Retrofret Stock # 4801. Rickenbacker Electro Vibrola Spanish Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1939), made in Los Angeles, polished black finish, molded Bakelite body and neck, original tweed hard shell case. One of most unusual and interesting fretted instruments ever produced, the Rickenbacker Electro Vibrola-Spanish Guitar is truly unique. It features Doc Kauffman's motorized vibrato tailpiece, designed to create Hawaiian-style vibrato effects for Spanish guitar players. The Bakelite Electro-Spanish guitars are rare enough already, with or without the original Kauffman Vib-rola, but the motorized version is at another level of eccentricity. Not more than 90 guitars of this type were produced between 1938 and 1942, and this was a very expensive instrument in its day selling for nearly $200.00 including the amplifier. The body is double width, essentially two bakelite bodies screwed together containing along with the regular electronics a motor, flywheel and solenoid assembly. The motor activates the vibrato unit and the guitars pitch is shifted subtly creating a vibrato effect while the guitar is played�at least in theory. The guitar is heavy enough that a stand was usually provided to mount the instrument to the amplifier. The 1-1/2" horseshoe magnet pickup is stamped with patent number 2089171. the hollow areas of the body are covered with 5 decorative chrome plates, with six small holes on the upper bass plate and 16 small holes on the upper treble plate for ventilation. The bridge is set much higher than the standard Electro-Spanish unit and has individual rollers for the strings. The Kauffman tailpiece is stamped "Vib-Rola" and is the same as the standard hand-operated version except for a piece of heavy-gauge wire running from inside the body that replaces the handle. A flying saucer knob on the lower base bout controls vibrato speed and the knob on the lower treble bout controls the pickup volume. The bolt-on bakelite neck has integral molded fret ridges and 6 individual open backed tuners. The headstock plate reads "Richenbacher Electro Los Angeles" with a lightning bolt logo.Richard R. Smith, author of "The History of Rickenbacker Guitars" says "The advertising literature read like a catalog for a modern day guitar synthesizer: 'The vibrola guitarist can simulate the organ's majestic diapason, the resonance of the vibraharp, and in slow moving melodies, the accordion's reedy tone, or for beauty and elegance, amplify and swell a crystal harmonic in amazing crescendo'". Although this guitar was not a great success, Rickenbacker continued to use the manual version of the Vib-Rola tailpiece until 1961 and "Doc" Kauffman went on to partner Leo Fender in his early commercial electric guitar venture. The Vibrola Spanish is one of the most ambitious and unusual American guitars ever as well as one of the most historically interesting.Overall length is 32 1/2 in. (82.6 cm.), 9 1/4 in. (23.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 1/2 in. (572 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.). In fine, all original overall condition this guitar has some play wear to the bakelite frets and fingerboard, but is still quite playable. Some minor wear to body, plating mostly well preserved and still shiny. Original tuner buttons are shrunken somewhat but still fully functional. The amplifier and stand unit are not included but the guitar and case are complete unto themselves. Excellent Condition.
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Retrofret has been shipping instruments throughout the USA and worldwide for nearly 20 years. We have yet to experience a single instance of damage (...I hope this doesn't jinx our perfect record). Retrofret's shipping department can send parcels via UPS, Fedex, USPS, BAX, DHL and DSV Air and Yusen Air Cargo. We ship instruments and other items on a 48 hour approval basis once we received payment in full. Shipping charges and taxes are not included in the prices listed. Mail order shipments within New York are subject to sales tax of 8.875%. Shipments out of state are not subject to NY city and state tax, although the buyer assumes all other tax requirements of their municipality. Before sending payment, please call to confirm the instrument's availability and the cost of shipment.
If you decide not to keep an instrument shipped to you, notify us by telephone, fax or email within 48 hours of receiving it. We'll take note to expect the return. Please ship it in the same carton via UPS, insured for its full value. We will refund the price of the instrument as soon as we receive it, provided it arrives in the condition in which it left the shop. The customer is responsible for all shipping charges.