While I am a guitarist, I know very little about about lap steel guitars or best practices for restoring neglected instruments like the one I've recently been gifted with. I'd like to breathe some new life into this old thing, and learn to play it.
From what I've learned by reading this site, I believe I have a ca. 1938(?) Ric Model 59 lap steel, Serial # E866. It's definitely been through the ringer over the years. At some point, I believe someone overpainted the original white color with a battleship grey spray paint. They painted everything (very poorly), including the horseshoe pickup. It's also missing knobs. I have one wine colored chicken-head knob, and one is missing. Again, based on my reading I don't believe this chickenhead is original either.
It also wasn't working when I got it. I pulled the electronics, and the wires are extremely brittle, with many loose solder joints and two frozen pots. After jiggling things a bit, I was able to get signal out of the pickup. My plan is to save the original electronics for archival purposes, and rewire the guitar with new pots and a new cap as outlined in the schematic I found on the Rick Aiello page. His diagram appears to be slightly different than the wiring of my guitar, and I'd appreciate any advice here - I'm no electronics expert.
My main question is about the cosmetic condition and what to do about it. While it's got a real "unique" gritty look now, I'm not sure whether the paint is going to affect tone as poorly as it affects aesthetics. Do you think I should strip/beadblast the paint off the body? Would it have more appeal with no paint at all than a bad paint job? Should I disassemble the pickup from its horseshoes and take the paint off the horseshoes? Anyone know of a technique to replicate the original ivory crinkle?
I don't want to further devalue the guitar, but I assume it ain't worth a whole hell of a lot as-is. My goal is first to get a playable instrument and secondly to make her feel pretty again. I would appreciate any thoughts you folks might have.
Here are a few images of the guitar in question...
Given its condition there's not much you can do to hurt its value.
These can really be great players, but they need to be well stuffed with paper or preferably towel cloth for best results.
See Rick Aiello's page about this.
Reason I doubted it...I saw the bridge/saddle area sort of half-sprayed, and the pickup, saddle, and input jack were also painted (indicating it was at least partially assembled with its saddle and wiring before finishing). I didn't think they would have done that. The finish also has many drips/sags. When I took the components, electronics, and saddle off, I saw the white/ivory crinkle underneath everything on the body. If it's a factory finish, then I guess it was a factory re-finish, as the underlying body color definitely was the ivory crinkle. What were they thinking, painting it so sloppily?
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'm off to learn about stuffing it with towel cloth!
Incidentally, does anyone have any opinions on wiring as outlined in Rick's diagram vs. the original wiring layout in my guitar?