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Welcome to Bluestem Strings!
Bluestem Strings is the web's most extensive source of information related to electric lap steel guitar construction and you'll find lots of free information related to lap steel design and construction including free detailed plans. You'll also find a few of my instruments displayed here as representative examples of my work.
Although the web is a great way of passing along what I've learned, it isn't possible to present it all on a few web pages so I provide ordering information if you wish to purchase one of the detailed lap steel construction guides which feature a full size printed plan, detailed notes, and several hundred sequential photos detailing the entire construction process of my lap steels. For a small fee you get to watch over my shoulder as I go through the entire building process of a Bluestem lap steel.
I'm about more than that, though...
I have been an avid experimenter/builder of musical instruments for over 30 years, and it is my hope that this site will provide those who desire to construct a professional grade lap steel, open back 5 string banjo, or mandolin some of the inspiration to do so.
You'll also find the same type of detailed information here for other instruments including open back 5 string banjos, the mandolin family, electric violin, and upright bass. There are complete building guides available for several other instruments here as well. I'll also be adding new material in the future, so check back once in a while.
Please note the enhanced menu system at the top of each page. The menu system is designed to streamline the site information to the particular flavor of instrument that you are interested in. All of the material on the site can be accessed by selecting the other fields of interest from the top line menu choices.
I have maintained a website for several years with free plans and construction guides for various musical instruments (see link at the bottom of this page); but that site is advertisement-supported and it has reached to cap on the amount of free space provided. That site continues to offer a valuable source of information, and this site builds on the original site concept by providing information relating to musical instrument construction without the annoying banner ads. This site sees an average of 250 megabytes of daily use, and the sale of lap steel, banjo, and mandolin CD construction guides serve as a way of covering the expenses of providing advertisement free information for prospective builders. Hopefully the ad-free nature of this site will be appreciated.
Enjoy your pursuit, and good luck in your instrument construction endeavors!
If you desire to contact me about Bluestem Strings products:
Due to scoundrelous spammers actively mining sites for e-mail addresses, I'm forced to include the following text version of my e-mail address meant to confuse the automated robo-search of websites for e-mail addresses. Please e-mail me at:
rcordle (substitute the at symbol here) fastmail (substitute the dot here) fm
Please include "Bluestem Info Request" in the subject line, Thanks!
Please visit my other website designed to provide information on musical instrument construction. There are free plans as well as construction tips and techniques available at:
Rudy's Sketchbook of Musical Instrument Plans, Ideas, and Inspiration