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Git-Steel Guitar

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Project by Tennessee posted 02-14-2017 02:04 PM 1211 views 2 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN





15 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7709 posts in 1791 days


#1 posted 02-14-2017 02:16 PM

Wow, that thing is beautiful Paul !

And to your last line …_ “As always, copy it if you want!”

I’ll just fix that for you to ”As always, copy it if you CAN!”

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

10836 posts in 2652 days


#2 posted 02-14-2017 02:51 PM

I’m not so into it, but it’s incredible work!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2031 posts in 848 days


#3 posted 02-14-2017 08:19 PM

Fantastic, Paul. I love the stars in the fretboard of the slide guitar. It’s like the instrument’s saying, “Yeah. We’re attached at the hip. But, I’m my own man. Don’t confuse me with the other guy.”

-- Mark

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2522 posts in 2299 days


#4 posted 02-14-2017 11:39 PM

Ha, Joe, been a while!
I had a new knee installed in my left leg on December 27th of 2016, so been out of the loop for a while.
Anyway, back to the old woodshop!
Good to hear from you!

And for the others, thanks so much for the replies. I know this is kind of a niche item…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

8278 posts in 2627 days


#5 posted 02-15-2017 12:39 AM

Paul, Wondering where you went off to. Are you repairing when your not building? I learned a little about acoustic guitar building and it’s waaaay above my skill grade. LOL!

Nice to see you creating again. How’s the box biz?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

8278 posts in 2627 days


#6 posted 02-15-2017 12:40 AM

do you laminate veneers onto your electric guitar bodies?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2522 posts in 2299 days


#7 posted 02-15-2017 02:17 AM

Doc:
I do a LOT of guitar repairs. While out for my knee I fielded a lot of calls, asking people to wait until about the six week mark. The customers are starting to come in now.
I am back in the shop, and already had a rare Martin D-35-P come through that needed a number of items. (The P stands for Primitive, a very low issue Martin). It was a ‘91 model. One of those guitars that gets passed down though. The last owner died of cancer and willed it to his best playing buddy, who brought it to me to repair all the little issues like binding, some flaking, and the usual setup issues.
I have another coming in this weekend, another Martin where the whole back came off, and a guy has a mandolin coming in where I don’t even remember what is wrong with that.

New guitars, actually I lost money on them last year, (second year in a row), so I closed down my web site, adjusted my insurance, and now do almost all repairs and a multitude of new items for my gallery and an Etsy store I started.
Who knew I would sell almost 60 golf club hat racks last year on Etsy, at over 100% profit each? Stupid easy, but my process is special and no one has anything that looks like mine. (They resemble an actual golf hole.)
My accountant still has fits…

In any case, I will still build a new guitar for those who know I exist. I have already had one call from a repeat customer, upset that I closed down the web site, and we should be starting on his second sometime in March.

Overall, I am super busy, the gallery had its best year ever, Etsy will do well and I am not lacking for work, even though I will be 68 in June! Someday, all this has to stop!

No, I do not laminate veneers onto my guitars. I use enough of the wood to make a “sandwich”, usually three layers thick. In the case of the git-steel, it was mostly Sapale with a thin layer of Ambrosia Maple on the back for looks, but not veneer.
Too much trouble and more of an acoustic thing than an electric.

Good to hear from you, and thanks!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

8278 posts in 2627 days


#8 posted 02-15-2017 06:30 AM

Paul,

I remember your planning to readjust your pricing for your boxes? Maybe you can post your etsy store and save me the search time?

Hey I’m older than you but pretty immature for my age. LOL! Guess it come from working with kids. Poor planning will never allow me to retire. Expire yes…retire no.

Have you considered just a web page w/out a store so people can still find you?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Colin's profile

Colin

168 posts in 1148 days


#9 posted 02-15-2017 07:35 PM

That is the coolest thing I have seen in my 50 years on this planet!

-- Live Forever...............or Die Trying

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2522 posts in 2299 days


#10 posted 02-15-2017 08:17 PM

Doc:
Having the website up for almost six years did a great job of populating Google with my company name and phone number. I get calls all the time from people thinking I am a music store where I live. I refer all of them to the store where I do all the wood repairs for the owner. Works out well. Doesn’t seem to matter that the site is down.

People find me one way or the other. Seems like there is always someone calling for something. Last night at 8:30 PM a guy called me and asked if I was open again, (he had heard about my knee), and wanted me to take on a Martin guitar in pieces. Back fell off, neck cracked. Can’t wait! (Argh..) Probably in a bar fight. It’s coming in this weekend.
Currently, I have enough work that I don’t really want any more!

Oh, and much to my surprise, the doggone pens took off also. Sold about 20 last year. Not bad for a beginner!

As far as Etsy, the only thing I normally sell on there is Golf Club Hat Racks. I did do three acoustic guitar clocks, and I think one wine bottle holder, and in 2015 I posted a large Tree of Life Bandsaw Box that brought in nice bucks. But I am trying to kind of corner that little Golf Club Hat Rack item on Etsy. If I do 100 this year, I’ll consider that a success. The drawback is my design looks best in walnut, and that is getting harder and harder to find at reasonable prices. I just keep going further out into the sticks, finding mill guys in the Smokies…

The Etsy store is TsunamiWoodworking.
Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TsunamiWoodworking?ref=ss_profile

Probably the biggest change in the last year for me was when the gallery asked me to take over the cutting boards. I personally never really got into them, but they asked, I delivered, and about 50-70 boards later I’m the cutting board guy in the gallery now. I have a couple of styles, nothing end grained, and they sell like hotcakes.

The really odd one was when they asked me to do one shaped like Tennessee. Obviously the state is too narrow North/South, so I fudged the height two inches and shortened the East/West length two inches.
I took two in, and the next day the manager called and asked for more. Sold…
I took in three more two days later, and two days after that he asked for more. Sold…
I finally took in four more, three days later, but they kept selling. They then asked for Georgia and North Carolina, but the Carolina one didn’t do well until Christmas. Just nuts. I guess the state is just odd enough in shape but sized right so it makes a cool looking board. Not like doing Colorado, or some other square state.
Oh, and cheese cutting boards shaped like cheese wedges with dowels inlaid to look like Swiss cheese. Could not keep them in the gallery.
I do so well in this gallery they had to change my tax status over to a 1099. I owe, I owe, its off to work I go!

Anyway, with the Etsy store, the gallery, and local instrument repairs, I’ve got enough. Oh, and I also get the odd call from someone who saw something I did, and could I do this or that, blah blah. You know how it goes.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2522 posts in 2299 days


#11 posted 02-15-2017 08:23 PM

Thanks, Colin!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

8278 posts in 2627 days


#12 posted 02-16-2017 12:24 AM

Paul,

Sounds GREAT and BooHoo you get to rebuild a Martin. LOL! I’m goin to the site now.

Later!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

8278 posts in 2627 days


#13 posted 02-16-2017 02:21 AM

Checked out the Etsy site. There are no guitars poster????

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2522 posts in 2299 days


#14 posted 02-19-2017 01:15 PM

Doc:
No, I don’t sell guitars on Etsy.
Actually, I only actually have the one posted here left, (everything else sold), and of course the original number one that my wife asked me to keep, built back in 2008. It still plays and sings beautifully.
That one will probably get willed to my nephew, who is in two bands, plays about three/four instruments, and owns a couple of my guitars already.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

8278 posts in 2627 days


#15 posted 02-20-2017 02:29 AM

Paul,

I’m thinking with that name you could post one guitar for people to think about after all it is tsunamiguitars.com?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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