Magnatone Mark III Solid Body Electric Guitar (1957)

Magnatone  Mark III Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1957)

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Item # 8313
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Magnatone Mark III Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1957), made in California, serial # 53923, Blonde lacquer finish, hardwood body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown alligator grain chipboard case.

The Magnatone Mark III was the company's first entry into the 1950s solid-body Spanish guitar stakes. The original 1956 design of these guitars was sourced from Paul Bigsby, who at the time had just phased out personally building electric Spanish guitars in favor of pedal steels and marketing his signature Bigsby vibrato.

By the time this one was built, the Mark III had been re-designed from the original neck-through body to a set-neck instrument, making it somewhat easier to build. The pots in this guitar are dated to the 24th and 35th week of 1957, so it was likely assembled late that year or early 1958.

The single pickup is mounted into a Formica-topped pickguard that covers the entire face and is controlled by a tone and volume knob. The nut is aluminum, and the unique stamped metal bridge/tailpiece unit has a "cast Beryllium" saddle that adjusts for height and intonation with screws mounted through the cover. The neck has an adjustable truss rod, accessed at the headstock under a plastic plate.

This is a great-sounding and good-playing instrument, similar to the early Harmony Stratotones in feel and sound but definitely more playable (the adjustable bridge and truss rod being a large factor) and built to a higher standard. The early Mark IIIs were only in production for a couple of years and are fairly rare today.
 
Overall length is 36 3/8 in. (92.4 cm.), 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar has seen some play time but remains all original except for the plastic endpin, which has been replaced. The finish shows numerous small nicks and dings, especially on the body edges, and there is a large scrape on the bottom side near the jack.

There is also a fair amount of wear to the sides of the neck. The Formica face remains quite clean, which after all was the proposed advantage of Formica -- in kitchens as well as on guitars!

All the hardware is in good condition with some light scuffing and minimal plating loss. The D string tuner is a bit bent but works fine. The frets and fingerboard also show some light wear but the guitar plays well and sounds great; a nice example of this fairly obscure but very cool little early solid-body Magnatone. Excellent - Condition.