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Author Topic:  Lap Steel Bar Question
Doug Taylor


From:
Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 7:57 am    
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Hi I am new to the forum, just joined last week. I am new to steel guitar and have a question on which bar to buy. I do not play yet.

I have decided to order a pedal steel new which will take 3 or m4 months to get. In the meantime I ordered a lap steel which should be here late this week. I figure I can work on bar technique and blocking while I am waiting for the pedal steel to get finished. I also think the lap has some awesome sounds in there!

Can I use the same bar for both lap and pedal steel or are they different? Would you guys be kind enough to recommend the best bar to get started with for both instruments.

Doug
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 8:18 am    
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I recommend you consider a 7/8” polymer bar from Todd Clinesmith. I’ve got all the brands, BJS, Zirc, Burden, Emmons, Sho-Bud, Shubb, and the list goes on. My go-to bar for pedal steel and lap steel is my Clinesmith polymer bar. They’re easy to hold on to, quiet on the strings, and sound excellent. All recommendations aside, you’ll get used to whatever bar you settle on. Bar collecting can become an obsession, even so, I wish the polymer was available when I began.
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Doug Taylor


From:
Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 8:37 am    
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Thanks Rick, I am off to research
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Dustin Kleingartner


From:
Saint Paul MN, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 10:50 am    
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I recommend the powder coated bars available here on the forum:
https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=270422&highlight=powder+coated+bars
You can buy one and get the second for only $15, so you could try two different sizes. I personally prefer a smaller bar for lap steel and a bigger one for pedal steel, but you can definitely use a psg bar on a non-pedal guitar.

I think it's great that you're getting a lap steel while you wait for your pedal steel. That is what I did. There is a lot you can learn on a lap steel that will help you on the pedal steel.

C6 is probably the way to go if you want to learn a standard non- pedal tuning... but if you are planning on going right to pedal steel in a few months you may want to just go with the 6 middle strings of the standard E9 tuning. This could help you learn your way around the E9 neck. With this tuning you could also tune your E's down a half step to Eb, and this is what you'll get with one of your knee levers engaged. That would be a B6 kinda tuning, so there's lots of old country sounds and Hawaiian sounds in there. Just some food for thought... have fun!
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Doug Taylor


From:
Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 11:01 am    
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Thanks for all that info Dustin, I am a long time bass player, I am looking forward to making some melody type sounds.
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Gene Tani

 

From:
The Pacific NW,
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 11:08 am    
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my main 2 are (exactly same recommendation as above) a Hillman powder coated and a Clinesmith, great bars. I also have an Asher Stevens style bar that's great but i need to bench grind a bit. But since there are so many sizes, maybe you can ask around and borrow a 3/4, 7/8 and 1", different lengths/widths and also a Steven style and see what's comfortable. Big difference between 3/4 and 7/8 even if it seems tiny
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Last edited by Gene Tani on 4 Jun 2019 5:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 1:02 pm    
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FYI, although it is completely individual as to preference, many folks use a ¾" bar for lap steel and a ⅞" bar for pedal steel. The size and weight of those bars seem to complement the size and tension of the different instruments...
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 1:22 pm    
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BJS makes a nice sized bar for lap playing.
I have one. Very Happy
Erv
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 1:29 pm    
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Yes, Erv....I LOVE the BJS bar for pedal steel, but the lap bar has no depression in the base, so it is harder to hold on a reverse slant...so I got Jim Burden to make me a couple...Clinesmith lap bars also have an edge your thumb can grab...and the plain old dunlop ones do also, especially if you pry the little label off the base to expose the deeper well...
Not everyone needs that little thumb space, so it is all personal...
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Ben Bonham Style 3 Tricone & Style 3.5 Weissenborn
Milkman The Amp, Fishman, ZT
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 1:52 pm    
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Know what you mean about being a bassist, and finally getting to do some melody! Smile

For me, on a lap steel, particularly...I don't want the bar to be too big. The bigger it gets sometimes the trickier it is to manipulate into reverse slants, particularly. But if at this point you are "tiding yourself over" until you get a pedal steel, you may not get into much slanting, yet, so a larger bar to just start off with straight bar lap steel might be fine and carry over into the pedal steel. I have a couple of Basil Henriques Ezee-Slide bars and a Broz-o-phonic, which is a basic steel bullet bar. All three are great...prefer the small Ezee-Slide for most of what I play. I use the bigger Ezee-Slide on my pedal guitar. Broz-o-phonic was my first proper steel, and other than it being maybe a little slicker in the hand (don't sweat too much, ha), it's a fine steel and I still use it a lot. They are just tools and there is no magic...errr...bullet. Pun unintentional and deeply regretted. But I would say whatever you get, two helpful things are a nice rounded nose to get split bar slants (at least for the lap) and an indention or lip on the other end so your thumb can grip it easily for reverse slants.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2019 3:13 pm     Best Bar By Far
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I always used a 7/8" stainless steel bar for playing and sometimes a heavy 1" bar for practice. That covers over 40 years of playing.
Two years ago I got my first Clinesmith lap steel with a 3/4" polymer bar from him.
Thought the smaller bar would be best, but after I got used to doing slants I got one of his 7/8" bars for the non pedal steels too.
I've now sold the 3/4" bars I had and use that Clinesmith for all my steels, pedals and sans pedals. The tone is much better than steel to my ear and it's also much more easy to grip for slants as well as hammer on's and pull off's.
Now I almost never use any of the other steel bars I have. Very Happy
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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.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
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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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2019 12:14 am    
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Lots of good advice about bars.

If I were you, I'd start learning A6 tuning.

When you get your pedal steel, if you press down the A and B pedals (and hopefully you'll have a lever that lowers your D to a C#) you'll have your A6 on strings 4-9. This means that EVERYTHING you learn on A6 will work on your pedal steel.

I know that is also true of E9 tuning but there is almost no learning material for open E9 and "pedals down" is one of the default positions for pedal steel. Lots of A6 learning material around (not as much as C6, I know but, as I said, I think A6 translates better to pedal steel).

I used A6 for a good few years before getting my first pedal steel and it got me out of a few sticky situations. When I got lost, I went to my familiar A6 tuning until I could work out where I was supposed to be.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2019 4:13 am     Hi Jeff
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Hi Jeff,
Same thinking... I keep my 2nd and 9th strings in C# and raise them by knee lever.
Been doing that for years. Also started to lower the 10th string to A on the A pedal for the full A6th.
When I started playing lap steel a couple of years ago I gravitated to A6th for the exact reasons you mentioned.
Best wishes,
Andy... Very Happy Born in Oldham! Laughing

_________________
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.
Clinesmith Triple 8 Console, Birdseye Maple.
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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Doug Taylor


From:
Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2019 11:17 am    
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I appreciate all of the helpful replies, this forum is really a special place. I now know more about tone bars than I could imagine. Thanks each and everyone
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Gene Tani

 

From:
The Pacific NW,
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2019 5:25 pm    
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If you're not an experienced strings player, makes it a lot easier to find other players even if they're not steelers, to show you stuff in person, e.g. how to adjust pickups and fingerpicks and stuff like that.

I can't see that this forum has a way to locate members near you but other forums do, I've met lots of banjo/dobro people that way. Also go to as many jams/ group lessons /festivals as you can
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- Rukavina and Sonny Jenkins laps, stage 1
- The secret sauce: polyester adidas sweatpants to buff your picks, 5 compressor pedals, Diet Mountain Dew
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Doug Taylor


From:
Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2019 6:59 pm    
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Thanks Gene, good advice
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 4 Jun 2019 7:20 pm    
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These days I only play my Clinesmith. Great bar.
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