Steel Trappings

New Steel In Town

The Clinesmith Frypan: New Steel In Town

August 22, 2019 • Addison ChingInstruments and Luthiers

There's a new steel in town. Venerable citizens of Steeltown may think that this newbie might resemble someone they once knew a long time ago. For those sensing a feeling of Deja Vu they wouldn't be mistaken.

Meet Clinesmith Instruments' Frypan Steel Guitars. In development since February of 2018, the Frypan has now been perfected and ready for anxiously awaiting steel players to experience its characteristic touch and tone.

I conducted a virtual interview with Todd Clinesmith to learn more about this new steel guitar and to find out about the genesis of this instrument.

AC: What inspired you to design and manufacture a frypan steel guitar?

TC: I have always loved the Frypan design and tone. I have been making lap and console steels out of cast aluminum for about 13 years now, so the idea of making a frypan has been in the back of my mind for a long time. But the idea to finally make it happen started with making the horseshoe pickup first.

I always loved this pickup design and like many other folks, I feel it is one of the best steel guitar pickups ever made. I worked on horseshoe pickup designs for years, and made some excellent versions. But the magnets were not quite as strong as the originals. After a lot of time and R&D over several years I came up with a horseshoe that had a similar magnetic structure as the original (actually a bit stronger). Once I had made a pickup that performed as well as the vintage pickups, I had to make the perfect home for it: A Frypan. I got to work on an 8 string Long Scale Frypan pattern for my Aluminum foundry. Since then, due to requests, I have made patterns for a long scale 6 string and a short scale 8 string model. I am just starting to send out 6 string frypans, and waiting for my first castings of the 8 string short scale now.

Clinesmith Frypan

AC: Have any features transferred from your other lap steel guitars? What features are new?

TC: I have not transferred much design over from my other models to the frypan, as I kept the design and construction of these as traditional as possible although these do have a solid neck which does increase sustain, and solidifies the tone. I tried keeping the top and back as light as possible to capture the beautiful aluminum tonal response.

AC: What construction details can you provide?

TC: These are Cast Aluminum as opposed to machined billet Aluminum, which tonally is far superior. It has a grain and structure that is unique to itself such as wood has. The long scale instruments are about 24 11/16 scale length and the short scales are about 22 9/16 scale length.

Clinesmith Frypan

AC: Can you describe the guitar's pickup and electronics?

TC: The pickup contains real horseshoe magnets which are stronger than the vintage units. I wind the pickups with the old style gauge wire. To my ears, this produces a rounder and fatter tone than modern wound pickups.

Clinesmith Frypan

AC: Are any accessories included?

TC: These come with a quality custom soft shell case from Blue Heron Cases out of Carlotta California.

AC: What is the lead time from order to delivery?

TC: The lead time varies from about 8 - 16 weeks. Right now I am closer to the 16 week time frame with the new long scale 6 and short scale 8 models coming out.

According to additional information from Todd: Unique to this design are volume/tone control configurations, available either with or without tone, separate volume and tone controls, or a single concentric (stacked) potentiometer with both volume and tone. For the 6-string Frypans, string spacing at the bridge is 2.1" and 1.875" at the nut. The string spacing of the 8-string Frypans is 2.75" at the bridge and 2.375" at the nut. The 6-string Frypan weighs in at 7.2 lbs., and the 8-string Frypan at 8.6 lbs. The surface of the steel is polished to a high sheen.

7-string Frypans are not available at this time.

Ethan Goore, a new owner of an 8-string Clinesmith Frypan and a NextGen steel guitarist with the Ke Kula Mele Hawai‘i School of Hawaiian Music, offers these comments:

"The default string separation is perfect for me and is very comfortable. Some people may have trouble with seeing the fret lines as there are no actual lines but I have no issue with this. Harmonics are easy to find and sound great. Long scale option is perfect size for me and I would encourage people to get a long scale.

""[The instrument] stays in tune for a long time. Tuning pegs are comfortable to turn and turn smoothly. Lower strings need tuning every few days but higher strings can go for over a week. At around 9 pounds it is decently heavy but not too heavy. The soft case it comes with is lightweight and very durable. It is by a company called Blue Heron. [The case has] very durable zippers, no open seams and plenty of padding. I have taken it on many plane rides in the overhead bin and have had no issues. [The] high gloss finish looks great but can reflect the sun in my eyes during midday, outdoor performances. [The] design looks exactly like the original frypans and even fooled uncle Alan [Akaka]!

""[The] pickup is the most amazing part of the instrument. It is incredibly strong and sounds just like the original Rickenbacher frypan pickups. It is also an actual horseshoe. I have separate volume and tone knobs, which I think is perfect. I can do volume swells and I can get the sweet tone from the tone knob. The tone knob is essential to get that sweet tone due to the strength and brightness of the pickup. The knobs do not get in my way during normal playing and during palm muting, which is great."

Ethan concludes, "Overall, the instrument sounds fantastic and I think that its sound rivals that of the actual frypans. It is well worth its price and has seemingly endless sustain."

Offering some critical comments, Ethan relates that "The high gloss finish can reflect sun into my eyes during midday outdoor performances but that is not common. Some people have told me that it is hard for them to see the fret lines but I have no problem with this. The weight can make it a bit annoying to lug around but the tone and sustain from its solid body are worth the weight."

For further information on this instrument or to place an order, contact Todd Clinesmith directly at toddclinesmith@yahoo.com.

FEATURE

Archives

November, 2020
October, 2020
September, 2020
August, 2020
July, 2020
More [...]


Categories

Education and Training
Entertainment
Festivals and Conventions
Instruments and Luthiers
News
Steel Guitar History


Authors

Author Index

Tags


Events

2020
Mauna Lani presents Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Festival Special Edition
February 7-9, 2020 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island

Kaua‘i Steel Guitar Festival
February 28-29, 2020 – Sheraton Kaua‘i Coconut Beach Resort, Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali‘i   CANCELED
March 21, 2020 – Ka Makana Ali‘i Shopping Center, Kapolei

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall   CANCELED
June 20, 2020 – Windward Mall, Kane‘ohe

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week   CANCELED
July 13-18, 2020 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Monday-Thursday – Nightly Evening Performances   CANCELED
Friday-Saturday – Festival Open Stage and Ho‘olaule‘a Performances   CANCELED

Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival   CANCELED
July 17, 2020 – Festival Ho‘olaule‘a — Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī

AISGC Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival   CANCELED
June 23-25, 2020 – Winchester, IN

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
July 25, 2020 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook 3PM - 5PM HST

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival — Keiki Kine at Kahala Mall   CANCELED
August 15, 2020 – Kahala Mall, Honolulu

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase   POSTPONED
August 29, 2020 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook 3PM - 5PM HST

HSGA 34th Annual Mainland Festival Festival   CANCELED
September 17-19, 2020 – Fort Collins, CO

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
September 26, 2020 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook 3PM - 5PM HST

Maui Steel Guitar Festival   CANCELED
October 16-17, 2020 – The Shops at Wailea, Wailea, Maui
October 18, 2020 – Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
October 24, 2020 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook 3PM - 5PM HST

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
November 28, 2020 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook 4PM - 6PM HST

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Festival   CANCELED
December, 2020 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island.

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
December 19, 2020 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook 3PM - 5PM HST

2021
1st HSGA Virtual Convention
January 23-24, 2021 – Prerecorded and available on Multiple Platforms

Copyright ©2019 by Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences, Inc., and Cyberventures Unlimited.Terms of Use

About HIMELE
HIMELE is a Hawai‘i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.