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Vintage Lap Steel Guitars

From Hawaiian surf music to country, there’s no mistaking the unique sound of the lap steel guitar. If you aren’t content to just listen, vintage lap steel guitars let you recreate that sound for yourself.


The slide guitar was first invented in Hawaii, where musicians developed a new way to play imported acoustic guitars using steel or glass bars. When Hawaiian playing techniques spread to the mainland, the slide guitar sound was adopted by country and blues musicians. Instrument makers first began producing electric slide guitars in the 1930s, with the first model being the Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) A22 “Frying Pan”.


Vintage electric lap steels are some of the most sought-after vintage electric guitars. Vintage lap steel guitars were produced by most of the large guitar manufacturers of the time, some of which are still active today, including Gibson, Hofner and Gretsch. Some other vintage guitars and basses within the slide guitar family are also sought after by collectors, including the acoustic hollowneck slide guitars produced by Weissenborn, which were long forgotten but revived by modern musicians.

Pedal Steels and Consolectrics

The pedal steel guitar is an evolution of the lap steel guitar that adds a set of foot and knee-operated pedals and levers beneath the guitar’s body. These levers bend strings to provide access to new chords and new scales. The pedal steel wasn’t the only way in which instrument builders expanded on the lap steel guitar. In 1954, guitar makers Harmony developed the Consolectric. This unique design built a six-string steel guitar into the lid of its own case, and then gave it a set of legs and a built-in amplifier for an all-in-one combination. Although the concept never really caught on, they are still popular with collectors looking for something unique.


You can’t play slide guitar without a slide, and vintage slides and picks are still available to this day. Many vintage guitars and basses are not in perfect condition, and so spare parts are also available for guitar restorers to renew a vintage instrument.

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