I want to build my first lap steel guitar. Only problem is I have had almost no exposure to one before and I have nothing to model it against.

Is it a standard guitar scale?

Do I fret it?

How high should the action be?

Where is the best place to in stall the pick up?

1 Pick up or two?

humbucker or single coil?

Views: 913

Replies to This Discussion

I did not fret my first one, did the second one. One single coil pickup on each. Single/humbucker depends on the sound you want. Sound bites here: http://www.seymourduncan.com/support/audio-samples/humbuckers_and/

 KISS. Strings one half inch high.

My second lapsteel sounds good
Scale length ... Most steel makers offered a choice, 24" or 22" (or thereabouts...) the country and western swing guys favour the longer scale ones, the Hawaiian guy the shorties cos it makes for easier slants..
Single coil definitely.. There were no humbuckers back in the glory days of steel guitar
You only need one, but real fancy ones have two
Frets.. Well you don't fret the strings, but it's customary to mark or inlay em in some way. Take a look around there's a hundred ideas. I did one with a busted bandsaw blade inlaid nd sanded flush. Randy bretZ did an awesome one just with garden twigs glued on..
Ideally put the pickup very close to the bridge
Google steel guitar images. Pay attention to where the builder put the volume control particularly, volume swells are important on steel. Good luck

Thanks for the feedback. I have a little Martin LX that I'm going to model the scale after. It's 23 1/8" from nut to saddle.

Now all I need to do is learn how to play slide.

I'll take advice on beginner songs or books if you have any.

Here is my first Lap steel.  Nothing fancy so keep it simple.  It is 31 1/2" x 3" - Made of 2 pieces of 3/4"  maple that came from some bed slats glued together - Scale Length 22.1/2" - Fretboard is marked with a Sharpie.  Single coil pickup - Volume control and 1/4" jack.  I have more pictures in my album

Paul a few questions please.
1. What are you using as bridge and nut and where did you get them?
2. What is the approximate angle for the headstock so that the tuners can follow the strings? The sorta triangle headstock angle?

HI Rob, I've made about a dozen cbgs in the last 20 months or so ,and used     wfret.zip    ( just type it into your seach engine )        to calculate the fret spacing , it's free ,dead simple and prints a strip that you can mark off or just glue on for a really quick build...good luck with it and above all have fun...


I think that whatever you decide will work for you. I have build many lapsteels, and the usual length varies between short scale which is around 22 inches to longer scales of around 24 or more. The shorter scales help facilitate slanting the bar to achieve chord soundings, and is easier to play in my opinion. The longer scales do have a unique sound though, and are a little mellower, and lend themselves nicely to different effects.

No need to fret about frets....a lap steel is meant to be played with a bar.

I like humbuckers for pickups, although I have built a few steels with single coil pickups, so go with what you have available. The placement of the pup is important to the sound you want, and the closer the pickup is placed to the bridge, the brighter and cleaner your sound should be.  Hope some of my input is helpful.

Another one of my short scale builds. And on another note, be sure you ground the bridge when you do your wiring to prevent the hum you will surely get if it is not grounded.

My second lapsteel everyone who has seen it and had a go seems to like it so I'm happy going back to building CBG's now though
My second lapsteel

The first lap steel I built was out of a 2x4 but I felt that the narrow board didn't balance well on my lap and there was no place to rest my wrist while playing.  I built the one here using a 2x10 and shaped it somewhat like a guitar.  Much easier to balance and play.  I'm new to the lap steel and I'm in the process of learning to play.  I used the 2x4 lap steel kit from C.B. Gitty.  It has everything you need along with instructions on how to build it.  Hope this helps.



The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Discussion Forum

6 String Lap Steel for Beginners

Started by BrianQ. Sep 27, 2019. 0 Replies

Well crap.....

Started by James Pobog Aug 29, 2019. 0 Replies

I think I hit the jackpot....

Started by James Pobog. Last reply by Reg Seward Aug 28, 2019. 1 Reply

A mind is a terrible thing....

Started by James Pobog. Last reply by Poorness Studios Aug 27, 2019. 3 Replies

First Steel build...

Started by James Pobog. Last reply by BrianQ. Aug 26, 2019. 1 Reply

My first Lap Steel Build

Started by OldNick. Last reply by Ron Lutz Jan 23, 2019. 4 Replies

Second build

Started by Gary Williams. Last reply by Ron Lutz Jan 23, 2019. 5 Replies

Advice on learning to play 6 stringed lap

Started by Peter Hendley. Last reply by Peter Hendley Nov 30, 2018. 7 Replies

Ironing Board Lap Steel

Started by Brad Ellin. Last reply by Slow Blues Dani & Ol' Grey Bear Oct 3, 2018. 3 Replies

Please save me from making rookie mistakes.

Started by Rob Uker. Last reply by Carl Franklin May 26, 2017. 13 Replies

Buying bridges and nuts....pre slotted and behind the bar bends

Started by Jon Leslie/Runaway Veal Music. Last reply by Jon Leslie/Runaway Veal Music Feb 25, 2016. 5 Replies

My first lap dance

Started by Daryl. Last reply by Daryl Jul 10, 2014. 6 Replies

My First Homemade Lap Steel

Started by RL Rainwater. Last reply by RL Rainwater Apr 13, 2013. 4 Replies

#2 Homemade Lap Steel

Started by RL Rainwater. Last reply by Dave Lynas Apr 12, 2013. 1 Reply

first lap steel

Started by mark "mudcat" quigley. Last reply by jabes Oct 2, 2012. 4 Replies

My No.1 and No.2 Lap steel guitars.

Started by Paul Monaco ( Whittling Guy). Last reply by Jamie MacBlues Sep 18, 2012. 1 Reply

Almost Done

Started by Niles Galloway. Last reply by Rick Hayes Mar 8, 2011. 3 Replies

Blog Posts

Mr. Bells

Posted by Stephen Cohen on September 4, 2021 at 12:30pm 0 Comments

Bookie's Poor Man's Dobro

Posted by Steve Bookout on July 18, 2021 at 2:04pm 3 Comments

Get your groove on for free

Posted by François on July 13, 2021 at 3:05pm 1 Comment

Latest Activity

Doug Thorsvik posted a video

Beer Barrel Polka: 3-string (G1G2D3) Cigar Box Guitar

Cigar Box Guitar Slingers - Spokane, 73rd Zoom Mtg Sep 13, 2021. More info and free songbooks: https://sites.google.com/site/cigarboxguitarslingersspokane/home
2 minutes ago
bemuzic commented on bemuzic's video

Busking, St Ives w 3 String Cigar Box Guitar - Magic Paints, with dancing children :-)

"thanks Brian and Doug, yep a few good minutes of connecting with people through music  and…"
3 minutes ago
Doug Thorsvik commented on bemuzic's video

Busking, St Ives w 3 String Cigar Box Guitar - Magic Paints, with dancing children :-)

"It’s always fun to see children respond to music. So unselfconscious and authentic. Thanks…"
7 minutes ago
Doug Thorsvik commented on Jim Morris's video

For Dave

"Heartfelt tribute Jim! A beautiful reminder of how Dave influenced us here at CBN."
16 minutes ago
BrianQ. commented on bemuzic's video

Busking, St Ives w 3 String Cigar Box Guitar - Magic Paints, with dancing children :-)

"It’s great to see kids dancing about again, especially during this pandemic we’re in…"
17 minutes ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Cigar Box Blues's video

- Beans fer Breakfast! - One of Daves last projects

"Very kool.Just not gonna be the same here...."
20 minutes ago
Doug Thorsvik commented on Uncle John's video

Hobo’s Lullaby - repost of our recently departed friend.

"Well chosen Uncle John! I especially appreciated Dave’s comments at the end. He will be…"
22 minutes ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Adam Cripps's video

Eleanor Rigby (Beatles cover)

"A heartfelt song and performance.Thanks so much for todays inspiration.Love it."
25 minutes ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Downtown Vinnie's video

I Shall Be Released

"Thanks so much ,gang.Used to play this a long time ago when I was a twelve string balladeer..Tryin…"
27 minutes ago
Doug Thorsvik commented on Rope Walker Country Star's video

Song For Dave Lynas

"A very tasteful and fitting tribute Rope! Dave’s creative contributions and interactions will…"
31 minutes ago
bemuzic posted a video

Busking, St Ives w 3 String Cigar Box Guitar - Magic Paints, with dancing children :-)

Busking, St Ives w 3 String Cigar Box Guitar - Magic Paints, with dancing children (I turn the camera round to the dancing children about a minute in)This is...
35 minutes ago
Doug Thorsvik commented on Poorness Studios's video

Candida (on cigar box guitar & kazoo)

"That’s exactly what I was talking about Kale! You put a big smile on my face this morning. I…"
46 minutes ago


© 2021   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/963882636?profile=original") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->