Pete Grant Lark Camp Acoustic Lapsteel Workshop

Lark Camp August 1 – 8, 2008, Mendocino, California

Make your guitar sing in a way it never could before. Set it up like a dobro by using a device to raise the strings off the neck; tune it to open tuning; put a steel ‘bar’ in your hand, and you're ready to explore the wide array of sounds that—before this—your instrument just wasn’t going to make for you. Sweetly slide into high notes and make your low notes growl.

You can use your normal guitar or a ‘beater’ guitar; you just add a ‘nut riser’ to it. Steel strings recommended. Or just bring your acoustic lap steel guitar or dobro,

Open D tuning will be used. If your strings are in good shape, a standard guitar set will do and you won't need to restring. Two strings of standard tuning will remain the same and the others will be tuned down to reach the notes: E A D G B D becomes D A D F# A D. You’ll find how D tuning is uniquely suited for Irish tunes, blues, country music, and fiddle tunes, I’ll demonstrate all of those, and we’ll explore many or all of them in our class.

You will need either:
A standard guitar along with:

Slide Guitar Extension Nut (to raise the strings above the fretboard). Some will be available for purchase at $5 each.

Designed to fit over a standard 6-string string nut, this extender raises the strings to allow playing with a steel bar, Dobro-style [lap style]. There's no need to modify the instrument or install a new nut; simply remove it for standard playing. The extension nut is made of nickel-plated steel, and is notched for 1-23/32" (43.66mm) string spread.

Stewart McDonald sells them


An already set up lap guitar: acoustic Hawaiian, resophonic (Dobro, National, etc.)

and a Tone Bar

Any solid bar that is fairly comfortable to your hand will do. Rick Shubb has generously offered to provide factory second SP-2 bars to students taking the class. Every factory second SP-2 bar I’ve seen has been fully functional. I heartily recommend the SP-2 bar. I helped Rick design this bar, and I’m convinced it’s the best bar for a student to start with.

SP 2 Bar
If you prefer a bullet bar, the absolute best is the John Pearse Thermo-Cryonic Tone Bar.

We will cover:

Basic right hand technique
Left hand technique: using the bar

You will discover:

How the skills you have on another stringed instrument transfer well to playing open D with a steel bar.

We will explore:

Slow, pretty tunes, like Turlough O'Carolan's Eleanor Plunkett
Cool, bluesy sounds, just ’cause we can
Faster tunes, possibly a jig, a hornpipe, or a reel—or all three

Although nut risers and bars will be made available at the class, you’re encouraged to set up your instrument beforehand. But, if you feel less than comfortable doing so, you'll get good help at the class. Fingerpicks are encouraged but not required. Automatic chromatic digital tuners are a big plus.

Questions? Email me: Please put Lark or Dobro or Lap Steel in the subject of your email. I get over a hundred spams a day and sometimes the filet migon gets put down the In-sink-er-ator along with the spam.

Did you know that a ‘steel guitar’ gets its name from the ‘steel’ bar it is played with?

Go to Pete Grant Music Page

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