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Author Topic:  First lap steel (newbie warning!)
K E Sharp


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 7:18 am     Reply with quote

Ok, here goes...

I'm wanting to learn lap steel, and need to buy a good starter that I can play western swing, rockabilly, old time, bluegrass, etc. - basically 1900 to 1960 - and probably some more modern stuff once I get better at it.
I have two kinds of advice so far: get a nice vintage because it'll keep its value and you won't outgrow it, or, get a cheap offshore for 69 bucks and if you can't learn it, chuck it -no loss.
I see the point either way, but I am always drawn to vintage gear.
So, I found this Dickerson with a fixer-upper tube amp (I fixed one years ago)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/292312177206

Is this a good deal? I'm a bit leary because I don't see a way to get to the pots/p'up if I needed to. From what I've read here the Dickerson is a good guitar.
Of course from research I fell in love with the National New Yorker and its three way dial, but that's something to aspire to!
You all know a lot more than I do yet, please let me know what you think. I would like as many opinions as I can get!
_________________
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill (or not)
ā€˜47 Dickerson / matching S6 amp
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 8:18 am     Re: First lap steel (newbie warning!) Reply with quote

K E Sharp wrote:
I have two kinds of advice so far: get a nice vintage because it'll keep its value and you won't outgrow it, or, get a cheap offshore for 69 bucks and if you can't learn it, chuck it -no loss.

I wholeheartedly recommend option #1, for no other reason than to avoid this common pitfall associated with the second option.

Purchasers of offshore low-dollar lap steels often begin replacing the generic 6-string electric guitar parts installed on the plank of wood (or wood-like mystery material) with aftermarket bridges, nuts, pickups, controls, etc. Pretty soon they have as much $$$ into it that they could have purchased a decent American-made vintage instrument in the first place.
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Luke Foo


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 9:13 am     Reply with quote

I was a newbie like you four months ago. I also agree with option 1. I made the mistake of wasting my money on a starter lap steel guitar, but quickly grew dissatisfied with it, and graduated to a custom-made Clinesmith.
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 10:04 am     Reply with quote

You are correct about not being able to get to the pickup on those MOTS Dickerson guitars. Mine already had some of the covering cut away when I bought it so I made my own pickguard for a new pickup. Worked in a pinch. The seller says the guitar you are looking at works though so under $250 would be a decent deal, especially if you have tube amp repair experience. It would be pretty cool to have a matched set like that. Interesting steel bar that comes with it as well.




You don't have to be in a hurry though. There are deals every week on ebay.
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Levi Gemmell


From:
New Zealand
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 10:59 am     Reply with quote

I started out two and a half years ago with a Dickerson/Magnatone mainly identical to that. Even though I knew what kind of music I wanted to play and I wanted an authentic vintage instrument, I couldn't go overboard spending, and that guitar did wonders for me. Those things are remarkably lightweight, good dimensions to carry around, unusual enough to draw oohs-and-aahs from onlookers, and I found the tone more than satisfying. I'd go ahead - dependent of course, on whether the electronics are in good nick. Wink
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 11:28 am     Reply with quote

I'd say it depends. In my experience I started out with a cheap (albeit US built) Morrell that I probably paid $100 for. Sat for years unused (must've had G.A.S. bad when I bought it, as a college student...wasn't into Hawaiian music then). But recently getting into steel guitar, its been really useful, and I did replace the pickup but probably spend a grand total of $50 including custom strings (I wanted flatwounds for C6), a cheap humbucker pickup, and a new pot and jack. The thing is solid and I have no fear taking it outside, leaving it around the house with kids/pets, etc. It works just fine for me as an introductory steel guitar to find my way around these tunings.

Now, I have a vintage Stringmaster winging its way towards me this week. I agree vintage steels are a great deal, but just as a counter-example, it is nice to have a cheap instrument too that you can be less paranoid about. I'm sure I'm going to be playing my Morrell steel quite a bit even after the T-8 takes up residence...just for convenience if nothing else.

....note of warning if you do start with a vintage steel. Just now while writing this post, I clicked on your link. Saw another related steel for a (no, I will not do that pun!) good price, (not that one) and despite my best efforts of self-control I bid on it. Sure I'll get outbid but who knows. So caveat emptor, apparently these things are addictive.
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 12:12 pm     Reply with quote

Add another vote for getting the Dickerson/Magnatone sort of thing.

They made a lot of them, but they sound pretty durn good to me. You could do a lot worse...even better if you fix the amp too.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 12:35 pm     Reply with quote

K E Sharp:

The Dickerson sold in the last 10 seconds for 200. Only 1 bid.

Did you get it?

If you did, you'll probably sound just like these guys on Dickersons:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0TU-way7HM


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K E Sharp


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 8:09 pm     Reply with quote

Please call me K. Lot less typing that way.

Yes, I did get it. Iā€™m glad I contacted the seller, as it turned out eBay had the shipping calculated way way wrong!

The set is already on its way and should be here Wednesday.

I did find out some info on the tonebar. The patent application was filed in 1945 by Olen H Yates of Pontiac, MI. It was granted in 1948, number 2449032. Here is a link to the patent papers: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/62/a6/ba/2fc31c7a2916e2/US2449032.pdf

He also held a patent for castanet taps for dancing shoes (2161497).
_________________
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill (or not)
ā€˜47 Dickerson / matching S6 amp
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 7 Nov 2017 7:35 am     Reply with quote

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-1950s-Vintage-Magnatone-Pearloid-Lap-Steel-Electric-Guitar-Case/222685098259?_trkparms=aid%3D777003%26algo%3DDISCL.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D48739%26meid%3Df89ead76e816434083dc1bdf5cec418a%26pid%3D100012%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D292312177206&_trksid=p2047675.c100012.m1985

another of the little steels.
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