Thursday, July 16, 2020

Lap steel guitar build.

My Covid 19 Lockdown project. An Hawaiian style lap steel guitar.

I had a selection of tone woods that I had been keeping for just such a project. The body and leg timber I selected is Kwila. The fretboard is of Purple Heart with maple and mother of pearl inlays.
My design is based on a Fender Champion 6 string.

I first drew a 1:1 scale plan.

I then transferred the image to the kwila plank,

Cut the profile of the top section and overlaid that onto a second plank.

Here I have glued the 2 layers together with Titebond wood glue.

Ready to trim the lower section to shape.

Another view.

Body with shaped and rounded edges..

The Purple Heart fret board roughed out.

Purple Heart fret board trimmed to thickness.

I intended to make a 3 octave fret board but soon realised there would
not be room for 2 humbucker pickups.

Here the maple fret markers are being glued in. I've selected an old
Jazz Bass chrome Bridge and a length of 10mm stainless steel rod
for a nut and saddle.

The maple markers have been trimmed and sanded.

Then a binding of maple around the edge of the fret board.

I inlayed diamond shaped position markers cut from mother of pearl.
I then routed out a trough for the fret board to be set into the body.

Here the fretboard has been glued in place and the whole body given a coat of shellac sealer.

Here I have made a template of the scratch plate with instructions
to send to our local engravers to supply and cut a faux tortoise shell scratch plate

I've marked the cavities for the pick ups and electronics ready for routing.

I permanently fixed the positions of the bridge/saddle and nut.

These are string ferrules made from 1/4 inch monel pop rivet heads.
The strings will be run through the back of the body for maximum sustain.

This item was ordered off EBay from a firm in America.
They took 3 months to arrive!

The scratch plate template is double checked before the order is completed
by the engravers.

Routing the cavity for the Tuning machines.
Just right. All that remains is for fixing holes to be drilled and the logo
and out line infilled with gold paint.

40mm Kwila Dowell was supplied by an Auckland based company.

Here I am glueing in the 10 mm studs 

These are 10mm Stainless steel wall mount pipe brackets

I drilled them through and completed the thread through the base to allow the
10mm leg studs to be securely screwed into the base of the guitar.

Judging the splay of the legs, almost there.

The pick up rings are made from the remnant of purple heart left over
from the fret board.

I had the legs tapered by a local cabinet maker.

Another dry fit. The upper ferrules are leather grommets in plated brass.

Legs blended with tinters and clear coated.

The underside of the guitar is finished in the darkest tint of the three colours chosen for the sunburtst finish which softens to a lighter, warmer tint as the eye moves over the upper surfaces.

5 coats of clear later.

Cherry red tinted clear over the purple heart fret board enhances the colour
and blends it with the rest of the guitar.

A dry fit with electronics and gold infilled into the logo and pin line.

Ready for strings and plug it in!

The sustain is amazing, totally it sounds very authentic. Wonderful with a little reverb. Great tonal range across the 2 pickups in combination with the volume and tone controls.

Featured Musician is Eric Hiakita of Auckland.