16.4 lbs of cast aluminum

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by nmiller, May 21, 2019.

  1. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    A few years ago, I purchased a lap steel on a whim. It looked a little crude, but it had a metal body and a horseshoe pickup - generally a good recipe, especially when it only cost a few hundred dollars. It turned out to be a Trotmore, the early '50s product of Ira Trotter and Grady Moore with design input from Jerry Byrd. At the time, Byrd was to steel what Chet Atkins was to guitar. Having his endorsement was supposed to make the company a runaway success. Except, for various reasons, things soured quickly and only around a dozen instruments were built.

    With the help of some folks on the Steel Guitar Forum, I even found out the original owner. He painted his aluminum instrument brown to look like wood many years ago, but it still rings out like solid metal. The pickups are near-copies of Rickenbacker units, but they're not quite as hot. I prefer this, because the tone is sweeter and less aggressive. It inspired me to look for a double-necked steel of similar construction, but those are terribly rare. They're hard to cast, they weigh a ton, and the market is minuscule.

    Then, out of the blue, this one came up for sale. In my research I had found pictures of this steel; two other Steel Guitar Forum members owned it before me, and one of them bought it directly from Jerry Byrd in the '50s. There's some debate over whether he played it live, but it was definitely in Byrd's possession for a while. I couldn't let it go - it's the only known Trotmore double-neck in existence, and it even has my preferred string layout (seven on the near neck and six on the far one). The price was not small, but averaged with what I paid for the other Trotmore, I've come out pretty well.

    Sure enough, it sounds quite similar to my single-neck but with even longer sustain. The instrument appears to be built of two single-neck castings welded together. There are leg sockets installed underneath, including two on a connecting bar near the headstocks that's covered in green felt. For some reason, the 7-string pickup has two different-length magnets, so the join is slightly off center (that's not how it is on the other neck, or on my single-neck 7-string Trotmore).

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  2. Bob Pollock

    Bob Pollock Supporting Member

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    Very cool! Interesting parallel, I have two 1x12 Allen Houston Tx speaker cabinets that Herb Remington gave to my older brother along with a Bassman head.
     
  3. clemduolian

    clemduolian Silver Supporting Member

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    VERY cool. I was wondering if I would "know" the person who went for this. Glad it is you and that you have a Trotmore trifecta...with only two guitars! Enjoy it.
     
  4. Kilaen

    Kilaen Member

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    Wow! Cool item. It looks substantial. Are the bodies hollow or solid?
     
  5. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    They're hollow - otherwise they'd probably weigh twice as much!
     
  6. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Really cool piece of history. Do the two pickup feed one output? What scale length?
     
  7. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    They're both 22.5" necks. The toggle switch is the neck selector; they both go to the same output jack.
     
  8. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    i wonder if they thought there was an issue with the middle string of the 7 losing some output from being right in the gap?
     
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  9. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    I'd say it's closer to an XP-82 than a P-38:

    [​IMG]

    My single-neck 7-string Trotmore has equally-sized magnets, and if anything it has slightly better string balance than the wonky neck on the double.
     
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  10. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    I bet one could make heavenly sweet melodies on that steel [err, aluminum?].

     
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  11. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    I used it at band practice today... this thing is a rock and roll machine!

    Interestingly, I also discovered faint casting marks on both necks where they put the fret markers on the wrong frets and then patched up the mold.
     
  12. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    When you're dealing with a company on the very beginning of the curve, essentially still making prototypes as production, there are a couple explanations I can think of. One is that they decided to just make one side of the horseshoe longer, then being able to use a stock 6 string piece on the other side without having to make TWO odd-sized pieces. If the string balance wasn't as good, then maybe they conceded and made both sides longer (or fit the seven strings inside the stock pieces. It's hard to get a sense from the photos). Maybe they just didn't like it visually, or they did it one one way and another then next time because they didn't make but a handful.
     
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