Nut Riser + Stevens Bar

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by jondanger, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire

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    Man I wish I had done this a while ago. I have been wanting to learn how to play lap steel, but didn't want to buy one if I just can't wrap my head around it. I have a couple old Yamaha beaters, so I ordered a nut riser and a Stevens bar. This is fun! I'm playing in open A right now but I have a C6 set coming in the mail.

    Anyone thinking about taking the plunge, I recommend it.

    IMG_7629.JPG
     
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  2. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    What makes the Stevens bar different from any old steel's bar?

    And take a C6 tuning, for example. What are the tensions like? No way you're gonna damage the "neck" on a lap steel.

    I could see myself going down this path, not soon, but some day. That would be my initial concern. Perhaps it's nothing.
     
  3. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire

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    I guess most pedal steel players use a bullet style bar? Honestly I don't really know, I'm kind of trying to figure this out on the fly. The C6 strings go from .034-.015, so I think they should be fine as far as tension goes. I'm not too worried about this $80 Yamaha anyway.

    It's cool to play something that is familiar, but different enough to make me change my thinking.
     
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  4. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    I probably play more lap steel than anything these days, having evolved from fingerpicking to slide to lap steel. An even easier fix than a nut raiser is an adaptor capo:

    [​IMG]

    That is a piece of bamboo skewer, I have since replaced it with a piece of brazing rod.

    I've tried various kinds of bars, but I prefer the heavy brass bottleneck I use for slide, more to hang on to. I have to say though that in acoustics, it is a whole lot more fun if you use a guitar that is really well suited to playing sustainy-type slide - I mostly use a Gibson-made kona.

    I'm a mostly a folkie rather than country or blues, and I use open D, open E with the capo as shown.
     
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  5. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire

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    You know, I remember you mentioning that before. That's a smart idea. That probably comes in handy when you're playing with others and the open tuning doesn't go with the key.

    I should try open E. Open A makes sense to me since I've messed around a fair amount in open G, but it's the whole point for me is to try and make my mind work a little harder - and I love the sound.

    One thing that's good about this Yamaha is that it's an OM size, so it's pretty quiet and I'll probably be playing a lot after the kids are asleep.
     
  6. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    The ninety-degree end cut is a convenient shape for dobro pull-offs. I use a Dunlop Lap Dawg because they're cut at an even tighter angle.

    If you're after a lap steel sound, you won't be doing a lot of pull-offs, and there might be advantages to a bullet-ended steel. (I don't play lap steel, so I don't know.)

    Also, if you're chasing lap steel mojo, there's a Lace stick-on pickup that will get you a lot closer to that sound. (You'll have to switch to steel strings. It doesn't pick up bronze very well.)

    Another nice thing about the Lace is that it requires zero guitar mods. Just slap it on. (More good news: I had one for a while, and it left no marks when I finally removed it.)
     
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  7. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have a lot of trouble using a Stevens bar on my lapsteel. For some reason it jacks my wrist. Same with a Dunlop Lap Dawg. What I found works for me is a large glass slide. I saw Anne McCue play lap steel using a regular brass slide & getting a great sound.
     
  8. syrynx

    syrynx Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome into the fold, neighbor! :) I've been preaching the power of the extension nut for years, and practicing what I preach since 1982 I currently have six guitars fitted with them. I need to order more...

    I just recently discovered David Marquiss, who coaxes magic from an inexpensive, all-laminate Hohner acoustic with a nut riser.



    I posted a lengthy treatise with lots of video clips on the subject of bar/slide choice. Bottom line: It's extremely personal, and it might change depending upon musical cirdumstances. In this clip, Steve Kimock uses three different slides in a single medley, switching at ~1:25 and at ~5:55.



    As long as you use appropriate string gauges, there's nothing to fear. Note that a single set of strings can accommodate many different tunings without compromising sound quality. Here's a chart I've posted previously listing some of the possibilities that can be achieved with a typical six-string set nominally offered for C6 tuning. (Gauges may vary slightly from one brand of string to another, but any six-string C6 set will work well for all of these tunings.)
    Code:
    Str  .036  .030  .024  .022  .017  .014
    C6    C     E     G     A     C     E
    C7    C     E     G     Bb    C     E
    A6    C#    E     F#    A     C#    E
    A7    C#    E     G     A     C#    E
    E6    B     E     G#    B     C#    E
    E7    B     D     E     G#    B     E
    E9    B     D     F#    G#    B     E
    E13   B     D     E     G#    C#    E
    B11   B     D#    F#    A     C#    E
    JB*   C#    E     G     A     C     E
    WL**  C#    E     G     A#    C     D
    *JB = the Jerry Byrd C6/A7.
    **WL = William Leavitt's tuning, designed to play a wide variety of chords without slanting the bar.
     
  9. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    Me too. I use a heavy brass slide, I find those bars too narrow.

    Since the thread has nut riser in the title, I'll include a show and tell. Two I made, plain and fancy:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
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  10. Boomhauer

    Boomhauer Friend of Leo's

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    [​IMG]
    This style, a Shubb/Pearse, suits my ergonomics better than a Stevens bar.
     
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  11. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire

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    This chart is gold. Thanks! Going to try one of these out today.
     
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  12. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, Stevenses and Dawgs really aren't made for lap steel.
     
  13. Andy B

    Andy B Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I've seen lots of players use them. Just doesn't work for me. The big round slide however does. So I'll stick with it for now.
     
  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup. Not saying it doesn't work. Just saying I don't think it's what they're made for. That hard edge is good for easy hammer-ons and snappy pull-offs, which are much more dobro cliches.

    That Shubb/Pearse that Boomhauer posted above with one straight and one round end is probably made to cover both - a money- and space-saver. But the dobro-style grip might not feel right to some lap and pedal steel players.
     
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