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Author Topic:  Nut For Artisan Lap Steel
Carl McLaughlin

New Brunswick, Canada
Post Posted 14 Oct 2010 6:15 pm     Reply with quote

Now have a Pettingill 6strg Southernbelle w benders. Tele plus telecaster, Larivee acoustic.
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Brian Henry

Post Posted 15 Oct 2010 5:52 pm     Reply with quote

BoB, I used the followin on mine and saw a great improvement, regards brian
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Dave Stewart

Post Posted 6 Oct 2011 12:54 pm     My Artisan and Rogue Lap Steels Reply with quote

When I bought my $79 Artisan lap steel, the wooden nut was causing the first couple strings to "twang." So I just bought a metal nut, loosened the strings, and inserted the metal nut over the existing wooden nut. The metal nut is 100% better than the wood for tone, and it doesn't look too shabby either...


I also replaced the factory pickup with an adjustable pole pickup, so I can raise individual pickup pole magnets a little closer to the strings...

DiMarzio DP111 SDS-1 Guitar Pickup

I use a 90 degree instrument cable, since the jack is on top of the guitar. I love how the jack on my 1953 D-8 Rickenbacker is underneath.

I put some semi-flat strings on the Artisan.

I don't like where they put the volume knob, as it interferes with my right hand, so I turned the volume all the way up and then removed the mounting nut and pushed the volume pot down into the guitar. Now my hand is free to move about. I adjust my volume with a volume pedal on the ground.

I love the Artisan because the bridge is not blocked at all. Even on my $1700 Jerry Byrd Frypan, I have difficulty muting the strings because of the placement of the volume control. So I can only mute with the thumb and middle finger on my right hand. It is awkward to say the least. I love the tone of my Jery Byrd Frypan, but the Artisan is actually easier to do muting on (go figure). You can hear me muting strings in the song, "SAND," with my Artisan lap steel...


The tone on the Artisan, even with a new pickup, cannot compare to the tone of a Bakelite Rickenbacher (prewar spelling) or Rickenbacker (postwar spelling).

I actually fit a 1949 Rickenbacker 1 1/4" horseshoe pickup into my Artisan, expecting it to sound like a Ricky. It sounded just like an Artisan, no better than before. I tried wiring the pickup a couple different ways, even removing the tone control from the circuit in pursuit of "that sound," but it didn't work. I can only conclude that the Bakelite must have a big effect on the Ricky sweet tone that is so sought after. The sound didn't improve one bit with the horseshoe pickup in the Artisan.

When I replaced the volume pot in my 1953 Bakelite S-6 Ricky (with a looser pot to turn), the original tone was lost. It sounded modern, bright and terrible. I couldn't put the old volume pot back into the guitar fast enough (and that's where it will stay). Never buy a Ricky that's had any of the pots replaced.

One thing that is certain is that the stock pickup in the Artisan guitar from the factory in China is cheap and lacking any decent tone. A $50 DiMarzio pickup makes a BIG difference and is a perfect replacement without having to modify (grind) the metal cover plate bigger, like I had to do with the Seymour Duncan pickup I tried in my Rogue (same model guitar, just a different brand).

For $79, the Artisan and Rogue guitars are a blessing, because anybody can afford one to start learning to play lap steel. When I'm playing Hawaiian steel guitar at the beach, I bring along my Artisan as a sidekick companion, so when somebody asks how much my Jerry Byrd Frypan costs, I can show them that there are inexpensive steels available that sound good (and then I play a song or two for them, and let them try it out).

A super great lap steel and on sale now at Musician's Friend is the Rogue New Jersey Lightning for $149 to $199. It has felt on the bottom, super lightweight, and looks very nice. I have the red and it has great harmonics sustain. The tone is lacking, but Gibson makes a Classic '57 replacement humbucker pickup (which may, or may not, be the best pickup for steel guitar, but I like it). I like the gold colored pickup...


Still, the New Jersey Lightning already comes with a humbucking pickup that doesn't sound too bad at all.

Jason Lollar has taken it to a new level, doing some nifty modifications to his Rogue S-6 lap steel...


I'm no expert on any of this stuff, but I've done some experimenting and I'm just sharing some of the things I've learned. I've learned some interesting things in this post about ideas and tools to use.

It's pretty cool to be able to buy cheaper lap steels to be able to tear into them to experiment with. The Artisan (some of them) come with 3 legs so you can stand up while playing the lap steel. That's a great feature.

To be able to adjust the intonation of the lap steel is very nice. I use harmonic tuning to set the intonation, using Buddy Emmons' harmonic tune-up.

I'm not saying that a Rogue or Artisan could ever compare in quality and workmanship to a Canopus or Melelani steel guitar, but it is intersting when Rogue places felt under their $199 guitar and some lap steels that sell for over $1,500 will slide off your lap if you're not careful.

You also get a nice little black gigbag with a storage pocket. For the price it is awesome. I painted one of my Artisan guitars Antique white and it looks great, and then one of my kids painted some coconut palm treesin the sand, with a sunset and some blue ocean on the front of it. It doesn't get any better than that!

Here's some photos of my Artisan lap steel after I painted it Antique White and then my daughter painted some artwork on it for me... really nice!!!

PHOTO 04 - Here You Can See The Metal Nut Fitted Over The Original Wooden Nut

Kindest regards and God bless,
Music makes the world a better place.
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Brian Hunter

Post Posted 6 Oct 2011 1:38 pm     Reply with quote

Michael Maddex wrote:

Is that the Artisan I bought from you, Michael? Looks like it.
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Michael Maddex

Northern New Mexico, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2012 9:16 pm     yes Reply with quote

Brian, it is.

I just today spotted your question. Somehow I missed your post above three months ago or I would have posted this answer long ago.
"For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert." -- Arthur C. Clarke
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