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Post new topic Steel Guitar Rag - Free Tab!, Open E Tuning
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Author Topic:  Steel Guitar Rag - Free Tab!, Open E Tuning
Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 24 Nov 2008 8:51 pm     Reply with quote

Hello everyone, here is the tab for Steel Guitar Rag in the Key of E, in Open E Tuning.

I would appreciate if some more experienced players could look this over and let me me know if there is a better way of fingering some of the measures. This tab shows the correct timing for all the notes like you would expect to see in standard notation.

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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 27 Nov 2008 1:50 am     Reply with quote

Sweet!
Thanks for that Ray.
I'm no expert but it looks pretty good to me.

I just love this tune & enjoy finding all the different versions on youtube.

There once was a video of John Fahey playing a version of this with "Poor Boy" blended in there, played on his Kona at a show in Hamburg in the 70s.
Seeing/hearing this tune is what got me determined to learn the solid thumb-bass accompanyment.
I was totally new to steel guitar ( & Fahey ) at the time & this particular video was really inspirational to me... unfortunately it was removed from youtube & I hadn't saved it to my PC! Crying or Very sad
2 years on & I'm still working on that thumb!

I have to say I really appreciate your contribution of openD/E stuff.
It's such a good tuning for playing solo, with "self-accompanyment".
Plus you can just raise or lower the third string a notch for some nice variety!
I do get the impression that some look down on 151351 tunings, almost as if it's not a "proper" steel guitar tuning and that one should "progress" onto a 6th tuning or whatever.
Anyway, I love it & I'm sticking with it! Very Happy
Thanks again,
Chris.
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 1 Dec 2008 1:49 pm     Reply with quote

Hi Chris,

I'm really glad that some of this is useful to some others. Thanks for reminding me about the 3rd string "trick". From Open D, tuning the 3rd string down a half-step puts you in Open D Minor. This works well for tunes like "House of the Rising Sun" and "Summertime". It is also great for much of Skip James' melancholy pieces.

Tuning the 3rd string up a half-step puts you in DADGAD. I haven't tried that particular tuning, but some use it exclusively. I wonder if anyone uses that one for lap steel?

Ray
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 1 Dec 2008 4:31 pm     Reply with quote

E major tuning seems like the ideal tuning for Steel Guitar Rag. I used it in the mid 40s before the C6th became popular.
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 1 Dec 2008 5:05 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks Bill. That's good to hear.....

I don't play it yet. I just tabbed it out from sheet music. Do you know if there are easier or better sounding ways to play some of the lines? With most any kind of stringed instruments, there are different ways to do the same thing. In my version there seems to be a lot of sliding around from high to low frets and vice-versa. Is that typical for this tune?
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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 1 Dec 2008 11:59 pm     Reply with quote

Ray Langley wrote:
a lot of sliding around


Sounds good to me! Winking
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Billy Tonnesen


From:
Buena Park, California
Post Posted 2 Dec 2008 5:56 pm     Reply with quote

If we are talking about a lap steel with eight strings, IMHO the best tuning is an E13th with a C# string just below the high E string. This is good for the melody and even better when you want to jam or play fuller chords. This is primarily what Joaquin Murphy used when he recorded it for Spade Cooley. Why are tabs needed for a tune as simple as Steel Guitar Rag ? Just wondering !
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 2 Dec 2008 6:33 pm     Reply with quote

Hi Billy,

As shown in the tab at the top of this thread we are "talking about" six strings.

As for your question about why do we need tab for such a simple tune.... Well, by golly, EVERYONE does not have your talent or ability. Forum member DeWitt Scott sells a book of 20 tabbed tunes for $25. One of them is "Steel Guitar Rag". Don Helms song book with 10 simple Hank Williams tabbed tunes goes for $35. I imagine that both of these are strong sellers.

I suppose if you can read music notation fluently in several tunings, you would not need tab for anything. Unfortunately, many of us are not quite there yet.
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2008 10:31 am     Reply with quote

You are ahead of me Ray! I don't read tab, just notes, and not very good at that either! Very Happy
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2008 11:53 am     Reply with quote

Bill, I don't believe that those who can read tab are ahead of those who read notes! Standard notation is perfect for many other instruments, especially keyboards. On a keyboard, there is one (and only one) place to play any given note. On stringed instruments, including lap steels, there are several places on the fretboard to play the same note.

Notation for classical guitar may include suggested fingerings, including fret(s) and finger(s) to use.

Much of the tab available on the internet is lacking in correct "timing". In other words you need the CD to learn the tunes. The tab I have provided for this tune shows the correct "fingering" for the steel/slide AND it provides the correct timing, just like standard notation.

Like you, I also read notes! I like to figure out the fretting using sheet music and my fretboard map for the chosen tuning. Then, I write it out in tab which makes it easier for ME to learn and/memorize a piece. Tab makes things less confusing. And, tab is not a new thing. The first tab for stringed instruments was developed hundreds of years for the lute.

Sticking with Open E Major tuning for a moment, here is how it can get confusing reading notes:

The open first string is "E". This very same note can be played on the second string at the fifth fret. It can be played on the third string at the eighth fret. It can be played on the fourth string at the 12th fret, etc. It gets even more complicated when you want to harmonize two or more notes.

Ray
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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 3 Dec 2008 2:09 pm     Reply with quote

Ray, what software did you use for writing out that tab?
Is that TablEdit?
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Jim Konrad


From:
The Great Black Swamp USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2008 3:21 pm     Reply with quote

Ray Langley wrote:
Hi Billy,

As shown in the tab at the top of this thread we are "talking about" six strings.

As for your question about why do we need tab for such a simple tune.... Well, by golly, EVERYONE does not have your talent or ability. Forum member DeWitt Scott sells a book of 20 tabbed tunes for $25. One of them is "Steel Guitar Rag". Don Helms song book with 10 simple Hank Williams tabbed tunes goes for $35. I imagine that both of these are strong sellers.

I suppose if you can read music notation fluently in several tunings, you would not need tab for anything. Unfortunately, many of us are not quite there yet.


Ray,

I read that earlier and wanted to comment on it. You beat me to it and covered it with a much better attitude than I would have. LOL

Thanks for the tab!!! That is one of my favorite tunings. I am looking forward to tackling your tab (to a song we should all know but might not) while on my holiday break.

Thanks for your help!!!
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2008 8:26 pm     Reply with quote

Chris, the software I use for notation and tab is MusEdit. I've tried a lot of different things over the years. It is on sale now for $59. This one satisfies all my needs:

http://www.musedit.com/

Thanks, Jim. For some of us older newbies, I think that "Steel Guitar Rag" and "Sleepwalk" have motivated more people to take up some form of steel than all other songs combined. I probably would have taken up lap steel many years earlier if I had had access to tab for these two tunes!

Sometimes it is difficult for some of the more adept players to remember what it was like to be a beginner.
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basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 4 Dec 2008 5:48 am     Reply with quote

Ray Langley wrote:


Sometimes it is difficult for some of the more adept players to remember what it was like to be a beginner.


I remember, no tab, we had to use our ears..
The phrase "Wheat and Chaff" comes to mind..
Maybe that's why a lot of the older players were so good..
Just my slant on it.

I also feel that bar 7 should be a split bar E/B7. But that's just my way of hearing it, I don't hear the E top note as sitting right on top of the dominant chord.FWIW
The tab's good but I prefer Tabledit. Methinks that combining the notation and tab on the one line is confusing the issue, and most importantly, is NON standard..

Quote:
I would appreciate if some more experienced players could look this over and let me me know if there is a better way of fingering some of the measures.

I see no fingering indicated, only fret positions..
One doesn't use one's left had to finger when it's holding a bar !! the notes are "Fretted," well, albeit with a large moveable fret (A Steel Bar)
Due diligence with terminology would be more of a help to newcomers than trying to re-invent the wheel IMHO.
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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 4 Dec 2008 7:35 am     Reply with quote

Basil, what would you recommend playing for that 7th bar ( for an unaccompanied performance ), to imply the chord split?

& Yeah, I remember starting out on (non-steel) guitar, things were very different before the tinternets!

Everything was by ear for me, play the (vinyl) record & work it out!
( Luckily I had one of those record-players with the repeat-play feature - you know, the long centre-prong with the latch thing and the pivoting arm that swings over the top to hold a stack of 45s ) Rolling Eyes

I didn't read music, tab was something I wrote down for myself in order to remember stuff, or to help me with finding that note in a better place on the fretboard.
Tab is much more useful than notation in this regard.

I'm not sure what to make of your "Wheat and Chaff" comment Basil...
Maybe abolishing online tabs would act as an effective winnowing method, to eradicate the plethora of "Chaff" steel-guitarists polluting the pure gene-pool with the unworthy hoards of new players with their irritating enthusiastic disregard of rigid tradition. Laughing ( just kidding! )

Sometimes it's nice to see tabs someone else has written, for "confirmation/clarification" purposes or to see how someone else may play the same tune differently, even when it's "wrong", it's all "grist to the mill" so to speak... ( see what I did there? Winking )

Using tab software has almost taught me to read music ( I can get the timing ).
I use PowerTab which is free & displays the notation above the tab, but the output to print/image file looks naff.
From what I've seen, Tabledit looks better.

On another note, Basil... are you continuing with Aloha Dream magazine?
I'd love to read a "definitive article" on the "Steel Guitar Rag", there's so many versions(&tunings) presented on youtube ( Leon, Speedy, electric with a band, solo acoustic, even the "Johnny Cash Knows All The Words To Steel Guitar Rag" version! )
Even when thoroughly butchered by a novice such as myself the tune still holds the strongest of charms, and has drawn many into the world of Steel Guitar.
I think that it would make a brilliant article ( though likely hard work to put together! )
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 4 Dec 2008 8:42 am     Reply with quote

Hi Basil,

I sincerely appreciate ALL of your feedback, even the parts that did not "feel good"....

I've been trying to learn several styles of guitar related music for about 48 years, since I was a senior in high school in Japan. I've always been envious of those who can learn by ear. My hearing began to go out in my early twenties. Now, it's very bad. That may seem like a lame excuse, but it was
just not in the cards for me to have that ability, in this lifetime. After 48 years of playing music, I still need a tuner every day. I would cheerfully trade my ability to read, transcribe, and transpose music for a "good ear for music".

Many, like you, do prefer Tabledit and many other programs. I was involved in the initial beta-testing for MusEdit many years ago. It works perfectly for me. You can save MusEdit files as ascii text, png, or abc file types. The author of this software is working on the next release which will have the ability to import and export Tabledit and file types from other tab/transcription software. BTW, when you buy this program, you get free upgrades for life!

As for standard, those older players who were so good might consider steel guitars with levers and pedals as NON standard? Clic-Tab also is non-standard, but apparantly quite popular.

I appreciate your comment on reinventing the wheel, re: fretting vs. fingering. That is the last thing I want to do. Really! However, the tab, as included in this thread, can be played with fingers on a standard guitar in Open E tuning. It can also be played using either a slide or steel. In the future, I'll stick with "bar" or "steel" since this is a steel forum.

Thanks for the tip for measure 7. That is exactly the type of advice I was seeking in the original post. I transcribed the song and the chord symbols from a VERY old copy of sheet music.
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basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 4 Dec 2008 7:13 pm     Reply with quote

Ray, it's nice to see you take on board my somewhat critical comments..BUT as people will tell you, I speak as I see it, somewhat vitriolic at times but always with nothing more in mind than accuracy..

Chris, the Wheat and Chaff reference was intended to intimate that in "Those Days" only the "Cream Rose to the Top" As you said somewhat jocularly,
Quote:
to eradicate the plethora of "Chaff" steel-guitarists polluting the pure gene-pool with the unworthy hoards of new players with their irritating enthusiastic disregard of rigid tradition.


Inspired inventiveness I can take, but altering things and using the excuse that "It's my version" or similar get outs, when in actual fact the player concerned simply isn't "Cutting It" just "gets my goat"..I don't buy that mindset, it, for me, gets pigeon holed along with "no finger picks", bars with grips, tapewound strings and all the other "Whimpish" accoutrements.. Adopted by the Weekend Warrior or Bedroom Bandit.. Brigade Devil Devil
I believe one of our resident musicologists Professor Anthony Lis is going to do an article for the magazine about the complete story of "Steel Guitar Rag" that should be pretty definitive..
As for your query about the magazine, yes we are continuing for at least another year..

As for bar 7 and the repetition of that part later in the tune, I think that and A-B7 split or E-B7 or A-B13 would ALL be preferable to the simple chord of B7 across the E-C#-B-G# run. I think if I was to play it "Bareback-Unaccompanied" I'd use the A position at the 5th fret for the first half of the bar and intimate the B13 with the B and G# notes at the open position.

This is how I'd play it on an acoustic steel tuned to open E


This is basic, minus the usual grace notes that are played by most..
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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 5 Dec 2008 12:52 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for that Basil, I'll go to war with this over the weekend & see how that'll fit with my goat-getting version ( I play with an alternating octave bassline on strings 6 & 4 - sort of in the style of John Fahey's bastardised SGR/Poor Boy version ).
I use thumb & fingerpicks & proper strings, but my steel has a gripper... sorry!

It's good news to hear that "Aloha Dream" is continuing!
I'm really looking forward to the SGR article... Anthony Lis is certainly thorough in his research!

I also respect your opinion regarding "Cream Rising to the Top", but this is where cheese comes from, right?
Don't get me wrong, I like cheese... Smile
( Seems we're moving onto Dairy now, I've run out of Flour-Production referances! Winking )

Anyway, imho without amateurs any pursuit is destined for stagnation.
( I'm of the opinion the meaning of the word "amateur" has been hijacked and did not originally imply a negative connotation. An amateur literally does something for the love of it, whereas a professional does something because they get paid. )
I am however deeply aware that I am in fact one of those "Bedroom Bandits" when it comes to Steel Guitar!... but I do have respect for tradition, and coming from a musical background of gigging & recording Death Metal / Grindcore, raucous blues and Atari-based breakcore I wouldn't consider myself to be "Whimpish" Devil

Please be assured that if I "have a dig back" it's with the best of intentions! I find your vitriol heartwarming, you are what I would consider a "stalwart". Cool
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basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 5 Dec 2008 3:58 am     No doubt at to where the English Language originated.. Reply with quote

Thanks for the superbly crafted reply Chris, I really MUST get to hear YOU play.

It would seem that if your approach to playing is to be measured by your colourful and expressive writing then you are up amongst the tops..

This has to be a quickie as I'm preparing the "New" guitar (see this) to use tonight at yet another charity event.
Seems that Bob and I could play every night of the week, for charities

Quote:
also respect your opinion regarding "Cream Rising to the Top", but this is where cheese comes from, right?
Don't get me wrong, I like cheese... Smile
( Seems we're moving onto Dairy now, I've run out of Flour-Production references! Winking )

Whist playing at one of our many residencies at Ashto Court CC, we were fortunate enough to be able to travel around the area in the daytime, and we DID in fact "Gorge ourselves on Cheddar" somewhere near BS27 3QF ..

Sorry for "Hi-Jacking" your thread Ray.. I will attempt to constructively deconstruct your tab and post my findings..AFTER this weekend's CHARITY gigs..
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basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 5 Dec 2008 4:01 am     No doubt at to where the English Language originated.. Reply with quote

Thanks for the superbly crafted reply Chris, I really MUST get to hear YOU play.

It would seem that if your approach to playing is to be measured by your colourful and expressive writing then you are up amongst the tops..

This has to be a quickie as I'm preparing the "New" guitar (see this) to use tonight at yet another charity event.
Seems that Bob and I could play every night of the week, for charities

Quote:
also respect your opinion regarding "Cream Rising to the Top", but this is where cheese comes from, right?
Don't get me wrong, I like cheese... Smile
( Seems we're moving onto Dairy now, I've run out of Flour-Production references! Winking )

Whist playing at one of our many residencies at Ashton Court CC, we were fortunate enough to be able to travel around the area in the daytime, and we DID in fact "Gorge ourselves on Cheddar" somewhere near BS27 3QF ..

Sorry for "Hi-Jacking" your thread Ray.. I will attempt to constructively deconstruct your tab and post my findings..AFTER this weekend's CHARITY gigs..
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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 5 Dec 2008 5:33 am     Re: No doubt at to where the English Language originated.. Reply with quote

basilh wrote:
Thanks for the superbly crafted reply Chris, I really MUST get to hear YOU play.

It would seem that if your approach to playing is to be measured by your colourful and expressive writing then you are up amongst the tops..



Alas I fear you may be disappointed Basil, my English is whey better than my steel playing.
Rolling Eyes
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Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 5 Dec 2008 6:05 am     Reply with quote

Basil said:
Sorry for "Hi-Jacking" your thread Ray.. I will attempt to constructively deconstruct your tab and post my findings..AFTER this weekend's CHARITY gigs..

=====

No problem! The whole purpose of my original post was that some "steel genius", like yourself, would volunteer to make my tab more accurate. I have found that it is always much better to do something the right way than to try an re-learn it again. I've been through that quagmire many times....

BTW, hat's off to you for the charity gigs. I teach disadvantaged kids regular guitar. I am poor myself and I know what it is like to crave instruction and not be able to afford it.

Lastly, congrats on your 65th. I turned 65 in June.
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Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 5 Dec 2008 6:39 am     Reply with quote

Whoa! I missed that!
Many Happy Returns, Basil. Smile
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