitars were made of plywood, which is telling of quality and price.  I’ve never seen a price list on these guitars, but I do wonder what they cost back then?  I’ve also seen these in several different colors, including white, sunburst, red, and this orange (which may have been red that faded?).  The necks are one piece mahogany (I think the Asian mahogany is called Sen?).  And the truss rods work very well in these guitars.Telestar 4T 1The pickups in these guitars are a very unique bar style and only found on this particular model and one other I’ve seen.  They all read in the high 4k range and sound pretty darn good.  The wiring is series, and the R/S switch actually does something!  So there you have it, yet another cool guitar from a cool time to be a guitar player!  As usual, Dave D’Amelio did all the work on this one, and Mike Dugan does all the playing in the video.

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