Centre for Alternative Technology

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Build a Lapsteel Guitar

  • Sat 9th March 2019.
    Course starts at 10am and ends at 4pm.
    Course fee including materials and lunch £85.
    This course runs again on Sat 29th June, Sat 14th Sept and Sat 9th Nov 2019.

  • Dates, Times & Fees

Course details

This course offers the opportunity to build a working electric 6 string lap steel guitar based on repurposed wood and other materials. Designed for open tuning and playing with a slide or 'steel' (a metal bar placed on the strings to shorten the vibrating length and the source of its name) it’s an ideal way to start making music or to build on your existing music making.

To ensure you leave with a working instrument after only a days learning and building it is a very much simplified design but is constructed in a way that makes further upgrades, both technical and cosmetic, relatively easy and not wasteful of the work and materials you've already put into your creation.

The course requires the use of basic hand tools, typically a hand saw, hand drill, screwdriver, rasp and sandpaper. There will be some gluing with water based wood glues but no soldering by the participants.

The skills and experience gained during this course will be easily transferable and useful in other construction and repair projects. The wood which forms the core of the project will be salvaged, re-purposed or offcuts. Other parts, where possible and practical, will be used items salvaged from instruments beyond economic repair, functional parts that have been replaced to modify other instruments or re-purposed items modified for a new use.

As part of the course, participants will be challenged to explore how items destined to be discarded can re-used, repurposed or remade, once again skills that will be useful in future projects and repairs.

The course begins with a basic introduction to the nature of stringed instruments and how they create sound and modify its pitch. Following further detail on the design considerations specific to a lap steel, materials will be selected and, after a safety briefing on the use of the tools involved, construction will begin. The course ends with discussion on possible modifications and improvements and finally an opportunity to tune and play your new instrument.

Supporting notes.
What is a lap steel guitar?
Also called Steel Guitars, Hawaiian Guitars or Slide Guitars they get their name from the 'steel' used to play them and the fact they are commonly played in the player's lap while seated.
The 'steel' in question is a bar used to press against the strings and shorten the vibrating length (and thus raise the pitch of the sound) unlike a traditional guitar where this is achieved by pressing the strings against a fretboard. The strings are typically tuned to an 'open chord' such that each marked position on the fret board also plays a complete chord meaning they can be played easily withouthaving to learn traditional chord shapes.
In common with other electric guitars, an electric lap steel uses a magnetic pickup to produce the sound and so requires a method of amplification to be heard clearly.

Things you need to know

You must be over the age of 18 years when this course starts.

Booking, Fees and Cancellation policy

To book a place on a course, please choose one of the following options:

• Book Online- the “Book online” button is either below, or in the top right corner of the screen and follow the instructions.

• Call the Courses Department on 01654 704 966 with your bank card details.


Our course fees include tuition and materials, unless otherwise stated.

Please also note our Cancellation & Refund Policy
a) 1 day course fees are non-refundable.
b) CAT reserves the right to cancel any courses. Deposits and fees will be returned in full should this happen.

Course Fees.

Start Date

Bed & Breakfast the night before the course starts

Book Now!

Email courses@cat.org.uk
or phone 01654 704 966

There are places available on this course.

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