1960s Zenon (Japan-made) Lap Steel Electric Guitar Conversion

I originally worked on this Zenon guitar over a year ago. I eventually took it off sale and converted it into a lap steel as its huge, D-shaped neck and flat fretboard made it only a very ho-hum "normal" guitar. I've been playing it as a lap steel ever since. The slide parts of "Check Engine" were done on this guy. Last month I yanked its rickety old control switches and wiring out and made a simpler wiring harness for it with a volume control and 3-way switch. Immediately this thing came to life and its tone just sings.

As before, it sounds best with a bit of drive -- and with it, it nails a killer bluesy/wailing tone. Folks looking for clean, biting, country-style lap steel might want to steer clear -- but if you listen to the clean parts of the demo video, you can tell it does have a classic '50s-ish lap steel tone when played clean at the bridge.

Earlier modifications to the guitar included replacement (bad) tuners and a replacement control plate (the bottom part of the mint green, reverse-painted pickguard was damaged). My new modifications include a Kamiki-branded '20s extender nut, newer locking (sealed) tuners for the headstock, raising the pickups with some rosewood shims underneath, the new wiring harness and a tarot card (ace of clubs) to fill the old rocker-switch holes, and a straight-compensated bone saddle for the bridge. I also replaced one missing polepiece for the neck pickup.

Setup notes: strings are 5/16" off the fretboard and I have it tuned "Dobro-style" in open G: GBDGBD low to high. The 3 bottom strings are flatwound and the 3 trebles are plain.

Scale length: 25 1/8"
Nut string spacing: 1 5/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"
Body length: 17"
Lower bout width: 11 3/4"
Waist width: 8"
Upper bout width: 9 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 1 1/4"
Body wood: mahogany-like
Neck wood: mahogany-like
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: adjustable, bone saddle
Neck feel: huge D-shape, flat board

Condition notes: it has its share of nicks, dings, and scratches. Obviously, it's also been modified a bunch. The pickups are original, however, and sound killer. They're a bit DeArmond-ish with a "kerrangy" mid-high sound but have a sweeter and fuller bottom. I've removed the strap buttons.