Iconic Lap Steel Guitar Models and Their Legacy

The lap steel guitar has a storied history, marked by several iconic lap steel guitar models that have left a lasting legacy on the music world. From early acoustic versions to modern electric iterations, these instruments have shaped genres, influenced artists, and captivated audiences with their unique sounds.

This article explores some of the most iconic lap steel guitar models and the legacies they have created.

The Rickenbacker Fry Pan

As the first electric lap steel guitar, the Rickenbacker Fry Pan is a true pioneer. Patented in 1937, its innovative “frying pan” shape and aluminum construction set the stage for the future of electric lap steel guitars. The Fry Pan’s clear, bell-like tone made it a favorite among Hawaiian and country musicians and laid the groundwork for the electric guitar revolution that would follow.

The Gibson EH-150

Gibson’s EH-150, released in the late 1930s, quickly became one of the most popular lap steels of its time. With its striking Art Deco design and warm, rich tone, the EH-150 found favor among blues and rock musicians. Its influence can be heard in the music of pioneers like Alvino Rey and Speedy West, who pushed the boundaries of what the lap steel could do.

The Fender Stringmaster

The Fender Stringmaster, introduced in the 1950s, was a multi-neck lap steel that offered players a range of tuning options and tonalities. Its versatility made it a staple in the worlds of country and western swing. The Stringmaster solidified Fender’s reputation for quality and innovation, influencing countless players and becoming a sought-after collector’s item.

The Sho-Bud Maverick

In the realm of pedal steel guitars, the Sho-Bud Maverick stands out as an iconic model. Founded by Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons, Sho-Bud instruments became synonymous with quality. The Maverick, with its alluring sound and intricate pedal system, became a favourite among country players, contributing to the sophisticated sound of modern country music.

The Asher Electro Hawaiian Junior

Moving into the modern era, the Asher Electro Hawaiian Junior lap steel reflects the continued evolution of the instrument. With its sleek design and versatile electronics, it bridges the gap between the lap steel’s roots and the demands of contemporary music. Instruments like the Asher model demonstrate the lap steel’s ongoing relevance and adaptability.

Dashwood Guitars’ Custom Models

Today, Dashwood Guitars carries on the tradition of lap steel innovation by crafting custom instruments that cater to the modern musician’s needs. With a focus on quality materials and artisanal craftsmanship, Dashwood Guitars creates lap steels that honour the past while forging new sonic possibilities.


Each iconic lap steel guitar model carries with it stories of musical revolutions and the artists who championed them. The Rickenbacker Fry Pan altered the landscape of stringed instruments forever; the Gibson EH-150 brought the lap steel to blues and rock; the Fender Stringmaster showcased the adaptability of the instrument; and the Sho-Bud Maverick revolutionized the sound of country music.

Modern models like the Asher Electro Hawaiian Junior and the custom creations from Dashwood Guitars continue to push the boundaries of the lap steel guitar, ensuring its place in the future of music.

The lap steel guitar’s enduring appeal lies in its expressive quality, its ability to convey the nuances of human emotion through its strings. The legacy of these iconic models is not just in the instruments themselves, but in the music they’ve created and the inspiration they continue to provide for musicians around the world.

As we look back on the history of the lap steel guitar, we also look forward to the new chapters that will be written with these legendary instruments.

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