Lap steel tunings for aping pedal steel

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by JohnnyCrash, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

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    What are your favorite tunings for six string lap steels when you want to play old school pedal steel country?

    I plan on installing a Duesenberg Multibender on the second and third strings (the B and G strings in standard tuning).
     
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  2. kplamann

    kplamann Tele-Holic

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    C6 (C E G A C E), for all the sixth and minor chords. It also has a great blues scale.

    I have Duesenberg Multibenders on my lapsteel (which is an actual Duesenberg lapsteel), but don't use them all that much.

    I have them on the first and second strings (E > F and C > D).

    You could consider configuring the bender to bend down (E > Eb) to have a major chord on the top three strings.

    If you use the bender on the third string you could have it bend the string a half step up (A > Bb) in order to obtain an overall major 7 chord on all six strings.

    Hey, maybe I should look into all this again myself ...
     
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  3. kplamann

    kplamann Tele-Holic

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    ... correction: if you bend the E string half a step down you have a diminished chord on the top three strings (as in A-C-Eb = A dim).

    If you bend it up half a step, then you have a major chord (A-C-F = F major, first inversion), which is the configuration I have but don't use much.

    Sorry about that.
     
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  4. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    And if you bend the A up a half step, you have a dominant 7th chord rather than a major 7th.
     
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  5. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

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    Is Open E (essentially an open E major chord) a good choice for country pedal licks?
     
  6. kplamann

    kplamann Tele-Holic

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    ... you don't seem to get much help here!

    I asked similar questions a couple of years ago and got lots of suggestions. Some poster suggested that adopting C6, after a certain learning curve, would be a life-changing experience. It was.

    What I'd associate with pedal steel licks would be richer chords than pure major, especially when you add Western Swing flavours, and the transition between them by pedal action which you can mimick by using the benders. I suppose this is easier to achieve with a tuning containing a 6 (or a 9 or 13 as you can use on eight string lapsteels), which above all contain minor chords and permit more harmonically rich playing. An important hint I got at the time was that C6 is also very well adapted to roots music and blues.

    I use open D (DADF#AD, the equivalent of open E) on my Dobro which is the equivalent of open E, but it lends itself better to simpler harmonies and folk or blues songs. You can use a variant to add at least minor chords (DBDF#AD, which I sometimes use, or DADF#BD).

    Then again, what do I know? I'm a German in France (although, as such, I might actually be a lonesome cowboy and a long way from home, or how does the country song go?).

    Edit: Cindy Cashdollar's site is a great source for tuning suggestions and other information.

    Edit 2: You are aware that you need different string gauges for C6 than for open D, open E or open G?
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  7. Don Miller

    Don Miller Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Depends on what you mean by "aping pedal steel"...

    The old style non pedal steel was usually a 6th or minor 7th tuning...so if you want the lush closed voicings and jazz chords of that style, a 6th tuning...C6 or A6.....would be good....

    You'll notice that a lot of the E9/country pedal steel fills and breaks are usually based on harmonized scales...6ths and thirds....and usually more "open" voiced than the jazzy "non-pedal style" chords....after fooling around with it for 25 years, I ultimately settled on Dobro G for that style....with bar slants as needed....the harmonized scales just fall out of that tuning....
     
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  8. blackguts

    blackguts Tele-Meister

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    B D E G# B E bend G# up to A and B up to C#
     
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  9. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    c6 is good for straight steel guitar (the hank williams sound)

    to fake the sound of pedal steel... I'd try something like E7.. that way you'd get the 7, the maj, the maj 7 the 6th and b7 really easy...
     
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  10. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    How about using a volume pedal? I personally have not tried it yet, but I have heard about it.
     
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  11. T-Bone

    T-Bone Tele-Holic

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    Volume pedal is going to help a lot with the old country sound.
    C6 is the most popular lap tuning and probably closest to pedal steel.

    I play mostly blues and prefer to play in open D (DADF#AD)

    If you want a tuning close to normal Spanish guitar tuning, try the low bass version of open G (DBDGBD)
     
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  12. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    I found this guy’s site last year and it’s got some fun little demo videos of him playing in different tunings...in the “Doug’s Blog” section. Here he is demonstrating a six-string adaptation of the E9 pedal tuning:

    http://playsteelguitar.com/blog/

    And if you scroll down you’ll find the demo of him playing in the tuning that most recently flipped my lid: B11.

    After watching a few of his vids you’ll realize that he also uses a cool fleet of old steels to shoot the vids, too.
     
  13. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

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    Keep the info and suggestions coming!

    I have a Volume pedal. Been using that with my Teles for fake pedal steel swells. I plan on using it with the lap steel too.
     
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  14. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    This may be my own little hang up, and/or old news...but I think I have found that some of the pedal-steel-ness comes from an interrelation between gain structure, touch on the strings and EQ. Obviously the tuning plays a big part in what voicings you can access and what kind of bar stunts you need to do...but to my ear if you put a big fat shimmery glistening pedal steel-sounding chord through the wrong tone it puts it right in beer commercial city.

    I played in Dobro G for a long time and even though I couldn’t play big extended
    chords with that tuning (and my skill set), with the right clean headroom , EQ emphasis (in my case, less mids and more highs than I’d select for guitar)...

    and some reverb (more, and longer, reverb than I’d use for guitar)...

    ... and some of the harmonized 3rd or 6th moves, or behind-the-bar pulls faking a pedal steel-seque 4-3 suspension, could still sound kind of pedal steel-like.

    Having just picked the steel back up after a long hiatus and discovered B11 tuning, the ability to hit a bunch of chords easily with a straight bar is blowing my mind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
  15. blackguts

    blackguts Tele-Meister

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    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  16. blackguts

    blackguts Tele-Meister

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  17. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I have only just touched upon this kind of thing myself, being a huge sucker for the sound but not willing to commit to a life as a pedal steeler! Tonally, a bridge P90 through a cleanish amp with plenty of mids seems to be the basic ticket, YMMV. I like a Hipshot B-bender to easily get me just a little bit of the sound, and I'm working hard to get better at pre-bends on other strings, so that I can get a little bit closer to the sound with a normal guitar.

    C6 on a real lap steel is basically where it's at as far as tuning, at least to start, but I would be pretty clueless doing C6 on a standard guitar and fretting chords. Open E and the like is likely to get you into more of a blues than a country place. I did like open E as a lap steel tuning for the one reason that it's so easy to play along to a blues in E that you can focus on mastering your bar skills and not worry as much about scales and chords.
     
  18. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    Yep, if blues is your target the open chord tunings with intervals of 1-5-1-3-5-1 are great; tried and true on Spanish or lap instruments. And with the 1-3-5 group in there you can do some Dobro-type moves if you want by pretending they’re the top three strings of a Dobro...pull the 3 behind the bar and release it to get that 4-3 suspension thing going...or do slants. And you have a big fat “power chord” on the low strings if you want to rock out with some dirt. Elmore James, George Thorogood, etc.
     
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  19. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Meister

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    Whoa, I've never tried B11... Gonna hafta try that soon. Thanks!
     
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  20. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

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