October 1, 2004

Lap Steel Guitar

By Andy Volk

If you're captivated by the fat whine of a Supro steel, the cutting cry of a tripleneck Fender Stringmaster, or the mellow twang of a Weissenborn hollowneck acoustic, you'll flip over Lap Steel Guitar. Author Andy Volk interviewed or profiled more than 40 great players of all styles-including Hawaiian, country, Western swing, gospel, Cajun, and roots rock-and gathered info crucial to anyone who wields a tone bar. Such masters as Leon McAuliffe, Don Helms, Herb Remington, Jerry Byrd, Freddie Roulette, Aubrey Ghent, Greg Leisz, David Lindley, Bob Brozman, Cindy Cashdollar, and Debashish Bhattacharya share their secrets with Volk, who organizes the resulting treasure into a fun, yet instructive read. Just the tuning charts-which Volk has codified for every player-are worth the price of admission, but we also learn how these masters approach their music and what gear they use to get their sound.

Volk devotes another section to guitars, serving up juicy details about classic Oahu, Bigsby, Rickenbacker, and National steels, as well as modern creations from the likes of Asher, Bear Creek, and Harmos. The 296-page tome is crammed with historical images and excerpts from catalogs, and its 38 pages of color photos will have you scouring local pawnshops for an old steel. A discography maps a lifetime of essential listening, and the thorough index allows you to quickly locate facts about specific players, instruments, and tunings. Centerstream.

-Andy Ellis  

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