How Much is a Lap Steel Guitar?

If you’re not familiar with steel guitars, you’ll want to know how much you’re going to need to spend on a good one. You’ll also want to see what options are available.

You’re probably also going to need to know how and where to find a quality instrument. Ideally, you’re going to want to pick up a steel guitar that delivers the sound you want or need without paying an amount that could drain your wallet.

We’re here to help you understand how to figure out the best choice for a lap steel guitar and keep as much cash in your bank account as possible.

Why You Need a Lap Steel Guitar

First things first, why do you want a lap steel guitar? Do you want a new sound for a piece you’re currently working on? Is it just for you to play with in your spare time? Does it need to be vintage or do you want something brand new?

If you’re a beginner, you may not want to spend a ton of money to learn how to play an instrument that you’re not sure you’ll stick with.

At the same time, you don’t want to feel like you’re throwing your money away, so you’ll need to see what kind of lap steel guitars are out on the market.

On the other hand, if you’re an intermediate player, you may be deciding on whether or not to go with a lap steel or a pedal steel guitar.

Chances are that if you’re experienced, you’ll already have what you want to purchase in mind.

Lap steel guitars lay across your lap as you play.

Some have legs that can be removed, and others have electric outputs that you can connect to an amplifier.

Pedal steel guitars have pedals that you can use to change keys and tonality with just a step. Other lap steel guitars can have pedals added to increase versatility.

Either way, you will want to read reviews and do some research to find reputable steel guitars. You’ll find several that are worthwhile, but you will need to be realistic about your expectations.

Selecting the right lap steel guitar is very much a case of “you get what you pay for,” so don’t expect an instrument that costs $100 to perform as well as one with a $1300 price tag.

Honestly, your best bet for purchasing a lap steel guitar that has a decent sound and quality is probably going to have a retail price of around $200, more or less.

left handed lap steel guitar brown

Where to Find Lap Steel Guitars

You will see that plenty of them cost a pretty penny, so you’ll need to know how to identify a good deal on a quality instrument or an instrument that isn’t worth its weight.

Here are a couple of things to look for once you’ve decided you need a lap steel guitar.

  • Heavy strings are a good thing. If you get a lap steel guitar with thin strings, it is going to produce an equally thin sound. A lap steel with thicker strings is going to provide a more vibrant tone.
  • Volume pedals are a good thing. Your best choices will have a volume pedal that allows you to add sustain to your notes as you play.
The good news is that you can find older, vintage models for a relatively inexpensive price, although inexpensive is in the eye of the beholder.

Check out your local Craigslist or eBay for listings, and you’re likely to find a range of prices as low as $200 and upwards of over $1000 or more.

You may also consider looking in pawn shops and garage sales to find one for a good deal.

On a vintage instrument, you’ll want to go through a quick checklist to make sure your instrument is in good working order.

  • Double check the volume controls for signal strength. Too much static from the knob means that it probably needs repair.
  • Check for even string spacing by looking at the bridge. You don’t want the bridge to have deep grooves across the bridge because that means the strings aren’t staying in place.
  • check
    Verify where the pickup is located. Too far from the strings, and your volume needs to be louder. Too close to the strings, and you’re probably going to hit them with the bar when you press down. If you can’t adjust the pickup at all, skip the instrument altogether.
  • check
    Check the nuts and spacing. A worn nut can pose a significant problem if you’re not careful. If the grooves in the nuts aren’t too deep, you might be able to file them down to even out the string depth. If the grooves are too deep to repair, you’re better off bypassing the guitar.

If budget restraints are high, you’ll want to look for an inexpensive option. Should that be the case, then you’ll want to check out Amazon.

You’ll find them for as low as around $100. They’re not exactly top quality, but you’ll find something to try out that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

You can also purchase steel guitars directly from a variety of manufacturers like Asher, Fuzzy Steel, Gold Tone, Morell, and West Cost Steel Guitars.

If you are buying directly from a manufacturer, be sure to check out the warranty to make sure you know what’s covered in case something were to happen to your instrument.

scale Hawaiian lap steel guitar

Lap Steel Guitars for Every Budget

As an example, the SX LAP 3 Black Lap Steel Guitar is available on Amazon for just over $100 including shipping.

You’ll find several positive reviews just like this one from Roald Wilson that says, “For an inexpensive instrument, the quality is great! Sounds wonderful, and holds tune really well…I love practicing it!”

Another relatively inexpensive option is the Rogue RLS-1 Lap Steel Guitar, also available on Amazon, runs about $150.

Reviews on this one are also mostly positive, although you’ll see recommendations to replace strings as soon as possible.

“For a hundred bucks you get a beautiful lap steel guitar, removable legs and a really nice gig bag. The guitar sounds great once you replace the cheap poorly installed strings.

I still give it five stars since the guitar and gig bag are such a steel (sic). Strings aren’t too costly. I’ve bought two so far and recommended it to 3 others,” according to one Amazon customer.

As you keep searching for other models, you’ll find the price tags start to creep up. The Weissenborn Style Hawaiian Steel Guitar from Gold Tone is considerably more expensive and ranges between $575 and $800 on Amazon.

It does, however, have several positive reviews like this one from Karen that states, “This guitar is beautiful and sounds amazing. The tones are so sweet and pure, it’s fun to play.

The craftsmanship on this guitar is outstanding, not a flaw of any kind. I am thrilled at the price on this.”

If you wanted to go for quality at a reasonable price, then you need to look at Morrel lap steel guitars.

They will run you around $150 with free shipping inside the US. Something worthwhile to note about these is the way they are also available for left-handed players.

In searching for different models of lap steel guitars, you’ll find that there is something to meet every need as well as every budget.

lap steel guitar black  deep basswood

A Few Final Words

If you decide to buy a used lap steel guitar, remember to ask a few questions. Check to see if the instrument has been altered at all as well as verifying that it has been or had been regularly maintained.

When you purchase directly from companies or authorized resellers, make sure you know what the return policy is as well as what kind of warranty is available for the instruments they carry.

Also, remember that when it comes to buying a lap steel guitar, you’re going to get what you pay for, so keep your expectations in line with the price.

As always, do your research and get to know what you’re getting yourself into by purchasing a lap steel guitar. If you make an educated decision, you won’t be disappointed.

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