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Thread: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

  1. #1
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    This is new territory for me starting with zero knowledge. Are acoustic lap steel guitars a thing? If yes, can someone recommend a playable model that would be on par with say an Eastman 305? Entry level playable? I would want something I could find a perspective buyer for resale in the event my interest fades away as fast as the fiddle did.
    I'm not sure where this itch is even coming from but as I play and explore more classic country honky-tonk I find the contribution of a lap steel more appealing.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
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    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Since you say your interest might well wane very quickly, save yourself some expenditure and get any old six-string acoustic guitar and raise the nut to get the strings higher above the fretboard. Retune to whatever lap-steel tuning you fancy and you have a playable lap steel guitar. I have a very old Harmony guitar from the 1930s - it was my father's and I have always kept it. It came supplied with a steel nut raiser - a u-shaped piece of chromed steel with six grooves for the strings and this was just put on top of the nut then the strings tightened again. They also supplied a slide to use with the guitar. I still use it at times.
    In your case you could just cut a suitable piece of wood to fit under your nut - it doe not need to raise anything by very much, then rremove the nut, put the spacer in the nut slot then replace the nut, retune and you are ready to play.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Pittsburgh Bill: The nut extender sold at Elderly for < $10 will allow you to trial lap steel as John Kelly suggested. Much cheaper than buying a new instrument. If it stays with you or you stay with it, you'll need to figure out if you go the Weissenborn, dobro or tricone route, or just use a shim under the nut as suggested above.

    https://www.elderly.com/products/guitar-extension-nut

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    John, the picture of the extender on the Elderly website is exactly what I have for the Harmony guitar. I did not know such things were still available or even in demand. Thanks for posting.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

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    Registered User Lucas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Bill: you mentioned that your interest was in exploring country honky tonk music. Do you mean music that Hank Williams Sr, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb or Merle Haggard played? For this type of music, I would not recommend an acoustic lap steel guitar but recommend an electric lap steel instead. A good starter model would be a Recording King RG-35 for under $200. I used to own one and it sounded decent. It is a 6-string model. There are also 8-stringed instruments if you want more versatility but maybe a bit harder to learn.

    But if want a great one, get a Clinesmith, which I currently own.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    Bill: you mentioned that your interest was in exploring country honky tonk music. Do you mean music that Hank Williams Sr, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb or Merle Haggard played? For this type of music, I would not recommend an acoustic lap steel guitar but recommend an electric lap steel instead. A good starter model would be a Recording King RG-35 for under $200. I used to own one and it sounded decent. It is a 6-string model. There are also 8-stringed instruments if you want more versatility but maybe a bit harder to learn.
    .
    Good advice - but you can learn bar technique and right hand picking and blocking on the cheapie nut-extension acoustic.

    Also, one would not need an 8 string, although they do come in handy at times. What one would need is a good tuning like C6, A6, etc.

    Lap steel is lots of fun!

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  13. #7
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    Bill: you mentioned that your interest was in exploring country honky tonk music. Do you mean music that Hank Williams Sr, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb or Merle Haggard played? For this type of music, I would not recommend an acoustic lap steel guitar but recommend an electric lap steel instead. A good starter model would be a Recording King RG-35 for under $200. I used to own one and it sounded decent. It is a 6-string model. There are also 8-stringed instruments if you want more versatility but maybe a bit harder to learn.

    But if want a great one, get a Clinesmith, which I currently own.
    Yes This is the music I have been playing for a year or two now.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

  14. #8
    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Perhaps a Hawaiian Guitar.


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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    Perhaps a Hawaiian Guitar.

    A Hawaiian guitar is a lap steel, in fact the original ones!

    Now, that particular type of Hawaiian lap steel is a Weissenborn design. What we know as a Dobro was another design of acoustic similar to the last tricone model he used.

    Here's another example of the Weissenborn:



    and the electric lap steel:



    There are lots of other videos by many fine players and teachers out there.

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  18. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    I have a old Oahu acoustic steel guitar. Basically just has a square neck and raised nut. Nut extender would do the trick though.
    Jim

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Gold Tone makes a Weissenborn-style acoustic Hawaiian guitar; lists for $750, but generally available for $500 (Musician's Friend, et. al.). Recording King makes a square-neck tri-cone resonator guitar, brass-bodied, available (apparently) on the used market. I assume that National Resophonic is also making square-neck instruments for "lap steel" playing, but probably at significantly higher prices.

    I've been playing Dobro-style steel guitar (at a modest skill level) for quite a while, currently on a guitar made by Syracuse luthier Dick DeNeve, and enjoy it quite a bit, though it's not a "main" instrument for me. Dobro-type resonator guitars have a particular sound, often found in bluegrass (think Josh Graves), and in the more acoustic/folky country styles (think Jerry Douglas) -- also in old-style country (think Beecher "Brother Oswald" Kirby with Roy Acuff). I like sliding it in behind certain types of vocals, as I did here:



    If you're truly looking for the 1940's-'50's lap steel sound (think Hank Williams -- or even better, Clell "Cousin Jody" Summey with Lonzo & Oscar):



    -- an inexpensive electric lap steel might be more to the point. Here's an article on the best lap steels in various price ranges: Rogue and Recording King both have "beginner" models that get decent evaluations.
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Bill View Post
    This is new territory for me starting with zero knowledge. Are acoustic lap steel guitars a thing? If yes, can someone recommend a playable model that would be on par with say an Eastman 305? Entry level playable? I would want something I could find a perspective buyer for resale in the event my interest fades away as fast as the fiddle did.
    I'm not sure where this itch is even coming from but as I play and explore more classic country honky-tonk I find the contribution of a lap steel more appealing.

    When Harmony shut down and they liquidated somebody bought the entire stock of these nut extenders. It might have been Regal now that I think about it. Years later they ended up on eBay and I just knew I was going to need them. They've been sitting in a box in my shop for a decade or two. I gave a few away along the way. PM me your address Bill and I'll send you one. It will be one less thing for my kids to try and figure out what to do with when I'm gone.
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    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Mar-30-2021 at 8:19am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User spufman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lap Steel Guitar - No Mando content

    I have an old Oahu student model that I think sounds and plays well. They are inexpensive if you can find one, and are readily re-sellable. Lap steel is deceptively difficult, at least if you want to sound good! Have fun.
    Blow on, man.

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