Friday, November 23, 2012

The First Electric Guitars

These schematic drawings are
from a patent application
or an electrical musical instrument, submitted on behalf
the Gibson Guitar Company in 1937.

This electrical musical instrument is one of the rarest
in the world. It was
made by the Rickenbacker Guitar
Company in 1931.

They called it the Electro Hawaiian, but most people
now call it
the Frying Pan.

Crafted from a single piece of wood, it was the prototype
for a cast-aluminum model. Its electromagnetic pickup
is essentially the technology used on all electric guitars today.

The 1936 Rickenbacker, known
as the Spanish Model B.

Working for Adolph Rickenbacker, George Beauchamp
filed his first U.S. patent application for the Frying Pan
in 1932, shortly before the guitar went into commercial
production. A second, greatly revised application was
submitted in 1934.

At the North Carolina State University Engineering Fair
in 1940, first prize went to NCSU physics professor Sidney Wilson
for his invention of the world's first fully electric guitar.
The instrument was the first to have single-string pick-up.

Gibson had introduced a converted acoustic guitar - the ES-150 -
in 1937 that used a single bar to pick up the signal from all strings.
It achieved some popularity, but was plagued by unequal
loudness across the six strings.

Professor Wilson reasoned that: 1) individual pick-ups could remedy
the unequal loudness problem, and 2) the acoustical body
was not necessary for a fully electric instrument.


This under-stated little beauty is
the Harmony Lap Steel Electric.

... and in 1939, Slingerland put out the Songster.

It seems electric guitars have always been beautiful.



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