Many guitars from the late thirties and throughout the forties used bakelite knobs for the volume and tone control. These knobs were also used on radio’s and were not specially designed for a guitar company or model.
On some models Daniel Slaman Guitars now offers genuine vintage bakelite knobs (when available). These knobs were probably once used on a radio………….. now imagine what these knobs have heard in their time on the radio in the thirties and fourties…….. Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton……..the beginnings of swing and the birth of bebop ……. holding within the exitement of new styles of music...... or imagine someone rushing to the radio and turn the volume up when a favourite tune was played.
These knobs have heard it all and carry their legacy within them, they can now start their second life on your New Vintage guitar, again bringing joy to people through music. It’s audible history right there on your guitar. Bakelite ages gracefully and acquires a beautiful patina over time.
Bakelite is another name for phenolic resin, an early form of plastic. Today, objects made from Bakelite are considered highly collectible, although in its glory days of the 1930s and 1940s, it was seen as an inexpensive alternative to high-end jewelry materials such as jade and pearl.
A Belgian-born chemist named Leo Baekeland set up an independent lab in Yonkers, New York around the year 1901. Dr. Baekeland spent several years working on a durable coating for the lanes of bowling alleys, similar to today's protective polyurethane floor sealants. He combined carbolic acid and formaldehyde to form phenolic resin. This resin would remain pourable long enough to apply to hardwood flooring, but then become insoluble and impermeable after curing. Dr. Baekeland patented this early form of plastic and started his own Bakelite corporation around 1910 to market it to heavy industry and automobile manufacturers.
After a decade of primarily industrial applications, Bakelite soon entered the consumer market. Thomas Edison used it as the base for his early commercial phonograph records. It was also used to form billiard balls and as decorative handles for flatware and hand-held mirrors. Bakelite could be melted and poured into lead molds to form the shape of drinking glasses, flower vases, musical instruments and other consumer goods. It replaced an earlier, more flammable form of plastic called celluloid.
Ultimately, Bakelite’s labor-intensive process proved to be its undoing. After World War II, mass production became the plastic industry's buzzword and this early form became a pleasant memory. Collectors today prize it for its patina and its versatility.