In addition to a history of the steel guitar, I want to give you my school-teacher rant about properly naming the steel guitar. It has so many slang expressions, no wonder the public is not sure yet what it is. The original name, given in Hawai’i where Joseph Kekuku invented it around 1889.
When mainlanders first saw it, they didn’t know what to call it, so they reported that it was held on the lap and played with a steel bar. That’s how it got stuck with lapsteel which is still much used. But if you want to go first class, you’ll call it a steel guitar. It was originally a 6-string wooden guitar built to be a Spanish guitar, but converted to a steel guitar by inserting a metal converter nut (adapter nut) (extension nut) over the nut at the headstock to raise the strings about a half inch off the fretboard. It was originally tuned A Major low bass (1-6) E.C#.A.E.A.E, which has three strings tuned the same as the Spanish guitar.