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Author Topic:  Building my first two lap steels
Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 7 Jan 2018 10:35 pm     Reply with quote

Below is a photo of the two first lap steels I'm making.
Kind of like the old National New Yorker, but not exactly the same.
I've made what I consider to be improvements in the design for aesthetic as well as practical reasons like a wider peghead so the strings for #2 & 7 don't rub on the tuner posts of strings #1 & 8.

I've now gathered most all of the items I need to start to experiment with winding pickups for these.
I'm looking to get the rich full tone of some of the guitars from the 30's to the 50's.
Seems they used 38 gauge wire back then and from what I've read the magnets may have been quite a bit stronger than alnico 3 or 5 too. I also have some 1/4" round rare earth magnets that are quite strong, maybe too strong???

I'm told that winding to 3.5 to 4K is best for what I'm after, but not sure about how many winds would get me into that neighborhood. I did get a multi meter but think it would help to have an idea about the number of winds first?

Any help you'd be willing to pass on would be much appreciated if you have actual experience with making pickups?
My past electrical knowledge thus far is changing light bulbs, plugging in toasters and getting shocked a couple of times! Whoa! Laughing

Anyway, looking for any constructive input.
Best wishes,
Andy



One long and one short scale made from Flamed Big Leaf Maple and Figured Claro Black Walnut.



These will be the string lock downs once I bend them to a 90º angle between the rows of holes to work like the older Fender steels. Need to make a metal break to get the clean 1/8" round over in them. String spacing 3/8" at the bridge and will be 5/16" at the nut. I like the wide spacing for better slant bar action.
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.


Last edited by Andy DePaule on 8 Jan 2018 7:23 am; edited 2 times in total
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 1:51 am     Reply with quote

Nice! Very Happy
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Sierra Crown D-10
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Paolo Conti


From:
France
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 2:02 am     Reply with quote

Great project Andy, this lap steels should be really nice. From a New Yorker lover Smile
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 7:12 am     Thanks guys Reply with quote

Thanks guys, This is still a work in progress. Very Happy
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
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Per Berner


From:
Skövde, Sweden
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 7:30 am     Reply with quote

Great fretboard design!
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Stephen Abruzzo


From:
Philly, PA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 7:48 am     Reply with quote

Good job so far on the wood builds and metal decals. Good luck with the pup winding.
_________________
Four Pettingills and a Clinesmith Aluminum. Fender Blues Junior. Quilter Mini-101.
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 8:56 am     Reply with quote

Those look awesome! Great job!
_________________
ZOYD FLOYD Lap Steel Guitar/LTD Viper 10 Electric Guitar/Hohner Acoustic Dreadnaught Guitar/Remo Cajon
Too many hobbies
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James Hartman


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 9:42 am     Re: Building my first two lap steels Reply with quote

Andy DePaule wrote:
Below is a photo of the two first lap steels I'm making.

I'm looking to get the rich full tone of some of the guitars from the 30's to the 50's.
Seems they used 38 gauge wire back then and from what I've read the magnets may have been quite a bit stronger than alnico 3 or 5 too. I also have some 1/4" round rare earth magnets that are quite strong, maybe too strong???

I'm told that winding to 3.5 to 4K is best for what I'm after, but not sure about how many winds would get me into that neighborhood. I did get a multi meter but think it would help to have an idea about the number of winds first?

Any help you'd be willing to pass on would be much appreciated if you have actual experience with making pickups?
My past electrical knowledge thus far is changing light bulbs, plugging in toasters and getting shocked a couple of times! Whoa! Laughing

Anyway, looking for any constructive input.



Lookin' good, Andy. I love walnut, surprised it isn't more commonly used for guitars.

I don't think super-strong magnets will get you the vintage sound you're looking for.

Singling out one factor (magnets) is probably a wrong path to understanding, as it's the synergy of all the components that produces the end result. That said, in my experience "alternative" magnets, ceramic for instance, tend to produce anything but a vintage tone. As a counter example: Lollar uses alnico 5 in his repro Valco/Oahu pickups.

Fortunately for you, this forum has a participating pickup magnet expert who I'm sure can steer you in the right direction.

Have you purchased or built a pickup winder? Or are you going to try it on the crude with a hand drill mounted in a bench vise, or some such improvised rig?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 9:43 am     Reply with quote

Beautiful work.
Mind if I ask how you joined the headstock to the neck?
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Larry Phleger


From:
DuBois, PA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 10:02 am     Reply with quote

They look great. I really like your design. I built a D10, and wound my own pickups. Made my winder out of an old sewing machine and wired a calculator to count the winds. There are some sites out on the web that list the winds for various guitars especially Fender and Gibson. A review of those specs may be helpful in deciding on how you want to wind your pickups. Also, there is a lot of good information on the Builders Forum http://steelguitarbuilder.com
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Rick Aiello


From:
Berryville, VA USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 11:28 am     Reply with quote

5000 turns of 38 AWG on a six string bobbin will give you a DC resistance of around 1.5 kOhm. On an eight string bobbin ... around 2 kOhm

If you want 3-4 kOhm .... you need to go thinner.

DC resistance isnt much of an indicator ... best to wind a few at 5000 with 38, 40 and 42 ... and pick the one you like best ... tweak it +/- up to 1000 turns if those are not working for you.

Magnet wise ... go strong ... but NIBs as pole pieces are too much ... NIBs work best with slugs or blades
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Andy Henriksen


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 11:55 am     Reply with quote

Fred Treece wrote:
Beautiful work.
Mind if I ask how you joined the headstock to the neck?

Looks like it's all one piece of maple. The headstock appears to have a thin cap of walnut burl on top of the maple.

And echoing the others here - it looks great! Very Happy
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James Kerr


From:
Scotland, UK
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 1:15 pm     Reply with quote

Andy,
Your Designs and workmanship look first class and I hope your search for the right sound to go with that is fruitful.

I like to build my own Instruments too, I think that is half the fun, I also admire the National designs and show here a 7 string copy of the National Dynamic. I know nothing of Pickup design, I just by something cheap from Fleabay and keep it if its good, if not, I just list it again and get my money back. This Pickup is a Humbucker, and I have a 6 string of the same design which has a Single Coil, I love the sound of both.

This Video shows the 7 String and you can hear the full range of sounds it puts out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAE76yLxEA4

James.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 1:30 pm     Reply with quote

James Kerr wrote:
Andy,
Your Designs and workmanship look first class and I hope your search for the right sound to go with that is fruitful.

I like to build my own Instruments too, I think that is half the fun, I also admire the National designs and show here a 7 string copy of the National Dynamic. I know nothing of Pickup design, I just by something cheap from Fleabay and keep it if its good, if not, I just list it again and get my money back. This Pickup is a Humbucker, and I have a 6 string of the same design which has a Single Coil, I love the sound of both.

This Video shows the 7 String and you can hear the full
range of sounds it puts out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAE76yLxEA4

James.


James, I agree with you on some points. Andy's workmanship is top notch. However building is half the fun, I don't agree with. I think for me it's at least 75% of the fun. Now maybe if I could play better it would be 50/50 but as I see it (through my eyes) it's the build.

Andy, my first home build was a New Yorker knock off. It sounds great, but as I look back on it, I think I could have made it quite a bit lighter and trimmer. I know yours, like mine is not an exact copy and had I known better at the time I would have put the controls where you did. Mine unfortunately are at the south side of the bridge and that adds to the length of the build as well as the weight! Hey, live and learn...........most of all have fun.
_________________
currently own, 4 Gronertone lap steels.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 2:20 pm     Reply with quote

Andy Henriksen wrote:
Fred Treece wrote:
Beautiful work.
Mind if I ask how you joined the headstock to the neck?

Looks like it's all one piece of maple. The headstock appears to have a thin cap of walnut burl on top of the maple.

Ah, I see that now, thanks Andy (iPad pics are sooo small!). I thought it looked a bit odd having a separate piece for the headstock.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 3:53 pm     Same company making the control panel plate Reply with quote

Per Berner wrote:
Great fretboard design!


Hello Per Berner,
Same company that makes my fretboards also is making the control panel plate and they did the string lock plates to my drawings also... All made from thin polished stainless steel.
This is the "Virtual" drawing for the Control Plate; Very Happy



Should be ready later this week.
Best wishes,
Andy
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 3:56 pm     James Hartman Reply with quote

Hi James,
Sounds like you know your stuff.
I will pm you in a little while. Still early morning here and I need to run an errand.
Thanks for the information. Very useful.
Best wishes,
Andy
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 4:15 pm     Good question with two answers Reply with quote

Fred Treece wrote:
Beautiful work.
Mind if I ask how you joined the headstock to the neck?


Hi Fred,
Good question with two answers. The long scale steel was built from one solid piece of flamed maple as I prefer.
For the short scale steel my maple was not long enough for the full length. On that one I did join the peghead to the neck with a large dovetail joint under where the nut will go. The male section is part of the peg head and extends into the neck where the female cutout is located.
Also the "wings" of maple and walnut are stepped down so each one is 1/8" below the one before it. Gives a better deco look to my eye;



Thanks to all for the nice comments.
I also love the combination of Figured Maple and Figured Black Walnut. I've built acoustic guitars with Black Walnut since the early 70's and always loved that wood both for tone and the way it looks. Liked it so much so that I sent some to Mark Giles 13 years ago to build my Star Guitar PSG as can be seen in this link; http://luthiersupply.com/index.php?route=common/instrument/imageview&id=70

To Bill's message; As for wether the fun of building is 50/50 or 75/25, I'm not sure the percentage, but if I played better than I do perhaps I'd do less building. Truth be told I'm a far better builder than musician... Sad but true. Would love to see the builds you've done?
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 7:25 pm     Reply with quote

Well sir! That is some pretty fancy footwork there, Andy. Now I have something worth trying to copy when I finally get my workshop set up!
One more question/favor - How bout a side view shot?
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2018 9:23 pm     Reply with quote

I've built a few guitars because at the time I couldn't get what I wanted other that paying somebody $2,000+ for a full custom piece of art. Way back, it was rare to find EVERYTHING you wanted in a single guitar. My "best" instrument is the simplest - I used Warmoth "G5" wood to build a five-string fretless SHORT-scale Hi-C 5 string bass. They made me an ebony/maple neck with no side makers, I moved the bridge up 3.5" to get the magical 30.5" scale and made my own side dots with Milliput epoxy clay. It's not really RADICAL, but it IS the one that I'd say if they'd had them in the music stores in SF, London and NYC in 1965, the world would be a better place. In backing singer/songwritery types as a duo, it's nice to have a bass that also lets you rip a few solos. AND I also have a custom fretless guitar with a custom walnut body, it, umm... well, live and learn, the unwound strings sound awful but it's not walnut's fault.

Another GREAT wood is cherry, Leo Fender was a cheapskate so he used alder, but real woody-head types consider alder to be like crappy cherry, you use it on the INSIDE of drawers and stuff. Fender "made" alder as far as being desirable, but it's because people are insane. Arguing about which tuner buttons have the best tone, etc.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 12 Jan 2018 1:43 am     Reply with quote

Fred Treece wrote:
Well sir! That is some pretty fancy footwork there, Andy. Now I have something worth trying to copy when I finally get my workshop set up!
One more question/favor - How bout a side view shot?


Hi Fred,
I'll try to do that soon as my girlfriend gives me back my cell phone, she's hooked on that thing and hers is in the apple repair shop since it fell in the toilet, What a mess, Whoa! Shocked Ha ha ha.
Best wishes,
Andy
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 12 Jan 2018 4:01 am     New photos, Sideview plus... Reply with quote

New photos, Sideview plus I laid out some other parts where they will be located.
Still plenty left to do including making the pickup, routing for the Pickup, jack and controls. The control panel shown is not the one I'll end up with as I've re-designed it to be longer and just holes for the volume and tone. I will now have the output jack going from the side. Also still need to make the nut and bridge.




Side view shows the slight 7º drop angle of the peghead. Just enough to keep some tension on the strings.
The bridge and nut will each be 3/8" tall.
Last I was asked about the peghead joint, As I'd said it's a large dovetail glued with two ton epoxy so very strong on this one. The other steel is all one piece of maple so no peghead joint.

_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 12 Jan 2018 11:55 pm     Nice lap steel design Reply with quote

James Kerr wrote:
This Video shows the 7 String and you can hear the full range of sounds it puts out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAE76yLxEA4 .


Hi James,
Just got around to clicking on your link. Nice lap steel design.
I think I saw this guitar somewhere before but thought it was some company built item.
Sounds good too and looks like another of the National steels that I liked... Very Happy
Best wishes,
Andy
_________________
Custom inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners. Tone Monster.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel.
Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 All Polished Aluminum including covering.
1960 Wright S-10 Cable PSG
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8, 4&2 Restoration Project.
Morrell 8 string lap stee.
Resophonic Steel Body by Edwin Root.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 13 Jan 2018 8:16 am     Reply with quote

Thanks Andy. Just awesome work! 7 degrees on the tilt back, got it....
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James Kerr


From:
Scotland, UK
Post Posted 14 Jan 2018 5:30 am     Re: Nice lap steel design Reply with quote

Andy DePaule wrote:
James Kerr wrote:
This Video shows the 7 String and you can hear the full range of sounds it puts out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAE76yLxEA4 .


Hi James,
Just got around to clicking on your link. Nice lap steel design.
I think I saw this guitar somewhere before but thought it was some company built item.
Sounds good too and looks like another of the National steels that I liked... Very Happy
Best wishes,
Andy


You are correct about some company building this Guitar Andy. It was my company.

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