Born in Coleman County, Texas, Beauchamp performed in vaudeville, playing the violin and the lap steel guitar, before he settled in Los Angeles, California. During the 1920s, he experimented with the creation of electric lap steel guitars, electric guitars, electric bass guitars, electric violins, and instrument amplifiers. In 1931 he joined with Paul Barth and Adolph Rickenbacker to form the Ro-Pat-In Corporation to produce and sell electrified string instruments. In 1937 Beauchamp secured a United States patent for the electric guitar.
He died of a heart attack in 1941 while deep-sea fishing near Los Angeles. He was survived by his wife, Myrtle, and two children, Frances and Nolan.
- 1929: Patent applied for the single-cone dobro guitar, patent #1,808,756
- 1934: Patent applied for the electric lap steel guitar (nicknamed the frying pan), patent #2,089,171
- 1936: Patent applied for the electric guitar (called the electro Spanish guitar, which was a hollow-body electric guitar)
- 1936: Patent applied for the electric violin (called the electro violin)
Catalogues from the Electro String Instrument Corporation show a range of electric instruments. In 1932, Beauchamp's Ro-pat company marketed the electric lap steel guitar. The electric guitar was supposedly marketed the same year; early catalogues showing the instrument are not dated.
- Rickenbacker by Richard Smith (1988)
- The Earliest Days of the Electric Guitar
- Which Came First- Electric Guitar or Amp?
- Digital Violin - Article examining Beauchamp's Electro violins
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