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1930s AudioVox 7-string Vintage Lap Steel, Collector-Grade & 100% Original, Seattle-Made


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Up for sale, a 1930s AudioVox 7-string lap steel in collector-grade, 100% original condition and in perfect working order. The brainchild of Seattle resident and Hawaiian steel guitar teacher Paul Tutmarc, the AudioVox brand is a little known pioneer of electrified instruments, with Tutmarc creating the first fretted electric bass well before Leo Fender's Precision (Tutmarc called his the "Electric Bass Fiddle"). Tutmarc was also at the forefront of the invention of the electric pickup, based around a large horseshoe magnet. Likely pre-dating Rickenbacker's "Frying Pan" steel, AudioVox is an important progenitor of electrified sound.

This 7-string lap steel was one of very few hand-made in the mid-1930s by Tutmarc for his seedling of a company. It features a walnut body, sporting the fluid, carved shape that superseded the original octagonal "frying pan" design first used in 1932-3. The pioneering pickup design features a large horseshoe magnet with the magnetized blade extending through the swooping lines of the pickguard. The pickup delivers a clear, sweet bell-like tone with an excellent noise floor. It’s an impressively balanced sound with ample midrange warmth and singing, articulate trebles. This AudioVox has been freshly restrung here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 13-55 roundwound strings.

The scale length measures 22 5/8” with a 2 1/8” wide nut. String spacing at the bridge measures just shy of 2 1/2”. The bound fretboard has dot position markers, and the headstock retains the original open-gear strip tuners, crafted by Waverly. The tuners were originally repurposed from a mandolin, with the 8th tuner post unused. The chrome-plated hardware is exceedingly clean, including the bridge and control plate/pickguard. The original molded "radio" knob tops things off.

The three-piece walnut body is framed on top by single-ply binding, and this steel has been stunningly well-preserved, with cosmetic wear limited to just a handful of tiny nicks and faint scratches in the gloss finish, largely relegated to the back.

A modern padded gigbag is included, along with a screw-on cable that has a conventional 1/4" input.