Maintaining Your Lap Steel Guitar: Tips for Longevity and Optimal Sound

The lap steel guitar, with its rich tones and unique playing style, is a cherished instrument among musicians. To ensure that your lap steel guitar continues to produce the beautiful sounds it was designed to, proper maintenance is essential.

Here are some tips for preserving the longevity of your lap steel guitar and ensuring its optimal sound.

Regular Cleaning

Wipe Down After Use
Always wipe down your lap steel guitar with a soft, dry cloth or brush between the strings after playing to remove fingerprints, dust, and perspiration, which can corrode the finish and strings over time.

Dashwood lap steels are finished with a resin oil finish for a natural silky feel and finish and should be treated carefully. Do not use water or chemical cleaners and make this clear in the future to any guitar shop or technician should the instrument require any work.

String Care

  1. Change Strings Regularly: Strings can lose their tonal quality and can even corrode over time, affecting the sound and playability. Change them when you notice a decline in tonal quality or tuning issues during playing.
  2. Cleaning the Strings: Wipe your strings with a string cleaner or a slightly damp cloth to remove dirt and oils that can degrade them.

Humidity and Temperature Control

  1. Avoid Extreme Conditions: Keep your lap steel guitar in an environment with stable humidity and temperature. Extreme changes can warp the wood and damage the instrument. Treat the instrument as if were human. It will become annoyed is too cold or too hot.
  2. Use a Humidifier: If you live in a dry climate, consider using a guitar humidifier to prevent the wood from shrinking or cracking.

Hardware Maintenance

Tighten Loose Parts: Periodically check for loose screws, knobs, or other hardware and tighten them carefully. Overall the hardware is zero maintenance and should not be touched unless a problem arises.

Electronics Care

Overall the electronics are zero maintenance and should not be touched unless a problem arises.

Fretboard Maintenance

Clean the Fretboard: When changing strings, take the opportunity to clean the fretboard with a soft cloth. It’s better to rub of marks slowly rather than use any cleaning products.

Storage and Transportation

  1. Use a Case: Always store your lap steel guitar in the padded case your guitar is shipped in to protect it from dust and accidental damage.
  2. Avoid Leaving in a Car: Never leave your lap steel guitar in a car, as the temperature can quickly reach levels that can damage the instrument.

Regular Inspections

Professional Setup: A luthier or skilled guitar technician can check to ensure that everything is in optimal working order every so often. I have played lap steels from the 1930s which still haven’t been touched and still work perfectly. They are a reliable instrument without the problem of fret wear and if treated well should be a faithful companion.

Preventive Care

  1. Handle with Care: Treat your lap steel guitar with the respect it deserves. It’s a major investment so care for it like a loved one! Avoid any impacts or rough handling that could cause damage. If not playing unplug and store safely out of harms way. A clumsy foot, hoover or animal could cause a huge upset.
  2. Minimise Direct Sunlight: Any prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can fade the finish and potentially warp the wood. Store your lap steel guitar away from direct sunlight when not in use.
  3. Radiators & Bathrooms: If you are wall hanging your lap steel avoid installing above radiators or close to sunny windows. Bath or shower rooms can cause a lot of humidly and a lap steel should be stored away from these doorways.
  4. Use a stand: If you want to store your lap steel on a stand at home or while gigging never under estimate spending the extra on a strong sturdy stand, preferably with a head locking mechanism and well placed foam pads on the legs.

Final Thoughts

The lap steel guitar is an investment in your musical journey and, with proper care, your Dashwood Guitar can last for generations. Remember that regular maintenance not only keeps your instrument looking great but also ensures that it sounds its best every time you play. The time old saying is treat your instrument as you want to be treated.

By following these tips, you can help your lap steel guitar maintain its timeless sound and character, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – the music.

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