Images from the Everist Gallery
NMM 5917. Electric lap-steel guitar by Electro String Instrument Company, ca. 1935-1939.
Model A-22. Serial no. B232.
Board of Trustees, 1995.
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Often cited as the first commercially produced electric guitar, the so-called "frying-pan" electric lap-steel guitar (model A-22), was also known as the "panhandle," "pancake," or "Electro Hawaiian model." The body, made of cast aluminum by the Aluminum Alloy Casting Company, is covered with a "lacquer wash," remnants of which can be seen on the fingerboard and back. The Electro String Instrument Company, founded by Adolph Rickenbacker (1892-1976), was responsible for the electric pickup—a pair of horseshoe-shaped magnets surrounding a coil of wire which itself surrounds six individual magnets (one at each string). This pickup was designed by George Beauchamp, Rickenbacker's partner, who filed a patent application for his invention on June 2, 1934. The patent was awarded three years later, on August 10, 1937 (#2,089,171).
Inscriptions: On a metal nameplate screwed to upper end of front of headstock: RICKENBACHER / ELECTRO / RE [in flaming circle] / LOS ANGELES.
Adolphe Rickenbacher changed the spelling of his name to Rickenbacker, in honor of his distant relationship with the W.W. I flying ace, Eddie Rickenbacker. Although company literature and advertising spelled his name with a "k," the headstock nameplates, such as the one on this instrument, used the original spelling, with an "h," until the 1950s.
Views of Peghead
Front and Back Views of Body, Bridge, Pickup, and Rear String Attachment
Total guitar length: 730 mm
Neck length (nut to ribs): 415 mm
Neck width, nut: 45 mm
Diameter of body: 177 mm
Lit.: Timothy D. Miller, The Origins and Development of the Pedal Steel Guitar, M.M. Thesis (Vermillion: University of South Dakota, 2007), p. 31.
"Instrumental Innovations," Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2007, p. W4.
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