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Question About Lap Steel


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I am currently building a lap steel guitar for a friend. He decided on a tele body with regular tele layout. The body is no problem as I have built a few tele copies before. My concern is with the neck/bridge relationship. A search on the forums did not turn up enough info for me so I thought I would start a new thread.

The neck itself is not the concern. It's going to be fretless and I think I've found a nut big enough to get the strings high enough off the fretboard. My concern is that the few lap steel guitars I've seen 1) have rather short scales(20-21") and 2)he wants to use a standard tele bridge. By having a standard bridge, this would make the nut higher than the bridge. To correct this, I was going to sink the neck deeper into the body... but that would also bring my fingerboard below the body as well. I could also angle the neck and/or shim it.

Either way would be ok, but he also wants to be able to change necks from a lap steel neck to a standard tele neck. So that throws a wrench into everything I've drawn up on paper. Does anyone else have any other ideas to accomplish both necks?

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I have an ancient (30s or 40s) junker lap steel which was given to me a long time ago. It appears to have a 23" scale. I'm sure I've seen ones with a rather long scale (I think longer than a standard guitar; was it John Paul Jones who I saw playing it?).

My initial thought with your project is just build a standard Telecaster and get one of those appliances for the nut which raises the height for lap steel use. Maybe you can build a bridge appliance which accomplishes the same thing at the bridge since the inotantion adjustment becomes unecessary when used as a lap steel.

If you were building it for me, I'd just ask you to build two seperate guitars since a lap steel is little more than a plank with a PU on it.

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Use a standard tele style bridge, make sure the top surface of the neck is flush with the body and then use a gibson style nut that puts the strings to the proper height and you should be fine. Basically think of a guitar with the fretboard removed and the lines put on the neck bed. Gives you an extra 1/4 inch of action but really doesn't change the relationship between the bridge and the nut at all. You shouldn't have to sink the neck surface below the body plane.

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Jonny: If it as John Paul Jones you saw, it probably was a BASS lap steel. Yes that's tru, he has one!!! That would explain the long scale length

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