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Author Topic:  Lap Steel Measurements Question
Joe Hegedus


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2019 8:22 am    
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Hi,
I am a member at Steel Guitar Forum and have a question for you.
How high should the strings be at the bridge and nut? Are they the same height?
Also, how far apart should the strings be?

The reason for the question is I just started playing again (after many, many years) and purchased the Gretsch Electromatic guitar in the pictures below. I am having a bit of trouble picking the right strings and am wondering if the string are not high enough, not far enough away from each other, my picks are wrong - or the most likely - I need to continue practicing a lot more 😏
Tried to measure the string height and I think it is 1/4 inches high at nut and maybe slightly higher at bridge. The distance between strings is 3/8 inches.

Thanks for your help!
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Joe Hegedus
jhegedusjr@gmail.com
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2019 9:30 am    
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When building I shoot for 7/16" string height and .400 between strings at the bridge and .350 to .375 between them at the nut.

Spacing between strings depends on your pickup. I've been using Alumatone pickups lately so spacing isn't as important as a pickup with individual poles.

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Joe Hegedus


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2019 12:03 pm     Lap Steel Measurements Question
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Wow, thanks for the quick reply. That height is almost double what I have (1/4 to 7/16). The width at the nut is the same but the bridge a bit wider. Do you think my settings are too tight?
Thanks again,
Joe
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2019 12:34 pm    
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Many people use string widths at 3/8". I think you just need to play a bit more and get used to your steel. The reason I use .400 is, I'm lazy......it makes the math a lot easier when drilling the holes in the bridge for the strings. I don't groove the bridge rod, the string spacing comes from the holes in the base.
I do think 1/4" isn't much room under the strings.


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Joe Hegedus


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2019 12:48 pm     Lap Steel Measurements Question
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One last question... do you recommend a nut and bridge replacement? Or another guitar?
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2019 1:02 pm    
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Replace the N & B nothing wrong with the Gretsch.
Starts around 5:50 in the video.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYMLp-qCW_c&t=630s
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Don Barnhardt


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 29 Mar 2019 2:25 pm    
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Your guitar is probably just fine. A quarter makes a pretty good guage for string height (over the pickup).
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 29 Mar 2019 6:11 pm    
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I tried one of those reissue Gretsch lap steels a couple of years ago and the first thing I noticed was how close the strings were. I had a hard time playing it.
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Steven Pearce


From:
Port Orchard Washington, USA
Post  Posted 30 Mar 2019 10:39 pm    
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They’re great lapsteels. String spacing being the only real issue. So...


This is an easy fix. The stock nut is above the nut I made. The
spacing is 3/8ths, it’s what I’m used to. You can see the difference
between it and the stock spacing. Mr. GeorgeBoards here on the forum is
a great source for a well made nut.
Hope this helps!
Steve Pearce
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Steven Pearce


From:
Port Orchard Washington, USA
Post  Posted 30 Mar 2019 10:56 pm    
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Oh yeah, don’t know what tuning your using, this one is D. Gauges are high to low ...
18P 22P 28 38 48 62
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Harrisburg, Oregon
Post  Posted 2 Apr 2019 4:41 pm     String height at Nut & Bridge
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String height at Nut & Bridge only need be the same if you expect to use one of those capos. Other than that, I can't think of a reason it would matter.
Keep it high enough to avoid scratching the fretboard.

I also made new wider nut & bridge for my old 8 string Morrell lap steel.
Much better with the 3/8" at the bridge and 5/16" at the nut than what it had when I got it.
A littler wider is also okay IMHO.
I also replaced the fretboard, pickup and the plate it's mounted on....
Best of luck,
Andy




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