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Quarter

The Junkyard Dog ... 8 String Lap Steel

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This has been a fun one, its almost done, but I'll start at the beginning ... so the story goes ... I have a customer that we were planning a lap steel build for based off some swamp ash and a set of BG-Pups Tele A3 Rockwind bridge and Blues neck. All was fine until the project got moved up to an 8 string steel. Unfortunately 8 string Tele pickups are as rare as hens teeth and so being stubborn, and a glutton for punishment, I jumped in head first and built a set of bobbins and send them off to BG for winding.

I fired up Illustrator, drew the basics, printed them out and used them as a paper template.

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tele8-1-1.gif

bobbins9s.jpg

bobbins5s.jpg

And the plot thickens, another rare item, 8 string Tele neck covers.

It was a pain in the ass, but I'm happy with how it turned out, its cobbled together out of 2 of the nickel silver covers from Mojo. There is no easy way to get a invisible butt to butt joint so I decided to embrace the seam and fancy it up just a little.

What I did was make a couple wood forms out of some scrap maple, one thicker piece to match to OD of the stock cover and one to match the ID cut to size and radiused to act as a solid form to work to. After cutting the ends off one cover and shaping the ends, I placed the center section over the large maple form and used my vice to squeeze it together to increase the ID dimension. I then took the second cover and cut sections off the ends to complete the assembly. In order to not have any doubling up of cover thickness over the magnets, the end pieces only cover the end magnet.

Once all was shaped and fit, I put a big tip on my soldering station and soldered it up followed by cleaning up the extra solder and finished off with some 800 wet / dry to give it a raw / brushed look.

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form1ss.jpg

cover1ss.jpg

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Thanks WezV, it was one of those head scratching moments followed by that all too brief moments of clarity.

Body is chambered swamp ash with a crotch figured black walnut top. Here is a pic of the board I got the book matched top out of.

wallynut1.jpg

Here is the rough concept drawing I was going by

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JYDMockup2sss.gif

And some in progress pics

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chamber1s.jpg

body3s.jpg

body1s.jpg

body4s.jpg

body2s.jpg

Edited by Quarter

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... what size rod do you use for the bridge?

Thanks ... the saddle is 1/4" rod. Depending on the tone I'm after, I generally use stainless steel of phosphor bronze ... this one is getting bronze like this version of that set bridge. Also in the second pic you can se how I leave the brass string hole liners long so they go into the body some. It makes it easy to re locate the bridge when its time to glue it down and also adds some forward shear strength.

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FPS-002-44.jpg

FPS-002-10s.jpg

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Good lord man, you do some beautiful work. Do you groove the rod for the bridge at all or just let the string holes hold them in place?

SR

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Thanks all :D

Do you groove the rod for the bridge at all or just let the string holes hold them in place?

No groves, just the string holes to set the spacing. I do have to take care the first time its strung up to make sure that the strings are lined up correctly as once tension is applied, the brass string hole sleeves do deform a little and set the future position of where that string will naturally want to fall in place. That combined with a tight radius around the saddle locks them in tight.

I strung it up last night and will get some pics taken today. All I can say is I could not be happier, the tone is everything I had hoped and imagined it would be.

The pickups were a little pain in the rear, but after playing them, I'm happy I went for it. Major props to Bryan at BG-Pups for his contribution of vintage wire and copious amounts of magic pixie dust, dude has talent. He nailed the tone I was after first time, I would not change a thing.

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I'm pleased to say, she is done and I am extremely pleased with how she came out, both in looks, but more importantly her voice. As I said before, she is everything I had hoped and imagined.

The basic specs:

24" scale

3/8" string spacing

chambered swamp ash with a feathered black walnut top.

black walnut set neck with birdseye maple fretboard and head cap.

4 way rotary switching for versatility

matching knobs and pickup rings

string through set bridge with a phosphor bronze saddle

Grover Rotomatics

This one is kind of hard to get captured in pics, but here are a few that didn't come out too bad.

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JYD-001-16.jpg

JYD-001-10.jpg

JYD-001-15.jpg

JYD-001-18.jpg

Edited by Quarter

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Thanks, I enjoy building them and its a great creative outlet for me. Lap Steel has such a rich history to draw from and there are not a lot of preconceived "rules" as to how it has to look.

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Nice work, I have a couple of questions

1. How many coats of Tru oil and how do you apply the stuff? I have tried it a little applied by fingers but I find that not so good, in the end i have ended up spraying it with an airbrush thinned down a little with mineral turps..Did you put wax on top?

2. Why is the bridge slanted?

Thanks

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Thanks thirdstone

1) I always lose track of how many coats, but its a bunch. My method is always evolving and a moving target, but generally I wipe on about 3 light coats a day with a cotton swatch, then wet sand the following morning before that days coats. For sanding I use a small flat block with some 1000 grit and a spritz of mineral spirits for a lube. 1000 grit seems to be a good grit at this stage as its aggressive enough to work, but not so aggressive as to quickly blow through the soft developing film. Then its a matter of repeating the process until the surface is flat and the low spots are gone and have a good film built. From there, I switch to spraying the last couple finish coats and move up in grit to 1500, then 2000 before the last coat.

So basically it boils down to level as you go .. build it up and block it down. A block and fine sandpaper beats steel wool on large flat surfaces.

2) The bridge is strait, probably an optical illusion.

Edited by Quarter

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Tom, I've been meaning to ask; what are the positions on your 4-way switch? Neck, bridge and both are probably givens, but what is the fourth position for?

SR

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the 4-way tele blade switches are usually done to add the bridge & neck in series option along with the normal 3 positions ... i reckon thats what i would want on the rotary

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the 4-way tele blade switches are usually done to add the bridge & neck in series option along with the normal 3 positions ... i reckon thats what i would want on the rotary

Yep, that's exactly how its setup. I"m not a big fan of rotary switches on a regular guitar, but because a lap steel is played horizontal the ergonomics are much better.

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That is just GORGEOUS.

I have a lot of your posted work saved to the HD for the 'Idea Machine'.

I always love your very complimentary natural wood selections,

they always look stunning together and this one is no exception.

BRILLIANT! :D

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