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Author Topic:  hollow steel guitar body/sound-board
J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2022 12:50 pm    
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Has anybody experimented with a hollow body instead of either a thick plank (non pedal steel) or the inverted "U" shaped channel cabinet typical for pedal steel guitars?

The idea I am gyrating in my head, is rooted in concerns of space usage but also the tonal effects of a hollow body may create. My interest is NOT to create and "acoustic" body but, body that still acts as a silent sound-board with better strength at a lesser or at least not higher weight.

I would also welcome input from "our" cabinet wood workers" here about fabrication.

Thanks!... J-D.
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 4:02 am    
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Hi JD
Yes - of sorts

I have made a PSG with aluminium side rails and thin composite plastic/ timber veneer/carbon fibre top which spans over the rails.

I am quite surprised and happy with the result. It rings out acoustically and carrys sustain and tone.
It is still a prototype and a work in progress..

All the fingers, bellcranks bridge supports etc are also made from plastic composite.
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J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 9:33 am    
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John Hyland wrote:
Hi JD
Yes - of sorts

I have made a PSG with aluminium side rails and thin composite plastic/ timber veneer/carbon fibre top which spans over the rails.

I am quite surprised and happy with the result. It rings out acoustically and carrys sustain and tone.
It is still a prototype and a work in progress..

All the fingers, bellcranks bridge supports etc are also made from plastic composite.


Thanks John.
So you have a front and a rear rail, and then a top uniting them. Do you have the bottom closed too and IF so, is that closure structural?

Besides satisfied, do you feel it has been beneficial to a) tone and b) tuning stability?

Feel free to share pictures! Thanks!... J-D.
_________________
__________________________________________________________
A Little Mental Health Warning:

Tablature KILLS SKILLS.
The uses of Tablature is addictive and has been linked to reduced musical fertility.
Those who produce Tablature did never use it.

I say it humorously, but I mean it.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 12:43 pm     I'd like to try it
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Hi JD,
I have not yet but I'd like to try it.
I've thought about some of that concept often and hope to act on it in the not too distant future.
In the acoustic guitar world a lot of luthiers have been working on laminated soundboards with three layers. The two outer layers are usually spruce or cedar thinned to about 1/32" (Thats one third the usual thickness of 3/32").
The center layer has a very fine honey comb man made material held in with an ultra light coating of epoxy. Too light to fill the honey combs, but strong enough to hold it all together.
Many if not all of these guitars have little or no bracing and are said to have amazing tone. No reason I can see why a pickup could not be added to this idea?
Best wishes,
Andy
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 1:56 pm    
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JD yes there are front and back rails but the top is structurally independent. The bridge and nut supports provide the front to back separation with compression members running longitudinally under the top. The end plates plates provide secondary support at the bottom of the rails to stop twisting.
As such top has no affect on tuning. Like Paul described the top is a sandwich of a honeycomb/carbon fibre/with a timber veneer. To be honest I don’t know how this affects the tone other than I have a warm full sho bud sound. I have only recently got the guitar playing so I’m more concerned testing its durability. At some stage I will remove the top to see how the sound is affected.

Adding a bottom to the curve would be an interesting experiment, my gut feeling is it would add compression to the sound. Jerry Douglas has said removing the tea strainers from his dobro affected the compression.

For interest the top is curved to give it strength and visually keep the instrument looking slim. In my opinion the modern steel is looking very chunky and un graceful in opposite to what it sounds like.
I’ve attached a couple of images
Paul a friend of mine is a pioneer in the technique you described.
The guitar is weighing about 11 kg with steel legs

Cheers john





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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 5:07 pm     WoW, Incredible
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WoW, Incredible and only 11kg, about 23 pounds of great looking PSG. Whoa! Very Happy
The underside also has some amazing thought into it. Idea Very Happy
Are the front and back aprons carbon fiber?
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.
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Per Berner


From:
Skövde, Sweden
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 11:05 pm    
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Wow! What a beautiful design! I want one...
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 11:59 pm    
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Thanks Per and Andy - as I said its a prototype so the bits could be a better fit but you dont want to reprint the all parts just to suit a change elsewhere.
It is a bit of a plan to sell in the future as I think I have quite a unique guitar.

cheers John
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2022 12:12 am     Re: WoW, Incredible
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Andy DePaule wrote:
WoW, Incredible and only 11kg, about 23 pounds of great looking PSG. Whoa! Very Happy
The underside also has some amazing thought into it. Idea Very Happy
Are the front and back aprons carbon fiber?


The side panels are carbon fibre sandwich panel - ie 1mm CF each side of a non-structural core.
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J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2022 7:28 am    
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John Hyland wrote:
JD yes there are front and back rails but the top is structurally independent. The bridge and nut supports provide the front to back separation with compression members running longitudinally under the top. The end plates plates provide secondary support at the bottom of the rails to stop twisting.
As such top has no affect on tuning. Like Paul described the top is a sandwich of a honeycomb/carbon fibre/with a timber veneer. To be honest I don’t know how this affects the tone other than I have a warm full sho bud sound. I have only recently got the guitar playing so I’m more concerned testing its durability. At some stage I will remove the top to see how the sound is affected.

Adding a bottom to the curve would be an interesting experiment, my gut feeling is it would add compression to the sound. Jerry Douglas has said removing the tea strainers from his dobro affected the compression.

For interest the top is curved to give it strength and visually keep the instrument looking slim. In my opinion the modern steel is looking very chunky and un graceful in opposite to what it sounds like.
I’ve attached a couple of images
Paul a friend of mine is a pioneer in the technique you described.
The guitar is weighing about 11 kg with steel legs

Cheers john







WHO designed this, HUBLOT? Whoa!

AMAZING design and craftsmanship. I LOVE that "Fretboard"... and so many more aspects of it.

... J-D
_________________
__________________________________________________________
A Little Mental Health Warning:

Tablature KILLS SKILLS.
The uses of Tablature is addictive and has been linked to reduced musical fertility.
Those who produce Tablature did never use it.

I say it humorously, but I mean it.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2022 8:02 am     Thinking outside the box
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I also love to see designers thinking outside of the box and coming up with such a dramatic and utilitarian product/prototype...

So much innovation in this PSG and yet it still looks like it would be a very marketable steel guitar. Specially at 23 pounds for us older folks who already wrecked their backs lugging around the old PSG's for years.

Can't help but think you could loose another fair amount of weight with aluminum or CF legs and a laminated CF pedal bar?

You are right, any arched top instrument will be far stronger than a flat top.
It's not for no reason that arches have been used for thousands of years in all kinds of construction.
Best of progress with the project,
Andy
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.


Last edited by Andy DePaule on 1 Aug 2022 4:46 am; edited 3 times in total
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2022 1:57 pm    
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Again thanks for your kind comments.
I’ve spent over 3 years (part-time) working on this and learning a lot about PSG, 3 d printing and vacuum forming on the way. It was my aim to make one of the lightest steels and I sure I could get it under 10kg.. - with alum or CF Legs and some alum profiles probably could be lighter weight..

At some stage soon I’ll have to make another one to A/B test while continuing with durability testing.

Back to the original thread….

Played acoustically the floating sound board gives great acoustic projection predominately for the open strings although a notable drop when barred. The removal of the top results in a significant reduction in volume and sustain. Since adding the pickup and setting up the copendent. removing the top is more fiddley so a quick test (with pickup) is not so easy. The shell is one of the oldest parts in the development and has awkward fixings which I won’t remedy until v2 is constructed.

If I find myself removing all the rods I can probably remove the top and note the effect on the pickup volume and sound.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2022 9:59 pm     Nice planning John
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Nice planning John,
I wish I knew more about 3D printing and CNC in general. At 74 with a diminishing brain I'm not sure I should tackle that now.

When you get past the prototype stage I'm thinking you'll have a good market with the cost of PSG's in Australia and good number of players there too. Maybe New Zealand also but not sure of trade and tax requirements between your country and them.

I do think you'd also have a market in the US and Europe with such an amazing PSG.

For my project still in the drawing and planning stage I'd just like to make some fully acoustic lap steels with perhaps the laminated tops? Your project really has me thinking about also doing an arched top on them perhaps.
Best of luck to you,
Andy
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.


Last edited by Andy DePaule on 25 Jul 2022 12:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2022 11:14 pm     Re: Nice planning John
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Andy DePaule wrote:
Nice planning John,
I wish I knew more about 3D printing and CNC in general. At 74 with a diminishing brain I'm not sure I should tackle that now.

When you get past the prototype stage I'm thinking you'll have a good market with the cost of PSG's in Australia and good number of players there too. Maybe New Zealand also but not sure of trade and tax requirements between your country and them.

I do think you'd also have a market in the US and Europe white such an amazing PSG.

For my project still in the drawing and planning stage I'd just like to make some fully acoustic lap steels with perhaps the laminated tops? Your project really has me thinking about also doing an arched top on them perhaps.
Best of luck to you,
Andy


3d printing - cheapish and slow
CNC - expensive and still slowish

It to would be nice if there was a market for sales. guess will see after durability stressing

I've always wanted to make a weissenborn
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Ross Shafer


From:
Petaluma, California
Post  Posted 9 Jul 2022 8:17 am    
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Very cool! Looking forward to seeing the further development of your design. Great stuff!
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Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 28 Jul 2022 10:24 am    
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Seems it would be a simple matter to test the idea by cutting a piece of hard material with close cutouts for the pedal rods and tape it to the bottom of the side rails just to see how the hollow chamber affected it. Then you might further experiment by cutting various size holes in the board (like a ported closed back cabinet) to see how that changed the sound. My gut feeling is it's not going to make much difference either way.
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J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 28 Jul 2022 3:47 pm    
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Clyde Mattocks wrote:
Seems it would be a simple matter to test the idea by cutting a piece of hard material with close cutouts for the pedal rods and tape it to the bottom of the side rails just to see how the hollow chamber affected it. Then you might further experiment by cutting various size holes in the board (like a ported closed back cabinet) to see how that changed the sound. My gut feeling is it's not going to make much difference either way.


Sure, we can build it and test.
Before I would, I was hoping somebody HAD maybe dunne it, so I wouldn't have to.

Looks it's going to have to be me.

Gut feelings are great, just as long it's "butterflies". Smile

I think that MASS has a lot to do with tone on an electric instrument.
Compare a fairly light weight Fender guitar to a heavy solid body Gibson Les Paul or "Lucille".
Why? because strings have mass.
Motion causes causes a reaction.
When strings are in motion, they can ever so slightly put the platform they are on in motion too. We call that "vibration". We feel it when we touch a cabinet.
It takes ENERGY to move a heavy piece, like a sound board... that energy is subtracted from the strings inertia... or sustain.

On the other hand, a bigger mass is more likely to absorb energy without moving noticeably... so some guitars with heavy mahogany body's tend to sound darker than those with similar mass hard rock maple or rose wood bodies.
So, mass, consistence (brittle or not) and shape (structural static resistance)

Coming back to my question, building a hollow sound board may allow for a structurally sound (detuning resistant) yet lighter sound board. OR a structurally superior sound board with the same mass.
In any case, one would expect that there sould be changes in tone coloring with everything else being the same.

I am currently in preliminary sketches of a new keyless left-change-&-tune PSG with a clean bridge. I want to maintain the most advanced mechanical capabilities but have a "clean" bridge (no excessive radius and mechanical clutter, a floating sound board for tone and reduction of body-drop-detuning.
Then again, I need it heavy enough so it don't upper-cut jumps into the my pretty nose when I engage a vertical lever.
I aim at having the tonal dynamics and sustain the best non-pedal steels were known for. So, every detail counts. And the sound board or cabinet's shape and mass isn't exactly a "detail" in this complex equation.

Hence, my questions.


Thanks!... J-D.
_________________
__________________________________________________________
A Little Mental Health Warning:

Tablature KILLS SKILLS.
The uses of Tablature is addictive and has been linked to reduced musical fertility.
Those who produce Tablature did never use it.

I say it humorously, but I mean it.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 28 Jul 2022 9:09 pm    
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Some of the best sound I ever got on stage was in a dingy little club. I was set up on the shallow wing of the stage with little room to set up my old Sessiom 400 behind me with only maybe 3" between the open back cabinet and the concrete block wall. I attributed it to the pressure of the wall sending it back into the amp and the amount escaping as best it could around the cabinet.. Applying this to the attempt at a hollow body steel, it would seem having a way to adjust the tightness of the bottom, anywhere from a tight fit to moving it varying distances to several inches away. My earlier suggestion of trying different size holes would seem to accomplish the same thing. My gut feeling (they make medicine for that) is once you moved it at all away from the solidly built platform of a modern steel guitar, it wouldn't make any difference. This is all speculation and reason to test. On a similar note, dobro builder Bob Wolfe put movable baffles inside one of his instruments and it made a very noticeable difference.
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Sonny Jenkins


From:
New Braunfels, Tx. 78130
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2022 12:35 pm    
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Well I found pics after I posted.
Couldn't get all of them to upload,,,I'll try
a new post. FWIW,,, 3-4 years ago I built a keyless acoustic lap steel,,,,or was it a Wiesenbaby ,,lol,,,anyway, had a spruce top, mahogany/spalted maple back and sided ,,kind of a modified bowl back. Small, coffin shaped,,probably 22,24 inches long maybe 6-7inches wide at it's widest point,,,maybe 4 inches deep at it's deepest point.

I think it was an 8 string. I may have some pics of it somewhere,,or I'm sure I posted pics on the forum back then. Can't remember who bought it but I remember he seemed to like it. Was not the best mellow tone,,but still sounded pretty good.


Last edited by Sonny Jenkins on 31 Jul 2022 6:55 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2022 12:56 pm     Me too, maybe
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Hi Sonny,
I was also thinking along the idea of an acoustic lap steel in some kind of rectangular shape. Had it in mind for some time now.

After seeing the terrific work John Hyland in Australia is doing it got me thinking an arched top would maybe be the best way to go.

Would need to be a little longer than yours to have a floating bridge, but 8 strings for sure. Never have done a keyless one, I'd have to think about that and the best way to design it.
Still just an idea until I get some of my other projects done. Very Happy
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.
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Sonny Jenkins


From:
New Braunfels, Tx. 78130
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2022 1:23 pm    
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I couldn't get any more pics to upload,,,I'll try again later







I remember now,,I dropped the guitar and messed up the tuner end,,,wasn't going to sell it but a guy wanted so I did a repair as best I could and let it go.

It has 1/4" wood running the length,,and bottom to top,,but like 1 1/2" holes drilled the full length,,,kind of a baffle. The guitar was very light weight.

Nice little practice guitar,,,I think I'll build another one,,,cept 10 string,,,,If I ever get through with this Kline knockoff I'm building,,,and IF my hand surgery goes good next month. Dr. says a year for recovery,,,,and it will be a miracle if he can do it any good,,,,
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2022 5:30 pm     Nice tuneing system
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Hi Sonny,
Nice tuneing system. Looks to be simple but easy to make.
Does it have an axel or fulcrum point near the bottom?
Andy
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.
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Sonny Jenkins


From:
New Braunfels, Tx. 78130
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2022 5:49 pm    
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Yes Andy ,,typical Kline tuners,,,same as I put on all my guitars. You can see the hole that the axle is in next to last pic.
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Boo Bernstein

 

From:
Los Angeles, CA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2022 7:40 am    
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David Jackson experimented with an acoustic pedal steel: https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=201964&sid=c3eb452affbcb4e4dd1a8745b5adc179
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Patrick Timmins


From:
Seattle
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2022 11:07 am    
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John, What material did you use for the FDM 3D printed parts? and are the fingers made with the same material?
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