Gibson EH-150 7 String 1937 Sunburst Lap Steel Guitar
The popularity of Hawaiian-style music in the early 1900s created a demand for instruments specially made to accommodate Hawaiian guitar techniques. The top companies, Martin and Gibson, first began supplying separate devices to place on the nut to raise the strings high enough to play Hawaiian style, but eventually they designed guitars specifically for Hawaiian playing.
Gibson’s short-lived first attempt at an electric Hawaiian followed Rickenbacker’s lead and had a metal body. But the metal body had tuning issues and didn’t fit Gibson’s classic look, so by 1936 the EH-150 had a maple body and neck and was finished in Gibson’s traditional dark sunburst.
After initially trying to outsource the pickup design to Chicago’s Lyon & Healy (who did end up making the matching amplifiers), Gibson relied on one of its own employees, Walter Fuller, to devise the now famous Charlie Christian bar pickup.The 1937 EH-150 pictured here has features consistent with the middle of that year. These include a headstock with a pearl Gibson logo and split diamond inlay (there was no inlay the previous year), multi-ply top and back binding (the top binding was single-ply in 1936), a back attached with screws (by 1938 the backs would be glued on), and a bar pickup with multi-ply binding (replaced by a U-magnet pickup in 1938).