Lap Steel Guitar: I'm looking for a new Lap Steel. Please help me find a good one!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by echo unit, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. echo unit

    echo unit Member

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    I am looking for a currently made Lap Steel and I want to get the best thing for my money. I don't want to spend too much but I want something that will give me good tone.

    I don't care if it's made by some known brand company of by some guy in his garage. I'm all for small run boutique stuff too so bring it on. Link me up to some of the better Lap Steels available today.

    I would love if some people that have experience with Lap Steel could perhaps point me in the direction of some good ones that would be a good buy these days.

    I love Santo and Johnnny and Ry Cooder so i am hoping to get into some of thier stuff.

    Thanks a lot folks!
     
  2. tjensen

    tjensen Gold Supporting Member

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    Chandler makes a nice lap steel.

    Personally, I love the old mother-of-toilet-seat Magnatones from the 1950s, but that's just me. :BEER
     
  3. todd richman

    todd richman Senior Member

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    Seriously check out Bill Asher Guitars as used by Ben Harper, Marc Ford and Rich Robinson. He has several models and price ranges. www.asherguitars.com.
     
  4. mtndog

    mtndog Gold Supporting Member

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    As long as you're looking around try http://www.lapking.com/. I have one of his Rodeo models and am pleased. I did have some initial set-up issues, but he is a good guy to work with and wants you to be happy with your instrument. He even does korina bodies and nitro finish. Good luck in the hunt.
     
  5. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Silver Supporting Member

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    I was in you position not too long ago, maybe not that far beyond it now. There is a lot to consider. Number of strings, scale length, tunings...

    Here's great page to start

    Brad's Page of Steel

    And here

    Steel guitar Forum No Peddlers page

    I'd spend some time on those sites as well as others that you will find as you read them.

    I jumped in and got an Asher Electro Hawaiian Jr, which I bought directly from the Ashers, and Bill Asher literally IS working out of his garage--well, converted to a full workshop. It's a beautiful instrument, actually the low end of what he makes. I would certainly have a look at his previously linked website.

    [​IMG]

    But there are alot of choices, maybe get an inexpensive one to start and decide what you might want after you get your feet wet. There still are bargains to be found in older ones, Supro and the like, many of which are perfectly good instruments.

    There is also a lot of instructional material out there, but you should probably decide what tuning you want to at least start with before you start buying much of that. Some slide and dobro lessons are useful as well. I'm a blues player so I play in E and D (same intervals) for Elmore James type stuff. I'd like to get into more, but I have limited time, and still am primarily interested in playing regular guitar, so I stick with those.
    Some slide and dobro lessons are useful as well.

    I've got a lot more links if you're interested.
     
  6. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Definitely head on over to the steel guitar forum, no peddlers section. Ask away. They are welcoming, and collectively know everything there is to know about lap steels. Personally, I haven't considered buying new, as there as so many remarkable used ones floating around, many quite affordable, most unique, with nothing comparable being made now. Lap dancer stuff does look quite nice, and I really like that strange looking contraption Robert Randolph uses, with a frame rather than a body. Can't remember the name, but you'll find it over that the SGF.
     
  7. erksin

    erksin Member

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    Go vintage, IMO - I've owned a '56 Gibson BR-9 in the past and it was a killer sounding slider. Huge P-90-style pickup, tone control to die for - great guitar...
     
  8. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    What kind of tone are you after? There's such a wide range of models, it's basically saying "I'm looking for a solid body guitar". Are you after the tele bridge thing of a Fender Champion? Something a little smoother like the duotone style pickups of the Stringmasters? Something hotter and more P90 like?
     
  9. bek

    bek Member

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  10. dudeunitx5000

    dudeunitx5000 Senior Member

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    The new Fender lap steel, basically a reissue of the late 40s Fender Deluxe lap steel, is pretty darn solid and sounds really good. I have fifties and sixties National and Airline lap steels. As much as I dig them they do not play as well as the Fender. One really cool thing about the Fender is that the jack is in the right place, where the strap button would be.
     
  11. echo unit

    echo unit Member

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    I don;t really want to make the learning curve to steep so I am going to go for a 6 string unless you guys think that the 8 string is way better and not that much work to get comfortable on?

    I want a warm tone. I often prefern the neck tone on regular guitars over the bridge.

    I really like Ry Cooder's playing on his soundtracks for "Crossroads" amd "Paris Texas"

    I also really enjoy Greg Leiz and what he does.

    i want to add treatemts like compression, echo and maye some grit to the soudn of the Lap Steel too to make it a bit more than just a basic sound.

    I would probalby use open D tuning a lot and some of my favorite Joni Mitchell Tunings which are largely variations of open D but sometimes dropped down to D or even C#.

    I want to write stuff on it that sounds complete as an entire arrangement rather than have it just be a melody instrument that needs accompaniment. I want a full sound and not a thin brittle sound like a Tele Bridge pickup. I think a P-90 neck pickup would be great or even a nice warm Gibson Humbucking neck tone.

    I was looking at the Bel-air "50's Car" lap steel over at the Lapking site. it looks really cool. How is the tone of that instrument? Would a Chandler or one of the lower end Asher's be comparable?

    Are the Fender lap steels any good?

    I noticed that Gretsch curently makes an "electromatic" lap Steel with the DeArmond pickup on it. The actual Lap Steel looks like a take off on the old Gibson ones that had the Art deco look.

    I guess good looks and great varitey of tones are essential for me.
     
  12. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    What strings/tuning do the 8 strings use?
     
  13. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    I've heard the new gretsch. Not at all to my taste. FWIW: The Ry Cooder stuff you're hearing is bottleneck mostly, though David Lindley is all over Paris Texas. DL was using Rick bakelite models and Supros then. Good luck on Ricks, but Supros are everywhere. They are SWEEEEEET! Not big bucks. Rectangular looking, string through p/u. Have a rep as the "blues" lap sound, tending towards dirty. In my experience, that p/u is way more flexible than that. What you get depends entirely on how you play it, how loud, and on amp headroom. I have one of those p/us not in a lap steel, but in a short scale Supro guitar. Heavy strings, cranked up through an old Magnatone, it sounds unearthly good, huge, very close to the classic, soaring tones DL got on disc with loud, overdriven Ricks. A new version of that p/u can be found in Gold Tone, who have reissued the old Oahu lap steel which had used that p/u. Beware though. It's a longer scale than most other laps, and might be harder to learn on.

    I'm also partial to old Gibson laps, though these are not cheap. You're not likely to run across one of the Charlie Christian p/u models at an affordable price, but if you do, grab it. There's a warm, big sound for you.

    My preference is 6 strings. 8 string defeats me. It's not two more strings, it's a different way to think.
     
  14. dudeunitx5000

    dudeunitx5000 Senior Member

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    I like my Fender lap steel. It plays well and sounds good. And the jack is in the right place. I dig it.
     
  15. Mutley

    Mutley Supporting Member

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    +1 for Industrial Guitars. I got mine in January and I love it. I got a 2 1/4" string spacing on a six string. I play it in E mostly. It has a bucker an is the heavier gauge aluminum. I also got the switch for splitting the pup and having the coils in series / parrallel. It's very versatile tonewise and a joy to play plugged for its big fat tones (ABB). The switching system moves it into the more whining tone. It's great clean or dirty. You can practice unplugged, it's plenty loud.

    I'm sorry, didn't mean to sound like an ad.
     
  16. echo unit

    echo unit Member

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    any more thoughts on the Bel-Air? Does anyone have this Lapsteel and have any words about it?

    I would love something versatile
     

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