Selmer lap steel restoration – part 1

This was definitely going to be a restoration project – all that was left of the original guitar was the body and machine heads. Everything else was long gone, and the guitar was probably over 60 years old so the chances of sourcing replacement parts lay somewhere between slim and none. But it wasn’t all bad…

Fortunately, the previous owner had done a considerable amount of research on the guitar which he kindly included along with a rough sketch outline of the missing scratchplate and several pieces of brass to be used to create replacement parts.

The original scratchplate was made of plated stamped steel, with an integral tailpiece to anchor the strings. As this was going to be difficult  if not impossible to replicate I decided to create a new scratchplate out of sheet brass and use a separate tailpiece.

Also, as there was no direct replacement available for the pickup, I decided to purchase a Baytone Charlie Christian style hand-wound pickup from JAG guitars – the Ace Series AC003, which is especially well suited to lap steel guitars.

The first task was to create an accurate template for the main plate. By measuring the distance between mounting screw holes on the body, I was able to manipulate a photograph to be close to the size of the original plate and then from this, along with measurements taken from the actual guitar body, create an extremely accurate CAD (computer aided drafting) working drawing. I also created the outline of the cavity below the plate to make sure there would be room inside the guitar for everything attached to the main plate. This was especially important as the Baytone pickup is significantly larger than the original pickup would have been.

The main scratchplate template – version 1


Read part two – the restoration begins…