By around 1953 the Magna Electronics company in Los Angels was selling electric guitars designed by Paul Bigsby. It’s not known whether Bigsby also had a hand in the company’s lap steels, but with the fabulous tone these things deliver, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Magnatone marketed this model as the “Perloid”, though seventy years later the heat-moulded Laminex-style finish is universally known as mother-of-toilet-seat, (MOTS). American bathrooms of the day must have been a sight! Magnatone’s “seamless pearl plastic covering”, came in a medium blue, black, and our grey here, which is generally considered the most desirable. You’ll notice a slight green appearance in some of our photos, which is how it appears in different light and at different angles – is it grey, is it green, is it a greenish grey…?
First or second year
One of the differences between this fantastic Magnatone and the last one that we sold, is the case. The previous model came in its original crocodile pattern chipboard case, this comes in the earlier, tweed-covered wooden hard case, with felt lining, which probably dates it to either 1950 or ’51, making it either a first or second year model. This one also has the slightly earlier bridge and string-thru arrangement.
Almost acoustic tone
With a solid Poplar body, original pots & wiring, and original red Sangamo USA capacitor, the sound is pure vintage Magnatone – that almost acoustic tone that few of the other lap steels of the day ever really came close to.
Aside from a new set of Kluson Deluxe-style tuners, the instrument is completely original and in overall Excellent- condition. The MOTS is completely intact, (other than two little spots on the headstock, just above the nut, on the low E side – see pic # 5), the flocked grey paint on the back is rubbed through in a couple of small patches, (pic # 4), and that’s it. Great condition!
One thing that makes these unique in the world of vintage lap steels, is the “buried pickup”. You’ll notice, (or not), in pic # 3, that there’s no pickup visible, and that the pickup cover is quite low. It’s often conjectured that a big part of the sweet Magnatone sound is down to that all-enveloping MOTS wrap.
Free courier delivery
Your vintage Magnatone lap steel ships in its original Victoria hard case, with FREE COURIER DELIVERY to any address in Australia. ($100 airfreight to New Zealand, and $175 to the US, Canada, UK and mainstream European countries)