Gibson Skylark EH-500 Lap Steel Electric Guitar , c. 1961

Gibson  Skylark EH-500 Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1961)
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Item # 9132
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Gibson Skylark EH-500 Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1961), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 5218, natural lacquer finish, korina wood body, gig bag 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 1961, when all of 373 were shipped.

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, the 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. 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; 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 Skylark is relatively clean, showing some general minor wear (mostly to the nickel plating) and all original except for very nice correct style replacement knobs. There is some corrosion to the plated metal, most evident on the baseplate screwed to the body which shows minor scuffing probably from a slightly abrasive cleaning long ago. The wood body shows very light lacquer checking with some assorted dings, scuffs, and dents, but not a lot of wear overall.

A few of the slots on the metal nut have been filed out a bit (most notably the third) but this does not cause any playing problems. The original plastic logo plate is in excellent shape; these are fragile and often get broken over time. Overall a very nice a Skylark, fine sounding and ready to take flight in a Korina dream. It arrived sans case but a 3/4 gig bag is included that is an inexact fit but functional. Excellent - Condition.