View Full Version : 1940s Rickenbacher Electro Mandolin

Nov-02-2013, 6:34pm
My latest 8-string acquisition:

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Rickenbacker launched more than just an electric Hawaiian guitar in 1932; there was also an electric Spanish guitar, tenor guitar and mandolin. These were less radical than the lap steel in that they had conventional hollow wood bodies, but they were still the first of their kind. The mandolin initially had a regular oval soundhole in the top of the Harmony-made body, but it underwent several changes over the next decade. This is actually one of the last of the Electro Mandolins, with a body and neck sourced from Regal. It was built around 1940-1943 and so has the coveted 1 1/2" wide pickup. In fact, it's identical to the pickups used on 6-string guitars and lap steels, right down to the six pole pieces! The body has a flat laminated-spruce top and an arched laminated-maple back. The bracing is unusually designed and extremely heavy to accommodate the huge pickup, with a massive brace running down the center of the back. I wonder if they had problems with earlier models collapsing under the weight of the pickup.

The pickup has been rewound to the original spec (sadly, it somehow died in transit), but the rest of the instrument is original including the case. The neck has a bit of a bow, which I intend to have heat-straightened; right now I'm tuning it down to E to relieve some tension. It's still very playable on the lower frets. The instrument has a bright sound with fairly weak output, which must have been a benefit in an era when amps were usually muddy and distorted easily.

Nov-02-2013, 7:10pm
Love those horseshoe pups...

Nov-02-2013, 8:05pm
Nice! Don't see many of these, and when I do they're rarely this clean. Where'd you pull that one down?

Carter Vintage has a nice-looking one. Here is Steve Earle playing it:


Charles E.
Nov-02-2013, 8:36pm
Eddie Peabody did this video way back when.......


Nov-02-2013, 8:46pm
Nice! Don't see many of these, and when I do they're rarely this clean. Where'd you pull that one down?

I first saw it on Gbase. I thought the price was a bit high, but then I realized that the seller also had it on Ebay and was taking offers... snagged it with my first offer.

Interestingly, most of the (few) ones that I've seen have the Kauffman Vibrola as seen in the video of Steve Earle. I'm not a fan of vibratos on guitars, so I'm happy to have a regular tailpiece on mine. I can't imagine the havoc it would wreak on the tuning of a mandolin.

Eddie Peabody did this video way back when.......

All those instruments are the first generation of Vega electrics. I've played the mandolin in a store and used to own the lap steel. Currently, however, I have the guitar and amp (http://www.oldfrets.com/Vega1930s.html) of the same series: