Often referred to as “The Frying Pan,”
A-25 Electro Hawaiian Guitar was one of
the first commercially available electric
guitars. This lap-steel guitar featured a
frying-pan-shaped cast-aluminum body, 1 ½"
horseshoe-magnet pickup, no knobs, and a
metal nameplate that read “Electro.” In 1934,
“Rickenbacker” replaced that name and the
lap-steel continued its run until 1950.
The Rickenbacker Console 518 triple-neck steel
guitar, which debuted in 1956, descends from
the Frying Pan. The one pictured here is a late-
’50s model with three 8-string, 22 ½" necks that
are currently tuned to E13, A6, and A7 chords.
Each elevated neck features a horseshoe-magnet
pickup and an on/off switch, and
Master Volume and Master Tone knobs govern
the entire instrument. This setup is described
in a ’50s Rickenbacker catalog as “providing a
player the ability to smoothly roll off volume to
create desired shading and tonal effects and
faster changes between necks.” The catalog
goes on to say that the pickups enable “more
chord combinations, fuller chords and greater
harmony.” The guitar has natural-finished maple
panels, the corners and sides are covered with
polished aluminum caps, and the whole thing
is supported by a stainless steel frame. To
help prevent lighting reflections onstage, the
27-fret metal fingerboards are matte finished.
This Console 518 package also includes a gray
original hardshell case with red plush lining.
Thanks to Stan and Dave of Elderly Instruments
for listing this guitar on Gear Search. Whether
you’re looking for a vintage piece or the latest
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