The Smith Family Melobar Guitar - the real story of Melobar from Ted Smith -

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dean Black playing one of the first Melobar double necks

Great video of one of the Melobar double neck fathers; Dean was one of the guys that pushed me into building the double neck
Check out the video click below

Friday, May 20, 2016

2016 Melobar Barn Find

First look at the parts found by Sydney, Click Here

It's a mix of original Rosac necks, and a few Powerslide necks, along with another standard neck cutaway fiberglass body and two original SuperSteel necks for 8 string and we're still finding stuff. Felt a bit like the show Pickers today going through stuff I haven't seen in over twenty years.

Soooo I guess I'm back to building some Melobars. A little bit mind blowing after thinking we were completely done. I'm teaming up with a couple other local builders for painting and we'll probably only do a dozen a year.

My primary goal is to build a couple of models I built for myself and really - really - feel other players would rock on. Personal Video with Ted on why

The other Melobar is the double neck Tel-O-bar. I have already purchased a nice MIM standard Telecaster to cut in half and marry to the Barn Find Tel-O-bar. These double necks are just so great to play, we need to make them more available to the guys that will love playing them
Here is a Video of what they are like by Ted

Saturday, August 8, 2015

How do older Melobars Sound?

How do older Melobar's Sound?
An important question now that we are no longer building them, older models are going for pretty high prices on ebay, and you should know what you are looking at.
Older Rosac Model

a quick A - B is to listen to a Rosac body Skreemr from the 90's on the A video then a Tele Body Melobar from 2016 on the B video...NOT Pros but a decent sound bite

A - Old 1992 Melobar Skreemr (skip forward to .30)

B - 2016 Melobar Tele version

Real difference is scale length and pickups

Quick Reference:
Mosrite Melobar; The first production Melobars were built by Semie Mosley in the Mosrite factory with Mosrite pickups. I love these guitars in that they have that fat Mosrite sound with a longer scale. Excellent for Blues, professional stage and studio work if strung as a 6 string.
Rosac Melobar; Paul Barth single coil pickups, these guitars were supposed to be for students and this guitar is not good for stage if you don't want old single coil non-shielded hum. Magnets are 63mm, so with standard spacing, best if strung 6-string.
Powerslide V and X 10 models with Bill Lawrence Pickups from the 80's are the best and good for up to 10 strings. This was the best professional model built by Melobar until the late 90's.

Note: want that Lindley here

Skreemr 6-sting models built in the late 90's started with EMG pickups but were later upgraded to L500 Lawrence pickups with Grover Keys, these are very good professional instruments but the short 22 7/8" scale doesn't give a fat blues tone like the Mosrites did, take the same guitar and lengthen the scale and they'd be even better.
Steelgitr and Telobar double necks were all built custom but all were expected to go on stage so they have good components and sound good.

In the lap steels...
The LS model had the Rosac Paul Barth pickups on them so limited to single coil problems.
SLS, upgraded using the Lawrence pickups but a bit sharp in tone because of those pickups, switching out to even a tele rhythm pickup can help that tone a lot.
CC8 again Lawrence pickups but built for steel not guitar so more of a steel sound.
Teleratt most had Lawrence Tele pickups and had a good tone
XL models had Lawrence L500 pickups with the best tone of all the Melobar Lap Steels
Supersteels had the above set ups so match your pickups to the above
Rattler, considered the best Melobar Lap Steel if you want that "Running on Empty" Lindley sound

In all, Melobar's were a crossover from a standard guitar to a steel built with Alder like a Strat' so you'll want to set your amp with that in mind and roll back the treble if it sounds too bright or aggressive if you want Hawaiian steel, and not be afraid to change out pickups.
Hope that helps...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Melobar Guitars

Patented angled up neck to play steel standing up
See Melobar in Action CLICK HERE and HERE Black V on the Left
Melobar is the registered trade mark of the Smith Family who manufactured the instruments for over 50 years. The patented design that started the company was a 45 degree tilt neck to play steel type guitar mounted on a standard guitar body.

This blog is dedicated information and facts about Melobar from Ted Smith, the last Melobar builder and son of Walt Smith the originator.

See the pages on the right for models, history and fun Melobar facts (hard to see in grey).
Melobar on National Television CLICK HERE
Listen to a Melobar Rattler CLICK TO HEAR

50 Years of Melobar Models

1964 first promotional brochure

50 Years of Melobar Models
More detailed descriptions, years in production and number of units in the identify models page on the right hand side of this blog (hard to see in grey).
Listed are production models - one offs, proto-types, customs and experimentals are not included.

1964 Mosrite Series


1970 Rosac Series 

Metal Acoustic (dobro era)


Early Student  (Purple People Eater and dumpster models)

Student Acoustic (Payette Shop)

Powerslide X-10 (1980's Lindley era)


Jerrett Series


Powerslide 88 Proform model (1988)
Video of one...


Skreemr (6-string models of the 90's)
Melobar sound on Good Run of Bad Luck ACM Awards TV
How the Skreemr model got it's name

LS series (first lap steels)

Strummr (6-string acoustic)

SLS and S-Head Lap Steels

The Rattler Lap Steel (largest production model)


The Tomohawk (8-string)

Built Two MINI Teleratts  

Video on Youtube of the Mini Teleratt

Supersteels (modular console)

SXL (long scale lap steel)

Teleratt (Tele components)



Melobro series (fiberglass dobro style)


Steelgitr (custom built double neck)


Strat-O-bar (Strat laminated to Melobar)

Tel-O-bar (Fender Telecaster and Melobar Skreemr)

Only Tele-Melobar Skreemr built, just did it this year for myself  and love it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Melobar Today

Melobar is the registered trade mark brand name of the tilt neck design patented by the late Walt Smith.

The correct history of the dozens of unique Melobar designs and products including the fiberglass resonator Melobro, the various lap steel models and the double neck Tel-O-bar, the stages of building history from the early Mosrite built Melobars to the Powerslide series and then the Smith Family Music era with Ted Smith are all covered in the pages to the right of this post.

After 50 years, Melobar is no longer building instruments. And I am pursuing a much different path in organic health.

However you can still hear Melobars on the radio and players are still out there cruising the stage with the unique stand-up steel.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Building your own Tel-O-bar and using stands

UPDATE 112916  We are building a couple of DIY Tel-O-bars that will be with a MIM Tele on top unfinished, and a Body with Melobar neck unfinished, for sale in January. Which should make it easy for a Do It Yourselfer to put what components pickup wise they want, choose 6 or 8 string set up on Melobar neck and use StewMac for paint to finish, at a third the price...check back the first of 2017

One of my Tel-O-bars mounted to just a simple music stand is and it works really amazingly well but this guitar is a good example of why the design of the Tel-O-bar double neck is really critical. The body was off by a quarter inch and it changed the entire way the guitar fit your body and didn't work except on a stand

I love these double necks when they are done right and due to the fact I won't be building them anymore...if you want to build one for yourself, I have the correct measurements traced out.

I really love the double neck Melobars. Sometimes I wonder if Melobar would have gone a lot farther if it had started out this way. Due to the fact I can't get out of the guitars what I put into them from people who want to buy them ($2,600 I make $12 an hour but no one has paid over $1,800 which is less than $6 an hour so I can't afford to do it) I don't mind sharing with anyone wanting to build one on their own.
The Double neck version actually makes the Melobar neck sit in a far better position to play and I love the angle for both necks when sitting or standing. If you ever get a chance to play one built correctly you'll know what I mean.
The design angles are critical though. Killer, the guitar in the post above, had a Mexican built body a 1/4" wider than what most Tele's have and it threw off the design enough to make the guitar NOT fit my body and angle of play. So you do have to pay attention to that.

Where you cut that body on the "donor" Tele is going to make the guitar work or not.

Here is a shot of my Mosrite Melobar being cut and it is one of my favorite guitars.

Note how the bodies did not line up, but what I focused on was the angle and the total distance from head tip to head tip (9.5 inches). The bridges should be pretty much at the same position or with the Melobar neck bridge slightly more forward so your right hand will just drop down.
When using the donor method like this; you have to often put a thin piece of plywood on the back, screw them together, then test the feel of the guitar to see if the neck angles are where you want them.

Once you decide how much to take off the Tele (or Strat) side, I will laminate on a body then hand cut the bottom of the body to fit.

You will have a bow in the back like this.

The weight is a big should be able to get it under 9lbs by routering out under the Melobar neck and taking a lot off the back of the body.

Here you can see the curve I put in the back of the body like a Strat; so your arm comes over the body more comfortably and the curve where your chest hits the guitar to make it fit your body better. This also takes off more weight yet keeps the guitar very well balanced.

Also note the bar hole between the necks or you could go behind the Melobar neck.

If you want a to size blue print with the jig I use for the right cut angle on the Tele side and the body size for the bottom, router and wiring diagrams; it's $65 including close up photos from all angles for the body shaping.
It's not an easy project but not impossible for a DIY - well worth the fun the guitar is to play and the power of having both styles at your finger tips. You need a Melobar neck of course and a donor Telecaster or Strat.

Hope that helps anyone trying a DIY Tel-O-bar project; all I ask is that you do not call it a Melobar unless you used one of Dad's original Melobar necks, and not to call or email me with any questions. I don't have the time and I didn't have anyone to ask but had to figure it out by trial and error myself - You'll do fine if you just mock up your prototypes and take the time to make it fit you personally. Good luck.

Here is one Aaron Jennings just completed from the plans