Exotic Art
"With it`s playful appearance, the coco would be easy to dismiss a misguided sculptor`s abstract take on a Strat. But this guitar is anything but a mere art object. Love it or hate it, the coco`s offbeat appearance is a result of Teuffel`s determination to built an ergonomically correct guitar that melds the tonal characteristics of a P-90-equipped Strat with the sonic clarity and physical compactness of a Steinberger.

Like Steinberger, Teuffel revels in nonconformity. For starters, take the dramatically shaped body, which is carved from a pear wood and covered with a mixture of epoxy foam impregnated with carbon, glass, and cotton fiber. The result is lightweight stucture with a matte-textured surface that feels a bit like suede leather. The coco`s satin-fisnished, bird`s-eye maple neck joins the body via two hex-head bolts and a thick aluminium spacer block (that reportedly counteracts deadspots while separating the resonances of the neck and body) A 3 mm truss rod keeps the neck true without unduly affecting its natural resonances. The tall, narrow frets are nicely shaped and fitted, and a roller-equipped nut routes the strings to the cylindrical LSR tuners. The minimal headstock requires that the tuners be closely spaced. so close, in fact, that it`s difficult to get enough grip on the inside ones to bring the strings up to pitch. The trem system is a stock Wilkinson VS-100 fulcrum unit fitted with dual springs.

The three torpedo-shaped single-coil pickups feature a staggered magnet configuration that places the bass string polepieces closer to the bridge. This gives the low strings a bit more twang, while easing the bite of the treble strings. Also, each pickup can be easily positioned closer to the neck or bridge to emphasize different harmonics. Pickups are selected via a 5-way switch, and the master volume and tone controls are turned by rolling your palm across their bullet-shaped surfaces. Pickup selections are identical to a standart Strat`s, with the exception of position 5, which activates the bridge and neck pickup together.

The bridge pickup is engaged by pressing a large `blower`switch. This also activates a preset, passive EQ circuit that attentuates mids, while simultaneously rolling off highs for a creamier lead tone. The teardrop-shaped control-cavity cover pops off after removing one hex bolt. The switches, pots and jacks are located in three separate, unshielded sub-cavities that look like they`re molded into the body - the routing is that clean!

Tones and touch. The lightweight coco is exceptionally balanced and comfortable. Its deeply arched back conforms to your body like a recaro sports car seat, and the lightly textured surface provides a mild grip against your clothing. Though the neck is perched rather high off the body. your left hand falls very naturally onto the silky maple fretboard, and the space between the body and neck provides unusually easy access to the highest frets. Few guitars play this sleek!

Strummed acoustically, it`s amazing how clear and vibrant the coco sounds. Notes sustain beautifully, and chords resonate energetically from headstock to endpin. Plugged into our test amps, the coco delivered a big, dynamic sound with tons of output. Its P-90 vibe is unmistakeable, and side-by-side comparsions with a Strat proved the coco to be meatier at every turn. The coco`s clean tones are especially clear and chunky, and you can still get those clucky in-between tones in positions 2 and 4 - they`re just a lot more ballsy. Considering that the pickups are single-coils, their lack of noise is quite surprising.

Want to rock? Hitting the blower switch sends you straight to a squawky lead sound that`s right in the ballpark of a Les Paul Junior. It`s an ideal tone for gut-wrenching solos or wailing bottleneck forays, and the preset EQ curve keeps the treble in check. Pressing the blower button again takes you right back to your previous pickup configuration. This extemely efficient control scheme makes it easy to switch seamlessly between rythm and lead, and definitely gives the coco an edge for a live performance. The volume pot also features a bypass cap to preserve the highs as you decrease the level. Nice. The only downer is the tone knob, which offers only increasingly dull and uninteresting shades when attentuated.

With its one-of-a-kind looks, solid tones, and outstanding playability, the Teuffel coco is a high-performance attention getter. If you`re a tone-hound who also revels in such exotic playthings as Piaget wristwatches or DeTomaso automobiles, the coco is right up your alley. One thing is for sure: Strap this baby on and no one will ask you to play any Stevie Ray Vaughan licks.

Tone 4 of 5 points
Playability 5 of 5 points
Workmanship 4 of 5 points
Hardware 4 of 5 points
Vibe 4 of 5 points
Value 3 of 5 points

Written by Art Tompson

GuitarPlayer 11/1999