The origins of Lectrolab, and its parent – Sound Projects Company – are shrouded in the haze of time. Perhaps it began as a machine shop, or a cabinet-maker. Or maybe, just maybe, it sprang into life to take advantage of a radically wacky new idea, the Electric Guitar.
The Troubadour brand is a very early entry in the history of the electric guitar and guitar amplification.
Rickebacker’s “Frying Pan” lap steel is credited as the first electric guitar, introduced in 1931. The patent was not approved until 1936. That gave many companies a chance to exploit the new technology with scant legal reprisal. And many did. Chicago’s Sound Projects Company was likely one of these copycats. Certainly they emulated the cast-metal body of the Frying Pan in the design of the Troubadour lap steel.
But the pickup is different than the “horseshoe” pickup of the Frying Pan. The Troubadour’s pickup is built into the bridge, probably a ceramic-based piezoelectric. To date, no technical description of its design has been discovered.
The Troubadour’s tail plate says “Sound Projects Company/Chicago, Illinois”. “Troubadour” is inked on the front under the strings. Lap steel collector Robert Lurvey estimates this guitar as “probably mid-thirties, maybe late-thirties” in THIS video.