Epiphone Electar Model M Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar (1938), made in New York City, serial # 2093, black lacquer finish, wood body with aluminum cap, original brown tolex hard shell case.

This is a particularly attractive and fairly early lap steel from Epiphone, still branded as "Electar". The stair-stepped High-Deco body with an etched gold-plated metal faceplate was designed (according to company lore) by Epi Staphopolo himself. The Model M was intended as the company's first deluxe steel guitar, and is quite a distinctive instrument. Most were finished in black; this is a very rare "albino" variant with a white-painted wooden body and Art Deco ornamentation with all gold metal hardware. The overall effect is very "Deco 1930s skyscraper" right out of a Hollywood musical; if Ginger Rogers had played a lap steel, this would have been it!

The pickup is the second Epiphone style, called the "Trubalance" with the first adjustable polepieces, an invention of Epiphone's Herb Sunshine. The coil is wrapped in black tape and fts under the gold-plated handrest. Twin Tone and a single volume knob are mounted on either side of the pickup; this was another Epiphone invention designed to offer a wider range of tone variations. This was a very short-lived feature, in production for only a year or so. The bound wood fingerboard has colorful dot inlay and open fret lines; they simply did not install frets into the pre-cut board! The nut and tailpiece/bridge combination are milled aluminum, gold plated like the rest of the hardware.

A metal plate pinned to the headstock reads "Epiphone ELECTAR" and there is a plate on the back referencing the licensed patents of Meissner Inventions, a firm that in the 1930s claimed patent protection on the concept of electric musical instruments. Meissner demanded royalties from any manufacturer building electric instruments; some, including Epiphone, acquiesced. This is one of the flashiest Electar instruments and is a particularly stunning period piece, a very rare combination of the white-and-gold livery on a 3-knob Model M. It is certainly one of the most beautiful looking steels from an era when there were quite a few!

Overall length is 30 1/4 in. (76.8 cm.), 7 3/8 in. (18.7 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 1/8 in. (54 mm.).

This steel is very nice overall, remaining all original except the tuning pegs. These are well-matched gold plated Grover-style Waverly re-issues; we would guess the original gold-plated pegs ended up on a fancy '30s Archtop some time ago. Other than this change the guitar shows some light playwear, but overall very nicely preserved. There are some minor dings, dents and scuffs and the edges of the fabric-covered backplate have frayed. There are pencil marks denoting the positions on the fingerboard, partially rubbed away. Overall a very fine and good-sounding instrument complete with original case, a superb piece of playable Art Deco. Excellent Condition.

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Listed2 years ago
ConditionExcellent (Used)
Excellent items are almost entirely free from blemishes and other visual defects and have been played or used with the utmost care.Learn more
  • Electar Model M
  • black lacquer
  • 1938

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Retrofret Vintage Guitars

Brooklyn, NY, United States
Joined Reverb:2015

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