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Can a 6 string lap steel guitar be tuned like a regular
guitar (E-A-D-G-B-E), or perhaps an octave higher?
My question is:
Can these be tuned like a regular guitar (E-A-D-G-B-E), or perhaps an
octave higher? Which of the two would you recommend?
Also, are there any effects pedals that can give us Evorians a realistic
steel guitar sound from a regular electric guitar?
Jimmie R. Vestal,
The six string lap steel should be tuned as a regular six string guitar.
It is played just like you would a guitar with a slide or bottleneck. It's just
a lap version. Now about the sound alike thing for a regular electric guitar:
If you are going to use the guitar in the lap position you will be applying just a
bit more downward pressure from the slide to the strings based on weight and pressing downward.
Years ago someone made a steel wrapover or wrap around nut that you could fit over
the nut on an electric guitar. I don't know if you can get those anymore or
not but the idea was to raise the strings at the nut end. Of course you can
raise the strings at the bridge end already with the height adjustments.
This raises the strings essentially on both ends to compensate for the
down pressure of the slide bar. That keeps the strings high enough so you don't
bump the frets as you slide on the strings. That is really all there is to
Same tuning, raise the strings. You should use a volume pedal and
you've got it. You use your foot volume pedal in zero volume setting when you
pick the strings, then after you have plucked the strings you then add volume.
You only hear the string come in but not the plucking of the string. That
is actually what the steel players do also. A little heavier guage string
will add a more realistic steel sound. If I were going to set up an electric
guitar and leave it that way permanently I would use stainless steel
strings which will add even more of that sound quality.
At that point you have the same thing. The good thing about doing this is you can play it sitting on
lap or standing and use the bottleneck type slide in normal guitar
position either way. When you get into eight and ten string steels the tuning of
course is different. Ten stringers have two different tuning systems for
different playing or different brands of music. The interesting thing here
is: for ten string pedal steel country music playing the ten strings are
tuned as F# D# G# E B G# F# E D B refered to as the E9th tuning. G E C A G E
C A F C, for other styles of music and that is refered to as the C6th
tuning which was the more standard tuning.
Ten string pedal steels are awesome. I was very close friends with one of the men who invented the ten
string pedal steel. His name was Shot Jackson in Nashville, Tn. He was the
dude who really got me started into building guitars. Buddy Emmons a
famous steel player got together with Shot Jackson and they invented this thang
of beauty. Shot and Buddy came up with the E9th tuning for the special pedals
and what it could do for country music. Country was played using both
tunings but I think the E9th was the better for that if I remember
Of course I could have it backwards not being a steel player
myself. Shot Jackson had his company downtown Nashville known as Sho-Bud
guitar. Sho Bud was a mix of the two names Shot and Buddy in short,
Very quickly the ten string pedal steel guitar became famous especially in
the Nashville country music sound. That soon made the six string steels
almost obsolete. I own one of the original ten string pedal steel guitars
made by Shot Jackson many years ago which is now a collectors guitar. It
is red quilted birdseye maple. I tuned it to the more country style tuning
since that was what Shot and Buddy played around Nashville. I put a set of
dean Markley stainless steel strings and man what an awesome sound. Those
guys came up with that special tuning to work with the pedals in the
country music type pedal work that made country steel playing sound so goooooood.
Those two guys together were geniuses. Dean Markley designed these strings
especially for the Nashville sound. That oughta give enough to chew on
regarding steel guitar stuff.
Rick Andrews, Andrews Guitars
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