Eddie Van Halen’s 1960s Teisco Del Ray WG-4L

This was Eddie’s first guitar. He initially bought a pair of drums when he came to the US, but when he was working around the neighborhood delivering paper to pay for the drum set, his brother Alex would sneak into his room and practice himself.

Eddie holding his first electric guitar, a Teisco Del Ray.
Eddie holding his first electric guitar, a Teisco Del Ray.

Eddie saw that Alex was getting better and better, so he decided to switch to an electric guitar instead. He bought a Teisco Del Ray for around $100 from Sears with four pickups – a detail that according to Eddie, made a significant impression on him as a high-school boy. At that time, he didn’t have money to buy an amp, so he would play with his guitar on the table – which made it louder since it would resonate through the wood.

We don’t know when exactly this was, but it was probably around 1966-67.

My first guitar had four pickups and all these switches, but I’m known for having guitars with just one pickup and one volume knob

Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone

In interviews, Eddie usually noted that the guitar had four pickups, but occasionally you’ll hear him say that it was actually three of them. But, from the photo above, we can clearly see that it was a four-pickup model after all.

A Sears Teisco Del Rey. A three-pickup job. I thought the more pickups it had, the better guitar it was. The more switches and everything.

Eddie Van Halen – the 1978 interview

Also, you’ll hear different statements from Eddie regarding how much he paid for it. He mentioned $100 in one interview, and $70 in another, which led some people confused that there were two guitars. Likely, this was just Eddie messing around, and not caring enough to be precise on these details.

Specs

Teisco guitars were made in Japan and imported to the US under various names such as Silvertone and Beltone. Eddie’s particular model was probably from 1965-66, and it was based on the Ibanez 3904 featuring nearly identical body shape and a similar pickup layout.

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Funeral Bill II
Funeral Bill II
2 months ago

Great job. It’s nice to see that even the incredible -=EVH=- started on a crappy, cheap guitar just like I did in 1992. Mine was a 1970s flying V copy in “blue burst”. Funny thing, I used to push the lower wing of the V into my Mom’s dining room table bc it vibrated through the wood and got louder. Reading that Ed did the same thing made me smile…I found that trick by accident because there wasn’t a lot of room where I used to play. Once my Mom noticed the scratches my guitar was making she freaked and that was the end of that, lol.