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Old March 6th, 2013, 07:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Slightly off topjc but..

Thinking of picking up a beginner lap steel. Any recommendations? I am looking at used ones of craiglist and eBay.. Seems that there a lot if affordable ones around. I never played one so I am not sure what I should be looking for

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Old March 6th, 2013, 08:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Here's a possibility. I wouldn't spend too much on one, if it's going to be your first lap steel. Good luck in your search.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 10:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I like where griole is headed, but I have to recommend the P90 version:

This one now sells for $109. I bought it on the same site with a real nice gig bag for $99, and I really dig this guitar.

The finish is nice, the tuners are stable, I appreciate the open headstock design, and the pots/bridge are decent. I did replace the P90, but the stock P90 it came with is in my shop tele. It's a fine pickup, I just happened to have a better one.

I really recommend the P90 version. I've had two different friends take up lap steel after playing my SX, one of whom went on to play pedal steel.
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Old March 8th, 2013, 10:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Short answer, from the perspective of someone who's been playing steel for 40 years: Of the inexpensive ready-made lap steels I've seen, the P90 version of the SX suggested by c.winn appears to me to be the least of the evils. But the least expensive way to get into lap steel is to put an extension nut (like this one or that one) on an existing guitar. (I have no connection with either manufacturer or either seller.)

Long answer: What you're looking for depends on what type(s) of music you want to play, what sounds you want to hear, and what obstacles the instrument might place in your path. You can't really know about the obstacles until you actually get a guitar under your hands, and find out how such factors as string spacing, scale length, pickup position(s), control position(s], and the instrument's construction affect your playing. So, to me, it would make sense to get an extension nut and either put it on a guitar you already own or an inexpensive one from craigslist. Let that guitar tell you whether you want wider or narrower string spacing, longer or shorter scale, something other than a single bridge pickup, etc.

Tom Gray has acknowledged owning a lot of pricy steel guitars, including a triple-neck Bigsby, a Moog lap steel, and "a shameful number" of vintage Rickenbacher/Rickenbackers. But the steel guitar he normally plays in his role as Delta Moon's frontman is a conventionally fretted guitar, a Harmony StratoTone, fitted with a tall nut.

Our TDPRI brother voided3 has several guitars which he has set up as lap steels. Here are clips of a couple of them:

Anyone who plays slide or lap steel (or just likes to listen to it) would probably enjoy everything on Ed Ricco's YouTube channel.

I practice what I preach. I own four Fender steel guitars, but most of my lap steel playing for the last several years has been on flattop acoustic guitars (three of them) with extension nuts and magnetic sound hole pickups.

Pictures of musical instruments are very much like sculptures of food.
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Old March 8th, 2013, 10:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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ill second what syrynx says above.
those cheaper steels may be a good buy,
but you will outgrow them quickly if you take to it.

use an extension nut, or mod whatever cheapie you have lying around first.
i did that and loved it-
an old national showed up on kijiji and by then i had saved a few bucks and jumped on it.

i preferred the sound of an acoustic lap steel most of the time though,
and just used my modded cheap acoustic until i found a couple old squarenecks for a good price.

of course, if you dont have anything lying around to set up for this,
then yeah, do what you have to do.
they arent expensive, and if you are interested now,
chances are you will be more interested after you try it for a bit.
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Old March 8th, 2013, 10:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey ,MF SDotD today! Rogue lap steel with stand and gig bag $69.99!
It is not the destination, it is the adventure.
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Old March 9th, 2013, 05:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd love to have this one across my lap.

Pictures of musical instruments are very much like sculptures of food.
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