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Author Topic:  Speedy West tuning question "I'll never be free"
Nils Fliegner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 11:15 am     Reply with quote

Hi, new member to the forum, but following your posts for some time now: Learned a lot and enjoyed it mucho!
THANK YOU!

I'm trying to learn Speedy West's solo from "I'll never be free". The one with his famous F#9 tuning.

Mike Neer used G#-E-C#-A#-G#-E in his suberb "Flipping the Lid" video. What are the missing notes to Speedy's original 8-string tuning? All thoughts on this subject are much appreciated. Greets from Germany, Nils.
P.S.: Maybe someone has tabbed it out already?
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 12:09 pm     Reply with quote

G# E C# A# G# E C# A# is the full 8 string tuning.
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Nils Fliegner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 12:54 pm     Reply with quote

Wow - no F# root note, even with an 8-string set up.
Weird guy, that Wesley West!

Thank you, "Speedy" Mike!
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Billy Tonnesen


From:
R.I.P., Buena Park, California
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 2:35 pm     Reply with quote

In the mid 40's Speedy and myself many times did not play a solo entirely on one neck. I talked to Herb Remington once about his inverted tuning, which I used, and I beleive he said Speedy also adopted this tuning and used it on "I'll Never Be Free".
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Ray Montee


From:
Portland, Oregon
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 3:06 pm     Tell us more.................... Reply with quote

BILLY: WHAT 'specifically' to you mean?
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 3:43 pm     Reply with quote

According to Herb Remington, he gave this C#m11th tuning to Speedy who used it on "I'll Never Be Free." Speedy may have changed some of the strings. Don't know.



Last edited by Andy Volk on 1 Apr 2009 2:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 31 Mar 2009 6:41 pm     Reply with quote

I believe Andy has it with a few changes. I think it is:
E C# G# E C# A# (D#)(F#). The high F# doesn't make many appearances, but you can hear it in a few chords.

I'll just add, you can achieve the same sound with an E13, but putting a D on string 8 that is 1 whole step below string 1. Makes way more sense to me. I like the F#9 tuning, but really only when it is the E6 tuning with strings 4 and 8 tuned down a half step. I guess there's a reason they moved the chromatic strings to the top. I remember Buddy Emmons saying he put them on the bottom because he was trying them out and didn't want them to interfere with what he was already doing on E9.
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Nils Fliegner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 1 Apr 2009 1:19 am     Reply with quote

Hey, this is getting more complex than I thought... Shocked

Ignoring the very plausible fact of a neck change in mid-solo I have made a comparison chart with all the tuning suggestions so far, see below,
with red color indicating an out of sequence high string.

Popular belief has it that Speedy came from an E-tuning, bringing the B note down to A# via pedal to archive his F#9 sound.
I can only relate that story to the first tuning on the chart: G#-E-C#-B(>A#)-G#-E, which spells out an E6.
Confusing Neutral
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 1 Apr 2009 2:23 am     Reply with quote

Herb Remington gave me the above tuning in 2003 when I wrote Lap Steel Guitar. But memories, phone connections, and writers can often go astray. I'm working on a new book of steel & bottleneck tunings so it's one mystery I'd love to have solved. Probably time to hear see what Scotty has to say.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 1 Apr 2009 4:57 am     Reply with quote

Speedy had a triple neck with one neck reserved for A6 and another with the E6 and a pedal to change it to F#9. To achieve the tuning in I'll Never Be Free, all he had to do was change the bottom 2 strings on his E9 neck and retune a few others and he would be done. I don't know for sure, but I don't think he stuck with this tuning for long.

The F#9 tuning I mentioned in the post above was not for I'll Never Be Free, but just to answer your question of what the complete 8 string version is.
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Jon Nygren


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post Posted 1 Apr 2009 5:37 am     Reply with quote

I always thought he had an a6 neck, an e6 neck with the pedal change, and the middle neck had the C#m tuning with the chromatic strings. But i'm just guessing.

A while back I posted a youtube video of him playing with Merle Travis- he takes a solo in that one using two necks, and it looks like part of it may be done on the neck with chromatic strings.

EDIT- just watched the video again...On second thought I dont think he's using the weird tuning on that one, at least the chromatics. I think I might have to sit down and transcribe it to get a better idea of what he's doing there.
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Nils Fliegner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 1 Apr 2009 6:14 am     Reply with quote

Mike and Andy, thanks for your efforts.
And I'm looking forward to seeing your new book Very Happy

Jon, if you ever get to transcribing anything by Speedy, let me know. I'm verrry interested!
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Billy Tonnesen


From:
R.I.P., Buena Park, California
Post Posted 1 Apr 2009 3:59 pm     Reply with quote

Herb Remington''s inverted tuning was not weird when used in conjunction with an A6th and a E13th tuning. It was very relative to both tunings and when leaving all necks on you could very quickly jump from one neck to the other as needed for fuller chords and melody lines and especially for fills and backup.
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Jon Nygren


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post Posted 2 Apr 2009 5:22 am     Reply with quote

Billy, do you remember if that inverted tuning used an E on top or a G#?
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Billy Tonnesen


From:
R.I.P., Buena Park, California
Post Posted 2 Apr 2009 1:25 pm     H. Remington's inverted tuning Reply with quote

Jon:
This is Herb's inverted tuning as given to me by Herb in 1946 when playing a one nighter with Bob Wills at the 97th Corral in So. Los Angeles, I was playing with the Ole Rasmussen house band.

Top down:.
G#
E
C#
B
E (only wound string}
B flat. (back up scale)
E flat " " "
F# " " " .

The top 5-strings are a C#minor tuning which is great for slants. You can hear Herb using these slants in his early Bob Wills recordings.


Last edited by Billy Tonnesen on 3 Apr 2009 1:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jon Nygren


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post Posted 2 Apr 2009 6:06 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks Billy!
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J D Sauser


From:
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
Post Posted 2 Apr 2009 8:47 pm     Reply with quote

I have come to think of Speedy's F#9th as an E13th with the 5th flattened. Really PSG E9th is close and if you'd at the 6th note on top like Zane Beck did, you are on his heels because one will have a B-to-Bb lever on that setup... boom, F#9th.

When you look at it that way, it's by far not as strange a tuning as B11th is.

Maybe, really because of mechanical limitations, Speedy may indeed have thought of it as an E13th (which was a popular alternative in his times too) but preferred to have the II9th change inverted... so to RAISE out of it with his Bb-to-B change?

But then, who cares, is this not the non-pedal forum? Very Happy

... J-D.
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Nils Fliegner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 12:30 am     Reply with quote

Good point, J. D. !

Somehow I see Speedy as a non pedal guy, who just happended to have pedals Smile
Meaning, he used slants and did not pedal strings while striking them, Bud Isaacs style.

But I know this view is highly debatable Embarassed
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 2:11 am     Reply with quote

Billy, what does "back-up scale" mean?
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J D Sauser


From:
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 6:07 am     Reply with quote

Nils Fliegner wrote:
Good point, J. D. !

Somehow I see Speedy as a non pedal guy, who just happended to have pedals Smile
Meaning, he used slants and did not pedal strings while striking them, Bud Isaacs style.

But I know this view is highly debatable Embarassed


Did not use his pedals to make audible bents?
Well, early on he probably didn't, and if, we could not hear it because he plaid so fast. But yes, early on he did what most did before E9th came along... use pedals to create more necks.
But then, in the late 50's when and early 60's when he moved to a double neck and settled on E9th and F#9th, both pedaled, he used quite a good bunch of full tone raises, mostly on the slow songs. And that, as I could learn from Scotty's DVD of late shows, on both tunings.

These guys, because of their heritage of playing non-pedal and later mechanically limited or challenging PSGs and their pioneer spirit (no tab for anyone back then) certainly developed an ability to squeeze the most out of their tunings and setups. Which lead to bringing in a lot of open strings and other techniques which today are only misunderstood as "tricks", but effectively where musical techniques.
One listens to a style setting E9th great like Jimmy Day on early E9th recordings, and still will hear much of that approach waved into his musical vocabulary.
Much of that, sadly is lost among new pedal players.

When, one looks at Speedy's F#9th, one has to wonder why he did not unite both tunings, F#9th and E9th into ONE E13th tuning on a single neck. I certainly don't believe he would have had any musical limitations to recognize the similarity of his two tunings, but it may have had some historical reasons, such as him being a multi neck player and thus able to freely seamlessly move back and forth from one neck to the other, and also the fact that until he plaid a BMI in his final active years, he had opted for instruments with inherent mechanical limitations. But then, that just me theorizing...

I am glad to see there seems to be a wave of interest for his playing and tunings recently, on both sides of the Forum, non-pedaled and pedaled.
I have always thought that he should have as many followers and students than Buddy Emmons and other later great stylists. Especially since he was a hero to many of them.
And I'd like to especially thank Mike Neer again for fueling the interest and awakening the consciousness about the simple fact that it can be done, by sharing his explorations.

... J-D.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 6:26 am     Reply with quote

Thanks, JD. I'll have some good news for Speedy West lovers soon.
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Billy Tonnesen


From:
R.I.P., Buena Park, California
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 1:15 pm     Reply with quote

Nils: I totally agree with you about Speedy's style of playing. Speedy and I were good freinds in the early years on the West Coast and except for his special effects pretty much played the same style.

Andy: When I said "back up the scale" I meant the bottom three strings were in the high register like the top of the neck. I wish I could have expressed it more understandably.
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Steve Waltz


From:
USA
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 1:31 pm     Reply with quote

I'm sure it's been covered before and I know this is the non pedal section but since we're here:

What was his pedal set up for his 6th tunings? In his bigsby days.

I thought his C6th was GECAGECA (or his A6th or E6th equivalent) and had a 5th string 1/2 lower on one pedal and a 6th string 1/2 lower and a 2nd string 1/2 raise on another pedal, and a 7th string 1/2 raise on another pedal?
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Nils Fliegner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 2:59 pm     Reply with quote

Tuning mystery solved? I feel that the forum members now nailed it pretty accurately!

Billy's version kinda combines what Mike suggested in his two posts: There is the basic E6 (with B flattened to A#) and by tuning the low strings an octave higher you'll get the high F# that was commented on before (see revised tuning chart below, red color indicates out of sequence strings).
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 3 Apr 2009 3:01 pm     Reply with quote

There's no high G# on I'll Never Be Free, at least the solo anyway.
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