Review of Asher Electro Hawaiian Junior Lap Steel Guitar
Steel Guitar Forum - September 11, 2008
By Brad Bechtel
The Asher Electro Hawaiian Junior lap steel is a very high quality, mid-priced lap steel guitar. Built in China, with final setup and quality check by Bill Asher and team, in Los Angeles, California, it features a solid mahogany body, two humbucker-style pickups, a 25" scale (same as most acoustic resonator guitars), a Micarta nut and a metal wraparound bridge.
As with most guitars I play, I first try it out unplugged to see how the wood resonates. This particular guitar has a very good feel to it even when unplugged. The parts are all good quality parts and it's very well put together. The wraparound bridge makes it very easy to change strings.
The supplied gig bag is well padded and fits the lap steel like a glove, although it could have a bit more padding for safety. It has a single zippered pouch for accessories, strings, etc. in the front of the case and two backpack style straps on the back. According to Bill Asher, a TKL hard shell case is also available for an additional $148.00.
The guitar I received for this review was finished in a tobacco sunburst finish, my favorite of the three finishes available (other finishes being antique white or cherry). The finish was smooth and even throughout. The rosewood fret board has 22 fret markers. The Asher's shape is similar to the Weissenborn acoustic guitars. On your lap it feels very solid but not too heavy. The Kluson style enclosed metal tuners are easy to turn and work exactly as the old Kluson tuners.
Plugged in, the guitar really shines using the supplied open D tuning. Bass notes are clear and the tone is even across all strings. The mahogany body certainly adds to the sustain. I really like the twin pickup setup. If I was picky, I'd probably wish for individual volume and tone controls for each pickup rather than a master volume and tone control for both pickups, but you can get a lot of sounds out of this combination.
One thing I really noticed with this guitar is that it depends a lot on the amp you're using for the overall tone. Since it's such a transparent pickup combination, the sound you get is more influenced by the amp you're using than on some other guitars. This Asher lap steel made my default lap steel amp, a Fender Pro Junior, sound really "boxy", like a speaker in a small box (which is what it is). Switching to my Fender Deluxe Reverb really opened up the sound and allowed the Asher to project much better.
Overall I'd say this is an excellent value for the price. Suggested retail price is $759.00 with the supplied gig bag.
According to Bill Asher, Asher Guitars offers an upgrade kit with a custom set of Jason Lollar Imperial humbuckers and a Gotoh featherweight wraparound tailpiece for $325.00. Bruce Bouton is touring with Reba McIntire using an Asher Electro Hawaiian Junior with this upgrade kit installed.