Rickenbacker Model B-6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1936)

Rickenbacker  Model B-6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1936)
$2,500.00 + shipping
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Item # 10342
Prices subject to change without notice.
Rickenbacker Model B-6 Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1936), made in Los Angeles, California, serial # C-357, polished black finish, molded Bakelite body and neck, original black hard shell case.

This is a well-played but super vibey and great sounding example of a pre-WWII Rickenbacker (spelled Rickenbacher on the nameplate) Model B-6 six-string Bakelite steel guitar. These instruments were the standard of their day and are still generally considered the finest-sounding lap steel ever made. This B-6 features the famous 1 1/2" horseshoe magnet pickup found only on pre-war guitars and strings loading through the body, the combination of features generally considered to produce the finest sound.

The body is molded black Bakelite with hollow cavities covered by chromed metal plates; the screwed-on neck has integral molded frets and nut with inset white position dots. This guitar has the style of tuners used in the mid-1930s, individual units with hexagon baseplates and (originally) angular metal buttons.

The Horseshoe magnet pickup is adjustable for height with knurled knobs. The single volume control is mounted on the treble side topped with an octagonal black plastic knob with an arrow pointer typical of the 1930s. On these earlier models the output jack is mounted on the bass side of the body, where the audience couldn't see it.

The body is marked below the bridge with a 1932 patent number; the pickup mounting flange is marked "Pat. Pend." which dates it to earlier than mid-1937. The specific combination of serial number and features on this example indicate a build date of (probably early) 1936. As with all the early Bakelite Rickenbackers, this is a predictably great-sounding steel, an extremely nice example of the most sought-after player's instrument of its type. This one appears well used, but still sings with that unmistakable Model B tone.
Overall length is 29 3/4 in. (75.6 cm.), 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 9/16 in. (573 mm.). Width of nut is 2 1/4 in. (57 mm.).

This B-6 was likely someone's gigging instrument; it shows general wear overall, but no serious damage. The Bakelite is very hard-wearing, and shows just some small scratches and scuffs with no damage or surface chipping. The plating on the metal parts has heavier wear, with a large spot down to the bare metal on the bass side cover plate and a smaller areas worn away by the volume control and on the upper treble side plate. The six tuners are all period; one is slightly mismatched with a larger baseplate and all have had the original fragile sintered metal buttons replaced with plastic. All the pegs work fine.

The electronics have seen some work; the horse shoe magnet pickup is original and sounds fantastic; the coil is wrapped in more recent electrical tape so it is impossible to see if has been re-would or simply re-covered. In either case it has exceptionally good output and really sings. The volume pot is newer, the original 1930s pot is retained in the case pocket. While not a perfectly preserved example this B-6 is an especially fine-sounding one; even not plugged in it rings for days! It is housed in a very worn but still functional shaped OHSC. Overall Very Good + Condition.