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Author Topic:  Steel Guitar Tone
David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 23 Sep 2017 12:12 pm     Reply with quote

I am thoroughly convinced anyone can get Buddy Emmons bell like tone out of any pedal steel guitar. However you need an equalizer that is capable of bringing out those frequencies if your amp won't do it. Let me explain. Equalizers have curves on the frequency bands. Some have a bell curve ")" like Fender tube amps and some equalizers like a Session 500 have a midrange pyramid curve "∆" which is peaky if used to the extreme.When you flex the curve it goes from bell to pyramid. The best way I know of to bring out the bell like Push Pull Emmons tone is get a good 31 band EQ to get the proper curve because all steels have different tones and it's gonna depend on your ear to bring it out. My favorite is the little Alesis stereo 31 band equalizers that have Alesis written in big letters across the front. I used old UREI's for decades but they are an old design that uses ring filters. The newer stuff doesn't ring and is quieter. I repeat. You don't need an Emmons Push Pull guitar to sound like Buddy Emmons in 1965. You do need some playing ability, a good equalizer and a good set of ears to know when you find that sound. I can't tell you exactly how to set the eq because all guitars are different but the secret is in the upper mids. Little too far and it gets brittle, too much the other way and it sounds soft and loses the bell tone. You have to tweak and use your ears. Some people would not like to play Buddy Emmons rig just after he got up from a show because they are not use to highs showing all their flaws but that sound is in your guitar no matter what name is on the front you just have to pull it out. Push Pulls are sought after because they get that sound naturally with a lot less work but that sound is hidden in your steel too are may not be hidden. Peace! All comments welcome.
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 23 Sep 2017 12:17 pm     Reply with quote

I agree completely.

I use the unlikeliest of combinations. An 80's Sierra all-pull, and an Acoustic Lead Guitar Series G120 DSP 120W dual 12 amp. Acoustic is the brand.

While fiddling with the settings, I "stumbled" across that bell like tone, much to my surprise, and am very happy with it! As you mentioned, a good set of ears is critical to achieve that tone. You might have to "check" it over a couple of days, playing off & on, to make sure you aren't "hearing" things, lol.

That said, I'd sure love to have my 60's pp back...
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 23 Sep 2017 12:19 pm     Reply with quote

Good for you Tim! It's in there you just have to look for it.
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Emmons PP 8/10, Sho-Bud Pro ll 8/4, ZB Custom 8/4, MSA Classic 10/10, Fender 2000 10/2, Fender SF Quad Reverb, Fender BF Super Reverb, Fender Super Twin, Fender BF Vibroclone, Peavy Nashville 400, Peavy Nashville 1000, Peavy Session 400, Peavy Artist VT, Sho-Bud Christmas Tree
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 24 Sep 2017 2:27 am     Reply with quote

Are we referring to recording or playing live ? This is the recording section and yes we EQ for a balanced sound, all instruments, when mixing so we hopefully end up with a pleasurable tonal experience for the listener that is not low freq strong or hi freq erratic.

Two different worlds.

Regarding LIVE, while there is truth as to what is written, it's not absolute. To somehow assume all Steel Guitars can have equal tone is the premise , they do not and cannot. Similar ? Sure.

Can you dial in good tones, sure, but if an instrument is not capable of delivering frequencies then we have an issue.

All Telecasters don't sound the same, no matter how many times someone says they do, they don't. Different pickups different bridges etc all matter.

Push Pulls have a MASS of metal parts and a totally different changer design, where it strikes the body, they don't sound like a Zum Encore or a Maverick. They don't even sound like a quality Sho Bud, and thats a good thing.

We can't adjust frequencies if they are absent.

years back, hanging out with some dang good Bass players, it was always said, pick up the Bass, play it unplugged, what does it sound like ? Plug it in, what does it sound like under the 5th fret ? No matter what amount of EQ you add or subtract can't make that good stuff happen.

Now that being said, the use of a quality EQ can repair the MID range freq to a point, thats where the tone life is being sucked out.

IF you are playing a guitar that doesn't need mid range repair then you would not need an EQ .

Something tells me that this thread is leaning away from Push Pulls because they are mentioned by name. I hope thats not the case. Many quality Steel guitars have an inherent tone, all good, some have a natural BELL tone as described, some don't. Some never will.

Push Pulls have a unique tone, some like it ,some don't, some don't care ,some can't tell the difference. Call it bell tone, call it whatever we want. As do many fine ALL Pulls. Same thing.

IF we can't hear it "dry" , the EQ doesn't much matter.

Of course Buddy was a master of tone, as is Lloyd, each of us could sit behind their respective guitars and never come close to what THEY sound like , with or without an EQ. Each of them knew ( know) exactly what their instruments are capable of delivering , no EQ, Bell tone or no Bell tone .

Probably the biggest problem with each of us seeking tone , regardless of Steel or amp, is hampered by old strings , bar weight, right hand technique, left hand technique and of course our ears, do we even know what tone we are seeking ?

The EQ thing is not a bad thing but it's not the cure.

Another thing that EQ can't fix is the players relationships with a Steel. Many players hear certain things from Steel A vs Steel B, they play different based on what they hear. Just like a great Violin, a great Mandolin, the Steel is no different, the natural tones and overtones are not something that an EQ should be expected to adjust. It's after the fact.

I don't say don't use an EQ , I just say it's an audible effect that can assist in your final tone out of the amp.
Then add this ask 50 people to define bell tone and we may get 50 different replies. Smile
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Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 24 Sep 2017 3:44 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
Then add this ask 50 people to define bell tone and we may get 50 different replies.


Very true! And, to add to this, it is really only us musicians that obsess over the tonal sound of an instrument, most of the time.

For the most part, much of the audience doesn't have a clue, can't hear it, doesn't care, wouldn't even know if we played completely flat w/ no effects at all.

I've observed this many times. But, at least we're having fun, lol.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 24 Sep 2017 4:48 am     Reply with quote

Ha! right Tim, Laughing we obsess over tone, amps, speakers, STRINGS, yep even strings, but when it comes to actually playing, I'm not certain we obsess ! Sad
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Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
Pro Tools 8 and Pro Tools 12
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 24 Sep 2017 8:36 am     Reply with quote

Well I've done as much recording as playing live. Tones work just as well on a recording as they do live. It's hard to make adjustments on a live gig unless you are the sound engineer and way across the room away from the bandstand. I've worked in that capacity too to help a friend out but I spent my life working state of the art multi-tracking studios that had everything so I didn't have to go far for a good equalizer. I prefer to use VST plugins now for recording to give me more options when I go to mix. The only reason I even mentioned a hardware EQ is I realize not everyone is computer saavy but since this is a recording thread I'll assume everyone knows how to operate either Pro Tools or Steinberg Nuendo from now on and we can get to the point much quicker.
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Emmons PP 8/10, Sho-Bud Pro ll 8/4, ZB Custom 8/4, MSA Classic 10/10, Fender 2000 10/2, Fender SF Quad Reverb, Fender BF Super Reverb, Fender Super Twin, Fender BF Vibroclone, Peavy Nashville 400, Peavy Nashville 1000, Peavy Session 400, Peavy Artist VT, Sho-Bud Christmas Tree
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Tim Russell


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 24 Sep 2017 9:59 am     Reply with quote

Since "live" gigs has been mentioned, I can remember when I first started gigging as a young musician. From one venue to the next, the drastic variances in tonal sounds of the instrument was amazing!

We once played in a huge church, (huge to me) probably seated a couple thousand people, and the reverb effect of that room was absolutely amazing. Such a warm, rich, sound, I wish I could have taken that sound along with me to every gig.

Another time, we played an outdoor concert, with a hill/hump a couple hundred yards out from the stage. Everything bounced back to us about a 1/2 second later. The oddest situation I believe I've ever played in.

David mentions the software/plugins. I know of a few pros who play completely through PC's, and they sound fantastic. The last I checked, avant garde guitarist John McLaughlin does this. If I were gigging regularly now, I may very well go that route as well.

Sorry David, didn't mean to derail the thread from recording. I have a hard time staying focused sometimes, lol. Embarassed
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 24 Sep 2017 10:23 am     Reply with quote

Tony Prior you are right about the impossibility to get any steel to sound exactly like an Emmons Push Pull and that is because of the odd and even order harmonics. All musical instruments have them to different degrees. You can see them on an oscilloscope. What you can do is reach the exact fundamental tone of a push pull. I do disagree about frequencies being absent in an instrument. That's impossible between 40-12,000hz on a steel guitar. The only way you could completely remove a frequency is use a notch filter like a UREI Little Dipper. I use to use them to remove 60 cycle AC hum. No matter how weak a frequency is it can still be brought out with enough eq but sometimes at the expense of more hum and hiss. The fundamental tone of a push pull can easily be obtained with the the newer pickups from GL and BL because they are high quality full range pickups. And as you said be sure you have fairly new strings and get rid of a bunch of tone and volume potentiometers you don't need. They are tone robbers. Peace!
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Emmons PP 8/10, Sho-Bud Pro ll 8/4, ZB Custom 8/4, MSA Classic 10/10, Fender 2000 10/2, Fender SF Quad Reverb, Fender BF Super Reverb, Fender Super Twin, Fender BF Vibroclone, Peavy Nashville 400, Peavy Nashville 1000, Peavy Session 400, Peavy Artist VT, Sho-Bud Christmas Tree
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