Any owners/fans of the lap steels sold by the Oahu Publishing Co.?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by toomuchfun, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,154
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    Hoping to hear from others who have these crazy little lap steels. I think they're '30's/ early '40's era.

    Certainly budget models, they have a metal bridge bolted on, binding is painted on, ladder braced and not sure if the wood is laminated or solid. I've seen the nut described as metal too, never looked at mine that close.

    But they have a pretty cool sound, I'm thinking the square neck might have something to do with that. They don't compare to the sound of a resonator cone model, but for jamming blues with a few other players they do the job pretty darned well.

    I have 2, the one on the right had a loose brace so I took the strings off and never put a new set on. I use light acoustic strings and tune to open D. Love that old style sunburst.

    Here are some pics, they even had their own steel.

    OPC-1.jpg

    OPC-2.jpg

    OPC-3.jpg

    OPC-4.jpg
     
    Fretting out likes this.
  2. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    28
    Posts:
    3,617
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2019
    Location:
    Land of Mary
    These look awesome I’ve been jonesing for a wiessenborn lately
     
  3. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,380
    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    portland, or
    I love those old ladder braced cheapo guitars ... like Stella and Harmony ... they have their own sound ... and tons of mojo ...
     
  4. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    28
    Posts:
    3,617
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2019
    Location:
    Land of Mary
    I just noticed the “school of music, Wilmington del.” stamp how cool that’s only a few mile from me
     
  5. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,380
    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    portland, or
    Recently acquired this similar piece from Cort ... not a square neck nor a slide guitar.... it is an X braced 12 fret ... what guitars were like before dreadnought came along ... [​IMG]
     
  6. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    2,169
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    Sort of.

    I have a Supro from the 1930s and a Rickenbacher from the 1950s, and I play 'em with this Oahu steel:

    [​IMG]
     
    tubegeek, T-Bone and toomuchfun like this.
  7. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Holic

    Age:
    36
    Posts:
    553
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2019
    Location:
    Illinois
    Somewhat similar, I have this old Stella. Bought it for $35 at an antique store on my second date with my wife.
     

    Attached Files:

    toomuchfun likes this.
  8. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,154
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    Wow, that's a nice steel, did you come by it that way or clean it up? I thought about dusting mine off with a brass brush but wasn't sure if I'd do more harm than good.

    I've tried mine a little but feel more comfortable with a heavier modern style steel. You got to have a strong wrist for those, I have trouble keeping it parallel to the frets.
     
  9. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,154
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    I've read they were mail order and sold through music stores too. That's great to hear the school is still there.

    The other one doesn't have a school stamp, but it had some papers tying it to Pratts's Music Studios in Westminster, MD and a studio in Hanover, PA. I got that one in the Hanover area.

    OPC-5.jpg

    OPC-6.jpg
     
  10. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    2,169
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    Thus Oahu steel was in the case with the Supro when I inherited it.

    Use a piece of 600-grit sandpaper on the steel, under running water in the sink. Lightly buff it; it will shine right up. Alternatively you could use a gray Scotchbrite pad in a similar manner. The green Scotchbrite is a coarser abrasive and doesn't polish metal as brightly as the gray..
     
    toomuchfun likes this.
  11. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,154
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    Thanks for the advice. Always enjoyed your posts on the Fender Forum.
     
  12. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,623
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    No. I've almost pulled the trigger on a few.

    Folks who have 'em like 'em. As I understand it, they're what you'd expect: not very loud, not a beautiful sound, but a cool vibe that fits plenty of situations. Great camping dobros.

    One nice thing about squarenecks (like mandos and fiddles) is that at a jam that's jam-packed with guitars, you can add something different.

    For more info, visit the folks who know the most at www.resohangout.com. (It'll be okay that Oahus aren't resos. They'll understand. A friendly place, like TDPRI.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
  13. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,154
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    I'm going to push back on the volume comment, these little buggers have real volume for their size. The tone isn't that bad either.

    They have a 12 fret 0 size body with a ladder braced non spruce top (I think mahogany, body too) and a 24 inch scale. The bridge is cast metal, but I got a magnet and did some tapping to find the nut isn't metal, I think it's hard wood. With light gauge acoustic strings (.012's) and bare fingers picking they have as much, if not more volume than my 0 size X braced Martin conventional guitars. I have played them with 3 other guitars playing and can keep up well picking with bare fingers.

    Now compared to a true resonator with a metal cone they offer less volume but most of those have D or 000 size. I have a inexpensive Rouge resonator for comparison and it's a 12 fret D size body at a 24-1/4 inch scale. Not many D size conventional guitars can compete in volume to those. I've compared it to real Dobro's and the Rouge has similar volume. At my skill level I can;t justify a real one.

    On another note I took Peegoo's advice and cleaned up my steel with 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper and a white (extra fine) scotcthbrite pad. I had to clean the relieved area too due to rust but I'm very happy, thanks again.

    OP-7.jpg
     
    craigs63 and Charlie Bernstein like this.
  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,623
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    Yes, indeed! No doubt! I just meant in comparison to, say, a Beard or National or Scheerhorn or Red Line or Applachian (a.k.a. Warner) or Clinesmith or Weissenborn or a dozen other great makers, which all will set you back more than $2k new.

    Even an OMI-era Dobro usually cost over a grand.

    Those instruments all cost a hell of a lot more than an Oahu for good reasons. But for anyone who wants to discover the countless wonders of squareneck, an Oahu, at somewhere in the $100-to-$200 range, is a perfect starting place. From everything I've read, they sound good, they play well, and they're fun.

    That's why, as I said, I've been tempted so often.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.