Gibson BR-1 Ultratone Lap Steel Electric Guitar , c. 1948

Gibson  BR-1 Ultratone Lap Steel Electric Guitar ,  c. 1948
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Item # 9772
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Gibson BR-1 Ultratone Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar, c. 1948, made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, white lacquer re- finish, maple body, Lucite fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

One of Gibson's most whimsical 1940s moderne creations, the abstractly shaped and uber-stylish BR-1 Ultratone Steel Guitar features an oblong asymmetrical body with back painted Lucite accents. The instrument's visual character was the work of the design firm Barnes & Reinicke, hired by Gibson at the end of WWII to add some new flavor to the company's recipe -- and boy, did they! This is the earliest version of the model and features a white finish on the maple body, with silver and coral pink (!) accents on the plastic hardware.

An early pre-P-90 single coil pickup with individual alnico magnet polepieces provides the tonal muscle to back up the Ultratone's outrageous looks. It is controlled by an unusual dual-tone-knob circuit, for an added range of sound. The second tone knob is very subtle in practice, but seems to do…something! The Ultratone in this form was quite short-lived (the design was modified in 1950), but remains one of Gibson's most unique and visually striking instruments. This one has survived in perfectly playable if no longer fully original condition.
 
Overall length is 32 1/2 in. (82.6 cm.), 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 7/8 in. (4.8 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 Ultratone has had a long journey since 1948, but still looks and sounds fine and would make a good 'knock around" steel for home, studio or live use. The body has been refinished in what we would describe as a semi-professional manner, the off white color looks good but has not been buffed out properly so has a decent amount of "orange peel" over much od the surface, there are a few areas of slightly uneven color as well.

The unique early-post war pickup and large-can pots remain original, as do the special salmon-plastic button Kluson tuners. The knobs look like 80's re-issues, the jack plate is a later metal piece and the original hinged plastic covers at the head and tail are long gone. While not a fully original instrument this cool piece of post-war streamline design still sounds exactly like it should and exudes Populuxe style. The original brown oblong HSC has also survived in gopod shape, even the nifty plastic handle. Very Good Condition.