Electric Guitar Home?…..

As I was driving home a couple of days ago, I saw this new huge billboard with the following:

The first line was in huge capitol letters taking up most of the top half of the bill board – OKLAHOMA – In much smaller letters the following was proclaimed: “The electric guitar was invented in our great state.”……

I was always under the impression that the Electric Guitar was invented by Leo Fender in 1948 with the introduction of the “Broadcaster” – a Telecaster forerunner….. As much as I’d like to think that the home of the Electric Guitar is Oklahoma, I don’t think Leo was from Oklahoma….. I know that electric pick-ups for use in acoustic guitars have been around since the ’30’s, but, like I said, I thought Leo was first with the Electric Guitar….. Does anyone have further info on the origins of the most popular musical instrument of modern times?……

17 Responses to “Electric Guitar Home?…..”

  1. I seriously doubt that. Everything I have looked at supports the fact that a fella named Beauchamp invented it. He was from Texas and lived in LA at the time. Here’s a snippet:

    After many months of trial and error with most of the experiments conducted on his dining room table Beauchamp, along with Paul Barth developed a working “pickup” out of two horseshoe magnets and six pole pieces.The guitar strings passed through the magnets with each pole located so as to concentrate an independent magnetice field over each string. They wound the coil with the motor from Beauchamps washing machine, and according to Barth they ended up winding the coil with a sewing machine motor. A detail drawing from the original patent drawing submitted by Beauchamp is shown below.

    When the pickup was doing it’s job Beauchamp contacted Harry Watson, who was the plant superintendent from National and a highly skilled craftsmen who using all hand tools carved the neck and body of the first working electric guitar in a few hours at Beauchamps kitchen table, they called it the “Frying Pan”. A photogragh of the original device constructed by Beauchamp and Watson is shown below.

    With prototype in hand Beauchamp approached Adolph Rickenbacher, Rickenbacker a cousin of WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker owned a local tool and die company and had been associated with Beauchamp at National, manufacturing the metal bodies for the Resonators. Utilizing Rickenbackers influence and financle assistance they formed a company and after sevaral name changes they decided to call the instruments Rickenbackers due to the familiarity of the Rickenbacker name and difficulty in pronouncing Beauchamp ( pronounced Beechum ). They began manufacturing the “Frying Pan” which immediately became popular as a Hawaiian lap style slide guitar and set the Rickenbaker company on it’s historical path of becoming the first manufacturer of electric guitars. Below are photographs of Rickenbacker and Beauchamp alongside the first fully manufactured electric guitar the “Frying Pan”

  2. My guess would have been Les Paul, who is also not an Okie. We all know who really re-invented electric guitar-JIMI HENDRIX

  3. Rickenbacker, Huh?…. I always thought Rickenbacker guitars were made in England….. I guess you learn something new everyday….. I wonder why Oklahoma would try to take credit for the Electric Guitar?….. I think I’ll do a little more digging – There should be some connection or why the deception? Weird….. Les Paul was a good guess also, and, of course, Jimi did show us all what you could actually do with this new technology…..

  4. Someone said the electric base was invented in Seattle???????

  5. What do you “Bass” that on, Anon?….. Funny, I never thought of it, I just considered the invention of the electric guitar….. I guess the “Bass” guitar would be a separate invention…..

  6. A guy at the Museum of History and Industry told me. I called to find out about the funky old electric guitar they had in a display case of Seattle inventions……including the automatic transmission. I could find out more. I still know people there. The case also had the first water sky but, I thought water skying was invented in Italy.

  7. My guess about the original question that MR asked is that Oklahoma is so barren of good inventions and technology that they will lie and take credit for anything just to sound good, because as we all know the only thing that OK is known for is the invention of the parking meter, Will Rogers, Garth Brooks, and loosing jobs at such an alarming rate that by 2010 we will be a suburb of India and the highest wage offered in this city will be 2 rats a day. (FOLLOWUP) Anon: I’m assuming that you have lived in Seattle all of your life, Now I’m not trying to be a smart ass. Before the Technology boom, what was Seattle known for? I know, fishing, and Boeing but was there any thing that it had going for it? I would like to know. Because if your fine town could become the city that it has become today then why can’t Oklahoma City? All we hear about this crap hole we live in is how our ancestors built up a great city up from dirt, then why are their descendants letting it turn back to dirt?

  8. J.J.,

    Sorry I missed your post.

    To answer your questions about Seattle…….No, I’m not a native of Seattle. I am a native of Washington though. What did we have going before the tech. boom?…….nothing. It was great. We just ran around in our flannel shirts. They were warm and cheap in thrift stores(we didn’t have much money). Nobody wanted to come here so we had oysters, clams, mountains, beaches, lakes, all to ourselves. For fun we would go down to the beach and roast oysters on a fire…..in the rain. We were a cultural backwater.

    Then the BOOM.

    Now we are very cultured and I can’t find an oyster. You wouldn’t believe how fast things changed. Be careful what you wish for.

    It still rains a really, really lot here.

  9. I’ve been watching the weather lately, and, yes, it rains and snows a lot in Seattle, but, I would still love to live there as opposed to dry, dusty, and windy every day Oklahoma….. Now, as for being “very cultured” without any oysters, I don’t know, Anon…. If “everything is more expense” there is “cultured”, then Seattle is at the top of the list!…..

  10. MR,

    Save some time when you come up again. I have an excellent road trip planned.

    How well do you know Washington? Washington Quiz (no points, sorry).

    How many inches of rain falls on Washington’s Coast in a year? (100 to 200 inches)

    Where was the heaviest snow fall recorded? (Mt. Baker near Bellingham, Washington)

    The weather is really, really bad here. And the oysters are gone.

  11. I saw the same billboard for the first time about a month ago, so I am finally getting around to digging up this subject because I couldn’t believe what that billboard was saying.

  12. #12 by Doug Paging

    I also saw this billboard and found it hard to believe as I always knew Les Paul to be one of the pioneers of the electric guitar. I did some digging but most Oklahoma sites are quite vague, but I did eventually find the man they are talking about in the billboard. His name is Bob Dunn and he was a Western Swing pioneer who is credited with some of the first recordings of an electric guitar. He electrified his steel guitar. That being said, he probably wasn’t even in Oklahoma when he did this and it is not entirely true that it was invented here. But I’m sure Mr. Dunn’s work did help advance the creation of the electric guitar. You can read an article about him here:
    Now as for J.J.’s remarks up there, perhaps you should leave Oklahoma because apparently you are an ass. Oklahoma has had many inventions and many intelligent statesmen and innovators. Has one never heard of Jim Thorpe or Jean Kirkpatrick?

  13. #13 by Weinerschnitzel

    OKC was the home of legend Charlie Christian. He played frequently in a section of the city called The Deep Deuce (or, Deep Second if you are older than 70). It is now apartments, which is very sad. There was a major 66 stop called Ruby’s (Rudy’s?) and he played the electric guitar there. Though debated, it is said that the first recording of a “steel guitar” occured in the northeast stage of the building. The building still exists, not too far from the site of the former home of famed poet Ralph Ellison (The Invisble Man).

    OKC’s memory was erased in the 70’s. Not just from the drugs, but because the city decided to destroy all the famous buildings in DD.


  14. #14 by Weinerschnitzel
  15. Dear Doug Paging.

    Now as for J.J.ís remarks up there, perhaps you should leave Oklahoma because apparently you are an ass. Oklahoma has had many inventions and many intelligent statesmen and innovators. Has one never heard of Jim Thorpe or Jean Kirkpatrick?

    1st I can’t get out of this state fast enough. You are obviously one of those who think this state is the center of the known world. I’m assuming that you are not having to go to a job each day that you hate that keeps you away from your family for days at a time, because you got laid off from a job that you loved and would have done for years. Because it is the only thing that pays enough to live on in this state. A state that thinks that prices need to keep up with with the rest of the country but wages do not.
    2nd. Is that all we as okies can come up with is Athletes, and crooked Politicians. Oh yeah Country Music Singers. Everybody talks about Garth, Reba,Carrie Underwood, etc. Where are the accolades for Leon Russell, J.J. Cale, Jessie Ed Davis, I could go on and on. I guess if that makes me an Ass then hand me the Toilet Paper to blow my nose. This is what I look like heading South where there are some opportunity’s. BTW, I was born and raised here and have lived here all my life. I’m gonna do what true Okies do when faced with a bleak future, go where the jobs are.

  16. #16 by David Boren

    J.J. – if you knew anything, you would know Oklahoma has the lowest unemployment rate in the county. If you can’t find a job here, you obviosly have real issues or no skills!

  17. O.K., Mr. Boren (if this is really you). Thank you for seeking our our little community. Senator, we welcome all viewpoints and lively discussions. I would like to take issue with your comments in reverse. Yes, I am limited in my skills, I have been an over-the-road truck driver for 20 years. Before that I worked for a local manufacturing company in the tool and die business specializing in fiberglass and plastics. Before that I was an auto-mechanic specializing in antique automotive restorations. I realize this limits my skills to a select few industries. None of these industries now have places in the Oklahoma City metro area where my skills can be applied except for the trucking industry. As to your first point, yes, I do have issues being the only breadwinner in our home due to the fact my wife has been unable to find a job due to state cutbacks. My issue is that I have to make a certain amount of money each month to afford the meager lifestyle that we lead; therefore, yes I am upset with the State of Oklahoma and its political structure which has seen to it that we have no more major well-paying industrial blue-collar jobs in the metro area.

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