“TSA Certified” SlipStick Carry-on Electric Steel Guitar

Well…this steel guitar is not actually TSA Certified, but at a length of 20-3/4 inches it does fit diagonally in a carry-on suitcase. I had built the first incarnation of this steel guitar a few years back when I had to go on a business trip and wanted an instrument to take along. I was only taking a carry-on so it had to be small enough to fit inside—it turned out to be a perfect fit.

Follow this link to the official project page for additional photos and build notes:




Better Bolt Bridges – Left-handed Thread Rod

Better Bolt Bridges – Left-handed Thread Rod

I had been struggling with keeping my floating bolt bridges in place for proper intonation. I would set the bridge perfectly, as pictured below:


However, over time, the vibration of the strings would eventually turn the bolt, thus throwing my guitar out of tune, as pictured below:


If you look at the first picture, you can see that the orientation of the string is strained as it fights to stay in one of the thread slots. The force that the string places on the bolt naturally moves the bolt into a position where the string sits comfortably within a thread slot.


Even bolt bridges that are mounted into a slot suffer difficulties. However, since the bolt can not turn to orientate the threads with the strings, they are more prone to slipping into another thread slot, which leads to intonation and string spacing problems. Plus, a string sitting on top of threads allows less usable surface area than a string seated within a thread slot.

The solution showed up on my doorstep yesterday morning. I had been trying the figure this out when I recalled that, in my warehouse days, contractors would request left-handed thread rod for certain jobs. I looked around and found 3/8 left-handed steel rod at Fastenal for $26.87, plus shipping, which seems pricey, but I can cut about 36 2″ floating/fixed bridges for $1.08 each.

This is the direct link to the rod that I purchased:   https://www.fastenal.com/products/details/47304


Here is the result. As you can see in the image below, the floating bolt bridge is once again in tune; however, this time the strings will not cause the bolt to turn because the strings are now seated comfortably within the thread slots.


Tragedy averted—now I just have to find some left-handed brass rod.





Yard Dog – Aluminum Level Full-Scale Steel Guitar

Students Constructing 2×4 Steel Guitars

A couple months ago, I built lap steel guitars with six students at a local elementary school. One of my professors had invited me out to guest speak for her gifted and enrichment class; so I discussed how pickups work, showed them my baseball bat guitar, and then we built some rockin’ guitars.

I had drilled and finished seven boards, and then outfitted them with a 1/4 inch jack and my very own 9 volt adapter pickup. The rustic finish was the result of a mixture of vinegar and steel wool that had been corroding in a jar for the past couple of years. It brushed on fast and then turned out like this over night.


The students chose their lumber and then we got started. First, they screwed in four eyebolts and inserted two bolts that would serve as the bridge and the nut.

Then, the they screwed down the slotted angular piece that would later hold the eyebolt tuners.

Next, they screwed in the six screws that would hold three strings tight over the nut.

Each student added the three eyebolts and nuts that would tune the guitar.

Each guitar was personalized with artwork and some even earned a name.

The students added the strings and I tuned them up.

I had two amps set up and they all took turns playing their steel guitars with their
Cu63 copper slides.

That’s it—a few hours spent building guitars with a bunch of fun and creative students.