Custom Guitar Spotlight: Asher Guitars Ben Harper Model II Lap Steel
Groundwire Magazine - Summer/Fall 2008
Bill Asher is the designer and master builder behind Asher Guitars & Lap Steels and is known as the guitar repair and restoration “go-to” guy in the greater Los Angeles area. Asher guitars can be heard on many albums, recordings, and movie soundtracks and have been published in numerous magazines and print articles.
Asher’s passion for building guitars began at an early age while playing electric guitar with friends. In high school, he mentored under his high school woodshop teacher where he built his first guitar body. His inspiration for designing lap steel guitars began in 1998 when he collaborated with folk-rock singer-songwriter Ben Harper to design an electric lap steel version of Harper’s prized vintage Weissenborn acoustic lap steel. The project resulted in a unique instrument with impressive playability and tone; they both agreed it was worthy of a signature model. Seventy “Limited Edition Ben Harper Model” lap steels were made and sold within a short period.
In 2006, Asher began concepting a second Ben Harper series lap steel with dramatically different features. This second series has characteristics reminiscent of a Gibson Les Paul ® embodied in the original Asher design.
The 25” scale neck and chambered body are built from African Mahogany with a koa fingerboard and flame maple top. The electrified tone comes courtesy of a matched set of Seymour Duncan SH-1 ’59 Model humbuckers along with a three-way pickup selector and a volume and a tone control for each pickup. Customers can choose either a cherry burst or tobacco burst nitro cellulose finish, and each instrument comes strung with Asher Electro Hawaiian ® Lap Steel Strings and nestled in a Cedar Creek hardshell case.
Asher’s craftsmanship and commitment to creating a new generation of high-quality, modern-day instruments are sure to inspire the creation of music for generations. The $2,800 Ben Harper II is no exception. Production is limited to 100 instruments and each guitar comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Asher and Harper.