Andy Tielman’s 10-String Guitar

Victor Uwaifo’s double-neck “magic guitar” with 18 strings immediately brings to mind Andy Tielman and his 10-string guitar.  I suspect that many if not most Americans are unfamiliar with The Tielman Brothers, a band of siblings from the Netherlands by way of Indonesia.  But check out this live performance of the band in flight, and you too might be floored by the realization that some of the most compelling rockabilly sounds came from a group of Indo-Dutch youngsters (many thanks to Tom Hutton for the Tielman tip):

Check out the drummer’s guitar work on “Rollin’ Rock” by The Tielman Brothers

Andy Tielman and his brothers Reggy, Ponthon, and Loulou would emigrate to the Netherlands in 1957 and get their first big gig at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair in the “Hawaiian Village” of the Dutch pavilion, where they stole the show (see live performance clip above) with their exuberant stage antics, according to Indo-Rock-Gallery.

Indo-Rock-Gallery’s story of the Indonesian expatriate music scene in the Netherlands also details how Andy Tielman and his brothers pushed the “new rock music” forward in a number of ways.  How fascinating, for example, to discover that —

  • Andy Tielman’s famous 10-string Fender Jazzmaster was a result of having switched from his original Gibson Les Paul (due to its weight) and finding the Fender sound too thin.  Tielman, therefore, doubled each string (except the highest and lowest ones) and tuned every string pair in octaves to enlarge the sound.  At the time, Tielman tried to conceal his instrument’s headstock with a towel, but other bands would copy his invention.  Even still, I can find no photos of Andy’s 10-string invention on the web.

Cees Bakker’s attempt to replicate Andy Tielman’s 10-String Fender Jazzmaster

Fender headstock

  • Cees Bakker reports that “another Tielman first” was their innovative use of dual Fender VI six-string basses, one with lighter gauge strings (Reggy) and the other (Robby) with heavier ones — furthermore, “thanks to their amp settings Reggy sounded like an octave below guitar and Robby like a real bass guitar, which is unique for a Fender VI.”
  • Bakker also points out how the output from bassist, Robby Latuperisa, was “plugged through Andy’s guitar signal” on the way to “all other Fender Bassman and Showman” amplifiers, in addition to the PA sound system.

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Rock-It-Chain has band member lineups over the years, as well as a detailed discography.

Hear the twin 6-string basses and see Andy’s 10-string (briefly) in this live clip