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-- Created 31 Oct 03 --
May Bell Lap Steel -- note the Slingerland head shape... Closest in style to Songster No. 1 and the Songster Lap Steel.
Also, the tailpiece and bridge are identical to that of the Songster Lap Steel. Which came first? The
May Bell has only a volume control, while the Songster has both volume and tone controls. The pickup is a
straight exposed bar magnet. I'm guessing that the May Bell was first, and that as they improved the
electronics, they applied the improvements to the higher-end Slingerland models. Yet, the May Bell has a
¼" jack for the plug, while the Songster is hard wired. The fingerboard is beatifully figured
rosewood, with jumbo frets.
A view of the back, showing the 3 solid maple boards that are glued up to make the body and round neck.
Slingerland was one of the first, if not the first, to use this "neck through" design. Both the
May Bell and Songster are 1 15/16" thick. Also, this has 3-on-a-plate tuners, not individual tuners like
the Slingerland-named instruments. This is a round neck instrument with a nut extension, but was never played
Spanish style as there is no wear on the frets or fingerboard. When stringing it up, it was obvious that it
was not meant to be played as a Spanish-style instrument, as the action without the nut extension was too high to
allow that style of playing, not to mention the awkward body shape.
Close-up of the bridge and pickup area. Same tailpiece and bridge as the Songster Lap Steel