Rickenbacker Silver Hawaiian Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1939)

Rickenbacker  Silver Hawaiian Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1939)
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Item # 8814
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Rickenbacker Silver Hawaiian Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1939), made in Los Angeles, nickel plated finish, stamped metal body, original black hard shell case.

This is a stunningly clean, completely original example of a Rickenbacker Silver Hawaiian Steel Guitar, easily the best one we have ever seen. This most striking pure deco era instrument is not only one of the coolest looking of all lap steels, it is one of the finest sounding as well. The Silver Hawaiian was the next model designed after the Bakelite Model B, coming into production about two years later in 1937. With a nickel-plated stamped metal body, the Silver Hawaiian was the same shape and layout as the Model B but rather less expensive to build, resulting in a retail price 30-40% lower. The hollow chambered body gives a more "reverby" sound than the earlier solid instruments, with a slightly more acoustic character to the tone.

This guitar has typical features for a 1939-era model. The headstock logo plate still reads Richenbacher "Electro" Los Angeles, like the earliest ones. The horseshoe pickup is the much-beloved prewar 1 1/2" magnet model with a mounting flange marked with the recently awarded patent number. The output jack is on the bass side, but by this point both the volume and tone controls were positioned on the treble side of the pickup -- the earliest versions lacked a tone control entirely. This example also has the contrasting black and white "flying saucer" knobs and a molded plastic bridge and nut.

The plated metal exterior gives a very flashy appearance -- Rickenbacker's original description states "...delights the eye with its flashing beauty", and indeed, this is a most striking-looking and fine-sounding prewar steel. This one is complete in the original case, also very well-preserved with period cord, picks, and a steel in the original leather cover. A real time capsule Rickenbacker, looking like it was just flown in by a chrome-plated DC-3 from pre-WWII Los Angeles to our 21st century world.
 
Overall length is 29 3/4 in. (75.6 cm.), 9 1/4 in. (23.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 1/2 in. (572 mm.). Width of nut is 2 1/8 in. (54 mm.).

This guitar is completely original and unaltered (except somebody changed the strings!), showing only the most minor wear. The plated finish has a few tiny spots of corrosion but still shines like bumpers on a brand new 1955 Cadillac. The G string tuner is slightly bent but fully functional. The case has some external light wear, and the paper handle is starting to disintegrate. We wish all 80 year old instruments had survived this well, but alas there are few left in the world like this. A true connoisseur's delight in a prewar Hawaiian steel and one of the best Rickenbacker instruments from this period we have ever seen. Excellent + Condition.