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Author Topic:  Emmons vs. Day Setup
John Polstra


From:
Lopez Island, WA, USA
Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 10:09 am     Reply with quote

I have a beginner question that I couldn't find the answer to by searching the forum. I keep seeing references to the "Emmons setup" and the "Day setup". What are the defining characteristics of these two setups? I've found several copedants supposedly used by either Buddy Emmons or Jimmy Day, but they are all different.

Thanks,
John
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Cliff Kane


From:
the late great golden state
Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 10:26 am     Reply with quote

It's mostly the arrangement of the three standard foot pedals for 10 string E9:

If the "A" pedal raises strings 5 and 10 from B to C#; if the "B" pedal raises string 3 and 6 from G# to A;
if the "C" pedal raises string 4 from E to F# and string 5 from B to C#--
Then the pedals are arranged left to right facing the guitar: Emmons is A, B, C; Day is C, B, A.

For more info on Buddy Emmons's and Jimmy Day's personal set-ups see: http://b0b.com/tunings/

Most people use an Emmons type of set-up, and that is the standard default for most tab, etc., but it's easy to transpose tab in your head if you prefer the Day set-up. It is not so easy to go back and forth between the two tuning once you are used to playing in one of them!
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John Polstra


From:
Lopez Island, WA, USA
Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 10:32 am     Reply with quote

Aha! Thanks, Cliff -- I get it now. I was looking at the knee levers and getting all confused. It never occurred to me that the difference would be in the order of the foot pedals.

John
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Cliff Kane


From:
the late great golden state
Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 10:44 am     Reply with quote

Well, as I understand it, in generic terms for general set-ups it is the arrangement of the foot pedals. Of course which way you rock on-off of the A and B pedals will influence how you like your knee levers set-up, but you will see a lot more variations in how people arrange their knee levers than their foot pedals. For example, some players with an Emmons set-up for the foot pedals will have the E and F knee levers on the left knee, some will have them on the right knee, and some will split them. You can play any set-up once you get used to it, but the rational behind the lay-out of levers/pedals, as well how many levers/pedals to use, varies for the individual. Study the different tunings on b0b's tuning page, and then search the forum for posts about different set-ups...it gets pretty complex and fascinating, and studying these things will unlock a lot about the tuning for you.


Good luck and have fun!
Cliff
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chris ivey


Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 1:48 pm     Reply with quote

the only importance of any of this is what feels most comfortable for you. sometimes this developes over years of moving one or another things around once it makes sense to you and your body english.

nobody wants to play my steel and everyone elses steel is totally awkward for me.
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John Polstra


From:
Lopez Island, WA, USA
Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 2:17 pm     Reply with quote

That brings up another question. Suppose I have two pedals and I want to swap them. And suppose each pedal affects the same number of strings. I'm guessing that on most brands of PSG, I should be able to swap the functions of the two pedals without needing any new parts. Is that right? And would it also be true for two knee levers?

John
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chris ivey


Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 4:12 pm     Reply with quote

that is generally correct, john. you just relocate the pull rods into the appropriate changer holes, depending on which strings are to be activated. and you will probably want to reposition the bellcranks on the crossrods to line up with the new string positions.
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Tamara James


Post Posted 18 Jan 2009 6:18 pm     Reply with quote

I like the Day set-up.
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Bill Ford


From:
Graniteville SC Aiken
Post Posted 19 Jan 2009 5:31 am     Reply with quote

John,
Reading your first post, You are a beginner. My advise is to go with the Emmons setup, (Unless you have some sort of problems with foot movements that would dictate otherwise).mainly because all the learning material is written in that setup. Also it seems to be the most accepted setup. I played the Day setup for years, got away from playing altogether for about 20 years, started back and got a new PSG, changed to Emmons setup, never looked back. Sat down to a friends PSG the other day that was setup Day and was completely lost.

Bill

Edited to say...Try both setups if possible, that way you will have a better feel for what suits you best.
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Roger Rettig


From:
An Englishman in Naples, FL
Post Posted 19 Jan 2009 7:45 am     Reply with quote

I have played 'Day' for thirty+ years. As has been recounted on here a few times, it wasn't my choice but, when I bought my first steel guitar From Eric Snowball in the UK, it had been set up by Gordon Huntley, and 'Day' was his preference. To this day, and for that reason, there is a disproportionate number of UK players who prefer that set-up.

I recently acquired a splendid nearly-new Derby SD-10 which happens to have the Emmons set-up. It's curious, but I've played nothing but the Derby for the last two weeks (only in my music-room - all my gigs have been on Telecaster), and I'm becoming reasonably comfortable playing the 'wrong' way around. This morning I switched to my beloved Emmons LeGrande and - you've guessed it - I found myself hitting the wrong knee-levers!

That's in just two weeks, which proves to me that switching would not be as difficult as I once thought. I don't intend to do so, because I happen to think the 'Day' ankle-movement is physically easier, but this remains a Forum 'chestnut' that will long be argued/discussed.

I wish I have some of the medications that Johnny Cox has that enable him to switch at will - that'd be some skill to acquire!
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Willis Vanderberg


From:
Petoskey Mi
Post Posted 19 Jan 2009 9:58 am     Reply with quote

I also played the Day set up for years. When I moved to Florida I changed to the Emmons set up as that was what most of the pickers in that area were using.
i found no problem in making the transition.I do think Roger is right as far as the ankle movement on the Day set up is easier.
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Barry Blackwood


Post Posted 19 Jan 2009 11:15 am     Reply with quote

Yes, Day.
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Jeff Watson


From:
Las Vegas, NV. USA
Post Posted 19 Jan 2009 11:06 pm     Reply with quote

Day is a far more natural ankle movement (for me) and most instructional material is interchangable (A,B&C pedals).
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Michael Dulin


From:
Indiana, USA
Post Posted 20 Jan 2009 10:50 am     Emmons or Day Reply with quote

I think how your ankle bends is the test...some flex one way better than the other. There's probably more steels out there with Emmons so buying a guitar now or in the future would factor in.MD
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Ronnie Boettcher


From:
Brunswick Ohio, USA
Post Posted 20 Jan 2009 2:16 pm     Reply with quote

I always played the Emmons. But when I got older, I had to move the 2 LK's, 2 inches to the left, so my foot would clear the B pedal, playing the A and the LKL. Old bones just don't move the same as they once did.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 20 Jan 2009 2:35 pm     Reply with quote

Emmons:


Day:


Jimmy's knee levers were unusual. Most people with Day pedals put the F lever on LKR because it's easier to use with the 3rd pedal there.
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Ken Byng


From:
Southampton, England
Post Posted 20 Jan 2009 2:46 pm     Reply with quote

I prefer the Day set up for comfort, but the big downside is being in the minority when in the USA, and playing a guitar with the Emmons pedals. I sound like a complete amateur on Emmons pedals. Sad
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Fred Glave


From:
McHenry, Illinois, USA
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 11:25 am     Reply with quote

The other thing to note, is that the Day set-up doesn't include the E lever to lower Es. I would guess that this is probably not (and I don't know for sure) the way a lot of players set up their knee levers.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 11:33 am     Reply with quote

Everyone I know who uses Day pedals also lowers both E's to D# on a lever somewhere. "Day setup" usually refers to the pedals, not the knee levers. I've never met anyone who copied Jimmy Day's copedent exactly.

Many people do copy Buddy's copedent exactly. It's almost a standard.
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Brint Hannay


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 12:12 pm     Reply with quote

Jimmy Day's copedent in the back of the Winnie Winston book DOES have both E's to Eb (as stated there--D# in current fashion), and on LKL, as one would normally expect with the Day pedal setup, with F raises on LKR.



That setup, of course, is said to be his latest as of March 1975! I assume the one you provided, b0b, is more recent. Do you know as of when that was his setup? It's certainly quite different.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 1:24 pm     Reply with quote

I believe it was posted on the Forum by whoever set up Jimmy's last Blue Darlin' guitar. I can't seem to find that topic, though.
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John Polstra


From:
Lopez Island, WA, USA
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 6:21 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks, everybody. The guitar I'm buying (my first!) has the Emmons setup on the pedals. I'll just have to try it for awhile and then decide if I want to swap the positions of the A and C pedals. Sitting in a chair, it seems like my left ankle tilts better to the outside than to the inside, so maybe the Emmons arrangement will be right for me. Thanks to this forum, I'm pretty confident I'll be able to swap the pedals on the guitar if necessary.

John
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Roger Rettig


From:
An Englishman in Naples, FL
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 6:40 pm     Reply with quote

John

Without trying to confuse this issue, your ankle tilting more comfortable to the 'outside', or left (as does mine), indicates that 'Day' would suit you better. We often leave the 'B' pedal depressed and rock on and off the pedal that raises the 5th and 10th strings - tilting to the outside, or lifting the right of your sole, means that all-important 'pull' (raising the 5th and 10th from B to C#) should be in the 'Day' position - ie, as your 3rd pedal.

I'm gamefully trying to master the 'Emmons' set-up (on my spare guitar), just to prove I can do it, but, quite apart from dealing with an ingrained habit of thirty-odd years, I do find that tilting to the left is difficult - at least, it is if I want to keep my knee from involuntarily moving left as well.

Of course, the obvious disclaimer here is that thousands of players cope very well with it, including hundreds of outstandingly good ones!!!

What do I know...? Confused
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John Polstra


From:
Lopez Island, WA, USA
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 7:00 pm     Reply with quote

Heh -- thanks, Roger. So much for my theoretical reasoning. Smile I should have my guitar in 10 days or so, and then I can get down to reality. I can't wait!

John
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Brint Hannay


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 21 Jan 2009 9:19 pm     Reply with quote

It always seems to me there's an intrinsic ambiguity to these discussions. Maybe it's just me? When people say, e.g., "My ankle tilts more easily to the left", what motion are they thinking of?

Roger Rettig wrote:
Quote:
your ankle tilting more comfortable to the 'outside', or left (as does mine), indicates that 'Day' would suit you better. We often leave the 'B' pedal depressed and rock on and off the pedal that raises the 5th and 10th strings - tilting to the outside, or lifting the right of your sole, means that all-important 'pull' (raising the 5th and 10th from B to C#) should be in the 'Day' position - ie, as your 3rd pedal.

That's nice and clearly stated. But we also often press only the 'A' pedal, which, in a Day setup, requires tilting the ankle to the 'inside', or right, pressing only with the right side of the foot while elevating the left side.

And all of that vice versa for the Emmons setup.

I suspect that while individual anatomy may play somewhat of a role, both arrangements require "unnatural" use of the ankle to relatively similar extents, so whatever one trains oneself to becomes what works.

That said, many years ago, when I was just maybe three months into learning pedal steel, my landlady in the group house I was living in was asking me about the instrument, which like most lay people she'd never seen and knew nothing about, and I explained how it was a real challenge to get the pedal actions because it was such a strain on the ankle and one had to fight through the discomfort. She sat behind my steel and tried the various A & B maneuvers, and said "What's so hard about that??" She could do everything as if it was no problem whatsoever. So you never know!
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