Silvertone Lap Steel

Different people call this instrument by various names. I’ve heard it called a Hawaiian guitar. Lap steel guitar. Country guitar. Call it what you will.

Now, as for what you can play on them, well, that’s another story. They’re not exactly rock and roll instruments. You’ll hear higher-end versions on popular country songs. And you’ll hear one of these whenever someone wants to make a noise evocative of Hawaii. To be honest, I’ve never had much ambition in any way, shape or form in regard to this instrument. It’s something of a family heirloom.

I inherited this from my father. No one in the family could tell me if he could play it or not. Whatever its origins or reasons for being in my father’s possession, this instrument has come down to me. It doesn’t seem to be very well made, so I don’t imagine that it cost my father a lot of money. Knowing my father, he might have won it in a poker game.

It’s enough to me that it came down from my father. Somehow or another I like the fact that I inherited something musical from him, when music is such an important part of my life. That’s enough for me. It doesn’t matter if this instrument is one of the finest ever made, or if it’s been in the hands of some of the world’s best players.

Music surpasses such ego-centric musings and takes on a life of its own. Music is a goal unto itself, and this one is special to me for no other reason than that my father’s hand touched it at some point.

It’s widely reported that the lap steel guitar was invented by a man named Joseph Kekuku in 1885. It’s said that, at the age of 7, Joseph was walking along a railroad track and picked up a metal bolt, slid the metal along the strings of his guitar and was intrigued by the sound. From there he taught himself to play using this method with the back of a knife blade. In so many ways, whether it’s true or not, that story reminds me of my father.

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Acquired:
Sep 1984
Body Wood:
Unknown
Fingerboard:
Laminate
Pickups: 1 Humbuckers
Electronics: Passive
1 volume
1 tone
Manufacturer:
Manufactured:
1950’s?
Serial #:
X84790
Price:
$0
Strings:
John Pearse
Hawaiian Lap
Steel Nickel

“The lap steel probably began in La’ie, Hawai’i in the late 1800s.”

– Wikipedia

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Norbert Sorger
7 years ago

Hi Wicasta,

I was very happy to see the “Silvertone” on your website, because it is exactly the same, that I bought in 1998 on a guitar show in California (450$)

In the 50s “Silvertone” was a Sears-Brand so it may not have very expensive in those times. But don’t believe, this is not a rock’n’roll instrument!

I play this little baby for years in a Blues-Rock-Band and if you send the signal through a distortet Amp it really rocks. I play it in an open “E”-Tuning and I prefer this instrument for slide-things more than a electric guitar with a bottleneck. Just listen to our recording of the Uriah Heep son “Real turned on”
With the best wishes from Nurenberg/Germany

Norbert