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Author Topic:  Evolution of Pedals and Knee Levers
Tom Bradshaw


From:
Walnut Creek, California, USA
Post Posted 6 Jan 2009 6:26 pm     Reply with quote

I posted the following comments in response to a discussion concerning non-pedal steels. I received several private emails from readers advising me to post this as a new topic on the Pedal Steel page. It appears that my post deals more with pedals than with non-pedal issues. So, if this information is of more interest here than there, maybe members can expand on what I've written. Here's what I said on the other topic:

I looked over some of my earlier writings and see that I listed 1932 as the "birth" of the pedal steel (which was likely called the chord-changer guitar back then. I believe I got that off of a copy of the design patent given to me by Forumite, Bob Grossman years ago. J. D. Harlin and his brother got their patent that year. Their design was for their "chord changer" which is what the changer was originally called. They didn't call their guitar a pedal steel back then. The guitar's pedals were much like piano pedals and were in a cluster on one of the left legs of their "Multi-Kord" brand of steel guitar (and there are many of those guitars still floating around today).

As mentioned in a previous post, Gibson chose to copy the Harlin Brother's design and ended up losing a lawsuit over it. I never learned if the Harlin Brothers got any money out of Gibson for infringing on their patent, but the next Electro Harp that Gibson made had a design change that permitted them to circumvent the Harlin Brothers' patent. Obviously the Harlin boys tinkered with their design some more and "refreshed" their patent in the late '40s.

As indicated, Paul Bigsby began building steels and solid-body electric guitars in the '40s. Paul introduced the placement of the pedals between the steel's front legs. It has been alleged that Paul originated the scissor-type changer levers, but I can't confirm that. It wasn't as sophisticated as Bud Carter's changer-lever system he designed in the early '70s, but it was all-pull. Bigsby also introduced the placement of a guitar's tuning keys on one side of the head-stock of his guitars. He told Leo Fender he could run with that idea on his brand of Fender guitars, which led to most musicians believing that Leo came up with that idea himself.

Knee levers on steels may have been introduced in the '30s, but I was never able to confirm that. I do know that they appeared on an acoustical wooden-body "Hawaiian" guitar in the '40s, because I owned one. I use "Hawaiian" guitar to designate it as the way steel guitars were originally built. But the word "Hawaiian" is the name state-siders gave the steel guitar, but the Hawaiians gave it its true name: "steel" guitar (because of the use of a steel bar to play it). But back to the knee levers. The two levers on that "Hawaiian" guitar were crude, but were professionally made and had a "patent pending" mark stamped into each of the metal levers. I've forgotten the name of the brand of acoustic guitar, but maybe someone reading this will recall its brand name.

Zane Beck is usually given credit for putting knee levers on pedal steels. He told me that he put them on a "lap" steel in the beginning because his bandleader "hated" the pedal sound and wouldn't let him play a pedal steel on stage. To keep his job he said he managed to fool the bandleader by putting knee levers on the steel he used, so he could keep making chord changes as he played. I don't know who introduced "lap" to the steel lexicon, but it does provide an "image" of how a steel without legs is held.

Ralph Mooney is credited with adding the high G# string to the E9th tuning (which tuning began tuned as an E7th chord: E, B, G#, E, D, B). I interviewed Ralph in the early '70s and he told me he just wanted to have his tonic note (for his A chord) on top of the chord. He found a banjo string that could be pulled up to an A and put it on. Note that I used the word "tonic". Ralph would never use a word like that. Ralph couldn't tell me how each string on his guitar was tuned. I thought he was joking. I came to realize that he wasn't. I had to go on stage between sets and figure out his whole copedent.

Buddy Emmons told me that Jimmy Day added the middle E string to the E9th tuning. I would have suspected he added the middle F#, but I would never argue with Buddy. If true, I'd like to know who added the F# string to the E7th tuning and who then recognized it as an E9th tuning?

As everyone knows, Buddy added the D# and F# strings to the E tuning while on the road with Ernest Tubb. He originally put them on as the bottom two strings-slots, but quickly repositioned them on top when he got back to Nashville (having Shot Jackson do the handiwork). Buddy is also credited with splitting Bud Isaac's one-pedal, two-string pull into two pedals. Isaacs was achieved his glissando sound (the string movement mostly referred to as a "gliss") on Webb Pierce's "Slowly" recording. Isaacs told me that he was just playing around preparing to do the recording and happened to press the pedals, getting that 4 to 1-chord sound. Another band member suggested he use that on the recording. He did and the pedal-gliss was born. This "revolutionary" sound is why many give Isaacs the credit as being the father of the modern Country steel sound. I feel that Emmons should be given the credit for that sound. I say that because there is a huge difference in the sound of going from the 1 to 4 chord or the 5 to 1 chord, as compared to providing a string gliss while remaining in the same chord.

But, back to splitting the pedals. So, if someone split Isaac's two string change before Buddy, it would be news to me. It has been stated that Vance Terry did. I think Vance would have mentioned that accomplishment to me if he had originated it along with the pedal gliss, and I knew Vance very well (I even restored his 18 pedal Wright Sierra steel for him).

No one has mentioned who added the 10th (B) string to the E9th. I'd like to know that. No one seems to every talk about who added what knee levers pitch changes to the E9th. I'd like to know that too.

If someone wants to correct what I've said here, please feel free to do so. I know about 1% of the true history of the "steel, Hawaiian, lap, pedal, slide guitar", so I'm not offended by being corrected. ...Tom
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David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angeles, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 6 Jan 2009 10:56 pm     History of E9 pedal steel Reply with quote

Here's what I've gleaned from past threads on the Forum.

E9 History
Tab:
Bud Issac’s Bigsby E9 (according to Red Foley letter to Erwing Niehaus, Jr.)
        P1   P2
1  E           
2  B    C#     
3  G#   A     
4  F#         
5  D         E
6  B         C#
7  G#        A
8  E           

Tab:
Buddy Emmons split the pedals
        A    B
1  E           
2  B    C#     
3  G#        A
4  F#         
5  D         E?
6  B    C#     
7  G#        A
8  E           

Tab:
Jimmy Day put the E in the middle (but had A and B pedals reversed)
        B    A
1  E           
2  B         C#
3  G#   A     
4  F#         
5  E           
6  D           
7  B         C#
8  G#   A     

Tab:
Ralph Mooney added the G# on top
        A    B
1  G#        A
2  E           
3  B    C#     
4  G#        A
5  F#         
6  E           
7  D           
8  B    C#     

Tab:
Buddy Emmons added the "chromatic" strings
        A    B
1  F#         
2  D#         
3  G#        A
4  E           
5  B    C#     
6  G#        A
7  F#         
8  E           
9  D           
10 B    C#     

Tab:
??? added the C pedal, E lever and D lever
        A    B    C    E    D 
1  F#                         
2  D#                      D,C#
3  G#        A                 
4  E              F#   Eb     
5  B    C#        C#           
6  G#        A                 
7  F#                         
8  E                   Eb     
9  D                        C#
10 B    C#                     

Tab:
Lloyd Green added the F lever
        F    A    B    C    E    D 
1  F#                               
2  D#                           D,C#
3  G#             A                 
4  E    F              F#   Eb     
5  B         C#        C#           
6  G#             A                 
7  F#                               
8  E    F                   Eb     
9  D                             C#
10 B         C#                     


Any corrections are welcome.
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Stephen Gambrell


From:
Over there
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 9:28 am     Reply with quote

Tom, Paul Bigsby didn't introduce the "6-on-a-side" guitat tuner concept. That idea goes back to some of the earliest Martin-Stauffer guitars.
And David, you're showing Lloyd lowering BOTH "E's?"
Shame on ye!
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Tom Bradshaw


From:
Walnut Creek, California, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 10:07 am     6 on-the-side Guitar Tuners Reply with quote

Steve: I got that information from a book written by Leo Fender's original partner in the company (whose name escapes me at the moment). That author actually gave credit for the idea to Merle Travis who asked Paul to put the tuners there. Maybe Merle got the idea from someone else, but in the book, the author said that Merle told Paul that it was difficult for him to tune his guitar by turning the keys on one side of the keyhead where they were, so wanted them all on the other side.

It is always difficult to say who the first person was to think of some great idea. Usually the person who makes something out of the idea is the one who gets the credit, and perhaps deservedly so. I suspect someone else thought of putting pedals on a steel guitar, but the Harlin Brothers "ran" with the idea so they got the credit. Heck, I had the idea that "bald was beautiful" but for some reason I never got credit for it; so life truly isn't fair is it? Oh Well ...Tom
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David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angeles, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 10:48 am     Reply with quote

Stephen, I just looked in the Winnie Winston book, and indeed Lloyd only lowered his 8th string E. But actually, after Jimmy Day's setup above, I wasn't trying to present each player's exact copedent as much as I was just trying to show how their contribution was incorporated into the standard E9 copedent, to the extent there was a standard, say the one manufacturers were providing on their stock models.

For example, Mooney added the G# on top, but he did not necessarily have the standard tuning on bottom. I assume he added the top G# to an 8-string instrument. Winnie's book shows his 10-string tuning, and below his 7th string D, he has C#, Bb, and E on 8, 9, and 10 . So he has those non-standard low strings, and no "chromatic" strings on top. In my depiction of the history, I assume most steelers with the Emmons/Day type of 8-string E9 would lose the bottom G# in order to add the G# on top. Likewise, BE first added the "chromatic" strings on the bottom; but when everyone else added them on top, he did too. So in my charts above, I was mainly trying to show how the standard core of E9 evolved, rather than trying to show each player's exact individual copedent.

One thing that puzzles the H*** out of me is that apparently Lloyd has LKR as his F lever (according to Winston's book). This means that for the A-pedal/F-lever C# chord, he has to twist his ankle to the left onto the A pedal, while flopping his knee over to the right to hit the F lever. Most people with the Emmons pedal order put the F lever on LKL, so they twist the ankle left and flop the knee left.

Another unanswered question is who first added the lower to Bb on string 5.
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David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angeles, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 11:17 am     Reply with quote

Tom just emailed that he thinks I should remove the "chromatic" string terminology, since, in the key of E, that F# and D# are merely scale notes, not chromatic notes. That's why I put the term in quotes. That was the terminology used by players and manufacturers back in the day, and seems to be the way people invariably refer to them in discussions of the history. If there is a strong consensus to drop this terminology in current usage, maybe I should take Tom's suggestion. However, people seem to instantly know what strings are being referred to with the "chromatic" term. I'm not sure some people, especially older steelers who grew up with that term, would know what I'm talking about if I use the term "scale" strings. Even though that is technically correct, it is sort of a revisionist way to describe the history. It's a dilemma. Any other opinions on this?
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 11:23 am     Reply with quote

David Doggett wrote:


One thing that puzzles the H*** out of me is that apparently Lloyd has LKR as his F lever (according to Winston's book). This means that for the A-pedal/F-lever C# chord, he has to twist his ankle to the left onto the A pedal, while flopping his knee over to the right to hit the F lever. Most people with the Emmons pedal order put the F lever on LKL, so they twist the ankle left and flop the knee left.


Jay Dee's guitars are set up like that. I tried to play his new MSA Studio Pro at last years L.A. steel jam, and was totally thrown by the knee lever placement.


Tom, where do Alvino Rey and John Moore fit into all this?
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Tracy Sheehan


From:
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 11:37 am     A puzzle to me also: Reply with quote

It has always puzzled my why the E 9th was called a chromatic tuning.Music used to be known as a universial language.As i started on paino i always thought the way they were tuned was a chromatic tuning.Tracy
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Tracy Sheehan


From:
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 11:49 am     Re. Reply with quote

Mike Perlowin wrote:
David Doggett wrote:


One thing that puzzles the H*** out of me is that apparently Lloyd has LKR as his F lever (according to Winston's book). This means that for the A-pedal/F-lever C# chord, he has to twist his ankle to the left onto the A pedal, while flopping his knee over to the right to hit the F lever. Most people with the Emmons pedal order put the F lever on LKL, so they twist the ankle left and flop the knee left.


Jay Dee's guitars are set up like that. I tried to play his new MSA Studio Pro at last years L.A. steel jam, and was totally thrown by the knee lever placement.


Tom, where do Alvino Rey and John Moore fit into all this?

IMHO i think it is what one gets used to.Before all the pedals many of us tuned the 8th string to D flat which wss later raised with a pedal,we left it tuned up that way to have an E 6th.
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Tom Bradshaw


From:
Walnut Creek, California, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 12:12 pm     Reply with quote

Tracy & Mike: About John Moore, my recollection from my interview with Alvino Rey years ago was his telling me that John Moore was the machinist at Gibson that he asked to build him a steel with pedals. If this isn't the guy I'm thinking of, then I'm thinking of whatever person it was that Alvino got to build him a pedal steel. I do seem to recall that it was a John Moore who is often credited with building the first "chord changer" for a steel. If I have the names mixed up, forgive me. I'm talking about the machinist who too closely copied the Multi-Kord design that got Gibson into trouble with the Harlin Brothers' patent. Many people give that fellow (John Moore?) credit for creating the pedal steel guitar. Someone might come along and claim that the Harlin Brothers stole the idea from Gibson's machinist, but I think the lawsuit settled that issue.

Alvino Rey was a fine musician and arranger, but far more skilled on other instruments than the steel guitar. He used the steel guitar as a prop (and he told me so). He said it looked great on stage and grabbed people's attention. He said he was a guitarist and banjo-ist first and the steel guitar was a hobby with him. He said he couldn’t get chords on a "lap" steel, so wanted pedals to be able to make quick chord changes for the pop music he arranged for his orchestra and himself. Naturally he could do this on his guitar and banjo, but not on a steel. When I interviewed him all those years ago, he had a single-12 MSA Classic model set up in his music room, and was in the process of making pedal changes on it at that very time. He told me he was constantly having to alter the tunings and pedal changes because of the music he was arranging and intended to play at upcoming TV shows and other performances. Actually, I was a bit amazed that he had the mechanical aptitude to make changes to his guitar. He had to have been well into his 70s when I interviewed him.

I hope I've covered what you are asking about. ...Tom
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 12:20 pm     Reply with quote

Stephen Gambrell wrote:
Tom, Paul Bigsby didn't introduce the "6-on-a-side" guitat tuner concept. That idea goes back to some of the earliest Martin-Stauffer guitars.


Very true, Stephen!


Quote:
And David, you're showing Lloyd lowering BOTH "E's?"
Shame on ye!


Well, originally, I believe he did. Shortly after ('64?), he did away with the 4th string lower.


Tom:

I don't believe Harlin got a patent until the late '40s (though he did develop and build the first Multi-Kord in the mid '30s).

The "Hawaiian Harmolin" was the first tone changer guitar that I've been able to substantiate. It was an acoustic Hawaiian guitar with knee levers. That was in 1933, as I recall.
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Tom Bradshaw


From:
Walnut Creek, California, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 12:40 pm     Patent & Harmolin Reply with quote

Donny: Thanks for the info on Harmolin. That is the acoustic steel I owned. And yes, it had 2 knee levers as you indicate. I'd sure like to see a copy of their patent on that guitar's mechanism (which was very crude I might add).

I do believe I'm right about the Harlin Brothers' patent on their chord changer occuring in the early '30s. Otherwise, there would have been no need for the lawsuit with Gibson in the late '30s. I'm going to send an email to Bob Grossman and ask him if he can find the patent document he shared with me. If you will look on the non-pedal page/topic here on the Forum, there is a similar discussion about non-pedal tunings. I think you will see a copy of one of the Harlin Brothers' patents. Note at the bottom of it that it refers to other patents.

If I can get in touch with Bob, maybe he can confirm my memory or destroy it in a manner similar to how he took my playing job away from me in 1953! I still haven't forgiven him for that.
...Tom
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 1:09 pm     Reply with quote

The F# and D# strings should be called the "diatonic strings." I prefer the tuning referred to as the "E9 Diatonic."

The name "E9 Chromatic" itself is an anachronism. The tuning was originally called the "E9 Chromatic" to infer that the two extra strings were included in the original E9th tuning. During this time, 8-string steel guitars were still being made and considered "current."

The two strings have, for decades now, been assumed to be part of the tuning. Therefore the appendage "Chromatic" is totally unncessary.
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Michael Lee Allen


From:
Des Plaines Illinois just NW of ChIraq
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 2:08 pm     Reply with quote

Harmolin...Made by Arthur Harmon and on the market in late 1931 or early 1932, this was an actual "manufactured production" instrument. There are three versions, a 6 string with 2 knee levers, a 7 string with 2 knee levers, and a 7 string with 2 knee levers and a palm lever that pulled the lowered center string up to the other 6. Richard Smith did a "Rare Bird" article on one of mine in the November 1988 issue of "Guitar Player" magazine. At that time I had all the patent information and a copy of the instruction manual with patent and copyright dates. I'm sure Richard still has all that material. I MAY still have it, I know I gave copies to the buyer when i sold the instrument. I would like to see Richard join the SGF and post here.

John Moore...actually had a working ElectraHarp which Gibson bought when they hired him. He worked with Gibson engineer Wilbur Marker and other staff members. Alvino Rey was paid by Gibson as a "consultant" and an endorser. I doubt he did any hands-on work as he would not have wanted to injure himself, and he was "en route" all the time anyway. He has made many claims that are "totally without merit" as have Leo Fender, Les Paul, and ALL of the Dopera Brothers. I gave up on an attempt to get Alvino to "talk straight" for a Japanese interview and wrote the thing myself, he kept preaching Mormonism and otherwise "wandering" and I was getting nowhere. It's easy to claim credit for something you didn't do, especially when the guy who did it is dead and can't challenge you.

As to the 9th tuning, re-entrant strings, and split pedals...ALL of that was done on the West Coast long before Nashville. Herb Remington had a re-entrant F#9th that Speedy West borrowed and used even more than Herb. Metal nuts and bridges exist factory-cut for re-entrant tunings on 1930's Gibson and Epiphone steels. Hawaiian players were using the E9th tuning in the 1930's and National used qne E9th as one of the Grand Console tunings for a few years in the 1940's. It is listed in the tuning sheet supplied with the guitars.

Straight pedal rack...Freddie or Ernie Tavares (or both) had self-made pedal steel guitars with a straight pedal rack even before Paul Bigsby.

6-in-line-tuners on standard (Spanish) guitars...Martin had the idea from guitars made that way in his German homeland, the in-line headstock existed before that in the Balkans, especially in the Serbo-Croatian Tamburitza family of string instruments, which were probably influenced by the Turkish Saz and it's predecessor Asiatic lute-type instruments. Not a Merle Travis idea at all. He had seen older Martin guitars with the in-line headstock and admitted that in an interview.

The "moving harmony" so-called "Isaacs gliss" pre-dates "Slowly" as well. It was done on the West Coast earlier and I think there are recordings by one of the Tavares Brothers using it as well.

Remember that communication and transportation between East and West were pretty bad back in those days and the same thing could have happened in two different place at the same time or nearly the same time. Losers can write all the history they want but most people will not search it out and simply accept the more easily accessible winner's version. That's why many believe the "Nashville Version" to be the only one.

One last point. Many who claim credit for something they did not originate are totally unclear and wrong on dates. Because they are liars, or spent decades as alcohol abusers, or are senile, and lastly have no dated documentation to back up any claims.

MLA
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 2:43 pm     Reply with quote

Let me say this about Tom's and Mike's comments...

Tom: The Hawaiian Harmolin patent is number 1,924,854. It was filed in 1932, and granted in 1933. I'm "guesstimating" that he probably came up with the idea around 1930 or 1931. Note - I have a copy of the original Harmolin owner's manual, and oddly enough, it states the originator of the instrument was Kenneth Clark.

Mike: The only patent I can find for the Multi-Kord was filed in 1947, and granted in 1949. It is patent number 2,458,263. It makes no references to any previous filing by Jay, or anyone, for that matter, before 1941. Clearly, he had the idea and a working model in the mid '30s, before Gibson produced theirs, and that's all that's necessary to prove legal ownership of the invention. A previously filed patent would not necessarily have been required to dispute Gibson's infringement on his idea. (However, if a previous filing is discovered, I'd like to see a copy.)

I also believe the Wright Custom featured a straight pedalboard before the Bigsby did.
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David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angeles, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 6:28 pm     Reply with quote

Mike’s post raises some interesting questions. There are really two issues being discussed. One is, who was the first ever to do something, even if no one else knowingly copied it right away. The other is, who was the first to make a change that was copied en mass and became part of the modern standard core of 10-string E9 pedal steel. These are both legitimate questions of historical interest, and one shouldn’t detract from or eliminate the other.

Obviously there were pedal steel manufacturers and players in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Although it is clear the pedals were mostly used for chord or tuning changes, with no moving harmony pedal glisses, it is certainly completely plausible that one or more of those players at some time did some pedal glisses. But it is also clear pedal glisses did not become a runaway popular style until Bud Isaacs on Slowly. Bud has said he added the pedals to change chords. It was only while learning to use them that he “discovered” the pedal gliss sound and decided to incorporate it into recordings he was doing. Only he could say if this was independent discovery and parallel evolution, or if he was copying something he heard one of the Tavares brothers do. Bud was from the Southwest, and may well have heard one of them doing pedal glisses. It would be very interesting to hear any recordings one of them did using pedal glisses, and to compare their sound with Bud’s. It is certainly clear Bud established the pedal gliss in popular music. But it is not clear if he “rediscovered” it independently, or copied it from somebody on the West Coast.

It’s the same with the re-entrant diatonic strings and Buddy Emmons. Given all the different tunings steelers were experimenting with over the years, it would be surprising if no one had ever used re-entrant strings on a steel guitar before BE did. Maybe Buddy had seen others use the concept. But there seems to be no question that Buddy’s use is the one that was copied by everybody and that became a part of the standard E9 pedal steel tuning, to the point that 10-string pedal steels displaced 8-string models on the market.

So there is a legitimate reason to be interested in and give credit to who added each innovation in the evolution from Isaac’s Bigsby 8-string E9 to the modern standard 10-string E9 pedal steel, and what the order was in that evolution. Whether they came up with the innovation independently or were copying somebody else they heard use the innovation in another context is of interest. But I don’t think that should take away their credit for introducing the innovation in the standard 10-string E9 pedal steel evolution.
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Brint Hannay


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2009 11:13 pm     Reply with quote

Admittedly, this is a side note to the history topic, but--

Re the discussion of the term "E9 chromatic": True, "chromatic" in no way describes the tuning of the top two strings, but, taking it a step further, why say anything? While it's true the presence of a D# string makes "E9th" technically inaccurate, it's also true that the presence of an F string makes "C6th" inaccurate, yet no one bothers to add a qualifier there.

My vote: "E9th" and C6th" will do.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 2:51 am     Reply with quote

The discussion about chromatic string terminology seems to be a regular red herring to throw a thread off-topic.

I agree that E9 tuning needs no further articulation, since everybody agrees on its composition. But in fact, the 2nd string D# is chromatic to the diatonic scale that the E9 chord is drawn from: E Mixolydian. We had this discussion a while back after a new guy started a thread to ask "What do you guys do with the 2 chromatic strings." Everybody knew exactly what he was talking about, but the discussion proceeded to veer off into why one shouldn't label these strings as chromatic. I realize one can make an argument the other way by insisting that all notes be considered relative to the Ionian scale, but it seems to me that this is equally valid, depending on one's point of view.

In addition, there is the issue of how the strings are used. One of the big things about string 2 is the fact that it is often used melodically plus the presence of the D#=>D and sometimes D#=>D=>C# lever, which can in fact be used effectively to play truly chromatic half-step runs.

Then there's yet another issue - how do you label those top two strings? You can call them re-entrant strings, you can call them chromatic strings, you can call them melodic strings (as if the others aren't?), or you can just call them "the top two strings". I don't see how it matters as long as everybody understands which two strings are being discussed.

I'll continue to use the chromatic terminology, since my packs of GHS strings continue to be labeled "E9 Chromatic" and it seems that everybody understands exactly what I mean when I say it.

I genuinely don't want to proceed further with this discussion, but felt that the several arguments in the other direction should be balanced out. Quite seriously, it seems that an awful lot of people will continue to call them chromatic regardless of what anybody says. Isn't that how language evolves - people come to agreements on how to define things for the purpose of communicating unambiguously?
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Bob Hickish


From:
Port Ludlow, Washington, USA, R.I.P.
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 6:52 am     Reply with quote

Tom ( aka Capt. Midnight )

There is a question I have , you once wrote or said ,
" there's a good reason for having your E rase & lower
on the right " -- I have always had it there but you have
never given your comment as to why --
maybe this is a place you can express your opinion on
the subject . I'v always valued your logic on this stuff .
PS
Your hair may be gone ! but your sense of humor is still good ! Laughing
Bob Hickish
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Brint Hannay


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 7:57 am     Reply with quote

Well, excuse me. I humbly apologize for being a bad actor and furthering a "red herring". I commented on something that had been raised that I found somewhat interesting to discuss, with a caveat that it was tangential. I keep thinking this Forum is like a conversation. My bad.

Having sinned already, I might as well mention that I still think my point about the F string and the lack of parallel fussiness in naming the "other" tuning is valid.

But, really, it's no big deal!!!

And I shall endeavor to behave myself better. Smile
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Tom Bradshaw


From:
Walnut Creek, California, USA
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 1:46 pm     F Lever and other ruminations Reply with quote

Bob: About the F lever, as well as the lever that lowers the E strings to Eb, I've strongly recommended that a beginner place each on the right knee for several reasons: 1) The left leg has enough to "learn" without the complication of "teaching" its knee to also move while the foot/ankle is moving all the time. 2) The E to Eb lever is probably the most active knee lever on an E9th, so why make that appendage do more work than the other one? 3) If a beginner someday moves to a universal E9th copedent, he/she quickly discovers that holding that lever in (with the left knee) makes it very difficult to then use the left foot to manipulate all the other "6th" pedals to accomplish the chords desired on that side of the universal tuning. Ask someone to lower their E strings with their left knee (LKL lever), then reach across and hit the 8th pedal on a copedent rigged for the universal tuning. Ain't easy!

I've seen many guitars that have the E to Eb change on a left knee, while their E to F change is on the right knee (or vise-versa). That is a huge mistake since that player has lost a knee lever combination with such an arrangement. So, that's my reasoning.

And I might add that EVERY beginner I've recommended this to has later told me it was the best advice they ever received about knee lever placement (the other was my advice that they not to take up the steel at all!).

Having worked on many steel brands for over 40 years, I have added knee levers to many. It becomes apparent that it is much easier putting knee levers on a guitar for the left knee than for the right knee. The area around the changer is more restricted and requires more attention (by the craftsman) to make the parts to avoid getting in the way of the changer(s), wires and springs that are there. It seems logical to me that when makers of pedal steels began putting knee levers on them they selected the least difficult area to add those knee levers, which was the left knee. In those earlier days I saw the first knee lever to be the one that lowered the 2nd string to D. The next to appear was the E to Eb change. Both were on the left knee. So, I feel that is why most players today have their E to Eb lever on the left knee. It was for the manufacturer's convenience, with little consideration given to what problems this would create in the future as tunings and pedal changes evolved.

All of this is just my point of view. Maybe it all doesn't matter. I've seen great players who had levers in all different positions. I do wonder how many players found the instrument too difficult, mechanically, to manipulate, so gave up altogether. That would really have made a difference in the proliferation of the instrument itself. ...Tom

P.S.: Regarding the request for the Multi-Kord patent, I can't find it but do believe I know a couple of people who can solve that problem. I'll be back here when I get the information.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 2:02 pm     Reply with quote

Tom, you and I are in full agreement, re: the "E" r&l on the right knee, but it's a hard sell to most players. When I see some of the leg contortions players go thru, just to have one single move "natural", it makes me glad I didn't follow the more popular route. Cool
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Bob Hickish


From:
Port Ludlow, Washington, USA, R.I.P.
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 2:48 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks Tom
Like Donny ! It seems the most logical location .

setting behind a few guitars that belong to other players
where they were on the left seem so strange , not being
the sharpest knife in the drawer , It made me think maybe
I was missing something !
your explanation is well founded and thanks for taking time
to let the whole world know my guitar has not been wrong
all these years .
Winking
Bob
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Jeremy Threlfall


From:
now in Western Australia
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 4:04 pm     Reply with quote

I started on a carter starter (Es on left knee). My second guitar was a Pro-1 with Es on right knee. I just went with the change, because i was more anxious to start playing the new guitar than I was to spend an hour or more changing it underneath.

It took no time to adapt, and it was much easier keeping those changes on the right knee separate from what was happening with my left foot (as a learner).

So, I'm right with you, Tom.

I always assumed that the traditional "sho-bud set-up" with Es on right knee was because it was closer to the changer, and therefore required less materials in manufacture (shorter rods) and possibly provided a more positive action.
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 8 Jan 2009 4:31 pm     Reply with quote

I was under the impression Sho~Bud added left-moving knee levers to their guitars first because those levers are less expensive to produce than right-moving levers, which require a reversing mechanism.
_________________
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My rig: Infinity and Telonics.

Son, we live in a world with walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with steel guitars. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg?
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