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Author Topic:  Pickup for Fessenden
Matt Davison


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 10 May 2017 8:25 pm     Reply with quote

Hi all, I am relatively new to the world of Pedal steel. Ive only been playing for about 3 years now.I have owned 3 steels and all 3 have had Humbuckers, One was the stage one custom pickup, and the other two were George L. One was an E66 and the one on my Fessy is a 10-1. I have not been happy with the tone. as it sounds too Middy and the lows are very prominent. I want to get that nice crystal clear sound that most steels have. I have tried tweaking the knobs on my amps but cant seem to find that sound. I was debating between a Trutone single coil, or a Bill Lawrence 710. Does any body have any reccomendations? Thanks!
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Fessenden D-10 8X5. Nashville 112 w/Fox mod. Regal Black Lightning squareneck w/beard legend cone, ebony bridge and beard spider.
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post Posted 11 May 2017 2:36 am     Reply with quote

I think the 710 is one of the more commonly installed pups on a Fessenden. I've been through a few. I liked the Alumitone but I moved on and I am currently quite happy with a Telonics 128 (12 string version of the 84).
Have you tried to lower the bass end of your pickup? Proximity can have a big impact on boominess.
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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 11 May 2017 4:56 am     Reply with quote

I've had 2 Fessendens, the pickup that I liked the best was the Truetone, 17.5k. The guitars that I had seemed to have some basic tonal differences, but both sounded good with the Truetone. There are a lot of factors to consider, your amp settings will affect it a lot. You have a NV112, so start with all the controls straight up. First adjust the mid shift both ways, see what sounds best. If there is too much bass, adjust that. Turn the treble and presence to get the high where you want them. Don't start with the bass all the way up, with the mids cut a lot and the treble cut back. That pretty much gives you the sound that you have described. Good luck.
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post Posted 11 May 2017 7:01 am     Reply with quote

My pre-coffee post neglected to mention that I, personally, have not tried a 710 in it so I can't comment or compare. And I think I like the single coil best (I can't recall if I had it in this guitar or my Carter) but my choice is for a humbucker. For hum reasons, not for sonic preference.
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Tucker Jackson


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 10:01 am     Reply with quote

Matt, you mentioned a lack of sparkle and some boominess with an E-66 -- a very bright pickup. And a similar problem with other pickups. This makes me think that you should plug into a different amp to see what's going on.

I know you said you messed with knobs, but a Nashville 112 has a parametric midrange setup (two knobs that interact to achieve one setting). You probably know how to set it, but a lot of other folks are really confused by the arrangement-- really confused -- and they end up with a super midrangy or muddy sound.

The stock speaker of the NV112 also hypes the midrange in a pretty extreme way, so it's a battle to dial it out. Don't be afraid to turn a knob as far as it will go.

Since amp settings have far more impact than the choice of pickup, before swapping pickups, maybe try setting the mids like this:
Start by turning the bass way down so you can really hear changes in the lower mids.
Set the High and Presence straight up at 0 (that is, no boost and no cut, so they're not changing anything).

Now mess with the mids. First, point the Shift knob to the frequency you want to mess with, say, 800. Then, well, mess with it by turning the other knob, the Mid knob, all the way down. Together, those two knobs are cutting a section of the midrange spectrum that's centered at 800kHz.

Now check to see if 800 is, in fact,the offending frequency you want to remove. Leave the Mid knob all the way to the left so it's doing a full cut. Then strum the guitar and turn that Shift knob slowly to the left sweeping through some lower frequency settings, say, between 800 and 500. Somewhere in there, you'll find a sweet spot where you're turning down the perfect frequency. I like about 750.

Once you've found that spot, make a mental note of what that offending frequency is. You'll leave your Shift knob set there most of the time. And double check it every time you sit down for a gig because a small change in that setting can destroy your sound.

Now with the Shift set (and superglued in place), the Mid knob works just like the amps's other EQ knobs that boost or cut at a set, built-in frequency. Or it doesn't change the sound at all when set straight up at 12:00 O'clock.

You can try adding back a little bit of mids using the Mid knob. But if you're like me, you'll leave it set so it's cutting as much as possible of the 112 stock speaker honk (Mid knob all the way to the left).

With the mids dialed out, 80% of the battle is won on a Peavey steel amp. Dialing in the other knobs is easy. FYI, I leave the bass very low on my 112.

Good luck.
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Matt Davison


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 10:53 am     Reply with quote

Tucker, thank you very much for your input. I have tried and gotten the same results through the 112. A Vegas 400. A fender twin reverb. And through my friends milkman. But I will try your suggestion. I just bought a trutone. So we'll see how that sounds
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Fessenden D-10 8X5. Nashville 112 w/Fox mod. Regal Black Lightning squareneck w/beard legend cone, ebony bridge and beard spider.
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Matt Davison


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 10:55 am     Reply with quote

And also... I have no idea how the mids work. I just keep the shift at 800 and the mid between 9 o'clock and 11 o clock
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Fessenden D-10 8X5. Nashville 112 w/Fox mod. Regal Black Lightning squareneck w/beard legend cone, ebony bridge and beard spider.
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Tucker Jackson


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 1:51 pm     Reply with quote

Great choice with the Truetone! I'll be curious to see if that fixes you up.

If it doesn't end up giving you what you want -- if all those amps and pickups give the same result, then it's probably down to the guitar, the cables, the volume pedal, and any effects in the chain. And the way you pick, of course.

I doubt it's the guitar. I used to play a Fessy (and have heard several others live) and I had no trouble getting all the sparkle out of it I wanted. It's always possible that there's something up with your steel, but I would investigate other things first.

Are you using a pot pedal? You might try bypassing it (and any effects boxes) and plugging the steel straight into the amp to see how that affects the tone. Using a pot designed for 6-string will sap highs.

If you use an outboard reverb, some types are too dark for steel IMHO, so try bypassing that.

Also, a very long 10-foot instrument cable between the guitar and the volume pedal will sap some of your sparkle. Use the shortest possible cable. Also, use low-capacitance cables to minimize the sucking of highs (like George L's).

Picking with fingers instead of fingerpicks will give the result you're describing.

Picking closer to the pickup rather than, say, near the 24th fret, will brighten your tone. I'm grasping at straws here... mysterious problem.
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Matt Davison


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 1:57 pm     Reply with quote

I have a stage one volume pedal. I have a 4 foot cord from guitar to pedal. And a 10 foot cord to the amp. I think it is the humbucking pickups. I had the same result on 3 different steels with 3 different amps. All with similar pickups. I'll give these trutones a try. Hopefully that will help. It seems to be worse when I plug into the higher gain input on the amp as well. It sounds good with the amp turned down to "bedroom volume" but once I crank it up to "jamming volume, it gets very low and the highs don't ring
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Fessenden D-10 8X5. Nashville 112 w/Fox mod. Regal Black Lightning squareneck w/beard legend cone, ebony bridge and beard spider.
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Tucker Jackson


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 1:59 pm     Reply with quote

I think it's normal that you'll get a lot more bass out of the rig when it's turned up. You might have to mess with the bass knob when you play at gig level.

How do your run your Gain and Volume settings when you're playing at higher volume? You'll want to keep the Gain set lower than the Volume at all times or the preamp will overdrive the amp stage. Not good on a solid state amp.

On my NV112, any gain above about 5 sounds odd (slightly distorted, maybe?). But I run the Volume knob wide-open at a gig.
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Michael Dulin


From:
Indiana, USA
Post Posted 11 May 2017 3:05 pm     fessenden pu Reply with quote

My fessy came with a 710. I had to insist Jerry put it in there, he recommended a 705. I played it 'bout year then switched to the 705...it's perfect. Jerry was right. Who would've guessed. My nv112 gets the shift straight up(650) to 800 depending on the room. Bass about 3 o'clock, mids 10 or 11, treble & presence about 2 0'clock +/-. Very clean & clear.MD
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