Lap Steel?

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

Lap Steel?

Postby Jakeblues » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:17 am

I'd been considering a lap steel for a while, mostly so I can practice at work w/o bothering anyone. I was considering a Guitar Center cheapy. I was in a local store and they had a "Vermont Steelz" 6 sting lap. All Mahogany, brass bridge and nut and a humbucker with a coil split switch. I plugged it in to a Mesa Subway blues amp and it was all over. Loved the sound of it. The short scale will take some getting used to, but the tone is great. (I tried doing a search on Vermont Steelz and only found a couple used ones for sale. I'm guessing this is/was a very small operation.

I know it's not typically a "Blues instrument" but has anyone else played blues on a lap steel?
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Re: Lap Steel? heck, yeah!

Postby michaelm » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:53 am

I've been playing steel for a few years now. It's a kick. It's also kind of addictive. And you can play any kind of music on one. Steelers use a lot of tunings. The sixth tunings (like C6) are common and great for pop or swing, but for me open G or D work great for the blues. As for the blues players, just go to You Tube and search for Freddie Roulette. He's definitely the King of the Blues on the Lap Steel. Here's one to get started with:



HTH. Enjoy!

PS: If you haven't already, you might want to check out the Steel Guitar Forum: http://www.steelguitarforum.com/
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby 5_iron » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:16 am

I also kick out some lap steel blues, mostly in open d or open e. Not much can top the slidey growl and sustain from an overdriven lap steel. I posted this once before...this is a guy named Dan Walsh showing a good example of lap steel blues. Would be tough to get this same effect out of upright bottleneck...but with lap slide you can really hear the capabilities.

http://www.industrialguitar.com/mp3s/in ... l_demo.mp3

If you're in the market you may be able to find one of those Valco string through vintage screamers. Or, if a cheaper one desired, the Peavey Powerslide is great. Plus you can play it standing up if you so choose. I got mine for less than $200 as i recall.

Good luck on your lap steel quest!

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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby ricbleu » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:12 am

Yep, I'll put my hand up. I made a lap steel a couple of years ago and blues is what I mostly play on it - not just 12bar structure, but blues phrasings which can fit in with any improvisation. My guitar is solid hardwood and will take any tension, so I've got about 15-60s on her and tune her up to open E. The humbucker came from a no name guitar - it's about 7.6 k, unpotted and you can get a lovely feedback going. I played it in a dance/music collaboration just after I'd made it and one of the dance pieces ended with me getting her in a feedback sustain, putting her down on the floor then walking to the other end of the room to join the dancers, which the lappy sang along on her own. But the short answer to Jakeblues, is yes Jake, you sure can. :D Peace.
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby TC6969 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:30 pm

This kid is a friend of mine and was taught almost from birth to play lap steel.
He will either make you dedicate your life to steel, or make you go throw yours in the river!

Blues? Yeah, he's got em!

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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby Jakeblues » Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:36 pm

Cool stuff! Interestingly, I've stumbled on a couple of versions of "Little Wing" played on bottleneck (including a very young Derek Trucks).

I think I'm going to have some fun with this little beast. (I'm hoping to pick it up today.) Thanks for the feedback.
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby OldWailer » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:21 pm

Yes--its a regular blues machine in open D tuning or even open G! There is an excellent two DVD instructional on Homespun by Bob Brosman.

Here's a lap version of Little Wing that I like a lot. . .

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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby ricbleu » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:34 am

Wow! That guy is a total master. He had all the tricks in the book, didn't he? Loved the way he rolled his bar up and down the board, used harmonics and different RH techniques and... well everything really. Thanks for posting OW. :D Peace.
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby 2slow » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:21 pm

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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby Lo-Fi » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:39 am

Yup. I play Oahu Tonemaster - one of the Valco lap steels with the "strings through" pickup. I plug it into a Surpo head and two 1956 12" RCA speakers loaded into an old Fender Bandmaster cab. Real dirt under your fingernails kinda sound. I like it so much that it is the only electric I kept.

For a while I played a Fouke Industrial Lap Steel - an all metal lap steel with soundholes. Very cool looking and sounding guitar. But I just did not need two of the things and it is hard to beat those Valco pickups. About the nastiest single coil you will ever hear.

The guy who got me into lap steel.

http://youtu.be/TAbbgSKUZB4
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby Jakeblues » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:36 pm

So, I bit the bullet and dove into the lap steel world. Don't know much about it.Made By Vermont Steelz. They seem to have zero web presence. I'm trying to ficure out what the Pup is,
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby ricbleu » Sat Aug 25, 2012 3:50 am

Good on you, Jake. I'm sure you'll really enjoy getting to know her - it's a whole new sound world. The quest for the perfect steel begins now. :D Peace
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby j bird » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:36 pm

Really dig that Spencer Bohren clip, was just recently turned on to him by a good friend of mine....actually, they are all great clips!

I'm certainly no master but the steel has been a passion of mine of years. Singer in my band almost refuses to let me play regular 6 string these days. I have 3 amazing lap steels and would recommend any of these builders/models for anyone looking to get deep into it.

My first steel was the 3rd resolectra slide Chris Fouke ever built. He has a crazy take on steels but they really do sound great.

I got my second at a NAMM show the first year Cole Clark came out from Australia. They call them violaps and they are basically a twist on the wiessenborn design...here I am trying to shake all the bad notes out of it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltodUdClVh0

..and this is my newest baby, built by my good friend and luthier Gerard Melancon.
Image

I've been off the bigroad for a long time...nice to be back. I finally got my password/user name all sorted out after about 4 years off the board. Glad to be back, and to see the place is still thriving!
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby ricbleu » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:25 am

That's one drop dead gorgeous axe. And two P90s. Lucky lucky you. :D Peace
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Re: Lap Steel?

Postby j bird » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:52 pm

Thanks ricbleu, it's still very new to me too. Taking it out for the first gig this Friday. This is my first steel with a neck pickup and that's going to bring a lot of tonal variety to the table. I can't wait to put it to work.

I just got caught up watching several AJ Ghent vids on youtube. That kid is insane. Its kind of neat to see how similar his style is to Robert Randolph. You can really hear the influences they share from the church.
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