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Guitar, object photograph, enlargement

From Rickenbacker International Corporation

Rickenbacker Electro Hawaiian, the Frying Pan
Electro String Instrument Corporation
Los Angeles, California
Around 1931

Crafted from a single piece of wood, this lap-steel guitar was the prototype for a cast-aluminum model nicknamed the Frying Pan. The first commercially successful electric guitar, its electromagnetic pickup is essentially the technology used on all electric guitars today.

Working for Adolph Rickenbacker, George Beauchamp filed his first U.S. patent application for the Frying Pan in 1932, shortly before the guitar went into commercial production. A second, greatly revised application was submitted in 1934.

Although the Frying Pan was already on the market, two successive patent examiners questioned whether the instrument was "operative."To prove that it was, Adolph Rickenbacker sent several guitarists to perform for the examiners at the Patent Office in Washington, D.C.

After many such delays, the patent was finally granted in 1937. By that time, though, other inventors had developed and marketed electric guitars of their own.

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