Proof that great things come in small packages is this 1957 Magnatone Mark III Lyric. Designed by Paul Bigsby for Magnatone and is a full 24 3/4 scale length set neck with a blistering Bigsby style single coil pickup that is simply magical…you wont believe how incredible this guitar sounds from its looks. The bridge is adjustable and is of course aluminium ala Bigsby. Comes with its croc card case.
The first production guitar was the Mark III followed by the Mark III Deluxe. These early Magnatone guitars were sold at much lower price than the Fenders and Gibsons. A single pickup Esquire listed at $150, and first production Magnatone/Bigsby guitar, the Mark III, listed at $89.50. It was a single pickup, mahogany bodied guitar, with an “M” stamped in the tail piece. A selling point of the Mark III was the Perfecto-Tuned offset bridge with four way adjustable string guides. The neck was built with a U-channel shaped steel re-enforcement (non-adjustable), and covered with a hardwood fretboard.
Although, they were made of mahogany, most if not all of the early Mark III guitars were painted an opaque “Desert Sand” beige finish. The $89.50 list price most-likely mandated the selection of pieces of mahogany that were probably not suited for natural finishes.
The dual pickup Mark III Deluxe model was added at some point, as were a few other opaque finishes (red and black, at least). Another significant aesthetic change was the adoption of a formica pickguard that was full body shaped and extended to the edge of the guitar body.
Magnatone built a Mark III with the name “Lyric”. The name was etched on a plastic headstock piece instead of the Mark III moniker, and the body was fitted with the full body shaped pickguard. This was probably a move to cut assembly and finish time.
To further drive down costs, the original thru-body neck design was discontinued in favor of a set-neck arrangement. Wood materials also varied including maple necks and bodies.
The earliest 1955 guitars were neck through designs and had hollow side wing sections. This was changed to a solid body with a set-neck by 1956.
The Mark III and Mark III Deluxe were offered in 1957 catalogs along side the the Mark IV which was introduced in 1957. The III Deluxe was fitted with the chrome control panel and knobs from the IV. On the Mark IV, theis control setup fits and looks nice, and it is a little crowded on the smaller Mark III body.
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