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.