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Author Topic:  New Build - Also, Hello!
Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 1 Jan 2018 8:25 pm     Reply with quote

Hello all, I just built my first lap steel guitar, and I joined these forums because it seems like a really good community to be a part of!

I looked for an "Introductions" section, but didn't see one, so I'm kind of coupling it in with this.

I've played different instruments over the years, but not an expert on any of them. I just really enjoy making music. So, the lap steel is my newest musical venture and I'm looking forward to learning how to play it.

Uploading a couple pics of the finished build. I'm not even sure if it's done correctly, but it does make sound!

I tuned to open G because it's what I've read is most common, but have yet to do much past that.

The nut, bridge and top receiver I made out of angle and flat aluminum respectively. The frets are made of the same acrylic as the top plate, and inset into the neck.

It's definitely not perfect, LOTS of imperfections actually, but for hand tools in my garage, I think it turned out pretty decent.

Thanks for reading, and looking forward to chatting with you all.

Brandon













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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 2:28 am     Reply with quote

Welcome Brandon!

Your lap steel looks fine from where I sit; I actually like the design alot! How did you come up with that unique body style/shape?
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 5:51 am     Reply with quote

Hey Tim, thanks for the reply and welcome wagon!

Well, it didn't start looking like that in the original design. But once I got all the hardware laid out, I took a pic. Upon later inspection, I thought it looked too much like a pizza oven spatula and not enough like a guitar and was clear that I had to change it.

While the newest design was ORIGINALLY planned to be fully symmetric, as I threw the template down in preparation, it landed crooked like that and I was looking down on it... I also really liked its visual appeal! I also thought, there was a chance that if I tried to get it straight it might end up crooked anyway, and at least this way I could say it was intentional. Rolling Eyes

Glad you like it also!

Brandon
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Andy Henriksen


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:09 am     Reply with quote

Nice looking guitar! What is the dark material used for the fret lines and dots?
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:12 am     Reply with quote

Very nice, definitely unique! What wood is that? Some sort of laminate or just a very strong contrasting in the grain?

And what kind of music inspired you to take up the lap steel? That's usually a good indicator of what you might want to try (ie tunings, etc).
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Andy Henriksen


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:15 am     Reply with quote

Nic Neufeld wrote:
Very nice, definitely unique! What wood is that? Some sort of laminate or just a very strong contrasting in the grain?

Of course, Brandon will provide the real answer, but for fun, I'm gonna guess douglas fir.
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:16 am     Reply with quote

Thanks Andy!

For the frets and the body top I made out of a single sheet of 12" x 17" body blank acrylic. I got it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZOV491Q/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

For the dots, I took a 1/4" countersink bit and a hand drill and got them as close to uniform as possible. Then took some Testor's Enamel paint and blacked them in and sanded across the top with some 1000 grit to erase the tiny amounts of overflow that was left behind.
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:19 am     Reply with quote

So, the wood... is just a plain old piece of yellow pine that I bought at Lowe's, and the only finish is some Minwax Clear Gloss spray polyurethane. The Douglas Fir guess makes me feel awesome though! Very Happy
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:23 am     Reply with quote

Oh, and for the style of music as inspiration. I listen to a WIDE variety in music. I grew up listening to my grandfather play bluegrass, my parents listened to country, and there isn't a sound quite as unique as a lap steel in any genre.

I think as far as what I'm looking to attempt to play, is probably more akin to the older country sounds like Hank Williams Sr and such to begin with, but there is huge possibilities that I will play lots of different styles and use it to make different sounds for ideas that I'm toying with.
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Andy Henriksen


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:32 am     Reply with quote

Given the Hank reference, I'd suggest going with a C6th tuning (CEGACE) - the 6th intervals are what really give it that lonesome classic country feel.

A lot of people like the A6th tuning as well, which is very similar, but I'm not sure how common that is for 6 strings (I tend to think of it as an 8 string tuning).

Plus, there's a LOT more instructional material based on C6 out in the world.
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:40 am     Reply with quote

Okay, thanks I'll give that a shot!

I'm currently using some Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings on it. I had bought a 3 set pack for my electric guitar a little while back so I had a set to spare to test it. Are there any other strings that you guys would recommend or are these common for this type of instrument? I know opinions are like belly buttons, so I do expect a variety of answers on that, but I figure this is the place to ask a question like that.
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Andy Henriksen


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 6:57 am     Reply with quote

I generally buy these: http://www.juststrings.com/sit-sc-c6th-6.html

I like the semi-flats or "ground wound" because it gives you a nice smooth feel and minimizes bar noise, but it doesn't sound dead and lifeless like fully flat wound strings.
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 7:48 am     Reply with quote

Nice build Brandon. Hope you have fun with your new Lap Steel. Very Happy
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 7:53 am     Reply with quote

Thanks Bill! I've seen pics of your work on here, VERY IMPRESSIVE!
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 8:41 am     Reply with quote

If you've got normal EADGBE guitar strings on it now (as I did for years with my lapsteel, which mostly sat in a case) you'll definitely want to get a set more appropriate for the tuning you pick...electric steel guitar tends to have closer intervals than normal guitar (at least the tunings I'm used to).

I like the semi-flat suggestion...I have full flats (D'Addario chromes) on the lowest two strings of my 6 string, and they are slick and quiet. A little deep and dull sounding if you need brightness, but it works ok with my style. I might pick up that SIT set next time I restring my C6 lap.

I'm much more into the old Hawaiian swing / hapa-haole stuff than country, but C6 is great and very versatile, and compared to any other tuning, there's a lot of instructional material available. Re A6, it's very easy to tune a C6 guitar to that, just raise 2nd and 6th string a half step, and drop 4th string a half step. I'm enjoying playing in A6 more lately because it simulates the C6 tuning with the 5th on top, as some people do (C6 with high G). So I jump back and forth at will between C6, A6, and B11 with the same strings, they are close enough that a C6 set works just fine for all of them. As someone playing in more of a country context you'll just have to know when to skip the "sixth" string or every strum will have that major sixth Hawaiian sound.

(Caveat emptor...I'm just a fellow enthusiastic beginner. This place is a great environment to learn in, though, lots of expertise here, as well as the occasionally contentious but interesting debates...)
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 10:31 am     Reply with quote

Brandon Minnix wrote:
Okay, thanks I'll give that a shot!

I'm currently using some Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings on it. I had bought a 3 set pack for my electric guitar a little while back so I had a set to spare to test it. Are there any other strings that you guys would recommend or are these common for this type of instrument? I know opinions are like belly buttons, so I do expect a variety of answers on that, but I figure this is the place to ask a question like that.


I've tried GHS lap steel strings and also I think I used John Pearse lap steel strings. The low C is a little heavier on the GHS strings. Both are OK with me. They are for C6 tuning.
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 3:07 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks for the recommendation Bill. Are these the GHS that you're referring to? I've seen a few different ones, so want to be sure before I order.

https://reverb.com/item/6618-ghs-electric-lap-steel-strings-c6-tuning-15-36 (Screenshot below)


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ZOYD FLOYD Lap Steel Guitar/LTD Viper 10 Electric Guitar/Hohner Acoustic Dreadnaught Guitar/Remo Cajon
Too many hobbies
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 4:32 pm     Reply with quote

Brandon Minnix wrote:
Thanks for the recommendation Bill. Are these the GHS that you're referring to? I've seen a few different ones, so want to be sure before I order.

https://reverb.com/item/6618-ghs-electric-lap-steel-strings-c6-tuning-15-36 (Screenshot below)



Yes, those are the ones Brandon.
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Joe Elk


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 5:31 pm     Reply with quote

Look steel!
Joe Elk Central Ohio
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Jerry Wagner


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 7:29 pm     Reply with quote

My wife Karen has a uke with a similar shape. It was made by Guy Sasaki, who lives on the Big Island. He calls it the Hapa Kapa Kahi; half Koa, half Mango & curvy. To me. it looks like a uke that could be in a Salvador Dali painting. Guy had students building ukes at the local HS in Kona:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwKep7mj-uE

One student didn't clamp the body sides properly, and ended up with a distorted shape; "Good Though!" The student wanted to start over, but Guy convinced him to proceed with the sides he made. Guy's intentionally made several like this himself, and women especially like 'em. When something good happens, just go with it!

So Brandon, with your bluegrass background, check out Peter Rowan's newest CD called "My Aloha" on UTube, with Jeff Au Hoy playin' a 1920's National Tri-Cone acoustic lap steel: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=peter+rowan%2C+my+aloha
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 7:37 pm     Reply with quote

Jerry Wagner wrote:
... and women especially like 'em.


Laughing It's funny you mention this. I sent the pic of the template laying crooked on my "pizza spatula" to my wife, and her instant response was, "I like it!", she didn't care as much for the symmetric design. I liked them both, but felt this made it more unique. Maybe it was our visit to the Dali museum when we still lived in Tampa that subconsciously inspired our taste!

Thanks for sharing Jerry, I'll be sure to check out these links and references!
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ZOYD FLOYD Lap Steel Guitar/LTD Viper 10 Electric Guitar/Hohner Acoustic Dreadnaught Guitar/Remo Cajon
Too many hobbies
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 7:47 pm     Reply with quote

I like the design but how does it do ergonomically. Seems like it might sit funny on your lap.
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 8:05 pm     Reply with quote

It very well may not be as comfortable as others (but a can't say for sure as it's my first ever). In my own opinion, it's certainly not uncomfortable. Here's a pic from above and in front as best as I can do selfie style, not sure how it's even supposed to sit Confused





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ZOYD FLOYD Lap Steel Guitar/LTD Viper 10 Electric Guitar/Hohner Acoustic Dreadnaught Guitar/Remo Cajon
Too many hobbies
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 8:16 pm     Reply with quote

It is a very cool design. Seems to fit okay.
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Beard MA-6, Beard MA-8, Beard R model, Beard R Vintage Model, 2 Eharps, Clinesmith aluminum cast 8 string, Adams 8 string dobro
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Brandon Minnix


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 8:23 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks very much Bill.

If I ever do get a chance to play more of a standard one, I'll be sure to throw a comparison in here on how it feels in the lap in contrast to it.
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ZOYD FLOYD Lap Steel Guitar/LTD Viper 10 Electric Guitar/Hohner Acoustic Dreadnaught Guitar/Remo Cajon
Too many hobbies
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