Building a Lap Steel Guitar


Marking the fret positions

Using three small pieces of double-faced tape, fasten a rule parallel to one edge of the fretboard so that the zero-mark of the rule is about 1/8" (3mm) from one end. Cut the zero-mark into the fretboard surface with a razor knife and a square. Continue to mark all 24 fret positions on the fretboard surface. It is obviously impossible to work to an accuracy of one hundredth of a millimeter or one thousandth of an inch, so the figures will have to be rounded up (5-9) or down (1-4) to tenths of a millimeter or hundredths of an inch. Try to be as accurate as possible when laying out the fret distances. When you have marked the zero-fret and all other frets (plus an additional one for the fingerboard end), double-check the distances by reading each position off the rule and then comparing these values with the figures in the table. If the two differ by more than 0.3mm or 0.012", the mark has to be recut. If you use a ruler with 1/64"-marks, you may find the six "nearest fractions" columns in the table on the opposite page helpful. Simply add up the values of a line: the 14th fret, for example, is located at 12" plus 15/32" plus 1/128" (1/128" being halfway between two 1/64"-marks). The "Result" and "Error" columns show the small and insignificant deviations from the calculated values.

Fret distances table in PDF format

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