Teye A-Series #34 (the Scorpion)

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Drowned Rabbit, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Drowned Rabbit

    Drowned Rabbit Black Beauty Beats Burst Gold Supporting Member

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    In the two years since I received my A-Series "Day of the Dead" La India
    it has become my absolute favorite instrument, quickly rising through the
    ranks until ultimately relegating my other guitars to the purgatory of their
    cases. Though, when the mood strikes, I still will pull one of the others from
    the row lining my bedroom wall and put it through it's paces. After all, each
    one is exceptional in it's own way. They remain, forever, very cool guitars.
    The 69 SG, the 67 Tele, the 85 PRS, the 62 SG Custom, the 64 Silvertone
    1446, and all the others. Their contrasting shapes and specifications were
    never merely utilitarian means to an end for me, their individual colors
    always more than just statements of fashion. I never considered them as
    simply tools. From the beginning, before I ever even owned them, they had
    existed in a near-mythical state in my mind. Transformed by their rich
    history and associations with various artists into magical symbols of intent
    and purpose. Finding them, one by one, often after years of questing and
    saving, felt like victory. I still marvel at how each possesses it's own unique
    voice and it's own distinct feel. I'm still surprised at how my playing is
    altered simply by switching from a Les Paul to a Telecaster. The shift in tone
    somehow shaping my style and leading me down entirely different paths than
    I otherwise would have gone with a song. But the Teye had conquered all.
    Challenging them one by one and ultimately beating each at it's own game.
    La India became the one I keep within arm's length. My first choice. Now
    Teye has built a new Electric Gypsy for me, one with different woods and
    new switching specs, and I think that readers might find it interesting to see
    how the two models compare to each other.


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    Woods

    Teye does not use any pore filler on his guitars, and his finishes are a
    mixture of French Polish and varnish in just the right combination and hand-
    rubbed in the style of the old. I truly believe this extra effort makes a
    noticeable difference in the tone. My La India was easily the most resonant
    and open sounding instrument I had ever played. The question was, could
    Teye top himself? A Mahogany body and neck, combined with an Ebony
    fretboard, is a tried and true formula. When ordering the Day of the Dead La
    India two years ago, the relative safety of this marriage of tone woods offset
    my uncertainty about an aluminum top guitar (of which I had no previous
    experience). But, for this La Llama I would be challenged to put my faith in
    the builder and trust to his expertise.


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    Teye suggested a combination of woods which I personally had no experience
    with, at least not in conjunction with each other. While the top would of
    course be Maple (the main identifying feature of La Llamas), the body could
    be made of Korina and the neck could be Walnut. He said this would give the
    guitar extra spank. Here was my dilemma - do I play it safe and stick with
    old, familiar Mahogany? Or do I trust Teye's expertise? It might turn out
    brilliant, or it might turn out to be a disaster. But one thing was for sure, it
    would be an expensive experiment. Then something occurred to me. If Teye
    had told me two years ago just what his guitars were capable of, with no
    sound clips or corroborating customer testimonials to back him up; if he had
    told me back then what he had accomplished with his electronics alone, I
    never would have believed him. No way. But the proof of his achievement
    was already in my hands. La India. So I took the chance and went with Teye's
    suggestion. And...

    Teye is wise.


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    The Scorpion La Llama surpasses my La India in tone and feel. And I really,
    really love my La India. I am not a honeymooner. I am not one of
    those guys who is blinded by the excitement of a new addition. If anything, I
    dislike guitars during the first month or so of owning them. Maybe I dislike
    change. Maybe I'm just an ornery b*st*rd. But guitars have to prove
    themselves to me. They have to fight to earn their place in the pack.
    Otherwise, they get Gulag'd. That's how I know when I've got a really special
    one. Because I'm already prejudiced against it just for being the new guy.
    This La Llama is winner. Actually, it's a masterpiece.


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    TONE

    The three Humbuckers are identical on both guitars - Lollars, which are
    custom-wound to make full use of Teye's proprietary electronics. But the
    Maple top makes the Scorpion La Llama a shade darker than La India. The
    high end frequencies are a bit softer, mellower, and it is also quieter, when
    played without amplification, than the aluminum of the DotD guitar. The
    metal top on my La India seems to provide a little more information to the
    pickups, resulting in that instrument's ability to overdrive an amp more
    quickly. This makes La India the more versatile of the two. Or, at least it
    would if not for the recent changes to Teye's switching configuration. The Day
    of the Dead La India has Teye's old standard 3-Hum switching: bridge only;
    bridge/middle; bridge/neck; neck/middle; and neck only. Incorporating a
    recent variation first used on his two Humbucker guitars, Teye has now made
    the 4th position neck/middle out-of-phase (Peter Green) setting standard on
    his three Humbucker guitars. More on that in a moment. First, let me say
    this. Having owned an Electric Gypsy for a couple of years now, I am well
    versed in the electronics. I have discovered and committed to memory most
    of the various classic tones, and the more unique ones as well, which these
    guitars have to offer. The Mood knob, in conjunction with the excellent range
    of the Tone and the two Volume knobs, puts a whole cadre of classics sounds
    right at the player's fingers. This is not an exaggeration. This is not hype. You
    really can go from a full on LP bridge tone, to the throaty cough of a vintage
    P90, to the cut of a Telecaster with just a twist of the wrist. And now, with
    the out-of-phase pickup selection engaged, the sounds of vintage Gibson
    Customs, both LP and SG, are available as well.


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    Peter Green Sound

    My experience with out-of-phase Humbuckers has never been a love affair.
    It's always seemed a bit gimmicky and I've rarely found myself using this
    tone in any serious way. My 62 SG Custom is wired this way, likewise my 85
    and two 86 PRS's, and I only ever lingered there momentarily, mid-solo,
    before continuing on to the fuller sounds otherwise available on the toggle or
    rotary knob. But, as in so many other ways, here the Teye was different.
    With the Gibson and the PRS, the out-of-phase is a one trick pony and those
    guitars would invariably respond negatively to any turns of the volume or
    tone controls when this setting was engaged. It sounded interesting with
    everything on 10. Otherwise, it was completely useless. The Electric Gypsy,
    however, keeps it's versatility even here. Imagine my surprise when I began
    to play with the volume and tone controls while having the Peter Green
    position engaged!


    I was stunned. It's almost like Teye took an old, silicon fuzz box and
    Frankenstein'd it to a half-cocked wah, then built that monster right into his
    guitar. I've never heard anything like it. And it's all analog! How did you do
    it, Teye? But the best part is, the Gypsies with the out-of-phase setting will
    absolutely nail Hendrix tone. My La India does a damn good Strat. Anyone
    who's ever picked up an Electric Gypsy and messed with the Mood knob will
    testify to that fact. But my new La Llama, with the out-of-phase setting, can
    recreate the Wind Cries Mary tone on command! My neighbors have been
    hearing happiness staggering on down the street every night this week, lol.
    The other switch settings remain the same as on the older three Humbucker
    Teyes, so I won't waste time detailing them here. In depth descriptions can
    be easily found at Teye's website, as well as in other reviews both on the internet
    and in print.


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    NEW KNOBS

    Another innovation worthy of note is Teye's new knobs. Now, I was a fan of
    the old knobs. Aesthetically at least. They remind me of the seventies Stones
    and the New Barbarians. I can't support that statement with a rational
    explanation. But, nevertheless, that's what I think of when I look at them.
    The problem is, they don't work very well. They are one of the few
    components on an Electric Gypsy which were not designed by Teye himself.
    Apparently, Teye and the guys in his workshop call them "wobblers". Guess
    why. I even went to the trouble of ordering some replacements from the
    seller (Teye provided his website) in an attempt to find some non-wobbly
    ones. At Teye's suggestion, I ordered a bunch. Out of 20 knobs, I found only
    5 that didn't wobble. Still, like I mentioned earlier, I resist change with a
    passion. So I had somewhat resigned myself to merely tolerating the new
    knobs while still quietly preferring the old, crappy 70's-looking ones in my
    heart of hearts.

    Once again I learned, as I had with the Korina/Walnut wood combo, that I'd
    do well to listen to the master if I want the best results. Not only do the new
    knobs look fantastic in person, but they are without a doubt the best knobs
    I've ever used from a functionality standpoint. They are smooth as a greased
    pig, with just the right amount of weight, so that they perform their rotation
    in a very consistent and controllable manner. And... not even a hint of a
    wobble. There are no numbers however, only a single black dot to mark your
    place in the sweep. But the Electric Gypsy has never been stupid. These
    guitars are about control. And for those of us (me especially) who are
    somewhat lacking in the control department, the Electric Gypsy is about
    teaching control. I had already been indoctrinated into the plug
    straight-in-no-pedals cabal when I picked up my La India two years ago,
    and these new knobs are merely another step towards total tonal awareness.
    Of course, either one of my Teyes is still perfectly happy to have all four
    knobs cranked to ten and growl like a :Devil


    ** In fact, with all controls wide open, any pots or filters are completely
    removed from the signal path. Leaving just the sound of the fingers, wood,
    strings, pickups, cable, and amp! **


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    Engraving

    Here's the truth. Teye is an artist. I'm convinced that his soul underwent a
    transfiguration which brought a Renaissance spirit across the vast gulf of
    centuries before finding refuge in the body of a Northern European Flamenco
    guitar player hiding out in Austin, Texas. Haha, OK. I'm pouring it on a bit
    thick. But, you've got to admit, the man's engravings are EPIC!!! If you
    haven't seen his work before, you should immediately go to either his
    website or this incredible site - created by GearPager AlanB - which beautifully
    illustrates various A-Series and Fuera de Serie models. The engravings are
    the most easily discernable characteristic, besides the tone, which set these
    guitars apart. And what Teye has created here is truly jaw-droppingly cool.
    Honestly, words fail me. Just look...


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    So, yes the masterful engraving make these guitars stand out. But, beyond
    that, it conveys the sense that you are holding an instrument from another
    era. I don't doubt that sounds pretty corny to a lot of you reading this. And I
    would probably roll my eyes after reading such a statement if I had never
    held a Teye-built guitar. But it's the truth. I don't know how else to describe
    it. These guitars just have an aura of mystery about them. The closest
    comparison I've found would be from something I read on Teye's website. In
    his description of the engraving motif for the backplate of one of his El
    Dorado models, he likens it to the engravings found on Bedouin Camel Guns.
    Weapons which received ornamentation and illustration which properly befit
    their importance and seriousness of purpose. In other words, these guns are
    not mere tools. They are extensions of a person's will and part and parcel of
    the man who wields them. So it is with the Electric Gypsy.


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    So that's all for now. Thanks, Teye. I'm honored to call this one mine. It truly
    is a masterpiece. And thank you guys for reading my long review. Look for
    my threads about the Teye DoubleNeck and the Teye Konstantinopolis in the
    coming months
    .
     
  2. simplecomplexity

    simplecomplexity Senior Member

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    are you getting a DN and Konstan too?!?! wow!
     
  3. j.s.tonehound

    j.s.tonehound Member

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    Very, very, very nice guitar.
     
  4. amc

    amc Member

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    impressive indeed.............
     
  5. Jaan

    Jaan Supporting Member

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    That's a stunning guitar!!
     
  6. bsteff666

    bsteff666 Member

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    Beautiful guitar and a very nice review.

    Having lived with the original Teye three humbucker wiring for a while myself...I really would love to try out the new wiring.
     
  7. nik

    nik Member

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    Beautiful guitar!
     
  8. narad

    narad Member

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    video's worth a thousand words per 1/30th a second, eh? ehh?
     
  9. Jedi

    Jedi Member

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    I really like the design sensibility and as over-the-top the inlay and engraving is it always comes off very tasteful.
     
  10. Drowned Rabbit

    Drowned Rabbit Black Beauty Beats Burst Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes. The Doubleneck is the one from his website (Teye has only made the one) and the Konstantinopolis is a bit of a secret. It's going to be very cool, though. You can see a pic of it by clicking on this link to the Teye Guitar Forum.

    You definitely should. The out-of-phase adds quite a bit IMO.

    I know this sounds ridiculous, but I don't even own a video camera. I keep meaning to get one, but I always end up buying guitars with the money instead. I'm really going to try and get one though, I'd love to post some video of this guitar so you all could hear it. Korina and Walnut sounds killer together.

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  11. simplecomplexity

    simplecomplexity Senior Member

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    a pic = a thousand words! in this case.. 1.
     
  12. elteye

    elteye Member

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    Location:
    Austin, Texas, yea baby!
    After reading this flattering-to-the-Xtreme-review, my head is redder than the top of your guitar...!

    Thank you very much for this beautiful piece of prose! It is so full of compliments that at one point
    i almost became envious of myself. I shall tattoo the part about my engravings on my left under-arm, for those moments my hands cramp up with joint pain from... doing the engravings.

    The one who's left speechless after reading your beautiful poetry/review, am I!
     
  13. Drowned Rabbit

    Drowned Rabbit Black Beauty Beats Burst Gold Supporting Member

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    Glad you liked it, Teye! I still don't feel like I did justice to your amazing work. I can't wait until we get to see the Konstantinopolis. That one's going to seriously blow people's minds.
     
  14. stormrider66

    stormrider66 Member

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    Wooow!!!

    Spectacular guitar:bow
     
  15. paintguy

    paintguy Long Hair Hippy Freak Silver Supporting Member

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    Looks like stunning workmanship. Sounds like it is equally impressive in the tone department. Good for you and congrats!
     
  16. kodecar

    kodecar Member

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    Wow!! Holy crap!! That is my favorite Taye so far. Really amazing.
     
  17. Drowned Rabbit

    Drowned Rabbit Black Beauty Beats Burst Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for commenting, Guys. I'm loving this guitar more and more.

    It's tone is really quite different than my metal-top La India. They can cover
    much of the same ground, but it has by no means replaced my other Teye.
    Next one will be the Konstantinopolis with an Ebony top. Can't wait!
     

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