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Lap Steel Thickness


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allright, i've finally found some hardwood nearby :D but now i've got this problem: They've got it in two sizes: 15 cm wide, and 40 mm thick, or 20 cm wide and 28 mm thick.

I don't feel like glueing ,but i still want it to actually look a little like a guitar instead so I was wondering: would a piece of hardwood(i think it's meranti or something :D ) of 28 mm thick stay straight with all the string force etc. on it?

I read the thickness of an SG body is about 38 mm or something, but then I saw these guitars blackmachine..they're 28 mm thick, so I thought, would that be possible with a lapsteel as well?

I hope someone can answer this(with a yes, if possible B) )

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hmmm i'm sorry this is the third time I post in this topic..but I really need to know :D

will a piece of hardwood that's 28 mm thick be sufficient to withstand the string tension of a lap steel guitar with a les paul junior style bridge?

I already read that 1 3/4 inch or 1 1/2 inch is standard..but I can't get that thickness with a good (e.g. 20 cm or so) width..so I was wondering if 28 mm (1.102 inch) would be sufficient...

any reply would be appreciated very much :D

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Lapsteels probably aren't the forte of most folks here :D There are plans for one at mimf. I was actually going to build one for a while and i've seen a lot of them. You want pretty close to 2 inches thick. Basically it's a big wedge of maple 2 inches thich.. you cut a curve up the back to flatten out the peghead area, you can get creative there - angle it or whatever.. and then draw your neck lines.. or you could inset a fingerboard blank and fill the slots in with veneer or something solid and contrasting. The rest iof it is just like building an electric.

If you get a fingerboard blank, get a dobro blank as it is unradiused. Stew sells them pretty cheap. Speakign of radius.. LP Jr bridges aren't really very good for a lap steel as they have a preset 12" radius to them. That is a real pain on a lap steel. You want the strings perfectly flat or you can never get multiple strings to ring out without pushing down real hard. I saw a steel someone build with a LP jr bridge, but they ground the saddles down so it was level. It's much easier to get a cheap hardtail bridge with adjustable saddles.

I can't visualize 28mm. i live in the land of inches and feet :D A lapsteel only needs to be 6 inches wide or so, you could get two boards and stack them.. laminate them together to make one blank thick enough for the instrument.

Good luck.

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hmm..so the closer to 2 inches, the better..ok. I can get 2 inch thick..the only problem was an aesthethic one; it'd basically be a board with some strings, I wanted to make somekind of shape with it..but i guess that'll be possible with 6-7 inch wide wood as well..i guess 1.1 inch thick wood just won't cut it...correct?

As for the radius problems; i'm aware of them..i've ordered one of those unradiused fretboards you mentioned from stewmac a few days ago. I also know about the preradiused bridge, however i'm using this page as a guideline; he uses the LP jr bridge too, and gives the same tips for "removing" the radius.

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hmm..so the closer to 2 inches, the better..ok. I can get 2 inch thick..the only problem was an aesthethic one; it'd basically be a board with some strings, I wanted to make somekind of shape with it..but i guess that'll be possible with 6-7 inch wide wood as well..i guess 1.1 inch thick wood just won't cut it...correct?

As for the radius problems; i'm aware of them..i've ordered one of those unradiused fretboards you mentioned from stewmac a few days ago. I also know about the preradiused bridge, however i'm using this page as a guideline; he uses the LP jr bridge too, and gives the same tips for "removing" the radius.

Yeah, as long as you know ahead of time..

A lap steel is insanely easy to build.. why not give it some shape. Go 8 inches wide and make look like a small explorer, or vee..

Check out some lapsteel companies for design ideas. You can do whatever you want with it.

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i build my own line of lap steels and i can assure you that 28mm is fine. it's a little thinner than i use but there's not a great deal of string pull so warping shouldn't be a problem. as far as the fretboard goes you don't need to order one radiused or not radiused. a lap steel has a scale of 22 1/2" which i imagine would be hard to find so i make my own. i just find a piece of contrasting wood that i like, plane it down to a 1/4" inch or so the cut the "fret slots" and inlay with veneer that fits snugly then sand the whole thing down smoothly and glue it to the body. i know that you're aware that the frets aren't functional but are merely guidelines for your slide.

and mledbeter is right about the bridge. just an inexpensive hardtail is all you need. you can even make a saddle out of aluminum angle and do a string through style and forget about the bridge completely. adjustable intonation isn't important as long as your bridge or saddle is placed right.

good luck with it man..they're fun to make and a blast to play.

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When my guitar project is being a pain in my ass, I might make myself a lap steel. I have a few spare parts lying around I could use for my first "tester"... one thing I've been thinking of is rigging a bender system to it so that it can do a few minor "pedal steel" type things. Even if it's just an Epiphone EZ-Bender (provided I can ever get my hands on one) that would make it just a bit cooler. :D

Greg

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i hadn't thought about that but your idea made me think that a bigsby type trem might work on a lap. it'd have to be a long lap but you could play it off of a keyboard stand..hmmnn..gotta work on that one.

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@unclej: allright..so 28 mm would be allright..well I'll check it out tomorrow..then I'm going to buy myself some wood :D . Anyway... I ordered a 25" scale dobro fingerboard .. I figured it would work too..just a little more distance between different notes :D

as to what you mentioned about the bridge; my first intentions were to do something with a string through body type of thing and a very simple bridge.. but then I found the site I mentioned earlier, and thought "what the hell, might as well use a LP jr bridge" + the fact I was already ordering some parts from Stewmac..and the LP jr bridges aren't that expensive .

Allright..thanks for the input everybody..tomorrow I'm going out to get myself some wood.

*If I were to buy a piece of wood 15 cm wide(about 7") i thought up a design a bit like this*

lapsteel.jpg

It's kinda inspired by a Rickenbacker lapsteel I saw on the internet somewhere

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http://www.villagephotos.com/pubbrowse.asp?folder_id=1270773

here's some pics of two of mine that i have here in the store. the painted one is maple and the unpainted is mahogany with maple accents and fretboard. i think i used ebony for the frets on that one. the mahogany one has the best tailpiece in my opinion. just an inexpensive one with strings through the body. with this type you're able to level the strings for good bar contact. the mahogany one just rocks..i put a dimarzio paf joe in it with a coil tap on a push/pull pot and when i run it through an old tube amp it just sounds great.

that's a great looking design. good luck and if i can help you with anything pm me.

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I made one recently out of laminated walnut strips with some purpleheart. I purposely used the same 25" scale fretboard because I wanted cleaner notes, and because I've been playing slide guitar on my lap already for years. So I'm used to regular guitar scale lengths. I'll try to figure a way to get photos up. I gave it three jacks. If you're a "stand up" guitarist most of the time you might do the same. The first is the output (duh) the second is an input. Whatever guitar you're wearing goes in there. Then I installed a 2-way toggle, so when you're ready to switch from one to the other, you just throw the switch on the lap steel. I leave the lap steel on a stand, so I can switch instantly. It's like having an A/B box built into the rig. The third jack is an effects loop dedicated to the lap steel, so when you are playing the lap steel you can have different pedals in that signal, like a different overdrive or something. Oh yeah, mine's a 7 string too, with a bridge and neck pickup, and coil taps. So I can have my "regular guitar" slide sounds.

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now why didn't i think of that frank..being able to switch back and forth is a seriously clever idea. mind if i steel (pun intended) it for my next one? :D

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Sure! If you flow your guitar though it, you should hit your pedals first, then the lap steel. That way you have an active low impedance signal flowing through the lap steel, since that adds cable length and resistance. Unless you have all true bypass pedals, then it doesn't make a difference. But if you hit the pedals first, then you can have your overdrive, etc. going on the strap guitar and whatever's in the loop active for the lap steel, or nothing at all. It lets you decide what you're going to have in the various signal paths.

Plus if you hit your pedals first, you have less chance of yor cord knocking the lap steel over when you're flailing around like a rockstar. Or you could tape the cord to the floor. I love it. Whenever I bring it, I love that it doesn't add anything difficult to the setup. It just goes between my guitar and amp rig.

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allright! here's an update! I just bought myself a piece of wood..this is a part of it:

hout.jpg

It's a piece of Meranti hardwood(i think) and it's sized 82.68 inches length, about 6 inch wide and 1.5 inch thick. I bought it for 31 euro in a diy-shop.

I'm still planning to make the design I posted earlier..but right now I have to wait for the parts I ordered from Stewmac. I already have a single coil pickup ready, 6 tuners (and a truckload of screws :D )

I'm just wondering..for playing the steel guitar itself..has anyone attempted to create the "tone bar" by themselves? I can't actually find these in the Netherlands for a *reasonable* price(they're all like 40-50 euros) so errr... I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for diy-ing the bar ? :D

Thanks for all your ideas! I'll keep you updated!

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well i still prefer the steven's bar because it's easy to hold, weighty enough and fairly easy to play individual notes with. but i've fooled around with deep sockets from my tool kit..a big chunk of copper that i found on a job site which didn't really sound very good, a beer bottle that i probably should have emptied first and a can of wd40 which really didn't work well at all. :D

seriously, almost any kind of metal or polished stone or even, i suppose, a very dense piece of hardwood would work. it's just a matter of finding something that will work and produce a sound that you're happy with.

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I read about someone who used a glass slide, filled with lead shot. You could always fill a slide with something that has some weight to it... even sand would help a bit.

The only problem was that theirs was custom-made if I remember right, by an actual glass-blower; so, they may have been able to shape a bullet-nose to it. A glass slide with sand that's stoppered on either end won't have a bullet nose, obviously.

Greg

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Hmm.. I see.. the glass-filled-with-lead idea sounds okay..lead isn't that hard to come across I think (and it melts / bends quite easily).

I read an article about casting polyester a little while ago. Would that work..if you'd like make some kind of mould , and then cast polyester resin into it..occasionally some pieces of metal (coins anyone? :D ) thrown into it. The pieces of metal would be to add some weight to it(I can imagine that polyester itself isn't heavy/dense enough). Then it might be possible to cast your own steel , right?

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