Gibson Skylark EH-500 Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1964)

Gibson  Skylark EH-500 Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1964)
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Item # 11137
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Gibson Skylark EH-500 Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1964), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 231528, natural lacquer finish, korina wood body, original black chipboard case.

"Wow, I coulda been a Flying V"! Well...maybe not, but still the sleek and stylish Skylark lap steel is mostly famous among dedicated Gibson fans not for what it is, but for what it is not. The light-grained African Korina wood these bodies are carved from is from the same stash the legendary 1950s "Modernistic" guitars (the Flying V and the Explorer) were built from. After those now-legendary models sputtered in the market, Gibson used up the wood supply purchased in the mid-'50s on these lively little steels instead of generations of unbuilt futuristic solid-bodies. This Skylark dates to 1964, late in the model's run when all of 264 were shipped in a world where lap steel guitars were pretty much lost in Beatle-era frenzy.

This makes each Skylark a sort of small piece of the Korina grail, albeit one not made in the form that achieved immortality! Taken on its own merits, this 1964 Skylark -- intended primarily for students -- is a very functional, snazzy-looking, and pro-grade lap steel guitar equipped with a single Melody Maker pickup, nickel-plated control plate and the same handrest/bridge cover used on some pre-war lap steels (Gibson never wasted anything!). The single-coil pickup is the smaller Melody Maker style used after 1960, and close examination shows the mounting plate is still cut for the older 1959 version with a wider coil; again, Gibson never wasted ANYTHING!

Another cool feature is the raised gold plastic headstock logo, an unusual feature shared most notably with the original Flying V! The abstractly shaped body has a two-level sculpted ledge around the edge and black gold-printed fingerboard pinned on. Those with uncurbable Korina fever often keep a snazzy little Skylark close at hand, a tangible piece of an otherwise unobtainable goal and a small reminder of one of Gibson's most elusive glories.
 
Overall length is 32 in. (81.3 cm.), 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 in. (2.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 in. (559 mm.). Width of nut is 2 in. (51 mm.).

This is a clean and all-original Skylark, complete in the original black chipboard case. There is minor corrosion to some of the plated metal and the large plate around the pickup and bridge has scuffing to the surface from perhaps overly aggressive cleaning. The Korina wood body shows lacquer checking with some small dings, scuffs, and dents, but really there is very little wear overall. This steel is about as nice a Skylark as we've had, ready to take flight in a Korina dream. It has a cool provenance too, having been part of the Walter Becker (of Steely Dan) collection originally sold at his estate auction several years ago. His studio storage markings are still on the case, but the auction tags are no longer present. Excellent Condition.