There’s a common thread among the guitars in this photo. Do you know what it is?
These guitars are part of my personal collection – and I will be bringing all three of them to the Sonic Valley show. You will have the chance to see them…and buy them if you are so inclined. I didn’t set out to collect all three of these guitars. It just sort of happened. The most recent acquisition is the 1936 Rickenbacker (actually Rickenbacher) Electro Spanish Model B lap steel. As soon as I bought it home I realized how it complimented and told an interesting story along side the 1958 Danelectro 3011 and the 2008 XOX “The Handle”.
If you said they were all black…I suppose I would give you a point (just to be nice). If you said they all had inconvenient input jack placements…I would agree, but you would have thought about it a little too much. The common thread I am looking for is each of these guitars are made out of non-traditional materials for the day – and each for different reasons.
1936 Rickenbacker (Rickenbacher) Model B
The Rickenbacher was made out of Bakelite phenolic resin. It is widely recognized this design is the precursor to the modern electric guitar design. It is considered a “solid body” in its function and acoustic properties but it is hollowed out and covered with the chrome plates for the purposes of reducing weight as well as facilitating the mold. The neck is bolted on, but is also Bakelite phenolic resin. The designer, Nolan Beauchamp, used this material because it was inexpensive, had desirable physical properties and was able to to keep the pickup and its unusual horseshoe shape from feeding back. The guitar sold for around $65 in 1936. There’s a nice write-up from George Gruhn on this model here. You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about Bakelite in this video from 1937.
1958 Danelectro 3011
The 3011 was made out Masonite. Starting in 1956 Nathan Daniel began making the guitars out of Masonite tops and backs. The frame was made of poplar or pine. This isn’t a very durable or attractive material. But…it’s inexpensive and the purpose of the design was to reduce costs for his distributor – Sears. This made electric guitars affordable by the middle class. A LOT of these guitars were shipped, but not many remain. You can imagine the abuse these took by young kids who were trying their hand at rock-and-roll. The 3011 is the single pickup version of the 3021 which is the model Jimmy Page played.
2008 XOX The Handle
The Handle is made out of contiguous carbon fiber. The designer is Peter Solomon. The neck and the body are one. It is extremely light (I think about 4.5 lbs) and has a body hugging shape. It’s incredibly comfortable. The chambers around the guitar are hollow. The neck is also hollow. The fretboard is carbon fiber. The idea was to create the best sustaining guitar. Unlike the 3011, it is virtually indestructible. It is very expensive, but this is a very unique and incredible to play guitar.