1984 (?) Electra Phoenix


This Electra Phoenix was my first real electric guitar. Well, the others were real in a technical sense. It wasn’t like my Synsonics Terminator was an ‘air guitar’. But that guitar was just a toy. Nobody takes a guitar with a built-in speaker seriously – not even me.

I believe I got this for my fifteenth birthday. That would have been 1991. Or maybe my sixteenth. My mom bought it and a solid state Marshall practice amp at a yard sale for $60.

This Electra Phoenix obviously looks a lot like my Westone Concord SX. Same body shape, same headstock, same wood type (maple), same tiny position markers. This was one of the last Electra models imported by Saint Louis Music before they switched to Matsumoku’s Westone brand. That makes it an early1984 model, or possibly late 1983. I could check the serial number but I don’t care.

It plays like my other Matsumoku guitars – low action, comfortable neck, but the frets are too small for shreddin’ and headbangin’. Fortunately I specialize in Johnny Ramone slash-and-burn bar chords. This isn’t meant to be a Super-Strat anyway.


The tremolo is a heavy brass unit I bought somewhere. I think Campbell’s Music? I don’t like it. I’ll put the original bridge back on if I find it. The bridge pickup was lame, so I replaced it with the bridge pickup from the Synsonics Terminator. Shockingly, it sounds pretty good. I usually play it in conjunction with the middle pickup. It has a great hollow, gutteral midrange bark that no other guitar I’ve ever owned has. Sort of like a really mellow wha-wha pedal pressed halfway down. Too bad it feedbacks easily, either pickup sucks on its own, and the neck pickup also sucks. Shrill!

Electra_Phoenix_headstock Electra_Phoenix_Chip_1

This guitar is chipped all to Hell. Teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to own things. The burn on the headstock was because I put a cigarette there the first time I played a show. I’ve never smoked – not even tobacco! I just thought it would look dumb if I had a cigarette there and didn’t take a drag from it. Boy was I right. People just didn’t get ‘meta’ humor back then.

As I am fond of saying, this guitar is a one-trick pony. Aren’t all my guitars? Well, the American Standard Strat isn’t. I can’t get a bad sound out of that guitar! But this one only has that one great hollow sound that I can’t duplicate with my other guitars, so I’ve kept it. Plus, it’s a sentimental thing. Sort of like the way some guys stay married to their first wife. Divorce already!


Condition: 6/10

– Cosmetics: 4/10 (lots of chips and dings, probably needs professional repair)

– Working order: 9/10 (no major gremlins)

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 6/10 (small frets, typical Matsumoku)

Sound: 6/10

– Bridge: 1/10 (shrill, feedback)

– Bridge+Middle: 9/10 (awesome hollow midrangey sound)

– Middle: 2/10 (shrill)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill)

Nice studio guitar. A face for radio, as the saying goes.

Late 1960s Teisco ET-460

Teisco was founded blah blah blah steal the info from Wikipedia like last time


This Teisco is branded Silvertone, which was the Sears house brand. I bought this can opener beauty in the early ’90s from Guitars on George, back when it was called We Buy Guitars. Yes, the guy who sold Live all those goofy clothes they wore on SNL back in the day. But don’t hold that against him! I paid roughly $80 for it. It was in marginally better condition, then.


The guitar was originally blue, but it has aged to a wonderful teal. Probably some combination of lacquer yellowing and bar smoke. It has dot fret markers, rather than the square edge markers seen on some others.

Somebody offered me $600 for this guitar once, and I turned him down. We were both idiots!

I played this axe as my main “surf” guitar. This may be a later Teisco – if so it lacks the super-hot Moserite inspired pickups, but it gets the job done. A little squealy under high distortion, but who plays surf music through a fuzz box? (Just me? Thought so.)

The thin, quirky tones are about what you’d expect if you’ve ever played an old Japanese guitar. There’s a certain rawness about it that you just can’t get from some boring guitar like a Strat. Then again, anyone who would willingly choose this as their main axe over a decent Strat or Les Paul copy is delusional. I love this guitar’s triumph of style over substance, but I don’t think I’ll be selling the Strat anytime soon.

This Teisco has all the signs of “ex-lover” neglect. I played the hell out of this thing for years, then got bored with it and set it aside as a dust collection device. Don’t scroll if you hate grunge!

Silvertone grime


Two of the odd hex-shaped slotted pickup screws are missing, there is major dirt and grime everywhere, the switches have gone from barely-functional to non-functional, the chrome is flaking off the whammy bar, ugh. I love it too much to part with, but not enough to ever play it, so it never gets cleaned. I smell a restoration project!

Silvertone headstock


The guitar has a “zero fret”. A lot of older cheap guitars came with zero frets because it relieves the manufacturer of the responsibility of learning how to properly manufacture a nut. However, the zero fret is not evil. Generally, the action is a bit lower with a zero-fret guitar, and open strings sound pretty much like fretted strings, giving the guitar a more “balanced” string to string response when playing open chords. A few high-end guitars come with zero frets for those reasons.

The neck is very flat. I hate flat fretboards. They just don’t agree with my hands. The frets are also loose and worn. That, and the failing electronics, are the reasons this guitar got set aside. Well, that plus the fact that I bought a 1963 Fender Jaguar 😛


The tuners are not original. In fact, this is just a 3 on 3 set that somebody “repurposed” as a 4 on 2 set! I used to see these tuners all the time for around $10 a set. Worthless. It’s a wonder this guitar stays in tune at all.


There is a big chip beside the neck. You can also see how poor the neck joint is on this guitar. The neck will shift if you press on it, no matter how tight the screws are. I have no-name Chinese guitars that are better made than this.


Here’s a good shot of all the knobs and switches. The 4 switches under the pickups aren’t phase switches, they are just on/off switches. The big chrome switch on the bottom right is a bright switch. It has one volume and one tone. The tone is wired backwards. It has a roller bridge, but it still doesn’t stay in tune. See above about the tuners.

Playing this guitar is odd. The balance is way off. You have to use your left hand to hold up the neck to keep it from hitting the floor. I find myself hitting the pickup switches during songs, and the knobs are obscured by the whammy bar. Not exactly ergonomically designed, and that’s most of the charm!


Condition: 4/10

– Cosmetics: 6/10 Major dings, missing pieces

– Working order: 2/10 Electronics, needs a fret job

Playability: 5/10 Fretboard too flat, poorly balanced

Sound: 6/10 A real one-trick pony. Thin, raw, and quirky

Restoring this guitar has been on my ‘to-do’ list for about 10 years. I doubt I’ll get to it anytime soon.


Drowning in Guitars: ET-460

Teisco Twanger’s Paradise

Wikipedia on Teisco

Guitars on George