Interestingly, Walt Smith was encouraged in his effort by his friend Leo Fender. Mr. Fender started out building steel guitars and was a big encouragement to Walt.
He then returned to his hometown and started building his own brand of unique steel guitars. He named them Melobar guitars.
Smith built a metal version of this guitar.
However he was unhappy with the completed instrument.
He kept some of them and had his son take the rest to the county dump.
Many of these guitars were salvaged by dumpster divers. This guitar has been unofficially designated as the Melobar Dumpster Guitar. His son, Ted Smith, mentions in a reply that his father was furious with him until his passing in 1988.
Because Melobar guitars were all handmade there are subsequently few. Probably around 1,000. Not only are they unique, but rare as well.
Many well-known steel players have a Melobar in their collection. Players such as David Lindley, Rusty Young, and my favorite steel player, Cindy Cashdollar all own a Melobar.
At first Melobar Guitars started with six string lap steels. The product line soon expanded to include not just six string instrument, but eight string guitars as well.
In 1998, Melobar added a Fiberglass resonator guitar to the line-up. These models were produced in six, seven, and eight string versions.
That same year Melobar/Smith Family Music add a double neck instrument called the Tele Steel Guitar.
The Melobar Powerslide was indeed a unique guitar. It came with 10 strings and was shaped like a Gibson Explorer, but the body was soft.
A family business is a tough to run. I know since I ran one for 27 years. Profit is hard to come by. Good employees are hard to come by and great ones even harder.
I have read that Jim Frost and Ted Smith attempted to resurrect Melobar in 2008 with a company called Hardway Manufacturing.
Ted Smith has entered into the world of sales and is promoting a book he has written about cold calling.
Update! ere is a wonderful link that I have come across from Ted Smith.