George Delmetia Beauchamp (pronounced BEE–chum; March 18, 1899 – March 30, 1941) was an American inventor of musical instruments. He is known for designing the first electrically amplified stringed instrument to be marketed commercially. He was also a founder of National Stringed Instrument Corporation and Rickenbacker (originally Rickenbacher) guitars.
He was born in Coleman County, Texas on March 18, 1899. 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. The most notable of these, the Rickenbacher A-22 (and A-25) lapsteel guitar—known as the "frying pan"—is widely regarded as the first mass-produced electric guitar. Production of the instrument began in 1932. In 1937, Beauchamp secured a United States patent for his version of 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
- 1930: Patent applied for metal finger picks (now commonly used for steel guitar and banjo), patent #1,787,136
- 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-In company marketed the electric lap steel guitar. The electric guitar was supposedly marketed the same year; early catalogues showing the instrument are not dated.