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Images from the Everist Gallery

NMM 5918.  Electric pedal steel guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1941.
Electraharp model. Factory Order Number E4141-6.
Board of Trustees, 1995.

Front of Gibson electraharp Back of Gibson electraharp

Click on any mechanical feature above to see a larger view

The Gibson Electraharp pedal mechanism was developed to allow quick tuning changes between songs and allowed the player to raise or lower the pitch separately on individual strings. The sumptuous figured maple and walnut case hid the pedals and the player's feet behind an elegant Art Deco façade. According to Gibson's 1942 catalog, the instrument took five years to develop and "not until every detail had been perfected was a working model shown." The Electraharp had been developed jointly by a Gibson machinist, John Moore, and Alvino Rey, a well-known Gibson endorser. The Electraharp was Gibson's most expensive product in 1942, when it was sold for $477—$111.50 more than the most deluxe Super 400 arch-top guitar. Gibson records indicate that thirteen of the instruments were shipped before World War II and a dispute with the Harlin Brothers of Indianapolis, who held the patent on a similar design, the Multi-Kord, caused Gibson to cease production. The Electraharp was reintroduced after World War II mounted on steel legs, rather than built into a wooden cabinet, and with only four pedals. In 1949 it sold for a significantly reduced $395.

Lap Steel Guitar Viewed from Above

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Top view of Gibson electraharp

Lap Steel Guitar Pedal Mechanism Viewed from Below

Click on pedals to see an enlargement

Pedal mechanism, looking up from bottom

Additional Views of Pitch-Changing and Pedal Mechanisms

Click on thumbnails below to see larger images

Pitch-changing mechanism, top Pitch-changing mechanism, top Pitch-changing mechanism, top

Pitch-changing mechanism rods Pitch-changing mechanism rods Pitch-changing mechanism rods

Pedals Pedals Pedals

Literature:  Timothy D. Miller, The Origins and Development of the Pedal Steel Guitar, M.M. Thesis (Vermillion: University of South Dakota, 2007).

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Tuning pegs Pickup Pickup Pickup Fretboard Fretboard Pitch-changing mechanism Nameplate Tuning pegs Pickup Fretboard Pitch-changing mechanism Pitch-changing mechanism Fretboard Pickup Pedals Pitch-changing rods Tuning pegs Pedals, seen from below