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Author Topic:  Question for lap steel guitar builders
Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 7:08 am     Reply with quote

To what extent does the species and/or density of a tonewood affect the sound of a lap steel guitar? It seems that custom builders select woods more for their aesthetic beauty than for their sound qualities.

Realizing this subject has been debated into infinity in the standard guitar world, I am interested in opinions as to how it would apply to lap steels.
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Joe Elk


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 9:10 am     Reply with quote

It would be better to use the best pick up (the one that sounds best to YOU)! I would not say that wood makes no difference but the pick up would make the most difference.
Joe Elk Central Ohio
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David Knutson


From:
Cowichan Valley, Canada
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 9:24 am     Reply with quote

I think it's pretty much agreed that the density of the wood makes a difference to sustain. A lot of builders choose Maple, which IMO is the best of both worlds because it is very dense AND wood doesn't come much prettier than Maple.
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David K
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 11:01 am     Reply with quote

I have built 3 LS's out of curly maple. They are all around 1 5/8" to 1 3/4" thick. All play very well and sound about the same. I built one from sheet aluminum and that one has more sustain than the wood ones. It also has a different sound. The wood is more mellow and the aluminum sounds a bit brighter. I remember as a kid my music teacher telling me a wood clarinet sounds much more mellow than a metal one.

I am very new to this so do not put a lot of credence in what I say. I am just telling you how I hear it. Smile
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currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Robert Allen


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 11:31 am     Reply with quote

In an electric instrument, I think the lion's share of the sound is dependent on the pickup. However, my experience has been that the wood does make some lesser difference. I've built 370 lap steels using soft woods such as cypress, medium density woods such as mahogany and harder woods such as maple, ash, and oak. I've never gotten into very hard exotic woods such as rosewood with a Janka rating of 2800. It all depends on the desired sound. Musicians playing blues or Hawaiian aren't looking for the same response as someone who wants a crying country sound. The Hawaiian style players have frequently asked for softer woods whereas the country style players want hard maple. For my own, I have a cypress lap steel tuned in E and a teak lap steel in A.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 12:11 pm     Reply with quote

Has anyone used pine? A friend wants me to build him one. He would like it painted seafoam green. I don't want to spend the money on an expensive piece of wood only to cover it up. I know this is maybe off track of the original post, but I'd appreciate knowing if anyone has used it with success?
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currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 12:22 pm     Reply with quote

Bill Groner wrote:
Has anyone used pine?

Bill, I was wondering about pine, too. Legend has it that Leo Fender used pine for the body on the prototype his first solid body electric guitar. Stew-Mac offers Telecaster bodies machined from knotty pine. Along a similar line of thought, why not quartersawn, bookmatched spruce?
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George Piburn


From:
The Oklahoma Hills, USA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 12:32 pm     Pine You Assk? Reply with quote

Regarding Pine , Yes I've made a unique Steel Guitar with Pine from Home Depot, just to show a steel guitar can be made from simple materials by hand.


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Last edited by George Piburn on 11 Sep 2017 6:28 am; edited 3 times in total
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 12:33 pm     Reply with quote

Jack, I think I will give it a go (pine) I will let you know in couple of months how it worked out.
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currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Russell Adkins


From:
Louisiana, USA
Post Posted 10 Sep 2017 3:14 pm     Reply with quote

I have built many with pine and it works out good , even plywood works good ,wood pickups and how its put together all up to how it will sound even metal parts act on the tone once it is finished .
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 4:26 am     Reply with quote

Thanks to all who responded. Good answers from all.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 8:30 am     Re: Pine You Assk? Reply with quote

George Piburn wrote:
Regarding Pine , Yes I've made a unique Steel Guitar with Pine from Home Depot, just to show a steel guitar can be made from simple materials by hand.



Don't forget to put the seat down when done! Whoa!
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currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Jan Viljoen


From:
Pretoria, South Africa
Post Posted 12 Sep 2017 10:19 pm     African Rosewood. Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I built this lap steel out of African Rosewood, with stainless steel bridge and nut. Pickup is a bridge humbucker from a Epiphone.

The pickup frame is African warthog tusk.
I have made a separate ebony fretboard also with warthog tusk markers, but when sanding it down, the black powder made the markers darker.

The inlay sign on the headstock is the Greek letter Phi, which stands for the magic relationship of form, which I designed into the measurements and corners.
The Parthenon in Greece was built with this relationship too 438 BC.
Many modern Phi designs exist today like credit cards, etc.
Even the size of one cycle of DNA conforms to Phi.

I like the sound very much, I think just like maple and put a three link strap with zebra skin ends on it to play standing.

Let the games begin.

Smile



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Sierra S10, Stage One, Gibson BR4, Framus, Guya 6&8, Hofner lap, Custom mandolins, Keilwerth sax.
Roland Cube 80XL, Peavey112-Valve King and Special, Marshall 100VS.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 13 Sep 2017 1:30 am     Reply with quote

Very nice craftsmanship. I love the white edge band with the red.........classy! Very Happy
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currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Jan Viljoen


From:
Pretoria, South Africa
Post Posted 13 Sep 2017 11:49 am     Reply with quote

Thanks Bill Groner, appreciate it.

I built the case too.

I am trying to load a band picture with the lap steel, but it seems too big.
I have to diminish the pixels.


Take care.

JV.

Idea

_________________
Sierra S10, Stage One, Gibson BR4, Framus, Guya 6&8, Hofner lap, Custom mandolins, Keilwerth sax.
Roland Cube 80XL, Peavey112-Valve King and Special, Marshall 100VS.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 13 Sep 2017 12:19 pm     Reply with quote

WOW! Nice case. Send a picture with it closed so we can see the wood. What kind of wood did you use for the case?
_________________
currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Terry VunCannon


From:
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 13 Sep 2017 2:11 pm     Reply with quote

I am using mahogany for my lap steels, with a custom wind Soapbar P90. I love the sound I am getting.

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Jan Viljoen


From:
Pretoria, South Africa
Post Posted 16 Sep 2017 12:02 am     Reply with quote

Bill Groner, sorry I dont have an outside picture, but I used plywood, which I had to build the case.
I only had to buy latches, hinges and handle.
I still cant load a band picture with the lap steel, I need to diminish the pixels.

Terry, your instruments look very good.

Thanks all you blokes!
_________________
Sierra S10, Stage One, Gibson BR4, Framus, Guya 6&8, Hofner lap, Custom mandolins, Keilwerth sax.
Roland Cube 80XL, Peavey112-Valve King and Special, Marshall 100VS.
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