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8-string Lap Steel


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I'm happy with the way my 6-stringer turned out, and my mind is already turning on the prospect of an 8-string steel.

Not many of the parts needed are "steel"-specific, and some can be adapted->

Nut: Graph-tech bridge, sanded to no radius, or inverted and the underside used instead.

Tuners: Either 'singles' (one of the local stores can get'em in) or just suffer and buy 2 sets of 6. The remaining for could be used for an electric ukelele. :D

But my two areas of concern are->

Bridge: I don't want to "make" one this time. I'd rather just give'er. The only 8-string bridges I've seen are Hipshot, and their price is "almost" right. Something closer to $40 USD would be preferred, but I realize that with such a specialized project, finding even the Hipshot one is a real blessing!

Pickup: The magnetic field of a 7-string pickup from Carvin might be wide enough to get the 'outside' strings, but I'm not absolutely convinced. The more expensive alternative is to buy a "lap steel pickup" from George Boards or suchlike, but the Carvin price tag is more attractive. I could do a slightly narrower string spacing in theory, but it comes down to the bridge-- which if I get the HipShot immutable in terms of width.

--

Unfortunately, the main issue is that price IS an object, especially if I want to do this within the next year. I'm not extremely cushioned in my cash flow situation. If I can pull off the whole project for a similar price to my last one ($200 CDN, but I'll settle for hitting $320 CDN due to the extra parts I'd need), then I'll be a happy man. But if I have to spend $200 on a pickup and another $100 on a bridge, the jig will be up. :D

Cheers for any insight into sources for 8-string stuff.

Greg

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Warmoth sells Schallers and Gotohs per tuner, left or right, and the prices are good to boot. You could always just wind your own pickup; be cheaper, and it really doesn't look all that hard (haven't done it yet, but I've got materials for about 30 here, so..soon.)

As for the bridge, as this is a steel guitar, surely you really don't need a fully adjustable/intonatable bridge? Seems like overkill to me, when you could probably 'make do' with a one-piece saddle (acoustic guitar style, if you will) in bone or brass or something. Most of the ones I've seen tend to have a piece of shaft stock as a 'bridge'. Unless you're actually fretting notes, intonation is up to the player, not the instrument.

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Didn't someone do this with a P bass pickup pair?

Mattia, don't you need to wind those personalized pickups for your almost finished tele and strat you have been working on for, well, almost a year now? (Just a polite reminder, don't mind me.)

Re: pickup choice, could you not use two pickups offset from each other? at least then you wouldn't have to comprimise string spacing.

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Didn't someone do this with a P bass pickup pair?

Mattia, don't you need to wind those personalized pickups for your almost finished tele and strat you have been working on for, well, almost a year now? (Just a polite reminder, don't mind me.)

Re: pickup choice, could you not use two pickups offset from each other? at least then you wouldn't have to comprimise string spacing.

Yes, they've been sitting there going 'pore fill and spray a finish on me already, damn you!' for almost a year now. I did almost all the work within like 9 days, and then...just left them lying there. I'm horribly, horribly slow, and I've either not been in the mood for building, or too busy, or the weather's been fighting me (I have to work outside; can't to anything that creates dust indoors) Bit crap. I'm putting GFS pickups in those two, though. Home-winds on subsequent ones. I want to finish these up within the month, though; as soon as they're done, you'll notice :-P

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Mattia: Good to know, re: the tuners.

Regarding the bridge: Yes, a true bridge would be "overkill," but as mentioned I'm not really interested in fabricating a bridge for this one. Even a very basic bridge like the one on my 6-string turned out to be a real pain in the ass, and I'm probably going to replace it eventually anyhow.

A plain ol' steel/brass bar IS the most common kind of bridge, and is often used at the nut, too, in place of a traditional nut. However, "grooves" are also very common, and since they're unnatural grooves, any bending (behind the bar bending is still bending!) becomes a real annoyance and string-breaker with a grooved-up bridge. To make matters worse, and this is where some advice could be handy-- I don't know where to source an appropriate metal rod/bar that's going to be smooth enough to fulfil the function. I worry that if I get el-cheapo metal from Home Depot or whatnot, that it's a string-breaking disaster waiting to happen. Also, where is the bridge measured? The centre of the bar, I guess? Is that where the fullscale spot would be? (ie. do strings "break" over a round bar at exactly centre?)

But that's not even my main concern. My main concern is that "beyond" the 'bridge' I still need to anchor the strings somewhere. String-through with ferrules is an option, for sure, but then I have the additional worry of lining up the string-throughs and sourcing/installing the grommets. I know it seems trivial, especially in theory, but it's not so much the "overall difficulty level" that I want to avoid, but the "this is my first time doing it, so I'm going to take a million years measuring it all up" that I want to avoid. In my last build, it was maybe 5% building and 95% planning.

Which is all well and good, but now that I've already done a lot of the planning, doing a second very similar guitar will require less legwork. UNLESS-- I end up using a bunch of materials and techniques that I need to ponder over and stare at for hours while thinking of the best execution.

---

In short, I'm not saying "no" to the idea of a metal bar, and I agree that it's the easiest and even most common kind of bridge. But I simply can't devote a bunch of time to researching the best kind of metal bar, calculating the "string break" over the bar, and ball-end mounting options. Any advice or links that would take away this side of the thought process is appreciated, though, and every extra bit of information provided makes my own hours of net-searching significantly reduced.

---

Back to pickups: A P-Bass pair is an option, and it's a good reminder to me that bass pickups are to be considered, too. The string spacing and staggering on a P-bass pair might get a bit wonky, but now my gears are turning around the idea of bass pickups in general!

Ideally, I'd like a stacked P-90 (P-100) in 8-string width, but the odds of that happening are pretty much zero unless I get it custom made by someone who does stacked pickups. :D

Cheers,

Greg

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Perhaps I missed something but Lollar makes a good range of Steel pickups.

They are a little costly, but I've never hear anything bad about lollar in the six months I've been reading the steel guitar forum.

All I gotta do now is convince my accountant that 13 string pickups are vital parts of a small business.

edit : totally forgot about emg 45dc's bout 120US I think.

Edited by Mr Alex
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Mr. Alex and Pr3vail: excellent excellent ideas, actually. Lollar was the first person who came to mind, but they ARE a bit pricey. I'm not a cheap bugger, but it's hard to justify that kind of expense when I'm still a lap steel neophyte and I still have unwanted debts. I'll always have SOME debts, but it's the unwanted ones I'd like to clear out. :D

[edit: When I first wrote the above, I hadn't actually clicked the link, but was going by memory. As it turns out, the pickups are VERY reasonably priced! The problem, though, is that I don't see a humbucking model, which is a requirement that's not optional for me. Cheers for the link, though!]

The pickup seems to be sorting itself out via some PMs. Looks like with some help I'll be able to get what I need.

Regarding the bridge: the more I think about people reminding me of the "obvious" metal bar that I was initially against, the more I think that it's a good thing they reminded me of that option. I still theoretically have the time to plan it out, I was just exhausted by all the planning that went into the prior project. Now that I'm getting energized again, doing the planning is becoming fun again so I shouldn't let it worry me.

The Hipshot bridge is pretty slick, though, regardless of whether it's strictly necessary. :D I also remembered that since this one will be a fixed-string steel (the other one needed as little friction as possible because of the palm bender) I have more options in terms of "shaving down" saddles on other bridge types.

Greg

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Very reasonably priced, indeed! This comes closest to what I'd need, in terms of price AND features:

http://www.billlawrence.com/Pages/Pickup_W...Pedal_Steel.htm

Found it owing to the above link. I've already got something in the works, but people reading this thread in the future may still find the information/link handy.

The next step will be deciding what kind of nut/bridge to go for, and which method of mounting the tuners to use.

Greg

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