A friend of mine just bought an old Rickenbacher off of an old gentleman last week and he is trying to find out what year it was built and what it is worth.As I have no knowledge concerning lap steels I thought I would check here for him.The guitar is solid black bakelite that sunbursts to a grey color in the center.
The ball ends of the strings are mounted in slots right in the bakelite at the rear end of the guitar.
There does not appear to be any serial numbers on it.
There are patent numbers on both sides of the magnets but I would assume that these would not include the serial number.
The former owner claims the guitar was manufactured in 1946 but there are no obvious numbers on the instrument to confirm this.
As on the "Fry-pan" they all featured an electromagnetic "Horse-shoe-magnet"-pick-up, invented not by Mr. "Bakelite"), black in color (much like the old telephones), a concept for which the company immediately filed and received a patent. This was the first electric solid body instrument with this feature ever (a feature they seem to have forgotten to file a patent for...
Oooops).1 or 2 controls: If two, they're located on opposite plates, not both on the treble side plate.
If one (volume), chances are the knob will be of an octagonal shape (first two years). Later and until August 10th 1937, the little tabs or "ears" on each side of the pick-up will bear a "PAT PEND.".
The guitar will probably be for sale when my friend can get an idea what a reasonable price would be for it. I'm NOT the expert that many here on the Forum truly are.
My Rick had the serial number in the end of the tuning piece; stock or whatever it's called. I'm told when the strings go thro' the actual guitar body (not a chrome endplate) it is prewar. Early models had a little octagon shaped knob for the volume control; flat in shape. Note: I have posted similar information on this Forum before.