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Round Neck To Lap Conversion Questions

PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:00 pm
by Bant's Bluz
I mentioned in another thread I was considering this and with the passage of time, I'm leaning more strongly to doing it. Yet again, I have some questions that I hope someone can answer for me. Here goes:

I'm strongly considering converting my round neck spider bridge for lap style playing. This is a totally new frontier for me and I really need some input. Here are my questions:

1. My reso is, as stated, a round neck with 14 frets to the body. Currently I have 13's on it. Could I safely use 16's provided given that I plan on tuning to Dobro G which is I believe is GBDGBD
high to low?

2. Is a nut riser sufficient for the time being or should I go to the expense to have a nut cut and installed? The current nut measures approximately 2 and 11/16 inches.

3. From what I've read, it appears that the Shubb SP2 or a Stevens bar are popular choices of tone bars. Again, does this sound reasonable?

4. Whether I get a new nut cut or just use a nut riser, the strings are going to have to come off. Would anyone care to advise me regarding strategies for keeping the cone in the proper position during while doing this? I'm envisioning putting a piece of masking tape at each leg of the spider that is visible, and making a reference mark on the tape.

5. With these changes, it was pointed out that the intonation will change. Thus begs the question, how do you correct the intonation on a spider bridge?

I'm open to any and all thoughts on this and I send thanks in advance.

Re: Round Neck To Lap Conversion Questions

PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:14 pm
by michaelm
I have had a couple of 14-fret guitars, one flat top, one reso, set up for lap style playing for a long time so I am speaking from that experience. YMMV. First, do not get too far ahead of yourself. As an example, please do not worry about correcting intonation problems until you have them. Also, of course, do not do anything in the first place that is pretty sure to cause them. I will try to address your questions one by one. This may be a little long.

1. I would stay away from high tunings like dobro GBDGBD, open A and E and so on. I used Spanish (or open G) DGDGBD. You can see that the top four strings are tuned same as dobro, so if that is what you want to learn, it will transfer quickly. As an aside, I personally can not stand that third in the basement. I would start with the 13s and if they seem a little floppy, I would try some 16-56s next. I would not go any heavier than that, though.

2. Use a nut riser to start. I have seen and own a couple of different styles. You might want to check that out. Sometimes they leave a mark on the guitar. You might want to put a piece of tape or felt or similar between the riser and the neck. Later on, you may wish to do a new nut and maybe even a full set up, but the riser will give you a good start.

3. Stevens and the SP2 are my current two favorites, so, yeah, they sound good to me. Steel players generally prefer bullet bars. If you get into lap style, you will probably end up with a drawer full of bars. IMO, Stevens is the best place to start.

4. If I have to take all of the strings off a spider reso, my technique is to put the new second and fifth stings on first. Do not bring them up to pitch, just enough tension to twang a little. Now look through the holes in the cover plate and make sure that the saddles are in the right places and that the legs of the spider are pointing in the right directions. If you need to move anything around, use the eraser end of an unsharpened yellow pencil. When everything looks good, add the other strings. I like to bring up the tension from the center out: 4-3-2-5-6-1 or something like that, but that may be getting a little picky-picky.

5. You can adjust intonation while playing by tilting the bar a bit. After a while it becomes second nature.

HTH. Have Fun!

Re: Round Neck To Lap Conversion Questions

PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:39 pm
by Bant's Bluz
Michaelm, thanks kindly for your feed back and guidance! I'm not smart enough to adequately articulate my most sincere thanks. It just dawned on me that I didn't quiet follow your comment: As an aside, I personally can not stand that third in the basement

Bottom line, if I'm understanding your post correctly, is to go slow, be methodical, and deal with issues as or if they develop.

Again, thanks much!

Re: Round Neck To Lap Conversion Questions

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:07 am
by michaelm
My apologies if I am stating the obvious here, but I will try to explain what I meant. Any major chord is composed of the root, the major third and the fifth. In the case of the G chord, root = G, third = B and fifth = D. By the 'basement' I mean the lowest strings on the guitar. The only third in Spanish (DGDGBD) tuning is the second string. In contrast, Dobro (GBDGBD) tuning has the third twice, at the second and fifth strings. I find the Dobro tuning sound a little too wholesome for my ears. Hence my statement.

Sometimes learning a little music theory can go a long way. I have been picking up bits and pieces of it here and there over the years and now it is starting to add up. Anyway, there are lots of free lessons and discussions on the web on the subject. I am more of a book kind of guy, so I do not know much about the web material, but here is one online possibility:
I first ran into his writing over here:
I hope that explains things. In response to your summary of my first post, yes, I would say take it slow and easy and do not worry about stuff that has not happened yet.

Re: Round Neck To Lap Conversion Questions

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:05 am
by Bant's Bluz
Thanks for the explanation Michaelm. Very, very much appreciated.