In this post, I’ll be discussing the mando-guitar as made by the company TEO Guitars.
Judging from their website, it seems as though the only instrument made by this company is their mando-guitar.
The link to their website provides a list of medium to high profile artists and musicians who use the TEO mando-guitar.
I appreciate a company that can focus all its resources on the production of a single instrument.
For example, an instrument manufacturer like Gibson has done a lot of product diversification over the years.
And Gibson makes some great instruments.
But in some cases, it’s possible they stretch into areas of music and instrument manufacturing that aren’t within their circle of competence.
Alternatively, TEO Guitars seems to focus only on their mando-guitar.
As a result, they can put all their resources into making this instrument as good as it can be.
The TEO mando-guitar’s technical name is the TEO SS-12.
In the following sections, I’ll discuss the properties of this instrument.
But first, let’s explore the company.
The company seems to be relatively young, at least compared to the giants of the guitar industry like Fender, Gibson, Martin, etc.
After reaching out to Teo Guitars, I discovered the owner, Terry Ousley, hand-makes each and every order he receives in Indiana.
Each owner of the TEO SS-12 seems to love their instrument, likely in part as a result of the TLC that Terry puts into each instrument.
In fact, I have read reviews that say that these instruments are almost impossible to find in the used market.
It’s also nice to see a domestic company in the United States making “home-made” instruments.
As far as price goes, The last time I reached out to Teo Guitars, the base model was selling for approximately $685.
However, please reach out to them directly for current pricing.
This puts the TEO SS-12 above the retail price of Goldtone’s electric six-string mando-guitar at $500 and Goldtone’s acoustic-electric 12 string mando-guitar at $670.
Though they’re often sold out with online retailers, you can order a custom instrument from Terry himself.
All it takes is a visit to his website and shooting him an email through the “contact us” link.
With that said, let’s take a look at the instrument itself!
The TEO Mando-Guitar (aka the TEO SS-12)
Terry’s mando-guitar is a twelve-string electric instrument.
Although electric instruments don’t tend to follow the pattern of an A or F shape body, the instrument has more of an A-body than F-body.
The instrument uses standard 12-string mando guitar tuning as discussed in my mando guitar strings article.
Standard 12-string guitar (and mando-guitar) tuning has the first, second, and third string pairs tuned exactly the same as the first second and third string.
And the fourth, fifth, and sixth string pairs are tuned one octave higher than the fourth, fifth, and sixth strings respectively in 12-string guitar and mando-guitar tuning.
The TEO mando-guitar follows this standard 12-string mando-guitar tuning.
However, the Vox mando-guitar, the TEO mando-guitar’s closest relative, actually follows an alternate 12-string tuning where each string pair is tuned to the exact same note.
This is slightly closer to the mando-guitar’s tuning where each string pair has the exact same tuning.
In short, the Teo mando-guitar more or less covers the tonal range of a traditional mandolin.
As far as the properties of this instrument are concerned, I could not find a description of the sorts of wood that go into the instrument.
As I’ve mentioned, the sorts of wood in an instrument really influence the way it sounds.
That said, I did find a number of forum posts that discuss how great the TEO mando-guitar sounds.
Terry obviously takes great care in the instruments, and it really shows in his staunch supporters.
As far as pickups are concerned, it seems as though Terry uses single coil in the pickup for what many consider a cleaner, clearer sound than a humbucker.
There are certain people who can glance at wood and know what type it is, and I’m not one of them.
That said, the neck of the TEO mando-guitar looks to me to be a rosewood plank, though I could be wrong!
Also like we discussed, rosewood has a warmer, richer tone to it.
In general, it seems as though the tone of the instrument will have that classic single coil sound and a warmer tone from the neck.
Of course, certain strings can bring out different tones on any instrument as well.
Like I always say, several factors can influence the tone of an instrument, including the strings and especially the player.
As an example of this, I remember a story from when the legendary BB King passed away.
A close friend of his, the great Eric Clapton, did a quick interview talking about BB from inside his house.
While there, Eric Clapton sat down and played BB King’s guitar through BB King’s amp.
You might expect to hear a BB King sound.
However, in spite of all of BB King’s gear, Eric Clapton couldn’t help but produce his signature Eric Clapton sound, in my opinion at least.
This goes to show just how much can change as far as sound goes just based on the hands of the player.
Based on reviews and videos of people playing this instrument, the general tone of the TEO mando-guitar is excellent!
If you’re really sold on the instrument, shoot Terry an email and order one up custom made!
Have you played this instrument or are you planning on getting one?
Let me know in the comments!