Fender Deluxe 6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1952)

Fender  Deluxe 6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1952)
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Item # 10003
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Fender Deluxe 6 Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1952), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 501, Blonde lacquer finish, ash body, original tweed hard shell case.

This is a super nice example of Fender's professional grade lap steel guitar from the first half of the 1950s, The Deluxe 6. While not made in anything like the same numbers as the student Champion, this was one of the instruments that fueled the company's early success before the Telecaster was born. The Deluxe was offered in 6 and 8 string format and set the design tone for the company's expanding line of console steels, which many pro players were then moving to.

The Deluxe was part of Fender's initial lap steel line in 1946 in a simpler, cruder form. This fancier style was introduced in 1949 with an elaborately sculpted body and Fender's improved "Direct String" pickup with an oblong casing featuring a larger magnet on the bass side. This design was intended to give the bass strings a meatier tone while keeping the shimmer of the high noted unaltered.

The squared off headstock has a metal well with the tuners mounted laterally and an integral raised flange acting as a nut. The metal fingerboard plate is pinned to the body with black paint screening to outline fret positions; this piece is shared with the down-market Champion model. The finish is the same lovely blonde over ash shared with the first Spanish guitars. The serial number "501" is stamped on the tuner well and the pots date to the 38th week of 1952. The screws are of the Phillips-head variety also suggesting a late 1952 assembly date.

When this steel guitar was made Fender already had the Telecaster and Precision Bass in production, ready to change the musical world. While these lap steels are not as sought after as those instruments that fueled the rock and roll revolution, they were made by the same craftspeople in the same place and time. This is a small and comparatively affordable piece of the early Fender grail, and a very fine sounding steel guitar to boot!
Overall length is 28 5/8 in. (72.7 cm.), 6 3/8 in. (16.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 1/2 in. (572 mm.). Width of nut is 1 15/16 in. (49 mm.).
This old Fender steel has seen some play time but survived well and still sounds great. Everything remains original with some small dings, dents and chips to the finish but no major wear. The original blonde color is nicely preserved with no smoke damage and only fairly minor checking. Good examples of the Deluxe are increasingly hard to find. This is a very cool steel guitar; one of the best of its era, a real Fender relic with a great vibe and lovely tone still housed in its early-pattern tweed hard shell case. Excellent - Condition.