#1
Hello all, I have started to build a guitar with my friend, and I have thoughts about building a lap steel as well, because I want one, and because it looks like a simple thing to build.

But, I have a question. On a regular guitar, with frets and all, the bridge is set up to compensate the intonation, I E, the strings are not equally long. Like this:



Will this be needed for a lap steel? I mean, i understand that it is possible to play a lap steel with no intonation at all in the bridge, as you can play a fretless, but the factory lap steels, do they come with an adjustable bridge? What do you reccomend me to do? Because, if adjustment in length is not needed, I can just as well build a bridge myself.


Thanks a lot!
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#2
You don't want any compensation in the saddles. Compensation is to make up for increased tension when fretting strings on fretted instruments, and is undesirable on a lap steel, because you would have to angle the frets and slide as well. Ideally, you want a non radiused, non compensated bridge
#3
^Thanks! In some site, with a lap steel build-guide, the guy used an aluminium frame for the nut, something like this: http://www.lvlcooler.com/angle2.jpg\


I think it would be a good idea to have something that hold the strings, like a tune-o-matic tailpiece, or string ferulles through the body, and use an aluminium frame for the nut AND the bridge, what do you think, is that a good idea?

edit: fixed the image
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Last edited by m_hedborg at Nov 6, 2007,
#4
New rule: bumping is allowed. =)
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#5
A wraparound/one piece bridge and tailpiece is what a lot of guys use (along with what I used on my lap steel), with a piece of aluminium bracket for the nut. Think what they use on a LP Junior.
"Everybody, one day will die and be forgotten. Act and behave in a way that will make life interesting and fun. Find a passion, form relationships, don't be afraid to get out there and fuck what everyone else thinks."
#6
my lap steel is compensated. and it plays wonderfully
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#7
Quote by guitarpalooz
You don't want any compensation in the saddles. Compensation is to make up for increased tension when fretting strings on fretted instruments, and is undesirable on a lap steel, because you would have to angle the frets and slide as well. Ideally, you want a non radiused, non compensated bridge
I disagree.

Compensation is to make up for increased STIFFNESS at the ENDS of the strings.

Stiffness in steel strings increases with diameter and solid strings are stiffer than wound strings.

If you don't have compensation, the intonation will not be correct. The place where the bar need to be will NOT fall in a straight line, for all the strings. This will get worse as you move closer to the bridge.

A lap steel without a compensated bridge will sound like crap when you play harmonies or chords past the first few "frets".

Using a straight bridge is a HUGE mistake.
Quote by the_random_hero
A wraparound/one piece bridge and tailpiece is what a lot of guys use (along with what I used on my lap steel), with a piece of aluminium bracket for the nut. Think what they use on a LP Junior.
IMHO that is the best bridge EVER. Sustain for days. Beats a tuno / stoptail any day of the week.

The only drawback is the relative intonation between strings is fixed. If you use a heavy gauge string set with a wound G, you need a different bridge designed just for that. ... or a Quan.

Wraparound:

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With adjustable saddles, similar to a Leo Quan:

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Last edited by SomeoneYouKnew at Nov 7, 2007,
#8
where can i get a piece of aluminum for the nut? im building one of these as well.
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Walker Rose.
#10
Quote by walker-rose
where can i get a piece of aluminum for the nut? im building one of these as well.


Any sort of hardware/metal stores should have them. Hell, even visit a metal fabrication business and see if they've got some offcuts - a piece 3" in length should be plenty long enough.
"Everybody, one day will die and be forgotten. Act and behave in a way that will make life interesting and fun. Find a passion, form relationships, don't be afraid to get out there and fuck what everyone else thinks."
#11
OK...Compensated bridge

The compensated bridge was designed to allow for INTONATION...not string tension or stiffness at the ends. With frets, a straight bridge could be out of tune at the octave, the compensated bridge allows for adjustments. NOT NEEDED for a lap steel, intonation is adjusted by placing the slide bar in the right spot.

My Electromuse made around 1945 has a straight, non compensated bridge that is just a straight hump stamped into the pickup cover. Many commercial lap steels I've seen also have just a straight bar for a bridge. Why have a compensated bridge when you have no frets to check intonation with???

The bridge on my Electromuse is stamped into a chrome plated steel plate, brass can be used, aluminum should work (but it's a fairly soft metal, I'd expect the string slots to wear a lot), and a good hard wood can be used too, but I would go for metal.

Get a bone nut blank from a guitar shop for the nut, brass will work too but it will sound brighter. As above, I would avoid aluminum because it is so soft. My Electromuse has a plexiglas nut and fret marker board. I didn't swap it for a bone nut because it's antique and I wanted to stay all original if possible.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#12
some lapsteels have frets and some are fretless with lines, idk what the frets would be for though
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#13
Quote by Paleo Pete
OK...Compensated bridge

The compensated bridge was designed to allow for INTONATION...not string tension or stiffness at the ends. With frets, a straight bridge could be out of tune at the octave, the compensated bridge allows for adjustments.
If you knew anything at all about the physics of a wave traveling on a string you would KNOW that the STIFFNESS of the string affects the speed at which it travels. The reason to COMPENSATE for this is to attain the correct INTONATION.

On nylon or gut strings the stiffness is extremely low. The difference in stiffness matters not, because the speed of the wave is barely affected in any case.

With a STEEL string, however, the situation is quite different. In the two stiff regions, one at either end, the wave travels faster. When you redefine the endpoints with a fret OR a bar you still have the same length at each end that is affecting the speed of the wave. If you're at all interested in learning about this, rather than just spouting off at the mouth, I'll tell you that since the wave travels faster in these regions, as string that is EXACTLY half the length will be SLIGHTLY SHARP.

This problem gets worse as the DIAMETER of the string increases. It is less of a factor when the string is wound.

Quote by Paleo Pete
... intonation is adjusted by placing the slide bar in the right spot.
As I correctly stated before, the place where the BAR needs to be to raise a string an octave will NOT be in the same place for dissimilar strings when using a straight bridge. If you are playing a PLAIN G the place it will need to be will be considerably FARTHER away from the bridge compared to the MID-POINT of the string. On a WOUND D this position is CLOSER to the MID-POINT but still away from the bridge. To have those two notes perfectly in tune with each other, the BAR would have to be ANGLED with the end closest to the G being FARTHER away from the bridge.


Quote by Paleo Pete
My Electromuse made around 1945 ....
Let's stop right there, shall we?

In 1945 virtually ALL automobiles had CARBURETORS. Today we use FUEL INJECTORS.

Why the difference?
Because no one had worked out the problems to achieve a more effective solution back in 1945.

Carburetors are still cheaper, and you will find them on CHEAP engines where performance is not important.

1 - If you NEVER play harmonies, correct intonation will not be all that important. Use of a straight bridge will be sufficient.

2 - If you DO play harmonies and are willing to ANGLE the bar to make intonation compensation in a CLUMSY MANNER, a straight bridge will be sufficient.

3 - If you are TONE DEAF and can't hear that the notes are not harmonically in tune, a straight bridge will be sufficient.

4 - If you want correct intonation on any strings played together while keeping the bar STRAIGHT, you MUST use an intonable or intonated bridge.

5 - Please note that while an increase in TENSION is an EXTREMELY MINOR factor in fretted strings, I did not mention it, as it is not germane to the topic at hand.


The bottom line:

If you're satisfied with doing things poorly or clumsily, out-dated techniques will suffice.

If you prefer to do things in a more "civilized" manner, abandon the antiques and move forward half a century.
Meadows
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#15
im gonna agree with him for the last time dont do a straight bar non compensated
Member #5 of the UG Luthier's club.
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i im gonna have to agree with t heff