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Author Topic:  Short keyhead guitar issues
Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 2:47 am     Reply with quote

You don't realize how "small" changes in a guitars construction can really have an impact on your playing style...

I recently purchased a Williams 700/ D-10, and it sounds fantastic! However, this guitar has a short keyhead, as opposed to my Sierra. I did not realize how often I pull the bar off over the nut to get to open E. It is impossible for me to do this on this short keyhead guitar without dropping the bar, or without a lot of finger finagling to hang on to it.

I suppose this is something I will adapt to in time, but it has seriously hampered my playing style at this point.

Any suggestions on how to lift the bar off at the nut on this type of guitar? Unless you have played a short keyhead instrument, you may not have even realized this is an issue. I surely did not see it coming.

I know I am probably not explaining the issue well, and if you need further clarification, please ask!

Thanks! Smile
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Sierra Crown D-10
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 7:26 am     Reply with quote

Just between you and me, I prefer a guitar with a longer key head, especially when you want to tune it. Very Happy
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 10:42 am     Reply with quote

Picking it a bit more this morning, and I have created an awkward way of doing it by pushing my thumb way over and forcing the bar into my pinky and crudely grabbing on to it that way.

I'm sure there is a masterful way of doing this, but I haven't discovered it yet. It also could be that, even after playing for almost 40 yrs., I still do not posses the proper bar control. For example, I have issues with doing reverse bar slants, where you shift the back of the bar with your thumb. I can muddle through them, but surely not smooth like Paul or Tommy does them.

Erv, what does the keyhead length have to do with tuning it? I'm not come to that issue yet, other than tweaking it a bit.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 11:30 am     Reply with quote

I find that with the tuning keys so close together I have a hard time getting my fingers in there to tune it. Also when I am changing strings.
It kind of sounds like you're playing the Williams like a dobro. I don't play any open strings, you can't add tremolo to an open string. Also, I have never used a reverse slant when playing pedal steel.
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 11:56 am     Reply with quote

I don't think I'm playing it like a dobro...but when I'm playing in E and I want to go to an open E for whatever reason, that is where the problem lies. The short keyhead makes you scrunch your fingers up tight in order to play there, even on first fret F, it feels different, uncomfortable for me.

And...you don't use reverse bar slants? Like those ones that the awesome Paul Franklin uses all the time, such as in Together Again, others? I Love that sound! Wink
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Sierra Crown D-10
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 12:07 pm     Reply with quote

I have no ambitions to reach the status of Paul Franklin. Very Happy
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 3:48 pm     Reply with quote

Hi Tim. What is the issue? Is it that the shorter keyhead puts the tuning keys closer to the nut than you're used to? Fingers running into the keys?

I have to say having played several keyless and a Mullen, which I suppose you would consider a short keyhead, I've never noticed a problem.

I, like you though, do play a lot of open licks with and without pedals, unison stuff etc. and I'd be bummed if I couldn't play open stuff like that. I'm certainly empathetic to your situation and I guess I'd have to do whatever I had to, to circumvent a problem like that.

I played a Williams for a couple years, but mine was keyless...great guitars though.

Do you suppose you will adjust and eventually get used to it? Hope so...sorry I don't have any helpful advice for you.
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Rich Upright


From:
Florida, USA
Post Posted 21 Apr 2017 5:54 pm     Reply with quote

My Mullen has a short keyhead. I think they look much better than a long one.
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 22 Apr 2017 4:00 am     Reply with quote

Jerry Overstreet wrote:
Hi Tim. What is the issue? Is it that the shorter keyhead puts the tuning keys closer to the nut than you're used to? Fingers running into the keys?

I have to say having played several keyless and a Mullen, which I suppose you would consider a short keyhead, I've never noticed a problem.

I, like you though, do play a lot of open licks with and without pedals, unison stuff etc. and I'd be bummed if I couldn't play open stuff like that. I'm certainly empathetic to your situation and I guess I'd have to do whatever I had to, to circumvent a problem like that.

I played a Williams for a couple years, but mine was keyless...great guitars though.

Do you suppose you will adjust and eventually get used to it? Hope so...sorry I don't have any helpful advice for you.



Hi Jerry,

i appreciate your insight. I guess the issue is that the short keyhead does put the tuning keys closer to the nut, And also...I just looked at both the Sierra and the Williiams, and I notice that the Sierra long keyhead slants down a lot more on the other side of the nut, and my fingers glide over that open area, above the keys, instead of bumping into them.

To my thinking, this is a "design flaw", that I would think a seasoned player would have noticed in the design stages of an instrument. I use the "whole neck" when I play, so that is why I'm running into this glitch of hitting the keys. The Williams keys are almost on a "level plane" with the neck too, and again, that is why my hand is bumping into it.

On the Mullen you mentioned, are the keys on a level plane, or does that area angle down on that side of the nut, creating an open space for your fingers to glide over? I ask because I've never played a Mullen or seen one up close.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I have somewhat adapted by doing the following:

I have created an awkward way of doing it by pushing my thumb way over and forcing the bar into my pinky and crudely grabbing on to it that way. So, I have adjusted/compensated by doing that, but it is quite unhandy, and does slow you down a bit, and makes things not flow as fluid as they should.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 22 Apr 2017 4:36 am     Reply with quote

It's been a while since I have owned a Mullen, so I can't answer re: the configuration height of the keyhead v. the neck...just don't recall.

I'm going to sit at my MCI tonight and observe my technique...sometimes things become so second nature that we don't notice them.

It could be that instead of sliding the bar over the nut, I just might be picking it up instead in kind of swooping, lifting motion...but I'll have to sit at the guitar and try some of those open licks to be sure.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 23 Apr 2017 7:16 am     Reply with quote

It is as I suspected. I do pick the bar up. Almost never slide or roll it over the nut. This for full chords, triads etc. on open things etc. as well as singles.

I also do a lot of hammers and pulls with a tipped bar in some of those open positions sort of like you would on a dobro, for unison notes or just single notes in general. Not necessarily playing things in the bluegrass dobro style however.

It has just become so much a part of my playing, that I guess I hadn't thought about how I accomplish until your topic here. I do know that I wouldn't want to play if I couldn't do those things in the open positions.

My technique may not be of any help to you...I don't know, but I hope you are able to adjust to your new guitar.
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Bobby D. Jones


From:
West Virginia, USA
Post Posted 26 Apr 2017 7:38 pm     Reply with quote

The short key head is a different critter.
I went from an old MSA S10 which actually had a 12 string key head on it with the 2 empty key positions right at the nut rollers.

I now play a GFI S12 U. with much shorter key head. I have to watch and be careful or I will move the key for the next string above or below the one I am actually tuning. I also use a electric screwdriver with an adapter when changing strings and I have the align all the key knobs at 90 degrees to the key heads so the adapter will have clearance to turn.
It seems the short key head gives a more stable tuning of strings, Shorter dead string between the nut roller and the tuner shaft.
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