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Lap Steel Bass prototype

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by gurzil, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. gurzil


    Jul 24, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I say prototype, as if I will build another. I may, but it could be a while.

    Thought I would share this recent project, and also a specific question at the end of this post. All of the electronics are stolen from another bass, along with the tuners. Yes, the pots have been put in a project box and rubber banded to the tailpiece. This was not only an exercise in minimalism, but in limited tools. All I needed to make this was a hand saw and a drill. And I borrowed the drill (thanks Abel).



    Here is a 2-track direct recording, with all sorts of reverb, compression, and EQ-ing (the EQ to kill a nasty hum from the single-coil). I think it gets a usable and interesting voice. Right now I am using DADG tuning. Yes, when I built it I was listening to Morphine. But also think of John Parish when you listen.


    The sustain is pretty poor. I am guessing that this is due to the nut and bridge. They are cabinet handles. I am fairly sure they are brass underneath the silver coating (it looked like brass in the grooves I filed for the strings) but they are still dinky on mass. Would a more massive nut and bridge be the answer to the sustain, or would I need a bigger chunk of wood? The body and peg-bars are poplar. It seems to be staying in tune very well.

    I guess giving it a set of non-recycled strings might also help. :)
  2. My opinion is by no means an expert one, but I imagine that the nut and bridge are the reason for the poor sustain. Little triangular blocks of wood should work well.
  3. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    Very cool. That thing has massive sound. I'd hit it :D.
  4. I love it!
  5. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Does it have OK sustain on an open string? If so, the real problem is not in the bridge and nut, it's that you need something massive for the slide.

    Whenever I've tried a guitar slide on a bass (with a normal, proper bridge), I've gotten poor sustain. Too much kinetic energy in a bass string for a light weight guitar slide to reflect back into the string instead of transmitting to your arm. I'd look for a solid steel rod, like I think they use on a pedal steel, something that has a good amount of weight.
  6. anonymous278347457

    anonymous278347457 Guest

    Feb 12, 2005
    may I ask how you know if your intonation is correct on a lap steel?

    I see no markers/fretlines

    forgive the noobiness :D
  7. gurzil


    Jul 24, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Good point. But the sustain is not too much better on open strings. :)

    I had not yet bought a real slide for it, using something improvised, but still heavy. Perhaps something heavier than a normal slide will improve the sustain. The hardware store will probably produce something for me..
  8. gurzil


    Jul 24, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I am playing it by ear. With the distance of the strings from the board, lines would only be landmarks. I still need more practice with it, but I don't see it being a problem. I might still make a 12th fret mark as a guide, but not much more.

    EDIT: Improving tuning is also why I practice playing duets with recordings of myself.
  9. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    That's pretty cool. The tone sounds more like a baritone guitar than a bass. I'd like to hear it played fingerstyle.

    Where's the truss rod adjustment?;)
  10. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I considered doing the same thing, actually. It looks like a fun and (relatively) easy project.
  11. Greenman


    Dec 17, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    Maybe a couple brackets under the board and a turnbuckle. :D
  12. reddogbass


    Aug 17, 2006
    "Correct" intonation is not required on an instrument that isn't fretted. The frets change the string lengths in specific lengths at each fret, and need to be positioned correctly, as well as match the scale length.
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    You want a much sharper break angle at the nut.
    This way you can get a lot more sustain.
    And yeah use a massive slide.

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