Jerry Douglas

Lap Steel Guitar
It is widely reported that the lap steel guitar was invented by a man named Joseph Kekuku in 1885.
It is said, at the age of 7, Kekuku was walking along a railroad track and picked up a metal bolt, slid the metal along the strings of his guitar and was intrigued by the sound.
He taught himself to play using this method with the back of a knife blade. Various other people have also been credited with the innovation. The instrument became a major fad in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. It was electrified in the early 1930s. In 1932, the first production electric guitar was introduced, the aluminum Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) A22 "Frying Pan" lap steel.
This made the so-called "Hawaiian" guitar the first electric stringed instrument (just a few years before Les Paul and Charlie Christian modified their instruments and after the theremin was patented in 1928). The first electric instrument on a commercial recording was made and played in 1935 by Bob Dunn, a musician in Houston, Texas who played in the Western swing band Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies. Dunn owned a music store that bore his name in the Houston area.

The lap steel, dobro and pedal steel guitar are associated most closely with Hawaiian music, country music and bluegrass, though some players have used them in rock music, jazz, blues, and other musical genres. The round neck, metal-bodied resonator guitar is used almost exclusively by blues, rock, or blues-rock musicians.

There are three main types of lap steel guitar:

- Lap slide guitars, the first developed, which use a similar sound box to a Spanish guitar. These were originally called Hawaiian guitars and included versions that had a factory raised nut, but also include Spanish guitars with a nut extender (a device that fits over the nut to raise the strings).
- Resonator guitars, particularly those with square necks, but also round neck versions with a raised nut.
- Electric lap steel guitars, which include the first commercially successful solid body instruments. These were originally marketed as electric Hawaiian guitars. In addition to the lap=played model, a closely related version called a console steel guitar is supported on legs (but does not include the pedals or knee levers of the pedal steel guitar. Electric lap steels typically have six to ten strings.

Weissenborn or H. Weissenborn is a brand of lap slide guitar manufactured by Hermann Weissenborn in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s.
These instruments are now highly sought after, and form the base for most non-resonator acoustic lap steel guitars currently produced. It is estimated that fewer than 5,000 original instruments were produced, and unknown how many now survive.
Both single and twin neck models were produced, both with highly adapted bodies that run the full length of the fingerboards, making conventional playing completely impossible.
The brand is now used for reproduction instruments. We have some here >

Lap slide and resonator guitars may also be fitted with pickups, but do not depend on electrical amplification to produce sound.

The lap steel guitar is typically placed on the player's lap, or on a stool in front of the seated player. Unlike a conventional guitar, the strings are not pressed to a fret when sounding a note; rather, the player holds a metal slide called steel (or tone bar) in the left hand, which is moved along the strings to change the instrument's pitch while the right hand plucks or picks the strings. This method of playing greatly restricts the number of chords available, so lap steel music often features melodies, a restricted set of harmonies (such as in blues), or another single part.

The steel guitar, when played in Hawaiian, Country, Bluegrass, or Western Swing styles, is almost always plucked using a plastic thumbpick affixed to the right hand's thumb, and metal or plastic "fingerpicks" fitted to the first 2, 3, or even all 4 fingers of the right hand. This allows the player greater control when picking sets of notes on non-adjacent strings. Some Blues players, especially those who use a round-neck resonator guitar played upright, conventional-guitar-style, with a bottleneck or hollow metal slide on one left-hand finger, forgo the fingerpicks and thumbpicks, and use their bare fingers and thumb instead. On the other hand, a minority of Blues players, and many Rock players, use a conventional flatpick. Tut Taylor is one of the few Dobro players that use a flatpick. With thanks to Wikipedia.

> Square Neck and Round Neck Resonator Guitars >

> Weissenborns in Stock >


copyright © SlideGuitarist.com - all rights reserved