The Top 5 Lap Steel Guitars For Beginners Reviewed

beginner lap steel guitar reviews

Lap steel guitars are fantastic instruments to learn, and offer you the ability to play a wide variety of genres, as well as providing an extra layer of sound to any music.

Their unique sound makes them an excellent addition to any musician’s repertoire, and they can be used to play country, rock, gospel, blues and a whole range of other genres of music.

As the name suggests, they’re played by placing the guitar on your lap with the strings facing upwards and, although similar in appearance, they are not to be confused with pedal steel guitars, which are larger and placed on legs.

They are also trickier to master than a conventional guitar, and come in many variations that can make finding one to practice and learn on a real task in itself!

So, to take the hard work out of finding the best lap steel guitar to learn on, we’ve listed five of our favorites below, along with a handy buying guide with what to look out for when you’re making your purchase.

Keep reading as we go on our journey through the best lap steel guitars for beginners!

Preview
Top Choice
Rogue RLS-1 Lap Steel Guitar with Stand and Gig Bag Metallic Blue
SX Lap 2 Ash NA Electric Lap Steel Guitar w/Stand & Bag
Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel Guitar - Black Sparkle
Vorson SL-100E Professional Straight Lap Steel Pack, Natural
Budget Option
Lap Steel Guitar, 6 Steel String, Metallic Red Polish Body, w/a cable
Product
Rogue RLS1 Lap Steel Guitar
SX Lap 2 Ash
Gretsch Guitars Electromatic Lap Steel Guitar
Vorson SL100-E Lap Steel Pack
Harmonia Lap Steel Guitar
Reviews
Price
$139.99
Price not available
$399.99
Price not available
$109.99
Top Choice
Preview
Rogue RLS-1 Lap Steel Guitar with Stand and Gig Bag Metallic Blue
Product
Rogue RLS1 Lap Steel Guitar
Reviews
Price
$139.99
More Information
Preview
SX Lap 2 Ash NA Electric Lap Steel Guitar w/Stand & Bag
Product
SX Lap 2 Ash
Reviews
Price
Price not available
More Information
Preview
Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel Guitar - Black Sparkle
Product
Gretsch Guitars Electromatic Lap Steel Guitar
Reviews
Price
$399.99
More Information
Preview
Vorson SL-100E Professional Straight Lap Steel Pack, Natural
Product
Vorson SL100-E Lap Steel Pack
Reviews
Price
Price not available
More Information
Budget Option
Preview
Lap Steel Guitar, 6 Steel String, Metallic Red Polish Body, w/a cable
Product
Harmonia Lap Steel Guitar
Reviews
Price
$109.99
More Information

Best Lap Steel Guitars For Beginners

1. Rogue RLS1 Lap Steel Guitar

Rogue RLS1 Lap Steel Guitar

Perfect for producing country, Hawaiin and blues tones, the RLS1 lap steel guitar from Rogue is the ideal choice for anybody that is interested in taking up this hobby.

Constructed with a hardwood body and neck, this guitar has enough frets to span three octaves, and the position markers will help make sure you’re hitting the right notes as you practice and learn.

The single coil angled pickup allows you to connect to an amp or a mixer and play your lap steel guitar through a speaker, and the volume and tone controls give you ultimate control over the level of sound that your guitar produces.

An incorporated stainless steel pickguard will also help to protect the finish when you’re playing your guitar, whilst the chrome hardware will ensure a durable, corrosion proof finish that won’t tarnish.

Superbly priced for a beginner’s lap steel guitar, this model also comes complete with three screw-in, height adjustable legs to allow easier play, and a handy carry case so you can transport it and store it away when not in use.

Pros

  • Can be used for playing country, Hawaiin and blues tones.
  • Has a hardwood body and neck, and enough frets to span three octaves.
  • The fretboard has position markers that will help make sure you’re fingers are in the right position.
  • A single coil angled pickup allows you to connect to an amp or mixer.
  • Includes height adjustable legs and a carry case.

Cons

  • Some customers have noted that the angle of the single coil pickup is in a strange position, however this is easily fixed by using an angled plug.
Sale
Rogue RLS-1 Lap Steel Guitar with Stand and Gig Bag Metallic Blue
107 Reviews
Rogue RLS-1 Lap Steel Guitar with Stand and Gig Bag Metallic Blue
  • Produces classic country, Hawaiian, and blues tones Hardwood body Hardwood neck with position markers Single-coil pickup Volume and tone controls Chrome hardware Geared Tuners Single slant pickup Carry bag Includes 3 screw-in height-adjustable legs Stainless steel pickguard Includes legs
  • Slide into some classic country, Hawaiian, and blues tones with the affordable Rogue RLS1 Lap Steel Guitar
  • It features a hardwood body and neck with position markers, a single-coil pickup, volume and tone controls, chrome hardware, and a stainless steel pickguard
  • Includes gig bag and legs
  • Be sure to pick up a slide - we've got lots of cool models available! Slide into some classic country, Hawaiian, and blues tones with the affordable Rogue RLS1 Lap Steel Guitar

2. SX Lap 2 Ash

SX Lap 2 Ash

If you’re looking for a lap steel guitar that will help you play a variety of music styles including country, rock, bluegrass and western swing, then the Lap 2 Ash from SX could be exactly what you’ve been searching for.

The body of this guitar is constructed from American swamp wood ash, and the fretboard is made from maple hardwood. This mix of materials offers a durable guitar that delivers excellent sound quality, and 36 full sized frets gives you the opportunity to learn every note.

The tuners and knobs are made of super durable diecast chrome, and the standard P90 pickup allows you to connect to an amp and play through a speaker, all the while adjusting the volume and tone of your music.

This lap steel guitar also includes a detachable lap steel stand to allow you greater flexibility over playing, and a padded carry case so you can easily transport and store your guitar safely. It also has a fully adjustable bridge, that allows you to adjust overall string height and individual string intonation, so you can get the perfect sound for your style.

Pros

  • Constructed using a mix of American swap wood ash and maple hardwood for a strong, durable build.
  • Has 36 full sized frets that allow you practice and play all of the notes.
  • Tuners and knobs are made of diecast chrome, and the P90 pickup allows you to connect to an amp or mixer.
  • Also has an adjustable bridge that allows you to adjust string height and intonation for a variety of music styles.
  • Comes complete with with a lap steel stand and a padded carry case.

Cons

  • Some previous purchasers notice a slight static sound when plugged into an amp.
SX Lap 2 Ash NA Electric Lap Steel Guitar w/Stand & Bag
51 Reviews
SX Lap 2 Ash NA Electric Lap Steel Guitar w/Stand & Bag
  • Full Size, 36 Frets, Lap Steel Guitar
  • Free Detachable Lap Steel Stand & Carry Bag Included
  • American Swamp Ash Body with Maple Fretboard
  • Diecast Chrome Tuners, Volume and Tone Controls
  • Standard P90 Pickup

3. Ibanez AW540PN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Ibanez AW540PN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Producing the unmistakable rich tones of an electric Hawaiin guitar, this electromatic lap steel guitar from Gretsch guitars is a fantastic choice for anybody keen on learning how to play this instrument.

The sleek and smooth design features a solid mahogany slab body, and is finished with a sparkling black gloss urethane that gives it a stunning appearance and really makes it stand out from the crowd.

A durable, corrosion resistant chrome covered single coil pickup allows you to plug into an amp or mixer, and the adjustable volume and tone dials give you total control over the sound.

Variously shaped fingerboard placements on the fretboard help to act as a guide as you practice and learn, and the chrome plated strings ensure durability whilst you play. It also comes with a carry case for easy transportation and storage when not in use.

Pros

  • Constructed from a solid mahogany slab with a black, sparkling gloss urethane finish.
  • The chrome covered single coil pickup allows you to connect to an amp and play through a speaker.
  • Adjustable volume and tone dials give you control over the sound.
  • Differently shaped fingerboard placements act as a guide as you practice.
  • Comes complete with a carry case for easy transportation and storage.

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a lap steel stand or removable legs, so can only be played by placing on your lap.
Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel Guitar - Black Sparkle
19 Reviews
Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel Guitar - Black Sparkle
  • Chrome single coil pickup Volume and tone controls Chrome hardware Art deco control plate

4. Vorson SL100-E Lap Steel Pack

Vorson SL100-E Lap Steel Pack

Featuring a straight line design that is preferred by many professionals, the SL100-E lap steel guitar is a model that will help you make the transition from beginner to intermediate with ease.

Two FP-90 pickups, one positioned on the upper and one on the bridge, allow you to connect your guitar to an amp and play through a speaker, both of which are controlled by a three-way toggle switch for fast live switching.

It’s active electronics deliver a clear, quality sound, and there is also an integrated on/off output jack that allows you to switch and preserve battery life when your guitar is unplugged.

The all-natural mahogany body and SRD (simulated rosewood composite) fretboard offer excellent durability and performance, whilst the dense mahogany neck provides superior tone to the sound. Complete with a deluxe, padded gig bag and an F-006 tone bar, this lap steel guitar has everything you need to master this instrument.

Pros

  • Has a straight line design that is favored by professional lap steel guitar players.
  • Includes two FP-90 pickups that allow you to connect to an amp and play through a speaker.
  • The active electronics deliver a clear, quality sound and the integrated on/off switch allows you to preserve battery life when unplugged.
  • Constructed using all-natural mahogany and simulated rosewood composite for durability.
  • Comes complete with a padded gig bag and an F-006 tone bar.

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with removable legs or a lap steel stand so can only be played by placing on your lap.
Vorson SL-100E Professional Straight Lap Steel Pack, Natural
12 Reviews
Vorson SL-100E Professional Straight Lap Steel Pack, Natural
  • Style: lap steel
  • Scale length: 22.5 inches
  • Neck & body: mahogany
  • Pickups: two FP-90
  • Pickup switching: three-way toggle

5. Harmonia Lap Steel Guitar

Harmonia Lap Steel Guitar

This lap steel guitar from Harmonia features a hardwood body finished in stunning, red metallic that will allow you practice and learn in style!

The plastic fingerboard contains 28 brass frets and embossed position markers, that help you find the correct position for your fingers as you go through the notes, and a volume dial and tone dial allow you to adjust the quality of the sound as you play.

A single coil pickup and ¼” output jack provide you with the opportunity to connect an amp or mixer and play through a speaker, and a chromed bridge ensures durability whilst you play.

Customers that previously purchased this guitar were very impressed with the price for a beginner’s lap steel guitar, and found that it had amazing sound quality and that it was easy to play.

Pros

  • Super stylish red metallic, hardwood body.
  • Plastic fingerboard with 28 frets allows you master basic notes.
  • Embossed position markers help you ensure your finger placement is correct.
  • Has a single coil pickup and ¼” output jack so you can connect a mixer or amp.
  • A chromed bridge ensures durability whilst you play.

Cons

  • Doesn’t include any other accessories such as a carry case or lap steel stand.
Lap Steel Guitar, 6 Steel String, Metallic Red Polish Body, w/a cable
16 Reviews
Lap Steel Guitar, 6 Steel String, Metallic Red Polish Body, w/a cable
  • lap steel guitar ,6 steel string, metallic red polish
  • plastic fingerboard, plastic pearl-white electric board, chromed bridge
  • the overall length is 29 1/2" ,the nut width is 2", the scale length is 21"
  • the largest width for lower end is 6 1/2" & the top width is 2 5/8"

Best Lap Steel Guitars For Beginners: A Buyer’s Guide

As a beginner, it’s important that you find a suitable lap steel guitar that will help you learn how to play and successfully move your skills to a more intermediate level.

Generally speaking, lap steel guitars are a fairly basic, standard design that, as long as it plays well and produces a good quality of sound, so it’s easy to think that there isn’t really too much to bear in mind before buying one.

However, this isn’t strictly true. To begin with, they can be quite difficult instruments to learn to play, and even the tuning of a lap steel guitar can be a complicated thing to get the hang of. Factor into the mix that some have six strings and some have eight strings, and it can all become a bit confusing.

To help you make the correct decision, we’ve listed some key points below that you should give some thought to before making your purchase, and that will ensure you get the perfect lap steel guitar for your needs.

Material

Although it may not seem like a big thing to consider, the material that your lap steel guitar is a really important factor to bear in mind as it will determine how durable your guitar is.

The most commonly used material you’ll come across when looking for a lap steel guitar is hardwood, with maple, rosewood composite and mahogany being the go-to choices. Hardwood guitars are a great choice of material, as they are strong and durable, yet lightweight enough to easily transport.

You may also find that some lap steel guitars for beginners are constructed from plastic. This is also a good choice of material as far as lightweightedness goes, however plastic is more prone to cracking or splitting if accidentally dropped.

Style

The chances are that you also want a lap steel guitar that’s going to look pretty cool whilst you play it! With that in mind, it’s worth seeing what sort of style of guitar you can find.

Some are designed to look like the classic, acoustic guitars that are timeless in appearance. Others are designed with a bit more of an vibrant, edgy look and come in bright colors and glittery finishes.

Essentially, the style that you choose will come down to personal preference, but it’s always worth thinking about how the guitar looks as well as how well it performs.

Pickup Coils

Like all musical instruments, lap steel guitars have certain named parts that, if you don’t know what they are, can leave you scratching your head in confusion. One of these parts is the pickup coil.

To put this into more simple terms, a pickup coil is the part of the guitar that converts the vibration of the strings and turns it into an electrical sound, which then allows it to be passed through an amp or mixer and delivered through a speaker.

A lap steel guitar that uses a single pickup coil is a great choice for a beginner as it will deliver greater sound clarity as you play, meaning that you’ll be able to note any mistakes and fine tune your skills with greater ease.

Volume & Tone Control

Most lap steel guitars come with built in volume control dials, which allows you to adjust and improve the sound level as you play. This is a particularly good feature if you’re intending to play your guitar through an amp, as sound can often become distorted or overly loud during transmission.

Tone controls are also a feature that you might find on some guitars, and these are also a great addition to look out for as they will help to remove higher frequencies in sound when you’re playing through an amp, eradicating that high pitched ‘squeak’ that occasionally emits through the speakers.

Position Markers

When you’re learning how to play a lap steel guitar it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the notes correct, and a big part of this is making sure that your fingers are in the correct position over the strings.

Look for a guitar that features position markers on the fretboard. These are ideal for beginners and, although they come in a variety of different patterns and numbers, they all have the same purpose which is to help guide your fingers to the correct position in order to play the right notes.

Accessories

It’s always worth seeing what else you can get for your money when you’re looking for a lap steel guitar as well, and some brands come with extra accessories that provide you with even more for your budget.
Most guitars will come with a carry case as standard, which is not only fantastic for transporting your guitar around from gig to gig or between lessons, but also provides you with somewhere safe to store it when it’s not in use. If you can find one that comes with a padded carry case, this is even better as it will provide an extra level of protection for your guitar.

Another accessory that some lap steel guitars come with is a lap steel stand, or removable legs. Whilst it’s true that lap steel guitars are meant to be played by being placed on your lap, allowing something else to take the weight of it can be beneficial whilst you learn, and will let you master the chords and notes without worrying about it sliding off your lap.

Some lap steel guitars also include a tone bar, which will help you get that unique sound often heard in Hawaiian or country music.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a lap steel guitar?

As the name suggests, a lap steel guitar is an instrument that is played by placing horizontally across the lap with the strings pointing upwards. It has an extremely unique sound that lends itself to a variety of musical genres including country, gospel, blues and Hawaiian.

Is a lap steel guitar easy to learn?

As they differ from any other type of guitar, a lap steel guitar can be quite challenging to master, but is definitely worth sticking with as it will allow you to play a mixture of genres. The most difficult part of learning is potentially mastering the sliding technique, which involves playing notes in the correct pitch whilst muting other strings.

This video will help new players learn the lap steel guitar:

What are position markers on a lap steel guitar’s fretboard used for?

Position markers on a fretboard come in a variety of different shapes, numbers and symbols. However, regardless of their appearance, they are all used for the same purpose, which is to help you find the correct finger position for certain chords and notes.