Turn Your Solidbody Into a Lap Slide!

You can score vibey lap steels for several hundred dollars, but if you have an underutilized electric guitar lying around, you can convert it to a fire-breathing lap slider for less than 20 bucks—including a new set of strings. Best of all, it’s a reversible mod.
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Here’s the lowdown:

  • Buy a slotted extension nut. This arched piece of steel straddles a guitar’s standard nut, and jacks the strings off the fretboard [Fig. 1]. Prices vary—at stewmac.com they’re about $4.
  • Slip on the nut and install a fresh set of heavy electric strings with a plain third, such as the GHS GBH Boomers (.012-.052), D’Addario EXL145 (.012-.054), or Ernie Ball Not Even Slinky (.012-.056).
  • Raise the bridge to match the extension nut’s height. If you have height-adjustable saddles, level out the string radius [Fig. 2]. Adjust the intonation so that notes played with the tonebar directly over the 12th fret match their corresponding 12th-fret harmonic.
  • Raise your pickups about r", and you’re done!

Most lap steelers prefer grooved tonebars, which come in many styles. Left to right, Fig. 3 shows a Shubb GS1, a Dunlop Lap Dawg, and a soulful old Stevens.