7/18/2014

c.1955 Magnatone Pearloid-Wrapped Lap Steel Guitar




While Magnatones can't be dated by their excellently-marked serial numbers (backplate on headstock) this particular steel can be dated by the original Kluson tuners that were removed (they were near shot). Said tuners put it from 1953-1956 and that was a nice bit of relief for me because I'd guessed about 55 just from the looks of the hardware.

I'm going to admit now that I don't play in C6 tuning (what the lappy is tuned to in the soundclip) but I wanted to tune it up there so this could be heard in a "natural" lap steel voice (I tend to play in open G, D, or E as I lack the skills and patience to get into proper steel tunings). Still... I think you can hear that glorious old 40s/50s lap tone in there. This thing chimes old country/Western swing right off the bat. It practically sings out "There Stands the Glass" in its sleep.


This came in great shape and needed only a cleaning, new set of Kluson-repro tuners, and a set of new strings. How often does that happen? ...not very often.

Note the "yellowed edge" along the fretboard decal's treble side: for some years there must have been masking tape along that edge with note markers for someone learning. It was removed before I picked up the steel but I cleaned up the leftover bits as much as possible.


Compared to the pre-Magnatone Dickerson lap steel I posted recently this later Magnatone has some definite upgrades: the nut and tailpiece are both heavier-duty and provide a bit more sustain, for starters, and in this case the wax-dropped single coil pickup has been completely covered by the pearloid coating and the wrist-rest is grounded to the output jack right from the factory (smart move).





The Tele-style jack cup is a good choice for durability.



Much of the felt remains... as does the nice "ball catch" for the strings.



So, folks, now that we know this was a 53-56ish build... you can synchronize your 37xxx serials to that timeframe.



The original two-tone blue/cream case is beat! -- but it's blue. This is something I'd only want to use for storage.

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