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Post new topic Been Playing My 1937 Silver Hawaiian Again
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Author Topic:  Been Playing My 1937 Silver Hawaiian Again
C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 29 Aug 2019 11:02 am    
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1937 RICKENBACHER ELECTRO SILVER HAWAIIAN (1 knob)













The SILVER HAWAIIAN ELECTRO STEEL was the first RICKENBACHER ELECTRO produced in 1937 with the body
made from chrome-plated brass sheet metal. The 1937 SILVER HAWAIIAN ELECTRO model also used the same
chrome-plated 1 1/2" wide magnets for the adjustable pickup (patent no. 2089171) as the 1937 bakelite
Rickenbacher models. The 1937 Silver Hawaiian Steels have an excellent sound that, in my opinion, is superior
to later non-brass sheet metal steels with different pickups, and sound is about the same as bakelite models, in
my opinion.

I enjoy very much playing this steel. Also the prices have been going up in recent years. If others have a Silver
Hawaiian, please show photos and express your opinion regarding the sound. Thanks.

C. E. Jackson Smile
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Mark Helm


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 29 Aug 2019 1:40 pm     Up....and DOWN
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C.E. LOVELY, lovely steel you have there!

I have had several and, you're right, they are close to the pre-war bakelite guitars sound-wise, tho I must confess, I prefer the sound of the bakelites. They sound a bit fuller and resonant to me, although amp, and what the Silver is stuffed with make a difference.

As you know, these were originally stuffed with whatever newspaper they had lying around (a good way to date these). I took the newspaper out of my last one (kept it, of course), then I re-stuffed the body cavity with rags I purchased at an auto parts store. The guitar immediately sounded better to my ear, but not quite bakelite territory.

NOW, as to value...

At the moment, there are no fewer than 3 beautiful 1930s Silver Hawaiians on Reverb, all priced in the $1,200-$1,375 range. NONE of them are selling.

The last one to sell for over $1,000 sold one year ago for $1,150.

The most recent one to sell sold 20 days ago for $995 (it was a '39 w/ a tone knob).

This summer, lap steel guitar sales have stagnated in a way I haven't seen over the past 5 years. While I'm hoping things will pick up, I worry that the Baby Boomers w/ money who were interested in these guitars have mostly everything they want (if that's possible), but now they have to be careful because of the economy. And there don't seem to be enough Gen-Xers like me who have been bitten by the bug and are coming up behind the boomers to buy their guitars.

And, while I remain hopeful, I think something has to give.

At the moment, there are 7 pre-war bakelite Ricks on Reverb with asking prices from $1275 for a sweet late 30's panda (that used to belong to a Forum member), to $1900 for a '39 silver panel B6.

THEY ARE NOT SELLING. One of them has been up for over a year, another 9 months, a couple more for 5 months, and so on...

SO--either prices have to drop drastically, or the guitars will continue to pile up, unsold. Of course, we could revert to how the market was 2-3 years ago, but that seems unlikely...
Sad
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David Ball


From:
Linville, North Carolina
Post  Posted 29 Aug 2019 1:54 pm    
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I haven't had a Silver Hawaiian, but I've had several of the other metal bodied Ricks over the years. The best sounding one I have had is a really beat early Model 59 student guitar. I've had other model 59s too, but none sounded like this one.

This guitar is one of the ones that came stuffed with newspaper--presumably to kill unwanted resonance. It sounds absolutely great. Better to my ear than any of the bakelites I've had, and I even sold my early fry pan a few years back because I preferred the tone of this beat up old student guitar!

Dave
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Mark Helm


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 29 Aug 2019 2:02 pm    
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David Ball wrote:

Better to my ear than any of the bakelites I've had, and I even sold my early fry pan a few years back because I preferred the tone of this beat up old student guitar!

Dave


WOW... that guitar may have been touched by the gods... or maybe it's you...they way you play it. Because I've NEVER played one of those sheet metal guitars I thought sounded especially good--certainly not as good as a pre-war bakelite, apart from one 1937 crinkle finish Model 59 that's close (it's in a Forum member's personal collection at the moment--he won't sell it! Like I said, some guitars are just special).
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David Ball


From:
Linville, North Carolina
Post  Posted 29 Aug 2019 2:42 pm    
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Mine is one of those 37 crinkle finish models. I've had others, but this one is special. Maybe there's something special in the news that's in the papers inside it ???

Dave
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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 30 Aug 2019 4:00 am    
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Thanks to David and Mark for the comments.

C. E. Jackson Smile
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Tim Whitlock


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 31 Aug 2019 4:37 pm    
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I found my '37 SH last year and it was love at first strum. My experience was mainly with Fenders but I am now a Rickenbacker true believer. (I just took delivery on a 50s DW-16.) I have not played any bakelite Ricks - I'd love to hear one but this one is sheer tone nirvana. The richness and sensitivity of the pickup are off the chart and then you get that hint of the bell like sound of the brass body coming through. So sweet!

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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 7:11 am    
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Tim Whitlock wrote:
I found my '37 SH last year and it was love at first strum. My experience was mainly with Fenders but I am now a Rickenbacker true believer. (I just took delivery on a 50s DW-16.) I have not played any bakelite Ricks - I'd love to hear one but this one is sheer tone nirvana. The richness and sensitivity of the pickup are off the chart and then you get that hint of the bell like sound of the brass body coming through. So sweet!



Tim, I like your choice of words for describing the tone, richness and sensitivity, of the pickup.
You have a beautiful instrument. Thanks for the reply.

C. E. Jackson Smile
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John Dahms


From:
Perkasie, Pennsylvania, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 3:19 pm    
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Tim, I noticed your guitar has a silver nut and bridge saddle, mine does too. Most are black. I have only seen silver on the earliest production on this model. Mine is D44. Also my '37 8-string Silver Hawaiian also has one ( that one doesn't even have a serial stamped in it although all it's features date to 1937.
Some people say they have trouble with the reflective fingerboard being hard to see, but I never give it a thought (Ray Charles couldn't see his piano either but he got around on it pretty good).
The thick sound of the Ric pickup gives a family resemblence to all Rics even though the body materials and construction vary by model. It may seem funny but I have many models and I sometimes think my favorite(?) Ric tone may be the aluminum / bakelite dual 8 doubleneck lap even if it is a bear to sit on your lap.


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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 4:09 pm    
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John, thanks for posting the photo and information. Those Silver Hawaiians are
2 beautiful steels. What is the spacing between the strings at the nut on the 8 string?

MY RICKENBACHER ELECTRO D-16: c. 1946


Is this similar to the one you have?


C. E. Jackson Smile
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John Dahms


From:
Perkasie, Pennsylvania, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 6:45 pm    
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C.E., The 8 string has the same dimensions as a 6 but the nut was cut to fit 8 strings. This is pretty common on some brands and a big reason I play 7 stringers instead of 8 when I can find them. In fact the headstock has factory installed plugs where the 3 & 3 tuners would be and was redrilled for 4 & 4 tuners. By the way, I have never seen a 7 string Silver Hawaiian, the 8s are rare enough. I have only seen 2 or 3 single knob and a few more 2 knob (w/ tone) in many years of looking.
Yes the post-war dual 8 is the model I was referring to in the other post (but with white flying saucer knobs of course). I do think the nut width may be 1/8 - 3/16" wider on those necks, maybe.
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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 3 Sep 2019 5:02 am    
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John, thanks for the reply and information. The white flying saucer knobs were the standard,
but the only one I found at the time had replacement knobs. I also prefer 7 strings, rather
than 8, due to spacing. I have a 1950 8 string Rickenbacker Model BD, and a 1946 7 string
Rickenbacher Model B. I prefer playing the 7 string, rather than the 8 string, due to greater
string spacing at the nut.

C. E. Jackson Smile
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Mike Anderson


From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 3 Sep 2019 11:49 am    
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Mark Helm, I know my vision isn’t good and sometimes I’m dozy to boot, but I can’t find this amazing trove of Rickenbackers/Rickenbachers at Reverb. Maybe I’m getting excluded in my searches from instruments that don’t ship to Canada? Any help would be hugely appreciated.
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Tim Whitlock


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 3 Sep 2019 4:53 pm    
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John Dahms wrote:
Tim, I noticed your guitar has a silver nut and bridge saddle, mine does too. Most are black. I have only seen silver on the earliest production on this model. Mine is D44. Also my '37 8-string Silver Hawaiian also has one ( that one doesn't even have a serial stamped in it although all it's features date to 1937.
Some people say they have trouble with the reflective fingerboard being hard to see, but I never give it a thought (Ray Charles couldn't see his piano either but he got around on it pretty good).
The thick sound of the Ric pickup gives a family resemblence to all Rics even though the body materials and construction vary by model. It may seem funny but I have many models and I sometimes think my favorite(?) Ric tone may be the aluminum / bakelite dual 8 doubleneck lap even if it is a bear to sit on your lap.


Mine is D198 John. I also assume it's a 37 based on the features. Th refelections were an issue for me at first but I have gradually adapted. You have a nice collection!
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Tim Whitlock


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 3 Sep 2019 5:01 pm    
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C. E. Jackson wrote:
John, thanks for posting the photo and information. Those Silver Hawaiians are
2 beautiful steels. What is the spacing between the strings at the nut on the 8 string?

MY RICKENBACHER ELECTRO D-16: c. 1946


Is this similar to the one you have?


C. E. Jackson Smile


When shopping for my 2nd Ric I was looking hard at the D-16, like the one in C.E Jackson's photo above. They are very cool looking and people seem to really like seeing a steel guitar played on one's lap. (I get a lot of "wows" when I play my Silver Hawaiian.) But a lot of players have said that their D-16s are really heavy and unwieldy so I opted to search for the highly prized console DW-16, and was lucky to find this one. Mine is a '54 and the serial number says it was the 5th one made. It sounds absolutely brilliant but I'd have to give a slight edge in tone to my SH.
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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 4 Sep 2019 5:37 am    
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Thanks to everyone for the comments and photos. Most seem to like the unique tone from the
Silver Hawaiian, as I do.

I made my purchase in 2004, paid $600. There were no strings on the steel when I purchased it.
I purchased from a bar owner in West Texas who was using it as a wall hanger with about 30-40
other vintage steels, but I liked the overall looks and chanced the purchase. When I installed A6
strings, it sounded great to me. I had it appraised by a reputable appraiser who gave it a value
of $800. I notice that the current value is about $1,600. However, this price varies depending on
the area of the dealer and current supply and demand. I think they are great little steels, if you
can find one in good condition at a reasonable price.

Thanks again to all.

C. E. Jackson Smile
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Mike Anderson


From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 4 Sep 2019 11:38 am    
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Answered my own question. Yep, listings without a Canadian shipping option disappear even without me logging in. As soon as I choose Canadian currency I don’t see them anymore. Anyway no big deal, I’m a member in good standing and can always try communicating with the seller. Great thread and beautiful instruments!
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