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It is said that, at the age of 7, Kekuku was walking along a railroad track and picked up a metal bolt, slid the metal along the strings of his guitar and was intrigued by the sound.He taught himself to play using this method with the back of a knife blade.The Lap steel guitar is not tuned in standard guitar tuning (E–A–D–G–B–E, low to high).
The earliest Hawaiian lap steel tuning was open A low bass, E–A–E–A–C–B–E.
Bluegrass and Country Dobro players using a square-neck instrument tend to favor an altered G tuning, often called "high-G", where the sixth string is tuned up to G instead of down to D, and the fifth string is also tuned up, to B: G–B–D–G–B–D.
They also sometimes raise it up to "high-A": A–C–E–G–A–C–E.
Round-necked resonator guitars set up for steel playing fall into this category.
Instruments designed exclusively as lap steel guitars typically have modified necks that make fretted playing impossible.