Learning to Play
John Tipka has an excellent article explaining the basics of building a lap steel at the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association web site. His web site has much information for those interested in building your own lap steel.
His brochure is available for a $10.00 USD suggested donation. More information may be obtained by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to:
Resophonic Outfitters sells a resophonic guitar kit. It includes full size, easy to read plans for a squareneck or roundneck model, veneered top, back and sides, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard, Quarterman resonator and all the hardware you need to build a complete resonator guitar. Even the strings are suppllied. All you need is free time, tools, glue, and finishing products. Cost is $399.00 USD.
They also sell the blueprints by themselves. The squareneck blueprints are for a wood body Dobro® style guitar; the roundneck blueprints are for the metal body, National style resonator guitar. Cost is $9.95 USD per blueprint.
More information can be obtained by writing to
Music Muse sells reproduction blueprints of a 1950s Supro Supreme lap steel guitar. I haven't seen the blueprint, but the price ($9.00 USD) is quite reasonable.
The Musical Instrument Makers Forum is an interactive forum for the discussion of musical instrument construction, design and repair. They have a set of plans available for an 8-string lap steel, designed and contributed by one of our members -- you can view a jpeg of the file at http://www.mimf.com/library/lapsteel.jpg.
Martin Koch has a series of articles about building your own lap steel on his web site.
Most lap steel guitars were constructed using the same parts as are found on regular guitars. The tuners and pickups from any standard guitar parts supplier (such as AllParts or Stewart-MacDonald) should work for your guitar. If you're looking for specific steel guitar pickups, try Seymour Duncan (they make replacement pickups for the Fender Champion and Stringmaster steels) or George L's.
Frank Ford of Gryphon Guitars has a very good luthier's web site. Here's his article on replacing plastic tuner buttons on old tuners.
If you have questions, suggestions for improvements, or additional information, please let me know.