Part of what makes this hobby of mine so rewarding is to help resurrect guitars like this one. Just to find something like this EP-3, or know that it still exists and can play music, is astounding to me! Seriously, I love bringing guitars like this back to life! Now sometimes a guitar’s needs are just beyond me, and that’s where Scott Frielich comes in to the picture.Scott has been owning Top Shelf Music in Buffalo NY for many years now, and people, he’s one of “us.” The guy is super knowledgeable and appreciates the odd, interesting, and rare. One of his good friends was Jim Fisch (author and guitar collector) and this Teisco was one of the last of Jim’s big collection of vintage hollowbody guitars. This EP-3 was sitting in Scott’s shop when we decided to fix it up and get it playable again.
The guitar was in good condition overall and was structurally sound in many ways. What it did develop over the years were several stable cracks in the top and bottom. Scott’s been fixing old Martin guitars for years and is pretty much a master guitar tech/luthier. He was able to close up the cracks with a humidity bag and add cleats to stabilize the areas.
The single pickup was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Thankfully it was still working, but the internal wiring had slowly disintegrated over the years, so this old gal needed a complete rewire. Check out that pickup!! It reads out at 4.56k and the thing is punchy as all heck. See those adjusting screws?
This guitar is a very rare model, made sometime during the 1950s in Japan. It’s a hard model to track down, and to be honest I didn’t know it existed until I found it. I’ve never seen a headstock overlay like that before, and that Teisco logo is particularly uncommon.
I don’t know were Jim found this guitar, because these are never seen in the USA. Models like this were often sold only in Japan, since large scale importing didn’t happen until the early 60s. But the main buyers of these guitars were American servicemen stationed in and around the various ports of Japan. If these guitars travelled the oceans, it was in the duffel bag or bunk of a soldier. Even then, these guitars didn’t not travel well since the wood was not used to the constant flexing that large temperature changes bring in the North American climate. It was a problem in the 60s, and it was a BIG problem in the 50s. It’s the main reason why these old hollowbody Teiscos are so scarce, and still playable.
The neck on this is wonderfully chunky, and check out the nameplate on the back of the headstock. Notice anything? It’s just one of those endearing quirks that makes me love the old Japanese electric guitars. Ah well, Check out Mike Dugan playing this one below…
2 thoughts on “Guitar Resurrection – 1954 Teisco EP-3 Guitar”
What a great guitar the teisco ep-5 looks similar. How does it play?
Well, since it was totally rebuilt it plays pretty well. The neck is thick, and we had a great luthier use a patented heat press to straighten out the neck.