How Lap Steel Guitars Shaped Musical History

Lap steel guitars are not just instruments; they are a transformative force in the tapestry of music history. With its distinctive sliding notes and haunting vibratos, Lap steel guitars has shaped the soundscapes of various genres and influenced countless artists.

In this blog we delve into how the lap steel guitar left its indelible mark on musical history.

The Hawaiian Origins and Influence

The lap steel guitar’s journey began in the 19th century Hawaiian Islands. It was here that Joseph Kekuku is often credited with inventing the steel guitar technique by sliding a metal bar across the strings. The enchanting sound quickly became a key element of Hawaiian music and played a pivotal role in conveying the islands’ allure to the world.

The Migration to Mainland America

As Hawaiian music gained popularity in the mainland United States in the early 20th century, the lap steel guitar found a new audience. It featured prominently in the Hawaiian music craze of the 1910s and 1920s, which saw the instrument incorporated into vaudeville acts and early recordings, forever changing the American musical landscape.

The Birth of Country Music’s Signature Sound

The lap steel’s unique sound caught the attention of country musicians in the American South. The instrument became synonymous with the genre, thanks to its ability to mimic the wails and slides of the human voice. It became a staple in the toolkit of country and western swing bands, defining the sound of an era.

The Advent of Rock and Roll

The lap steel guitar didn’t stop there; it continued to evolve as rock and roll emerged. Artists like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and George Harrison of The Beatles integrated the lap steel into rock music, creating iconic and experimental sounds that expanded the genre’s horizons.

The Modern Resurgence

Today, the lap steel guitar enjoys a renaissance in various musical genres, from indie and pop to experimental music. Its timeless sound appeals to a new generation of musicians looking for organic, expressive tones that digital instruments cannot replicate. The lap steel remains a symbol of innovation, as contemporary artists continue to explore its vast potential.

Dashwood Guitars and the Artisanal Revival

In the hands of master craftsmen like Leo at Dashwood Guitars, the lap steel guitar is more than an instrument—it’s a piece of art. These luthiers combine age-old techniques with modern precision to create lap steels that honor the instrument’s legacy while pushing its capabilities forward.


The lap steel guitar has been a silent giant in the history of music. From the sandy beaches of Hawaii to the recording studios of the world’s most influential artists, it has shaped musical history with its unique voice.

The legacy of the lap steel guitar is a testament to the power of innovation and the enduring search for new forms of musical expression. It reminds us that music is not just about notes and rhythms; it’s about the soulful connections we forge with the instruments we play and the histories we continue to write with them.

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