We are big fans of square neck, lap style instruments here at Guitar gallery. Gerry and Graham have played them for longer than they’d care to remember and Pepi is even beginning to try her hand, and doing pretty well we think. We like to think that we didn’t choose to play these instruments purely as an excuse to sit down for the whole gig but there’s something to be said for that we must admit.
Lap style instruments come in many different shapes and sizes and can be tuned to whatever you like really, though G is standard for bluegrass (surprise, surprise), D or E for blues and maybe C6, A6 etc for Hawaiian styles. The possibilities are endless. Instruments meant to be played on your lap include lap steels (usually electric), dobros (with a cone within a dish style of resonator), more unusual steel bodied instruments (with the National inverted dish style cone), Weissenborn style wood bodied, hollow necked Hawaiian lap guitars and we’ll inc
lude, for the purposes of this post, the most versatile of all the pedal steel. Pedal steel of course has legs so it’s not technically a lap guitar but it’s as square (and not square) as they come. The thing that most correctly ties all these instruments together is the fact that they’re played with a piece of metal, c
ommonly referred to as a bar, stopping the strings rather than the strings being fretted with the left hand.
We are currently stocking a wide range of square neck instruments and we’re offering a free lesson with any instrument purchased. If you’re better than we are you can give us a lesson. The price range begins with an Oakridge square neck dobro at $449, a great sounding instrument for the price that plays and sounds as a dobro should.
The 40s Rickenbacker (then spelled Richenbacher) lap steel in the photo was a steal at $750. It went fairly quickly not surprisingly.
The Regal RD-40VS is a wood bodied dobro from Saga that truly does the business bluegrass style but can be used for blues, Hawaiian etc just as effectively. The price is $895.
There’s also an Oahu inspired 6 string lap steel by Gold Tone, a fine modern reproduction of an in
strument played by many great players in the 40s and 50s. This one comes in at $119
5. Also at $1195 is a hard to find square neck tricone steel bodied guitar by Nashville. It looks great and sounds even better. The Regal RD-52 commonly known as Black Lightning because of its distinctive appearance is a great buy also at $1195. A fantastic bluegrass instrument featuring a top line Quarterman cone.
At the top of the wood bodied dobro tree at the moment is the RD-64 with Quarterman cone, a slightly deeper body and constructed of the finest figured tone woods and coming in at $1395.
The development of the steel guitar is a complex subject I won’t go in
to here but pedal steel players can be excused for believing that their instrument is at the top of the evolutionary tree, even if many of them aren’t in the same position. The instrument requires the use of both hands, both feet and both knees to operate a system of pedals and levers that are connected to rotating, individual bridges allowing strings to be raised or lowered to a specific interval. This makes for an instrument that is unlimited in potential. Chords can morph one to another with notes rising and falling at the same time. We are stocking an instrument that’s not only recognised as the best beginner’s steel available but it’s an instrument that professionals happily use.
We are expecting a couple of Zumsteel Stage Ones in a month or so. The Stage One is a single ne
ck 10 string in E9 tuning with 3 pedals and 4 levers – everything you need to get started but also everything you need to play professionally, and in a lightweight but robustly built instrument. The Stage One comes in a hard case and is priced at $2700.
If you have any questions about lap/square-neck instruments drop into the shop or call us and we’ll be happy to assist. See the gallery below for pictures of the instruments mentioned.