The Chinese built SX LG1 lap steel (via Rondo Music) is a cheapo guitar. It’s basically a nicely shaped hunk of green mahogany with a fretboard, and crap tuners, pick-up, electronics, and capped off by a wrap-around bridge. Throw on the strings that come with the guitar, and you have a unit that really isn’t playable out of its case. Oh, the nice case comes with the guitar. This has inspired a wag on the Steel Guitar Forum to describe the Rondo SX LG1 package as, “a case with a guitar included.”
The LG1 has a one piece bridge cover also configured to encompass the knobs. So, to change strings you have to pull the knobs off as well as unscrew the cover.
But, for $120 you do get that slab of wood and fretboard. The SX LG1 begs to be retrofitted with tuners, a new bridge, and pick-up/electronics. I figured I would do well to manage the bridge and pick-up. The last time I worked on a guitar was probably 30 years ago. I remember it well, because I badly mangled the job of fixing the intonation on the bridge of a National Reso.
This job went fairly well. I made a bridge out of aluminum angle. I bought the wrong size but beveled the working edge of the 2 3/4″ piece to be thin enough. I bought string-through ferrules and an EMG $20 blade pick-up from Stew-mac. I could have waited to take advantage of an expert’s drill press, but growing impatient, I drilled the string-through holes myself. I didn’t ruin anything.
Then I fashioned a cover for the knobs and electronics out of a $1 piece of craft composite board. Miraculously, had some Mahogany colored stain stored away.
Soldering the pick-up was the biggest challenge, mostly due to the well known “three hands” conundrum of soldering, and my rusty soldering chops. I should have resoldered all the electronics because the Chinese job was wretched. I did not; the procedure was aggravating enough as it was.
The basic goals were obtained. The modified SX intones fine, the pick-up balance is good and will improve when I slap on the new set of C6 Jagwires, and my testing for breakage hasn’t broken any of the very light electric guitar strings on the guitar. The SX sounds good too, although you can’t tell from the ambient-style tracks I’m recording now. And, needless to say, you couldn’t tell otherwise since I don’t really know how to play lap steel!