Rickenbacker Model B-6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1937)

Rickenbacker  Model B-6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar  (1937)
This item has been sold.
Item # 9398
Prices subject to change without notice.
Rickenbacker Model B-6 Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1937), made in Los Angeles, serial # C-932, polished black finish, molded Bakelite body and neck, gig bag case.

This original pre-war Rickenbacker (still spelled Rickenbacher on the nameplate) Model B six-string Bakelite steel guitar has had a bit of a life, but remains an excellent player's instrument. It has had a repair to the neck body joint that is really only visible on fairly close inspection but puts it more in the "player" than "collector' category. These original 1930s Bakelite Rickenbackers are generally considered the finest-sounding lap steel guitars ever made, and this one certainly does not disappoint.

This B-6 features the famous original 1 1/2" horseshoe magnet pickup used up until WWII, and strings loading through the body instead of attached to a tailpiece. This combination of features was abandoned on post war Rickenbacker steels but is now considered to produce the best sound. The body is molded black Bakelite with hollow cavities covered by silver metal plates; the screwed-on neck has integral molded frets and nut with inset silver position dots. The headstock mounts individual tuners and a decorative metal nameplate.

The pickup is adjustable for height with knurled knobs and features a coil wrapped in black cloth-covered wire. The single volume pot (on the treble side) is equipped with the original black plastic knob with serrated sides. As is typical of these early models, the output jack is mounted on the bass side, where the audience would not see it!

The body is marked below the bridge with a 1932 patent number, and the metal pickup mounting flange is marked "PAT PEND", which is only found mid-1937 or earlier. This is a predictably great-sounding steel, and notwithstanding the repair work still a nice example of the most sought-after guitar of its type.
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 1/4 in. (57 mm.).

This guitar is in excellent playing condition with one caveat: it has been repaired at the neck/body joint, very neatly but visibly. This is the weak spot on these steels and this is not the first we have seen that has neatly been split in half there after a drop or similar calamity. This example has had a superbly well-done restoration, with specially made milled metal pieces fitted inside the Bakelite neck and a large bolt holding the pieces tight. Suffice to say it's never coming apart again! We don't know who did this work (we'd love to take the credit, but it was not us) but kudos to them, from the outside all you can see is the slim line across the Bakelite fingerboard indicating where it was once split.

Apart from this repair the steel shows some typical minor play wear. There are with some small chips to the Bakelite edges and a spot of pick wear through the plating on one of the metal covers. All hardware remains original except for recent openback Kluson-style tuners that are very neatly fit. The Horseshoe magnet pickup and wiring are original and sound great as expected. While not perfect this is a great player's example of this much-loved steel. It includes a modern fitted gigbag that appears to have been made for the instrument. Overall Very Good + Condition.