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Author Topic:  Emmons vs Day - a personal perspective
Karlis Abolins


From:
(near) Seattle, WA, USA
Post Posted 3 Oct 2012 2:19 pm     Reply with quote

I have always set up my pedal steels with the Day pedal scheme. My first pedal steel was a MSA semi classic that came with a 3 and 3 set up and the Emmons pedal scheme. It was fairly uncomfortable to pedal-on the A pedal with the B pedal depressed. I looked at the tunings in the Winnie Winston book and saw that some people reversed the positions of the A and the C pedals. I changed the pedals (and discovered a lot about the construction of the pedal steel). I found that it was easier for me to pivot my ankle so I left it in the Day setup. I changed each subsequent guitar to the Day setup.
I was quite surprised recently to find that the B add A move did not feel as comfortable as it used to. I had changed it from zero pedal, C, B, and A to C, B, A, and zero pedal. By moving the scheme one pedal to the left, the angle of my left ankle on the B and A pedals had changed. My playing position is constrained by my four knee levers and the position of the pedals.
I intend to move the pedals back to the designed position and re-evaluate the B add A move.
If you feel uncomfortable with either the Emmons or Day setups on your guitar, you might want to experiment with the alternate setup to see if that feels better. Ultimately, you are the only person who can decide whether one or the other is more comfortable to play. I suspect that guitars from different manufacturers will vary slightly in the geometrics of the playing position relative to the knee levers and pedals.

Karlis Very Happy
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chris ivey


From:
sacto
Post Posted 4 Oct 2012 11:21 am     Reply with quote

you're right, karlis. i've always changed my pedals so the first two are day (B, A) ...i don't use a C pedal but have e-f# on a knee lever. this is what feels right for me. pedals 3 and 4 on my front neck also employ magical changes.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post Posted 4 Oct 2012 1:05 pm     Reply with quote

To me, Day is the way to play and not because of its easier to pivot left because I pivot both ways. It just makes a little more sense the way things work with a Day Setup. I started out on Emmons setup and played it for about a year until I sat down at a Day. I just thought, now this makes a whole lot more sense so I swapped over and that was 25 years ago. I can play either setup but takes about 20 minutes to get Emmons in my head when playing one then I can go.
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D-10 Emmons 1975 P/P Rosewood
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Will Cowell


From:
Cambridgeshire, UK
Post Posted 4 Oct 2012 1:11 pm     Reply with quote

Henry, my reason for changing from Emmons to Day was exactly the same as yours, same history. I do find the "B, add A" move easier though with the Day setup,I'm with Karlis there.
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Karlis Abolins


From:
(near) Seattle, WA, USA
Post Posted 10 Oct 2012 6:22 am     Reply with quote

In looking at this issue, I have tried to make some generalizations.
As you sit at your at your guitar with your left knee centered between the two knee levers and your foot resting on the floor in a neutral position, look at the position of the A & B pedals relative to your foot.
If the A & B pedals are to the left of your foot, you will probably find the Emmons setup to be more comfortable.
If the A & B pedals are to the right of your foot, you will probably find the Day setup to be more comfortable.
If the A & B pedals are centered in front of your foot, you most likely will find both setups comfortable.

Karlis
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Ray Minich


From:
Bradford, Pa. Frozen Tundra
Post Posted 10 Oct 2012 8:26 am     Reply with quote

Karlis;

Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. You have answered my questions... Thanks.

It's just ergonomics.
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James Quackenbush


From:
Pomona, New York, USA
Post Posted 11 Oct 2012 1:11 pm     Reply with quote

The first change that I made years ago was going to a Day setup ....It ws just easier for my ankles and felt more natural to me ...... I have continued to change levers around a bit too ..... It's all good once you are comfortable with what you have in your setup ...Most guys stick to how they were taught .....I like to experiment and find a better way ...If not , I go back to square one and go from there .... Jim
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James Quackenbush


From:
Pomona, New York, USA
Post Posted 11 Oct 2012 1:13 pm     Reply with quote

The first change that I made years ago was going to a Day setup ....It ws just easier for my ankles and felt more natural to me ...... I have continued to change levers around a bit too ..... It's all good once you are comfortable with what you have in your setup ...Most guys stick to how they were taught .....I like to experiment and find a better way ...If not , I go back to sqaire one and go from there .... Jim
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Craig Schwartz


From:
McHenry IL
Post Posted 13 Oct 2012 4:51 am     Reply with quote

I`m somewhat new (3 yrs) and often wondered why there were two different setups
Karli, that nuetral foot direction explains alot , were not all built the same.... Thanks , understanding it before you buy one is actually quite important for all the reasons of learning it right the first time which these days is quite valuable

By the way , you kinda look like Willy in your avatar, haha Dang
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Robert Murphy


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 13 Oct 2012 3:54 pm     Reply with quote

On my guitar not only are the Day pedals set up (CBA) but the knee levers are reversed. LKL lowers the E's and LKR raises. This makes even more sense to me because I use the A + raise pedal for the 6M chord in the 1 position and the B + lower pedal for the 5 seven chord. This is much easier for me than the Emmons guitar I had last year.
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David Holmes


From:
Iowa, USA
Post Posted 11 Oct 2013 7:23 am     Reply with quote

Since I’ve been a jogger much longer than I’ve been a pedal steel player, most of what I know about foot and ankle biomechanics is related to running, prevention of running injuries, and selection of running shoes. But I think that much of what is written about foot and ankle biomechanics in the running forums can be considered in this discussion of selecting the Emmons or Day arrangement of the A and B pedals.
In analysis of runners’ foot and ankle biomechanics, important considerations are the arch type and the range of motion available. Arch types include pes rectus (“average” arch), pes cavus (high arch), or pes planus (flat feet). Motion availability is generally described in regards to the subtalar joint, with three general categories: overpronators (“floppy” foot), pronators (“normal” foot), and underpronators (“rigid” foot).
I, myself, am in the pes cavus underpronator group. I have found it difficult and uncomfortable to rock on and off the A pedal with the B pedal down with the Emmons arrangement. I find this motion to be much easier and much more comfortable with the Day arrangement.
Several members of this forum have said that they didn’t have any problem biomechanically switching between the Emmons and the Day setups, and some have suggested that players should do exercises to increase their flexibility. I wonder if perhaps the folks who can rock the A pedal with equal ease in both setups are in the overpronator category, and they naturally have that greater range of motion. From years and years of leg/ankle/foot exercise and stretching, I don’t believe that there’s any exercise that can change me from an underpronator to an overpronator.
If you’re not sure which range of motion category you fall into, a good indicator is the pattern of wear on your running/walking shoes. If you’re an overpronator, your shoes will typically have more wear on the inside edge of the heel and sole; if you’re an underpronator, your shoes will typically have more wear on the outside edge of the heel and sole.
I wouldn’t suggest that other players change from Emmons to Day without a good reason. But if you experience discomfort in rocking the A pedal with the B pedal down, and you know that you’re an underpronator, that might be one reason to consider trying the Day setup.
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Ray Kedge


From:
Middlesex, England
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 2:18 am     Emmons or Day Reply with quote

I would say nearly all the (elder statesmen players)in the UK use the Day set up this is mainly due to the fact that when the first pedal steels came into the UK mainly ZB's they were set up by Gordon Huntley and as he played the Day set up thats the way he set them up to demo to prospective byers. But Over the years I have tried to play with the Emmons set up but always come back to CBA with E's lowered on LKL and Raised LKR just feels natural that way.
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Scott Duckworth


From:
Western Foothills of the Smokies
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 3:23 am     Reply with quote

Question? on the Day setup, where are the E (E raise) and F (E lower) levers? Do the stay as E - LKR and F- LKL, or do they get reversed also?
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 3:34 am     Reply with quote

Jimmy Day raised them on LKL, lowered 8 (but not 4) on RKR
http://b0b.com/wp/?page_id=725
John Hughey raised on LKR, lowered on LKL
http://b0b.com/tunings/JohnHughey.html#e9
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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 3:46 am     Reply with quote

It's really all relative to your seating position at the guitar. And probably your height has something to do with it too. You don't need to twist your ankle in an unusual way, as long as you have the proper seating position.

Karlis says; "sit at your at your guitar with your left knee centered between the two knee levers and your foot resting on the floor in a neutral position," This is the first mistake, it's not the correct seating position. You need to center your body at about the 15th fret. Your left leg should then be at an angle as it passes between the left knee levers. The heel of the left foot should be located in line with the C pedal, the front of the foot then falls over pedals A and B, at an angle. With this position, you won't need to twist your ankle in an unnatural way. If you are on the shorter side, you probably need to have the pedals and left knee levers located more centrally on the guitar.

All you need to do is search out pictures and videos of Buddy Emmons, And copy what he does. If you want to do it differently, that's up to you. There are some other good players that used the Day set up, especially the shorter fellows, like Jeff Newman. But, when in doubt, you could do worse than copy everything Buddy Emmons does.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl, Formerly KC, MO
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 4:27 am     Reply with quote

I learned using the original Sho-Bud single volume instruction book. It had the Emmons setup and I've stuck with it. I've played friends guitars with the Day setup and could have just as easily used that if I had started with it. After 40 years I'm not going to change.

I have a problem with guitars with the 1st pedal being too far to the left on the pedal bar (e.g. Zum's). On those guitar's the Day would put the AB (BA) pedals more in line and accessible. My Franklin's pedals are more to the right and the AB pedals (Emmons setup) are in line and not hard to reach.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 5:04 am     Reply with quote

Bill Moore wrote:
...

All you need to do is search out pictures and videos of Buddy Emmons, And copy what he does. If you want to do it differently, that's up to you. There are some other good players that used the Day set up, especially the shorter fellows, like Jeff Newman. But, when in doubt, you could do worse than copy everything Buddy Emmons does.

On the flip side, you could do worse than copying either Jimmy Day or John Hughey.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 6:20 am     Reply with quote

Scott Duckworth wrote:
Question? on the Day setup, where are the E (E raise) and F (E lower) levers? Do the stay as E - LKR and F- LKL, or do they get reversed also?


Most everyone that plays a Day setup (myself included) lower E's on LKL and raise on LKR. I believe John, Weldon, Tommy, Jimmy and a lot of others use that setup. However, I have been told that J.D Maness's knee's are reversed with Day pedals. Don't quote me on that.

I also have noticed that most everyone that I see playing Emmons setup moves their foot just for the one pedal when pumping or using A pedal where on Day setup, we just rock to A pedal. I guess if it works, do it, huh?
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Henry Matthews
D-10 Emmons 1975 P/P Rosewood
D-10 Emmons 1970 P/P Black
D-10 Magnum 2000"s ? Black


LTD amp, Goodrich pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings
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John De Maille


From:
On a Mountain in Upstate Halcottsville, N.Y.
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 7:19 am     Reply with quote

My first pedal steel was a maple Maverick with 3 pedals, ABC set up. I added a knee, with the help of a friend, to lower the 8th string to Eb, going RKR. I've been playing that set up for over 30 yrs. I raise both E's with LKL knee lever. When I started playing I didn't know about an Emmons or Day set up. I just used what was feasable on a Maverick and kept the original set up. I've tried the Day set up and it doesn't feel comfortable to me. So, it goes to show you, that, there are many ways to play this beast and one shoe does not fit all. BTW- The RKR lever, lowering the E's works perfectly for a U-12 tuning. It was a natural transition for me to use. So, the saga continues.
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chris ivey


From:
sacto
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 2:32 pm     Reply with quote

Henry Matthews wrote:
Scott Duckworth wrote:


Most everyone that plays a Day setup (myself included) lower E's on LKL and raise on LKR.


too much generalizing.
i raise e lkr and lower e rkl.

day pedals on 1 and 2.
not everyone conforms to your perceived norm.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 6:57 pm     Reply with quote

Chris, I used to play that setup and found it to be quite comfortable. I changed for two reasons. The first being that almost everyone here in Texarkana at that time played Day setup with both E's on left knee and I got tired of hearing them grip when they set in on my guitar. The other reason was when I got my first push pull, it was Day setup with E's on left knee also so just left it that way.
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Henry Matthews
D-10 Emmons 1975 P/P Rosewood
D-10 Emmons 1970 P/P Black
D-10 Magnum 2000"s ? Black


LTD amp, Goodrich pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings
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Pete Walthall


From:
Arkansas, USA
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 7:36 pm     day emmons Reply with quote

henry you sho nuff play good BUT do you use day or emmons on that fiddle it sure sounds good to. see you and the fiddle in nov.i hope..pete.///////////
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chris ivey


From:
sacto
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 8:19 pm     Reply with quote

yeah henry..i'm just so used to it and the way my other levers.etc. work around it. would be hard to change. plus, i set my steel up for me to play, not for someone else.
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Bobby D. Jones


From:
West Virginia, USA
Post Posted 14 Oct 2013 8:19 pm     Emmons vs Day - a personal perspective Reply with quote

The first steel guitar I ever got to walk up to and look at in person had a Day Setup. Saturday night, Thanksgiving weekend 1969, 3 days after my son Marvin was born. Marvin Vandergrift, I worked with and was the band leader, Dana Murphy played steel. It seems that the setup either Emmons or Day is a community deal and what setup showed up in the community first with a good picker sitting behind it. I built a steel about 1970 I copied the Day Setup. My first factory built guitar I bought was a MSA S-10 that is set up Day with lower both E's LKL raise both E's LKR. Being a Single neck, The C pedal is in the 3rd slot left to right, B pedal 4th slot right, and A pedal 5th slot right. It is the most comfortable steel I have ever sat down at. Both legs straight down with knees between both sets of knee levers. I have found it takes a soft touch on the pedals, With all the pedals out in the near center of the body you have to use a soft touch on the pedals. With the pedal stops on the body hard pushing on pedals will warp the body and lower the non pulled strings. I guess it is a personal like and a physical ability decision.
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Billy Carr


From:
Seminary, Mississippi USA
Post Posted 18 Oct 2013 12:17 am     Day or Emmons? Reply with quote

Started out in 71' learning the Day set up. Switched over to Emmons around 81 or 82, I think. Was using a 66' D-10 P/P then. Sold the 66' and purchased a sunburst D-10 MSA SS from Herb Remington. Best move right into an all - pull system. Tuning issues disappeared. Main reason I switched over to Emmons set up was for speed pickin'. Now, I switch/change KL set ups often but not the pedals. I'm just grateful the good Lord let me start back playing after my stroke in April 2012. I'm still not 100% but I'd say about maybe 85% to 90%. Gettin' there.
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