Rickenbacker Model B-6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar , c. 1938

Rickenbacker  Model B-6 Lap Steel Electric Guitar ,  c. 1938

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Item # 8138
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Rickenbacker Model B-6 Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar, c. 1938, made in Los Angeles, California, serial # C-1563, polished black finish, molded Bakelite body and neck.

This is a nicely original example of a pre-WWII Rickenbacker (spelled Rickenbacher on the nameplate) Model B-6 six-string Bakelite steel guitar. These instruments were the standard of their day and are still generally considered the finest-sounding lap steel ever made. The B-6 features the famous 1 1/2" horseshoe magnet pickup found only on pre-war guitars and strings loading through the body, the combination of features generally considered to produce the finest sound.

The body is molded black Bakelite with hollow cavities covered by chromed metal plates; the screwed-on neck has integral molded frets and nut with inset white position dots. This guitar has the style of tuners used in the mid-1930s, individual units with hexagon baseplates and angular metal buttons.

The Horseshoe magnet pickup is adjustable for height with knurled knobs. The volume and tone controls are mounted on either side of it and topped with black plastic knobs with a etched arrow pointer used up into the late 1930s. On these earlier models the output jack is mounted on the bass side of the body, where the audience couldn't see it.

The body is marked below the bridge with a 1932 patent number; the pickup mounting flange is marked with another patent number which dates it to mid-1937 or later. The specific combination of features on this example indicate a build date of 1938. As with all the early Bakelite Rickenbackers, this is a predictably great-sounding steel, an extremely nice example of the most sought-after player's instrument of its type.
 
Overall length is 29 3/4 in. (75.6 cm.), 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 9/16 in. (573 mm.). Width of nut is 2 1/4 in. (57 mm.).

A nicely original example with only some light average wear overall, mostly scuffs to the plating, but no spots down to the metal on the cover plates. The top bass side tuner is a little bent, but all the pegs work fine. The body has some scuffs and a few small edge chips. The electronics have seen some work but the pickup, pots, and components are all original, or at least period. Very fine-sounding and all-in-all one of the best 1930s B-6s we have had recently. Excellent Condition.