|Project by Tennessee||posted 02-14-2017 02:04 PM||927 views||2 times favorited||15 comments|
About four years ago, a fellow called me and asked if I would consider building one of these. I said I would look into it.
Turns out the only manufacturer of these I could find is a fellow named Michael Stevens out of Texas who runs Stevens Guitars. He makes what he calls a “Guit-Steel”, and one of his most famous clients is the older country singer Junior Brown.
But his unit is heavy, and must be mounted on sort of a music stand angled so you can play the Guit part like a guitar, and the Steel part like a slide guitar. Lots more stuff on his also. But it is a stationary instrument, and my client wanted that part gone.
My client wanted something that he could strap on, and walk around the stage with it. That meant a HUGE reduction in weight. Plus, the Stevens unit has many, many more add-ons and is painted. His prices also were up there, over $14K. I own cars I didn’t pay that much for.
Well, four years ago my client backed out and asked for a guitar shaped like Tennessee instead, which I built him. But the Git-Steel idea stayed with me, and when the new guitar business slowed down last year, I had the opening to build this little item.
Considering weight, I needed tonal wood that is light. I had a lot of Sapale in stock, including true 2X4 and 2X6 stock already milled, so I used that. It is used in a lot of pipe organs, and is very tonal and fairly lightweight. The Ambrosia maple is used as an accent wood, but I picked out pieces that were fairly dense, and since it is only the thin back of the guitar, and the pickguards which are only 2.5MM thick, no big deal.
Still, the unit came in a just a bit over 11 lbs., but you can strap it on, and it does weigh about one pound less than a ‘59 Les Paul Gibson, which weighed in at just under 13 lbs. FYI, that was one reason that Jimmy Page is now saddled with a hunched back, after years of playing that 59’ Les Paul with 13 lbs. hung on his neck.
The slide portion is angled about 12 degrees up so when you wear it, you can clearly see the markers on the slide fretboard so you know where to put your slide.
It is glued to the main guitar body using biscuits, then I had to channel the holes for wiring, pickup chambers, etc. The guitar neck is obviously bolt-on, but the slide is solid.
Scale is 25.5” on the guitar, 23” on the slide.
The pickups are overwound Armstrongs I had lying around on the guitar, and a nice brown 10K Duncan bucker on the slide, which if you look closely, has a little Series/Parallel switch on the little pickguard of the slide.
The controls are amazingly simple. One volume, one tone, a usual three way switch for the buckers on the guitar, and a second three way switch to have either guitar, both, or slide chosen.
It does not suffer from sympathetic string noise, but the sustain is substantial. Currently the guitar is tuned standard, and the slide is tuned open D. Seems to work OK together.
To date, only three people have played it, and I still have not decided if I would sell it. Somewhere around $1000-1400 would be nice.
It comes in a custom hardshell case fitted just for it.
The one thing I did wrong, I wish I had put in a place for the slide to be parked when not using it. Currently, the best option noted is having a shirt pocket. But one fellow who played it used a bottle slide on his finger and did fine.
Anyway, that checks that little ditty off my bucket list!
As always, copy it if you want!
-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com