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c.1933 Rickenbacker Electro Mandolin

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Serial #: NSN Body width: 9 3/4" Scale length: 12 1/4" Nut width: 1 1/8"

Materials: Figured mahogany body and neck; solid ebony fingerboard; pearloid headstock facing, triple ply ivoroid binding.

Hardware: All original nickel hardware includes single coil 'horseshoe' magnet pickup; open backed tuners with ivoroid keys, rosewood bridge with bone saddle; volume control with brown Bakelite pointer knob; 1/4" output jack.

Notes: California based Electro String Instrument Corporation introduced it's electric mandolin in its 1932 catalog. A round hole, mahogany bodied instrument, the Electro was fitted with the same innovative 'horseshoe' magnet pickup used in their pioneering A-25 'fry pan' Hawaiian lap steel guitars, the first ever marketed. Renamed as Rickenbacker in 1934, the firm can also claim credit for producing the first commercially viable electric mandolin. And here it is.

A transitional design, this rare example retains the mahogany body with its flat top and back, but is built without a soundhole, presumably making it more resistant to feedback. By the mid-30's, the model had been redesigned with an arched maple body, rosewood fingerboard, and a wider peghead fitted with a metal Rickenbacker logo badge.

This early example is fitted with all original hardware, including the horseshoe pickup, open back tuners, and narrow rosewood bridge with bone saddle, retained in position by two small factory installed screws. The pickup height is adjustable with a pair of thumbwheels on either side of the housing, and the volume controlled by the octagonal black Bakelite pointer knob. And in an era when screw-on cables were common, the modern, factory installed 1/4" jack was a foresighted feature as well.

Maintained in fine structural condition, the instrument shows moderate playwear consistent with its age, with some smooth thumbwear suggestive of a long professional career. A bit of pick wear near the neck is covered by a small clear sctratchplate, and is the only addition to the instrument. Action is smooth and low over fine original fretwork on the straight ebony fingerboard, and the pickup produces the clear, detailed tone for which these single coil pickups are renowned.

Weighing in at a just a hair over 3lb, the Electro is nicely lightweight and well balanced, and is accompanied by a truly remarkable vintage fitted metal hardshell case, that could keep an instrument safe in the trenches of the Somme, and probably did.

A truly remarkable find, from the very dawn of electrified stringed instruments. One only: call now.
















































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