Three best places to shop for a lap steel guitar

As a musician myself, it is rare I will buy musical instruments directly online. Usually my online shopping is reserved for electronics, pedals, cables, and things like that.

However, lap steels are a bit different breed. They are built like tanks, generally. They are small enough to be shipped and packaged well. Here are three places where I have personally purchased lap steels, as well as a sampling of listings:
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Lap steel string theory

For the beginner

You generally cannot use a regular pack of guitar strings on a lap steel. Let me rephrase – you CAN use a general pack of guitar strings, but it’s not optimal. This is because a lap steel derives it’s sound from a combination of the slide, or tone bar, and open tuning. There are exceptions of course – DADGAD tuning can generally be accomplished with a regular set of guitar strings.

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Lap steel slides and bars – everything you wanted to know

bars-and-slides

One of the sweetest allures of lap steel guitar is the plaintive cry of the bar as it is moved up and down the strings. Some players refer to cry of a lap steel as the closest to the sound of a human voice on an instrument that is not played with your mouth.

Lap steel players tend to choose their slides based on their own personal style, rather than using a specific slide for a particular type of music – with some exceptions of course.

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Interview with lap steel master Lloyd Maines

(Guitar International) Music runs in the rich musical heritage and family of Maines, whose father and uncles formed the Original Maines Brothers Band. Lloyd grew up listening to his father’s band jamming in his grandmother’s kitchen, influencing him to form the 2nd generation Maines Brothers Band with his brothers. Over the years, Lloyd taught himself to play acoustic and electric guitar, Dobro, papoose, mandolin, lap steel, banjo, and more.

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Lap Steel Tunings

Open G Lap Steel Tuning

The most common tuning for acoustic steel guitar (Dobro) is open G:

  1. D
  2. B
  3. G
  4. D
  5. B
  6. G

This tuning is great because you have three sets of strings one octave apart for each note in a major chord. This allows you to play the same thing an octave higher or lower by just moving down (or up) three strings. Super easy! If you want to do hammer-on styled playing this tuning works great as well.

More tunings …

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