NLSD -- Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel & a related string question

srblue5

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I've been hankering after a lap steel for some time now, particularly after seeing Jackson Browne live earlier this year and being mesmerized by the lap steel part on one of the songs he played that night ("The Barricades of Heaven"). My local music store had a Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel in a finish I've never seen before -- it ended up following me home today.

I have my work cut out for me in terms of learning how to play this thing but it sure is a beaut.

On a related note, any ideas/recommendations for what strings I should use on this baby? According to Gretsch's website, it has a 22.5" scale and has 12-52 round-wound strings. I'm considering flatwounds (or maybe roller wounds a la the GHS Nickel Rockers) to get a cleaner slide sound but I'm not sure if those will cause it to bow or anything with increased tension...

IMG_0220.jpg
 

radiocaster

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I have one like that in sunburst and I also had the same thought. However, I ended up not liking the sound of flatwounds on it.

As for it bowing, no, that's a really thick piece of wood. I think I have ,055-.012 or something like that on it.
 

Dave Hicks

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You can get away with a lot of string tension on a lap steel because it's just a plank, but I still try to use appropriate guage for the tuning.
I play in C6, and .015-.036 is pretty common for this.

Right - an open E set wouldn't work for C6, and vice versa.

Here's a few sources on string gauges:




I believe David Lindley usually used open E, or something close to it, on the JB recordings.

D.H.
 
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mad dog

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Heavier strings = better sound. I second the motion for C6. And Scotty's page on tunings is very helpful in sorting out lap steel tunings and string gauges.
 

Bob Womack

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There are two considerations:

1. The lighter strings pull sharp with a small amount of pressure.
2. The heavier strings make behind-the-bar bends MUCH harder.

My Gretsch is strung with 12-52 and my Rickenbacher B is strung much heavier. It kind of covers the bases. BTW, my Gretsch has been on many sessions and recordings I've played on. It is a wonderful, smooth-sounding guitar.

Bob
 

AAT65

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Welcome to Lap Steel World!
I don’t use mine as much as I should but it is a very nice way to change things up here and there.
I also recommend C6 (CEGACe) and I found it is surprisingly easy to get started with. You always have a major chord (just avoid the A string) and the relative minor chord (just avoid the G string) under a straight bar anywhere on the neck, so you can play along quite quickly.
The intervals between strings are Major third, Minor third, Major second, Minor third, Major third - so again it’s easy to find partial chords all over the place.
You will also find you can pick out scales pretty quickly with moves of just one or two “frets” from the starting position.

Enjoy!!
 

kirby02

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Just my experence talking, I play pedal steel and I have a lap steel that I have an E tuning on and I play a little slide on a regular 6 string guitar. As some of the other posts on this subject, your string guages will depend on the tuning you decide to use. My suggestion is to stay away from round wound strings and if you can find coated strings they are worth the extra cost for the amount of time you can get from them.
 




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