Rickenbacker (Electro String) Model B Spanish guitar

  • Rickenbacker Electro String Spanish Model B Bakelite electric guitar

Overview

Brand name: 

Product: 

  • electric guitars

Series name: 

Dates of manufacture: 

1935 to 1943

The Rickenbacker Electro String Model B was the Spanish version of the molded Bakelite Model B Hawaiian Guitar. Electro String introduced them in the summer of 1935. It was available as a six string standard model or a four string tenor guitar. These first Bakelite Spanish Guitars had a detachable necks with twenty-three frets. These frets were a molded part of the finger board: when they wore out the player had to replaced the whole neck. The Model B Spanish has a headstock plate which reads “Rickenbacher,” the pre-war spelling used by Rickenbacker.The use of Bakelite kept the production cost down (although Rickenbacker began to offer wooden replacement necks after the war).

The Bakelite Spanish body was faced with five ornamental chrome plates (changed to white plates in 1940) and it had a single adjustable horseshoe pickup controlled by one octagonal volume  knob (changed to two round volume and tone controls in 1938). There was a brass name tag on the headstock. These early instruments were typically black Bakelite, but Rickenbacker made Alvino Rey a white Bakelite Spanish guitar in the 1930s. The company discontinued the Spanish Model B during the war.

Although the Bakelite model B standard guitar was in fact semi-solid, it is often referred to as the first solid body electric Spanish guitar - as the chambers were for weight reduction only and not designed to resonate.

The Model B Spanish guitar was not a great commercial success, partly because lap steel playing was more popular than Spanish style playing in the 1930s. The ergonomics of the Spanish Model B also meant it was not comfortable to playing sitting down (the preferred position of most players at the time). 

Doc Kaufman designed a motorized vibrola tailpiece system and this was offered on the Model B Spanish, although the weight of the whole assembly meant that a stand was need.

Reference: The History of Rickenbacker Guitars. Richard R. Smith

Specifications (13)

Neck

Body fretNeck joins body at 14th fret
Neck jointbolt on neck
Neck materialBakelite neck
Number of frets23 fret
Tuner layoutthree-each-side

Body

Body materialBakelite body

Hardware

Bridgestrings through-body bridge

Controls

Controls shapeoctagonal controls
Volume controls1 volume control

General

Finish colorsblack finish
Made inUSA
Number of strings6 strings

Electronics

Pickups configurationhorseshoe pickup

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