Supro, "Frying Pan”, 1936


"Frying Pan”
Serial Number: 
The Story Behind

This rare 1936 Supro "Frying Pan" is an aluminum cast lap steel guitar made by National-Dobro. Supro was the budget-line for National-Dobro and this aluminum bodied model was only built from early 1936 till 1937 when it was replaced with a wood bodied model.

This is the first electric guitar under the Supro brand and there is still "Patent pendind” indicated on the label.

The Dobros and Nationals were joined by the first Supro guitar versions in late 1935, even though their announcement didn’t appear until a few months later in the March, 1936, The Music Trades. These first Supro guitars included an aluminum Hawaiian lap steel, both electric Spanish archtop 6-string and tenor guitars, and an electric mandolin. They mark the official beginning of the Supro story.

The Supro aluminum Hawaiian lap steel was similar to Beauchamp/Electro’s “Frying Pan,” with a round body and guitar-like neck, very similar to the Rickbacher, but with the top carved away to allow a little more access. Given the close nature of the L.A. guitar world, it’s entirely possible that all these aluminum guitars were cast at the same place. The head was three-and-three with a single cutout in the middle. The Supro had dot inlays on the fingerboard, with an alternating two/one pattern and four dots at the octave. A rectangular Supro logo plate sat between the pickup cover and the fingerboard. The pickup – the single-coil version of the Stimson design – was mounted under a raised cover (part of the casting) with a slit to reveal the bar pole-pieces. It had one volume knob on the treble side and was housed in small form-fit hardshell case. This was closest to Beauchamp’s patented electro guitar design, making the Supro brand a direct descendent of George Beauchamp. An important point to remember is that these cast aluminum guitars were made in Los Angeles.

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