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Author Topic:  8-string bars
John Bushouse


Post Posted 7 Sep 2011 6:10 pm     Reply with quote

A D-8 just arrived at my doorstep. Actually, two D-8s (one will have to go...). I've been playing around with them a little bit, and I've determined that I might need a bigger bar. So, suggestions? What are typical 8-string bar sizes - length and diameter?

Thanks for your recommendations,
John

P.S. I'm currently using a 3" Frank Ford 3/4" - 5/8" tapered bar and a 3" x 3/4" Broz-o-phonic. Primarily the Frank Ford bar. Also a lightweight older tapered bar (3.3oz) the same dimensions as Frank Ford's bar.
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Steve Ahola


From:
Concord, California
Post Posted 7 Sep 2011 11:24 pm     Reply with quote

There are many different opinions about this but for me the most important thing is how the bar fits my hand (you aren't normally going to be playing 8 note chords).

Jim Burden makes custom bars with a selection of diameters and whatever length you want. His 13/16" bar has been popular, halfway between the 3/4" JD 918 Jerry Byrd bar and the 7/8" JD 920 "standard bullet bar. The bar he made for me has the best of both bars: the maneuverability of the 3/4" with the mass of the 7/8" bar.

Jim uses a special grade of stainless steel that works really well for tone bars. BTW most of the "bullet" bars sold by Dunlop and Ernie Ball actually have a blunt nose, rather than a tapered bullet nose which is how Jim makes his bars. I find the tapered bullet nose great for going from one string to two strings and on to bar- a very smooth transition.

Steve Ahola

P.S. I see that his price has gone up to $40 including s/h but it is still a bargain when you consider what you are getting- a great bar cut to the length that you want.
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Last edited by Steve Ahola on 8 Sep 2011 11:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bob Russell


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 5:04 am     Reply with quote

I've got two of Jim Burden's 13/16" Bullet Bars and can recommend them highly. The weight feels really good to me. Like Steve, I find the taper of the nose to be just right for split-string slants, crossing, etc.

Another bar that works well for me is the John Pearse "Hawaiian" bar. Roughly the same dimensions as the Dunlop 918 Jerry Byrd bar. It's made from "thermo-cryonic steel", they say. Okay, whatever. (It is very smooth; maybe that's why?) What I like about it is the taper of the nose.


Last edited by Bob Russell on 9 Sep 2011 6:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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Morgan Scoggins


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 5:54 am     Reply with quote

I am with Bob and Steve about the Bullett Bars.I just got one about a week ago. I play an 8 string nonpedal steel and the 2 7/8" bar was not quite long enough and the 3/4" diameter did not provide enough mass for a good tone. Jim made me a 3" x 7/8" bar and the size was perfect for my needs. The recessed end made it easy for reverse slants.
Since I started playing steel guitar 4 years ago, I have tried almost every kind of bar. When I got the Bullett bar, i put all of the others away.
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Mike Anderson


From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 8:12 am     Reply with quote

I got my Jim Burden Bullett recently too, and the finish compared to my Dunlop is a world apart - like a mirror, absolutely smooth. Great craftsmanship.

http://www.bulletbars.com/
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Brian Hunter


From:
Indianapolis
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 3:12 pm     Reply with quote

I own two Bullet Bars at 13/16x3 and don't want to even try anything else.
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Stephen Abruzzo


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 3:48 pm     Re: 8-string bars Reply with quote

John Bushouse wrote:
What are typical 8-string bar sizes - length and diameter?


My guess is that for 8 strings, you'd probably need a 3" bar....at least, to cover 8 strings at once...up to maybe 3.25". Diameter is a thing of preference.

Personally, I have bars in diameter from 13/16"--1", with lengths of 3" to 3.15" made of all different materials....steel, lead crystal, space age polymer and stoneware.
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Steve Atwood


From:
Massachusetts, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 4:34 pm     length Reply with quote

My Tribotone bar is 1/2" longer (3 1/8") than the distance between strings 1 and 8 on my Dynalap guitar (2 5/8"). That's just barely enough to do slants between those strings, so I think 3 1/4" would have been better. Another consideration - the longer the bar the harder it is to do reverse slants.
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Bill Ladd


From:
Wilmington, NC, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2011 4:38 pm     Reply with quote

I used to use a smaller bar for non-pedal but now use a Cobra Coil 7/8"x3 1/4" that I got from Steel Guitar Nashville. That way, I always have the right size bar for non-pedal and pedal. I have two Dunlops the same size as backups.

I started using the larger size for my D-8 after loosing my smaller bar. By that time I'd been playing for so many years that I really couldn't tell the difference. I never grab more than three string slants so I don't need anything longer.

As for diameter, I was hanging out with Jimmy Roy (Ray Condo's steel guitarist) many moons ago and he was showing me how, for him, a smaller (diameter) bar is better for bar slams. In my experimentation, I found that to be true, but I lost a lot of tone the smaller the diameter got to be. (Jimmy played with a normal sized bar but had a whole bunch of cool bars with him that he'd use for different effects -- flat bars, brass bars, bakelite bars)
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Chris Byars


From:
Denver, CO
Post Posted 9 Sep 2011 4:53 am     Reply with quote

I don't like bullet bars much for straight steel. They always slip out of my hand, and give me hand cramps. I like the Shubb (SP2) with the cutaways for slants, and it has the classic Stevens feel and a roundy bullet nose. I use lots of slants and it works really well, I just wish it was a little heavier sometimes. Bakelite bullets are really fun. I haven't tried a Tribotone yet, but I hear they aren't as slippery in your hand as a metal bullet.
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Steve Green


From:
Gulfport, MS, USA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2011 5:22 am     Reply with quote

Chris Byars wrote:
I don't like bullet bars much for straight steel. They always slip out of my hand, and give me hand cramps. I like the Shubb (SP2) with the cutaways for slants, and it has the classic Stevens feel and a roundy bullet nose. I use lots of slants and it works really well, I just wish it was a little heavier sometimes. Bakelite bullets are really fun. I haven't tried a Tribotone yet, but I hear they aren't as slippery in your hand as a metal bullet.


I prefer a round bar, myself, but if you like the Shubb bars, but want one for an 8 string, you might try the SP1 instead of the SP2.





It's a little longer (3 3/8") so it may be better for your 8 string than the SP2. You can check them all out HERE but you can find better prices elsewhere.
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John Bushouse


Post Posted 9 Sep 2011 5:59 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for all the good ideas. do like bullet bars rather than grooved bars, as it's pretty much all I've used for the last several years.


I think I might check out either a 13/16" or a 7/8" bar. I don't know how much of a difference that might make but I do know how much of a difference similar measurements make as far as playability for acoustic "regular" guitars. As far as length, I'll also check out either a 3 1/8" or a 3 1/4" bar. Bullet bars seem to be pretty darn popular, but I will probably also check out the Tribotones.

After I win the lottery, of course Smile Quality bars are expensive, but it's my experience that you get what you pay for...
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Twayn Williams


From:
Portland, OR
Post Posted 9 Sep 2011 2:48 pm     Reply with quote

I use a Broz-o-phonic on my Fender D-8 and it works just fine. I've also used a bigger Ernie Ball pedal steel bar and that also worked fine, but is a bit slower to move around because of the added weight and not as easy to pick up for playing with the nose of the bar. YMMV
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Paul Fowler


From:
Louisville,Kentucky, USA
Post Posted 17 Sep 2011 2:50 am     bulitt Bars Reply with quote

I recently had the oportunity,to Talk With Jim Burdon,Of Bullitt.Bars .com.being new to lap steel,Jim was Kind enough to work with me and helped me,decide the bar that would,best work for me.Jim,A great person to deal with.His bars are made with great steel and enhances the tone,greatly.I ended up ordering a 13/16x3.25.It is a great bar for my needs.Anyone who is looking for a great bar should look to Jim.IMHO.ordering was easy and delivery was remarkabely Quick.Thanks JIM. Very Happy Very Happy Paul.
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Tom Wolverton


From:
San Diego, CA
Post Posted 17 Sep 2011 7:16 am     Reply with quote

I like the Shubb SP2 (Peter Grant) bar for my D-8 Stringmaster. Length is perfect for the Fender 8 String neck. Very easy to slant, too.
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Steve Ahola


From:
Concord, California
Post Posted 17 Sep 2011 10:18 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
Quality bars are expensive, but it's my experience that you get what you pay for...

True enough but often the price you pay includes a hefty surcharge for marketing and a premium for the "coolness" factor, not to mention the markups for any middlemen before the product reaches the end user.

You can get quite a lot for what you are paying if you buy a quality product directly from the person who makes it and who relies on word-of-mouth referrals more than expensive ad campaigns. Which is a good reason to support the forum members here making bars and building lap steels. Just my opinion...

Steve
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Jim Waldrop


From:
Alabama, USA
Post Posted 17 Sep 2011 2:22 pm     Tone bars Reply with quote

I have a Bullet bat and a John Pearse cryonic bar and really like both of them. However, someone gave me a lead filled glass bar a while back that is too long for 8 string guitars. I started messing around with it and discovered that for hawaiian music on my Ric B7 and JB frypan it produces a very mellow nice sound for hawaiian music. If I could ever figure out who makes them i would get a shorter one just for hawaiian songs.
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Les Anderson


From:
The Great White North
Post Posted 18 Sep 2011 1:27 pm     Reply with quote

I don't think it really matters which brand one uses to play an eight string. As long as the player feels comfortable with his/her bar and has the confidence that he can maneuver the bar within his/her hand for slants and deadening the strings, then "go with what works for you"

I use three different bars when I am on stage or just plain practicing at home. When it gets a bit cool, my hands become dry and slippery, I use my old Stevens bar. When it's hot or my hands are moist with sweat, I tend to use my D10 bullet bar and when I am playing Hawaiian, I try to use my Jerry Byrd style bar. I don't like the Jerry Byrd bar all that much because it's too damned small for my hands. I don't have full confidence to maneuver it comfortably when I do slants; however, I like the tone I get from it for Hawaiian tunings and tunes.
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Bernard Beck


From:
Paris France
Post Posted 19 Sep 2011 5:05 am     Reply with quote

I love the Twister symmetric tone bar. Scotty's used to sell them.
Bernard
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Doug Burling


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 19 Sep 2011 5:13 am     Reply with quote

I'm the last one here that should be giving advice, but I was using a Dunlop 918 and went to a Jim Burden 13/16" x 3 1/8" bullet bar and it feels much better to me. It's easier to hold than the 918 and sounds great.
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Laurence Pangaro


From:
Brooklyn, NY
Post Posted 20 Sep 2011 4:09 am     Reply with quote

Bernard,

I love the Twister! I bought the 6 string version (about the same dimensions as a 918) from Scotty's a while back. Now I was hoping to score the next size up, but alas all traces of it have vanished from the internet! I was able to find one store selling the pedal steel version which looks kinda huge.

I wonder if Jim Burden could be persuaded to make a double bullet ended bar?

ciao,
LP
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Jay Seibert


From:
Woodland, WA, USA
Post Posted 20 Sep 2011 10:18 am     Reply with quote

If Jim can't make you a custom, double-ended bar, let me know. I have made several double-enders for guys here on the Forum. Available in several diameters and whatever length you like for $34 including shipping. All stock/standard Paloma tone bars are still $20 plus $4 shipping... custom cut bars are $30 plus $4 shipping. You will have your choice of glaze finishes at no extra charge.
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Steve Ahola


From:
Concord, California
Post Posted 20 Sep 2011 1:51 pm     Reply with quote

I had figured that a steel bar was a steel bar- what is the big deal about the special ones everybody here is raving about? Laughing I had my JD 918 and 920 bars and figured that any improvement on those was just icing on the cake- perhaps nice to have but certainly not necessary. However I learned that I was wrong about that.

The JD bars are hollowed out and filled with a core. The metal they use is attracted to a magnet (most stainless steel isn't). And the JD bars have a blunt nose, not a true bullet shape.

I am not familiar with the other custom or premium steel bars, but Jim Burden uses a stainless steel alloy that works very well for tone bars. I believe that he will hollow the bar out for you if weight is an issue, but I really like the mass of his solid 13/16" bars. I weighed his 13/16" bar at the post office and it was almost as heavy as my 7/8" JD and Ernie Ball bars. There have been a lot of discussions here about bar diameters and tone & sustain, but I believe that the actual weight of the bar might be more important than the diameter.

I'm sure that the other custom or premium steel bars have their own strong points- perhaps someone familiar with them can point them out to us.

Steve Ahola

P.S. If weight is an issue check out the stone bars that Jay Seibert makes. He can make a large diameter bar very light and a year ago that was the only round bar I could hold.
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HowardR


From:
N.Y.C. & Fire Island
Post Posted 20 Sep 2011 6:47 pm     Reply with quote

Laurence.....I have a couple of Twister bars.....could never get used to them.....one is a pedal steel sized bar.....the other is smaller....

I'll be back in the city next week.....I can measure the smaller one if you're interested.....they're like brand new......
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Laurence Pangaro


From:
Brooklyn, NY
Post Posted 20 Sep 2011 7:28 pm     Reply with quote

Hi Howard,

I actually have the smallest size Twister bar and like it a lot. Which of the smaller sizes do you have? I'm interested in something a bit bigger for an 8 string. I've started corresponding with Jim Burden about geting a bar of the right dimensions.

Jay,

Thanks for the response. I'll keep you in mind. I've been intrigued by the idea of one of those cool blue bars for a while now.

LP
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