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1938 Recording King by Gibson Roy Smeck AB104 Vintage Lap Steel w/ Tweed Case


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Up for sale, a 1938 Recording King Roy Smeck model AB104 lap steel in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. This lap steel was produced by Gibson at their Kalamazoo, MI factory for Montgomery Ward’s Recording King line, endorsed by the “Wizard of the Strings" himself, Roy Smeck. It features maple construction, loaded with a Curtis Novak blade pickup crafted specifically for this steel and faithful to the original design.

The custom Novak pickup offers a complex, harmonically-rich midrange and a focused, lively low end. The trebles are super fat and really sing, with a glassy, percussive quality and a touch of growl when you dig in. This steel has been freshly restrung here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with roundwound 12-52 strings.

The rosewood playing surface has pearl dot position markers, and the scale length measures 22 1/2“. The aluminum nut measures 2 1/16" wide. The headstock retains the “Recording King” stencil text over the pearl inlay, and the original Kluson-made tuning machines turn smoothly and hold accurate pitch. A couple additional string guides have also been added to the headstock face,

All of the electronics function as intended, with the Novak pickup governed by Master Volume and Tone controls. The original pair of CentraLab pots are intact, along with the original paper-in-oil tone cap The knobs are modern replacements, faithfully matching the original deep brown octagonal design, and the aluminum bridge is intact. Stamped on the maple back, the DWE-prefix factory order number dates the instrument to 1938 (D for 1938, W for (Montgomery Wards, and E for Electric).

The gloss Sunburst finish is framed by single-ply binding, and the one-piece screw-mounted back of the body is a highly figured piece of flame maple. The original lacquer exhibits some finish checking, and cosmetic wear includes a number of minor nicks and faint scratches on the body as a whole, as well as some buckle worming on the bottom.

The original tweed hardshell case with vertical racing stripes is included; all three latches function, and the original handle is intact.