Fender Champion Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1952)

Fender  Champion Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1952)
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Item # 10059
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Fender Champion Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1952), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 5240, yellow pearloid finish, hardwood body.

This Champion is a nice player's example of Fender's "bread and butter" lap steel from the first half of the 1950s. This instrument sounds and plays excellent but is not all original as it is set up with a recent Duncan Antiquity re-creation of the original pickup, which is a great sounding unit in itself. The wiring and pots are modern but the original wax tone cap appears to have been retained. The knobs are dome-topped Fender style repros, in the correct style for the early 1950s.

Although designed as a student instrument, the Champion Steel was -- and remains -- a great-sounding guitar fully suited to professional use then or now. The flashy plastic-covered symmetrical two-bout body has a chrome bridge and cover plate with conveniently positioned tone and volume knobs. The serial number 5240 is stamped on the bridgeplate where the strings anchor through the body. While no date markings are evident the use of slot-head screws along with the serial number indicate this Champion was likely assembled in 1952-3.

The metal fingerboard plate pinned to the body has black paint screening to outline fret positions. The headstock has metal facing with integral nut stamped with lighting bolt logo and "Fender Electric Instrument Co. Fullerton, California". Over the years many Champs have sacrificed their pickups to provide the engine for vintage Telecaster recreations, a trend that has become even more common recently. This one is one of them, but it has been equipped with the best possible reproduction so is still an excellent player's instrument.
 
Overall length is 29 3/4 in. (75.6 cm.), 7 1/2 in. (19 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 1/2 in. (572 mm.). Width of nut is 2 1/4 in. (57 mm.).

This is a nice player's Champion overall, and still a fine sounding instrument though not strictly original as noted above. It shows some general wear overall, with minor scratches and a spot of stencil loss to the metal fingerboard along with scuffing and corrosion on the headplate and bridge cover. The plastic covering has some dings and dents and a spot flaked away on the back edge; nearly all the flocking is gone from the bottom of the body. There are old but replaced buttons on the original Kluson strip tuners. The newer Duncan pickup is slightly hotter and brighter than many originals and this is still a fine-sounding steel guitar with a powerful, singing tone; an authentic early 1950s Fender instrument at a relatively reasonable price. Excellent - Condition.