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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 ** 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! ** 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... 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. 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.