Here is an incredibly rare vintage 1957 Magnatone Mark III Deluxe electric guitar. This particular example, serial number 50870, is in 100% all original conditon and even includes the original hardshell case! Admirers of the Magnatone MKIII with a single pickup will appreciate the appeal of this dual-pickup neck-through MKIII Deluxe. Collectors and players alike fawn over the Magnatone MKIII, and for good reason.
The Magnatone MKIII, MKIII Deluxe, MKIV, and MKV are importantly known for having been deigned by mechanical genius and electric guitar pioneer Paul Bigsby who was contracted by Magnatone to create an affordable professional line of solid body instruments. Interestingly, very few were actually produced implementing Bigsby’s verbatim design specifications, and sometime soon thereafter production began Magnatone cut some corners, used Bigsby’s general design approach, and reinterpreted the construction to accommodate a more cost effective approach. The original neck-through Bigsby versions of the MKIII and MKIII Deluxe, whereby the mahogany neck continues all the way through to the bottom of the body, are very scarce and highly desirable. Of all the MKIII Magnatones documented, it is estimated that approximately 80% are of the ladder production variety, where the neck is glued into the body near the neck heel with a tongue extension joint that is concealed under the neck pickup. This simple and slight modification had a substantial impact upon functionality and completely diverted from Bigsby’s famous neck-through vision. All of Bigsby’s personally manufactured solid bodies featured an entirely neck-trhough construction, and it is considered both a Bigsby signature detail, as well as, a highly musical quality that dramatically improves both sustain and resonance. Compound initial limited production with the MKIII deluxe being the rarest of the Bigsby-designed Magnatone Mark series, and you have the only first-generation MKIII Deluxe documented online. I’ve personally owned 5 first-generation Magnatone MKIIIs (non Deluxe variants), however, the Magnatone MKIII Deluxe is apparently so rare, even the catalog description for the MKIII includes an illustration of the first version Deluxe that is not known to exist (with a MKIV control plate), possibly mocked up for the advertisement, which means the first-variety with a small bakelite pick guard and the completely neck-through construction was possibly produced in a single batch between 1956-1957, numbering less than 50 total. So, considering it’s historical relevance and it’s utter rarity, plus the astronomical value of original Bigsby solid body guitars, it has retained the very prinicpal that birthed it into existence, and is considered the affordable option for Bigsby-guitar aficionados and enthusiasts.
The first generation Magnatone MKIII Deluxe features a mahogany neck that continues through the length of the body, with maple wings attached for the rest of the body shape. It features (2) matching high-output single-coil Alnico VI pickups, black button single-line Kluson Deluxe tuning machines, an aluminum nut, a Bigsby-designed compensated tailpiece with X/Y axis adjustment, a large black Bakelite pickguard, DakaWare bakelite cupcake knobs, and a petite rectangular case.
With regard to sound, nothing matches the flamboyant personality of a Magnatone Mark III. It’s naturally microphonic, and innately resonant. Boistrous with articulated clarity, while incredibly well-balanced, it delivers the best of everything. Not overly aggressive, yet with plenty of forceful dynamics, this guitar converts whatever you do with it, into an event that is 10x more interesting.