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8-string lap steel build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by RomanS, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    I'm currently home with the flu, and I'm slowly getting bored; so I decided to build a lap steel with some stuff I had around here, anyway... It's going to be an 8-string, because 8-string C6 is all I play these days. I live in a city apartment, I don't have a workshop (our small kitchen is my "workshop"), so I'm a bit limited with regards to tools - a router is out of the question, an electric drill and jigsaw is as fancy as it gets...

    BTW, this isn't the first lap steel I'm building - here's my very first one, built that about 12 or 13 years ago, originally it had a P90 and no Multibender:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the second one I built, about 10 years ago, this has been my "workhorse" for playing with my bands ever since:

    [​IMG]

    Here's what I started with: an ovangkol bass neck blank that had the perfect width for an 8-string steel, and is also wide enough to fit the Lace Alumitone BassBar 3.5 pickup I'm going to use (mine is a pretty old one, made before the splittable ones came out):

    [​IMG]
     
    fenderchamp and BorderRadio like this.
  2. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    First I laid out my headstock on a piece of paper, and started drilling some holes:

    [​IMG]

    Then I connected those dots, err, holes, with my jigsaw - this was the result:

    [​IMG]

    Flipped the blank over, drilled some more holes, for the tuners:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. fabricator

    fabricator Tele-Meister

    330
    Jun 29, 2012
    Texas
    Love it!
    I have plans to build a double neck steel myself soon: a 6-string neck with a muti-bender (tuned to Gmaj13), and an 8-string neck (tuned to C6).

    I applaud your resourcefulness!
     
    RomanS likes this.
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  5. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    ...aaand more holes!

    [​IMG]

    ...connect them with the jigsaw:

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, I know, looks pretty rough compared to something made with a template and a router - but I think it will look OK after I give it some attention with a file and some sand-paper.
    OK, enough for today, better clean up all the mess in the kitchen before my girlfriend comes home from work.

    One more thing I did first, though: glued up some strips of maple and mahogany, for the "wing" that holds the volume and tone pots:

    [​IMG]

    BTW, haven't decided yet, whether I'm going to use that fretboard in the picture (bought it from someone on the SteelGuitarForum a long time ago) - on the one hand it would save a lot of time (compared to, say, inlaying strips of maple veneer into a darker fretboard blank), on the other hand it looks too white/bright/clean for what I have in mind - maybe I'll try warming it up with a bit of amer shellac, like I did with my Chapman 7-string Tele http://www.tdpri.com/threads/nmgd-chapman-ml7t-seven-string-tele.717961/

    I'm also thinking about adding an aluminium base to the back of the neck - it is relatively thin (27mm - slightly ove one inch), and that might add some stability & sustain (like on Sierra lap steels - kind of the inverse of the way Clinesmith do it on their Bigsby remake lap steels - alu neck on a wooden back).

    Oh, and I'm thinking about adding a boo-wah button, like on some old Gibson and Magnatone console steels.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  6. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Thanks! Even though I live in the big city now, I'm originally from a very poor rural background - my dad built a lot of stuff himself, from farming machinery to houses, I guess I inherited a bit of that...

    Incidentially, I had a lot of those parts around, because I also wanted to build a double neck console, one neck with 8-string C6, the other with 6 strings with the Multibender; but I never really got that comfortable with the Multibender, and I don't really need it for the music I play (rockabilly, Hank Williams style honkytonk country, and the likes), so I never did realize that plan.
     
    simple likes this.
  7. Revv23

    Revv23 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2009
    Michigan
  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Nice! Inspiring me to get that old 60s Harmony I ruined in my youth and get it running again...
     
    RomanS likes this.
  9. mikeyb

    mikeyb Tele-Meister

    318
    Aug 18, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    To top this, you'd have to build a Les Paul with a pocket knife and an ice pick.

    Kudos!
     
    Newbcaster and RomanS like this.
  10. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

    Feb 9, 2009
    London, England
    But a double 8 string (without the multibenderr) would be the perfect instrument for that music. Since you already have a pretty nice single 8 and you are still in the early stages, why not set your sights a bit higher?
     
  11. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Well, as I said, I never really got comfortable with the Multibender...

    I've seen people do amazing stuff with it on YouTube, but I can do pretty much everything I want with C6 and bar slants - and I'd rather get better in that style than learn a new tuning; I also have a vintage Fender 400 (8-string pedal steel) that I set up in C6, but even with that one I rarely ever use the pedals.

    For 40s-50s style swinging, bopping country music (with my band we mostly play stuff like Red Foley, Johnny Horton, Hank Williams, Tennessee Ernie Ford - or modern variations like Wayne Hancock, Pat Capocci, Big Sandy, BR549), pedals/levers are simply not essential, that's more for 60s (Bakersfield - think Ralph Mooney, Tom Brumley) and later country styles (whiny Nashville E9 PSG).
     
  12. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Ooops - you wrote "WITHOUT the Multibender", sorry, missed that the first time; yep, been thinking about that, maybe A6 or E13 - but then, as I said, I'd rather concentrate on perfecting my C6 than learning a new tuning, esp. sinc I don't miss anything right now.
    As I said, this neck is going to be mounted to an aluminium base plate - if the double neck bug bites me, I could simply get a wider base plate, and mount another neck next to it...
     
  13. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

    Feb 9, 2009
    London, England
    I'm in a similar position to you in that I mostly play old stuff that definitely works best with no pedals. I used to have a Fender 1000 (the double neck version of your 400) but I couldn't face lugging it up and down 2 floors to gig with it so I sold it.

    I seriously got the pedal bug a year or so ago and bought a 10 string E9 and see it as a completely different instrument and it will never replace my "planks".

    I really like having more than one tuning available though to get some other flavours in my playing - A6 and E13 on my double neck. I also have a triple and a quad (which always makes a big impression on people).
     
  14. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Yeah, I had an E9 (a WBS Basic) for a while - but I really couldn't wrap my head around all those pedals and levers - I do love the sound, though, especially for "athmospheric" steel sounds (Calexico, Maggie Bjorklund, etc.)
     
    MrTwang likes this.
  15. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    OK, today's accomplishments, so far:
    Cleaned up the headstock with files and sandpaper - still needs some work; started drilling some holes:
    [​IMG]

    The I brought out every hack amateur guitar builder's favorite tool, the chisel, and ended up with this:

    [​IMG]

    Yes, it's a pickup route! A very unusual pickup route, granted - but then - an Alumitone is a very unusual pickup, too!
    Fits like a glove...

    [​IMG]
     
    Barncaster likes this.
  16. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Last job for today:
    Glued up the other body wing (this one is more narrow, since it doesn't have to hold any pots); and started shaping the wider wing (which still needs more sanding...)

    [​IMG]
     
  17. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Guys, sorry about not posting any updates for a while - but first I had to wait for parts, and then I didn't have any time for working on my build - hope to get a bit more done in the next few days...

    Got a piece of aluminium (5mm thick) that is going to form the base of my steel; still needs a lot of sanding , then I'm going to paint it - something in the seafoam green - daphne blue continuum, with the maple and mahogany, and that color I'm shooting for a bit of a late '40s Woody station wagon look.

    [​IMG]

    I also got a set of Veritas cornering tools, to help me get nice rounded edges without using a router - will have to do some practicing with those before I use them on my steel.
    I also just got one of those awesome lap steel stands from Mark Roeder http://www.deluxe34.com/stands.html - I figured I can use it with my old steels, and also attach it to this new build, so I have more option than if I had just gotten legs & sockets (and with shipping & customs figured in, it wasn't much more expensive than simply getting parts):

    I told a friend about my build, and he asked me whether I could build something for him, too; he tours a lot, and plays pedal steel (but not as his main instrument) - so he wants to try whether a lap steel with a Duesenberg Multibender can replace his pedal steel for the couple of songs he would like to use it live.
    Didn't have any nice "tonewood" left at home, and since he's on a tight budget, I went with wood from the hardware store, choosing stability over looks (I'm going to paint this one) - so I went with laminated beech wood (which should be very stable) for the neck, and paulownia (very lightweight) for the base:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Newbcaster

    Newbcaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    43
    305
    May 10, 2015
    Gilbert
    I'm gonna ask a real dumb question. But why dont lap steels have truss rods?
     
  19. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Since you don't actually press strings on frets, there is no need to adjust the action - so no truss rod needed.
     
  20. Newbcaster

    Newbcaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    43
    305
    May 10, 2015
    Gilbert
    but what if the neck bows forward in response to string pull?
     
  21. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Well, that shouldn't happen, if you use the right kind of wood and appropriate thickness... A well-built lap still is thick & stiff enough to resist bowing from string pressure!
     
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