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1961 Gibson EH-500 Skylark Vintage Lap Steel Korina w/ Case


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Up for sale, a 1961 Gibson EH-500 Skylark lap steel in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. One of only 373 EH-500s produced in ‘61, this Skylark lap steel may be most notable for being crafted out of the same African Korina used for Gibson’s original “Modernistic” guitars (the Flying V, Explorer, and Moderne).

The Melody Maker-style pickup, used on these steels from 1960 onwards, has a sparkling sound with a certain midrange smoothness and low-end punch. There’s plenty of harmonic complexity, with just a touch of growl when really digging in, and the tone has both notable detail and warmth, the latter of which is accentuated by a set of flatwound strings. This Gibson lap steel has been dialed-in here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar to ensure optimal performance.

The scale length measures 22 1/2“, and string spacing measures 1 6/7” at the nut and 2” at the bridge. The playing surface features numbered position markers, with light wear along the treble-side edge and a small area at “frets” 6-7. The headstock sports a raised gold Gibson badge, marking yet another area of overlap between this steel and the original Flying V. The stock set of Kluson Deluxe single line strip tuners turn smoothly and hold accurate pitch, with original black plastic buttons.

All of the electronics function as intended, with the pickup governed by Master Volume and Tone controls. The Volume pot is a modern CTS replacement, and the original CentraLab Tone pot dates to the 40th week of ‘61. The reflector cap knobs are modern, vintage-correct replacements. The original nickel-plated control plate and bridge cover/hand rest both have a consistent dusting of surface patina, and the bridge cover is the same design featured on some of Gibson’s Pre-War lap steels.

The body has a distinctive asymmetrical shape with a German carve, and the 100% original and ambered gloss nitro lacquer Natural finish highlights the natural coloration and grain of the Korina body. There’s extensive tight horizontal lacquer checking across the instrument as a whole, with a number of minor dings largely relegated to the edges and bottom of the body.

A vintage non-original hardshell case is included; all three latches are functional, and the handle is present.