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Here's an "Other Gibson" you don't see every day!!

dj335

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Thought I would post some pictures of an "other Gibson", one you don't see every day. This is a Gibson Royaltone lapsteel, circa 1951 or 1952. There is no serial number to accurately date this piece, but Gibson made these starting in 1950 and discontinued the Royaltone in 1952. It was a rather low cost item they offered in their catalog of instruments.

I bought this lapsteel around 1975 at a garage sale. I was driving along, and saw a small brown case sitting on the front lawn, so I had to stop and see what it was. Paid $25 for it, and the seller apologized for the "high" price because he pointed out that it was, after all, a Gibson.

It has an incredible sounding P-90 style pickup underneath the bakelite plastic cover. The speed knobs are original also. I had to change the tuning key assemblies a few years ago, as all the buttons on the original ones disintegrated over time.

Here are some pics:







A closeup of the input jack:



And a closeup of the pickup:



And the original chipboard case that came with this lapsteel:



Hope you enjoyed these!

Dave in So Cal
 
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dj335

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And I saved the best picture for last. Check out the top on this lapsteel. Flames all the way back in 1951!



Dave in So Cal
 

becks bolero

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that is a REALLY cool gtr....I'd love ot get a little slide gtr like that


me, I like i tbetter without the bakelite cover ;)



congrats!! :dude: :dude:
 

dj335

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that is a REALLY cool gtr....I'd love ot get a little slide gtr like that


me, I like i tbetter without the bakelite cover ;)



congrats!! :dude: :dude:

Becks,

Thank you for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the pictures. I agree, it looks cool without the cover on.

There are usually a few lapsteels on eBay all the time. There are companies that make them new, plus there were a lot of these made and sold by Gibson, Fender, Rickenbacker, etc. Ebay sellers are asking pretty big money these days for the old ones in good condition, but if you're patient and keep an eye out, you can find one in decent shape for a couple hundred or so.

I got a chance to play my Royaltone out live at a big charity function a couple years ago that a friend of mine put a band together for. Played the '80's David Lindley song "Crazy 'bout my Mercury". Set my amp for cranked up tube distortion, used the heavy steel bar that came with it in the case for the slide, and played it with banjo style thumb and finger picks. Sounded f'ing awesome, so much so that several of the party attendees came up to me later to look at it and ask me what the heck it was that I was playing!

Dave in So Cal
 
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butnut

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I'll give ya 30 bucks....cash! hehe, nice score...nice top! Lindley eh...nice. Have fun.
 

Rev.WillieVK

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Played the '80's David Lindley song "Crazy 'bout my Mercury". Set my amp for cranked up tube distortion, used the heavy steel bar that came with it in the case for the slide, and played it with banjo style thumb and finger picks. Sounded f'ing awesome

Here you go Dave - Mercury Blues! Lindley is the best. :dude:

So... is your Royaltone all-maple, or is that a maple top over a painted(?) mahogany body, or... ?

:salude
 

Tom Wittrock

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I believe that is a thin maple veneer on mahogany.

And the cover is not bakelite. It is a clear plastic [plexi-glass?] that is backpainted, like the knobs.
 

dj335

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I believe that is a thin maple veneer on mahogany.

And the cover is not bakelite. It is a clear plastic [plexi-glass?] that is backpainted, like the knobs.

TW59,

You're right, it is a thin maple veneer (with some flames!) over what I think is a mahogany body. I'll pull off the cavity cover tonight, which is a cut piece of masonite pressboard wood, and look to see what the body is made of. It's pretty light weigh overall, and may even be a lighter wood like pine, alder, etc. The brown paint Gibson used on the body looks like regular wood paint, much like house paint. It also looks like it was applied by hand with a brush or maybe dipped, instead of sprayed on with a gun.

You're right on the cover too. I mistakenly called it bakelite; it is indeed plastic that was painted from the inside.

Dave in So Cal
 

andreja marovic

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very cool...I wish I had the same luck as you and find such a nice baby for so low bucks.Today probably worth much more that what you have paid.
Great deal fantastic looks.
Play it in good health!!!
 

moonweasel

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Might want to use a reissue jackplate if that is original. You could just toss the original in the case for safe keeping. They are pretty fragile.
 

dj335

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Might want to use a reissue jackplate if that is original. You could just toss the original in the case for safe keeping. They are pretty fragile.

Moonweasel,

It is the original jackplate in excellent condition, without the usual corner cracks, etc. Your advice is well taken; if I start playing this lap steel more often, I'll pick up a replacement jackplate and put the original away into safe keeping.

I did also keep the original tuning keys, so I could get them restored someday by glueing on new plastic buttons, and cleaning up the tarnished metal parts.

Interestingly, the Gibson dealer product specialist that I showed the Royaltone to recently said the same thing to me about protecting the jackplate, and that the jackplate in this condition is worth more than what the Royaltone sold for originally in 1951.

Dave in So Cal
 

dj335

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What's the fingerboard made of?

Bnorm44,

The "fingerboard" is plastic, as replied by TW59, that is attached with small phillips head wood screws. It's there to serve as a position marker, as the strings sit about 1/2" above the top, just like you'd find on a pedal steel.

It takes a bit of skill to play this thing in tune. The fingerboard markings get you close, your ear gets you the rest of the way.

Dave in So Cal.
 

moonweasel

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Moonweasel,

It is the original jackplate in excellent condition, without the usual corner cracks, etc. Your advice is well taken; if I start playing this lap steel more often, I'll pick up a replacement jackplate and put the original away into safe keeping.

I did also keep the original tuning keys, so I could get them restored someday by glueing on new plastic buttons, and cleaning up the tarnished metal parts.

Interestingly, the Gibson dealer product specialist that I showed the Royaltone to recently said the same thing to me about protecting the jackplate, and that the jackplate in this condition is worth more than what the Royaltone sold for originally in 1951.

Dave in So Cal

Cool!
 

Wally

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dj335

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Oct 16, 2008
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Wally,

The body binding and pickup cover on your BR-4 are very cool looking. Comparing the pictures of yours to mine, the BR-4 must have been a more expensive model lap steel than the later Royaltone, given the extra finish details.

Also, good score on the stand. I had to sit mine on my lap when I played "Mercury Blues" at the gig a couple years ago.

Nice case, too!

Dave in So Cal
 

Wally

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Dave, yes, the BR-4 was top of the heap, I suppose. Not all of them are double bound. This one is very clean...I got lucky and scored it from Lloyd Maines, father of the Dixie Chick's lead singer, Natalie. THe pickups are the big key, though, and all of the Gibson lap steels that I have seen have the same basic pickups....killer fat single coils. DAve, I think your Royaltone has it going on....great looking little steel. I would buy one like that in a heart beat.
ONE big advantage yours has over my BR-4 is that both controls are on the treble side and therefore don't interfere with the picking hand's access to the strings. That's the only reason Lloyd let it go.
The stand? Well, I don't know if I would trust the stand for very long. IT is as you can see quite risky. IT could take a tumble with a slight bump. I thought it was cool so I bought it, but on a bandstand....no way!
 
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