1960s Kay (Valco-made) Console Lap Steel & Duesenberg Multibender

This lovely old lap steel mod-project was a long time coming for its owner. We'd been batting vintage lap steel links back and forth for ages trying to find something that would fit a Duesenberg Multibender bridge unit with the fewest alterations while also finding a lap steel that was in "console" format with legs. Both of these needs are hard to find in the same place as most lap steels terminate their bridge right along the back edge of the instrument to get allow the design to be as small as possible.

While it came with a Kay-branded bridge cover, this is a Valco-made (National/Supro/etc.) instrument and had a Valco-style, Coodercaster pickup and mounting plate installed from the factory.

I made a new wiring harness and then fit a Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbucker in its place and then fit the Duesenberg behind that. I only needed to rout the body a little bit and make a couple of small black spacers to cover any alterations done. At a glance, it looks "factory."

I'll admit that because I use them so infrequently, I'm pretty terrible with palm pedals. I love the sound of them but they take a while to get used to. With two pedals, one needs to develop a "rocking palm" movement to engage one, the other, or both.

The current tuning is open E -- EBEG#BE low to high. The pedals are on the middle G# and B strings. The G# goes up to an A and the B goes up to a C#. With both engaged, the chord changes from a 1-chord to a 4-chord, which is pretty neat. You can noodle-around 1-4-5 progressions easily within the space of two "frets." Another alternate use of the pedals might be using the G# pedal to drop the tuning a half-step to G, thus turing the open E into an open E-minor chord. When I was noodling on an actual pedal steel, I loved having that option for recording purposes.

Repairs included: mod of body and install of a new humbucking pickup and the Duesenberg bridge, a new wiring harness, cleaning, and (later-on, after photos) a set of new relic'd tuners.

Condition notes: while it looks mostly original, the pickup, birdge, and harness are all replacements. It's otherwise in good order, though, and the original hard case is lovely to have.

Here's the pickup I removed from it...


Joseph Kille said…
That string-through pickup isn't for sale, is it?
Jake Wildwood said…
I think he wants to keep it for the moment, but it'll inevitably be for sale at some point, I imagine!