Help with scale length and string gauge on small lapsteel guitar

So many questions...I'm thinking of building something that resembles a miniature lap steel guitar . Here's what I'm thinking -

* 6 string instrument tuned open D 

* very short scale length (roundabouts a concert/tenor ukulele size - around 23 - 26"

* no electrics, just a deep resonator box made from very thin plywood.

It's more of an experiment than anything else but I'm really stuck with what gauge strings to use. I've always used medium-light strings on my guitars but would these still be too heavy for such a small instrument? Would I have to use ukulele or classical guitar nylon strings to get the right tension without snapping the thing in half?

My thinking is that steel strings are better at sustaining the note played on them than nylon - especially important with a small acoustic instrument.

Am I mad or is this imaginary instrument do-able? :P

If anyone could share any insight on any of this I'd be very very grateful!!

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Comment by Poorness Studios on August 9, 2019 at 1:25pm

It may be too late now, but a tenor uke is typically a 17" scale and a concert is usually 15". 23" is the standard size for a tenor or a lap steel. I'm guessing you meant 23"-26" overall length. I know CB Gitty sells a set of lap steel strings and they're pretty light (.014 - .034). I'd probably start with those.

Comment by KOOL DOG HOOCH on July 28, 2019 at 9:03pm
  1. Might I suggest adding springs for reverb. The ones I like are from "Dollar tree" they are in a plastic microphone called a "Echo mics".
Comment by Korrigan on July 28, 2019 at 6:42pm
Comment by Tim Pattimore on July 28, 2019 at 7:25am

Thanks for your reply! I'd like to go as small as I can but still achieve a reasonable amount of sustain with the strings - I'm guessing those strings you've mentioned are steel not nylon? 

Thinking further, the "box" part of the body will probably be about 2" - 3" deep to make it as loud as possible for the size.

Its all an experiment, but that's part of the fun of building your own instruments!

Comment by BrianQ. on July 27, 2019 at 1:28pm

Your not tripping, 23” scale is very common with lap steels? They actually go smaller than that? The shorter scale lap steels had smaller strings on them & were mostly tuned to C6? The string gauges are usually either .014 -.034 or .015-.036? I use the .015-.036 which is: .015,.018,.022,.024,.030,.036. Hope this helps ,cheers :)

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