Rickenbacker A-22 “Frying Pan” Guitar
The first electric guitar
Lapsteel guitarist George Beauchamp worked with manufacturer Adolph Rickenbacher to create an electric guitar.
In the early 1930s, Beauchamp created a magnetic device that worked by “picking up” vibrations directly from metal guitar strings and sending them to an amplifier. Rickenbacher helped him attach the “pickup” to a Hawaiian guitar, creating the first solid body electric guitar.
Whereas modern pickups work underneath the strings, this pickup wrapped over the top of the strings. The hollow body was made of cast aluminum and had a single knob for volume control.
Though officially called the A-22, it is more commonly known as the “Frying Pan” guitar for its distinctive shape. Like all lapsteels, it was played lying down on the lap with the face up. In 1949, Leo Fender introduced the first mass-produced face-out electric guitar, after which the A-22 electric lapsteel guitar all but disappeared from the market.
National GUITAR Museum
Time Period: 1937 - 1945
This artifact is currently on view.