INSTRUCTION STRINGS ACCESSORIES MUSIC LINKS
 Visit Our Catalog at SteelGuitarShopper.com for Steel Guitars, Strings, Instruction, Music and Accessories 
Forum Index
where steel players meet online
The Steel Guitar Forum

Post new topic E9 Tuning and String Gauge Sequence
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  E9 Tuning and String Gauge Sequence
Roger Travagli


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 5:25 pm     Reply with quote

Have been bewildered awhile about 10-string PSG E9 tuning. Well, not so much E9 per se, rather the illogical gauging sequence. I don't think any other instrument in the string family runs counter to having heaviest gauge string at bottom and lightest at top-- lowest tone to highest.
Who was the developer who stands most to blame for the freakish out-of-sequence prescription as is found in strings 4 up to 1? Why aren't these 4 strings in the progressive order (4th up to 1st): D4#, E4, F4#, G4# (with gauges 15,14,13,11) rather
than the zany order E4, G4#, D4#, F4#? Well, at least the gauges are consistent with the given notes. And why has no one in the Nashville community ever raised an objection to such craziness?
Just asking-- since I can find no sensible reference to this in any of the various "explains" pertaining to 10-string E9 tuning. Does the 10-string C6 tuning also take such unexplained liberties, having its own established convention, and having some other bizarre arrangement?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Ray Montee


From:
Portland, Oregon
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 6:35 pm     A question to be asked.................... Reply with quote

In all of YOUR infinite wisdom.......how would YOU have put together the E9th string arrangement?

How would YOU have altered 'the standard' that has made the E9th tuning such a successful steel guitar tool?

It seems to work 'for most of us' that can play it with some semblance of professionalism.

WHAT seems to be your problem? Why is it such a beast in your assessment? Just curious.........
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ray Anderson


From:
Jenkins, Kentucky USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 6:40 pm     Reply with quote

From one Ray to another, WELL PUT. Whoa! Laughing Laughing
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 6:50 pm     Reply with quote

Hi Roger, there are people here that know the history much better than I. I only know what I have read. It is my understanding that the D# and F#, commonly referred to as the "chromatic" strings were added to the other 8 strings for greater range as the tuning developed for pedal steel. I think the 8 string E9 tuning to that point was the same as the current one from low to high less those 2 strings.

I believe that those 2 upper range strings when first added, were on the bottom end of the neck below the low B string. Eventually moved to the top of the neck where they remain today. I suppose putting them in the natural scalar positions would have messed with the grips already used and would involve skipping strings for chord positions and some single string runs.

I defer to the historians and those that were around to actually witness the evolution.

There's probably some history in the archives here if you care to search on the topic.

A similar situation exists on many players C6 necks where a D string is used as the top string that is lower in pitch than the 2nd string E. Not everyone tunes thusly, including myself but many do.
View user's profile Send private message
b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 7:38 pm     Reply with quote

My first 10 string tuning was as you suggest, with the chromatic strings in sequence. I thought it made good sense. It wasn't until I switched to the standard E9th that I came to understand the logic of the "inside out" arrangement.

The most obvious advantage came in fast chord arpeggios, in the "chicken pickin" style. Having the major chord strings adjacent to each improved the accuracy of my picking by about 50%, allowing me to build greater speed.

Another problem solved was sympathetic vibration. In the sequential arrangement, when a string is pulled to match or cross the note of an adjacent string, the adjacent string will start vibrating on its own. While this is cool for effect now and then, in practice it's very hard to control.

As for precedent, the 5 string banjo is the first instrument to come to mind. I'm not a banjo player, but many steel players are. Some of them take to the E9th string arrangement like a fish to water. It's a more advanced and logical extension of the tuning system they already know.
_________________
Bobby Lee, a.k.a. -b0b- (SGF Admin) ♪ "Music is not so fragile that knowledge breaks it." -Gerbergler ♪
Rice & Bean on Sierra Laptop ♪ Wine Country Swing on Desert Rose S-8 ♪ Carter D-10 ♪ Stella
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Roger Travagli


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 7:38 pm     Re: A question to be asked.................... Reply with quote

Ray, I don't don't see how a 'normal' gauge-sequence would stand in the way of E9 versatility. Would seem to make the transition a little smoother from other fretted instruments. If there is some unique benefit having it done as it is, I presently don't see it.
That is, I'm claiming no greater wisdom than supposing a slightly simplified scheme over that which now seems to remain in place only for traditional reasons rather than practical ones.
But if other seasoned players were able to work around it, I suppose I could as well. Was just wondering. Besides, reconfiguring would cause other problems relating to existing tabulature, etc.

Ray Montee wrote:
In all of YOUR infinite wisdom.......how would YOU have put together the E9th string arrangement?

How would YOU have altered 'the standard' that has made the E9th tuning such a successful steel guitar tool?

It seems to work 'for most of us' that can play it with some semblance of professionalism.

WHAT seems to be your problem? Why is it such a beast in your assessment? Just curious.........
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Roger Travagli


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 7:42 pm     Reply with quote

Okay. That makes sense. Its too early in the game for me to run into this type of thing to as yet hit on its advantages. So I was seriously wondering over the why of it.

b0b wrote:
My first 10 string tuning was as you suggest, with the chromatic strings in sequence. I thought it made good sense. It wasn't until I switched to the standard E9th that I came to understand the logic of the "inside out" arrangement.

The most obvious advantage came in fast chord arpeggios, in the "chicken pickin" style. Having the major chord strings adjacent to each improved the accuracy of my picking by about 50%, allowing me to build greater speed.

Another problem solved was sympathetic vibration. In the sequential arrangement, when a string is pulled to match or cross the note of an adjacent string, the adjacent string will start vibrating on its own. While this is cool for effect now and then, in practice it's very hard to control.

As for precedent, the 5 string banjo is the first instrument to come to mind. I'm not a banjo player, but many steel players are. Some of them take to the E9th string arrangement like a fish to water. It's a more advanced and logical extension of the tuning system they already know.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 7:43 pm     Re: A question to be asked.................... Reply with quote

Ray Montee wrote:
In all of YOUR infinite wisdom.......how would YOU have put together the E9th string arrangement?

How would YOU have altered 'the standard' that has made the E9th tuning such a successful steel guitar tool?

He answered that question in his first post, Ray. "(4th up to 1st): D4#, E4, F4#, G4#"

Quote:
It seems to work 'for most of us' that can play it with some semblance of professionalism.

WHAT seems to be your problem?


Belittling beginners is not the Steel Guitar Forum way, Ray. It was an honest technical question. The personal attack was unwarranted.
_________________
Bobby Lee, a.k.a. -b0b- (SGF Admin) ♪ "Music is not so fragile that knowledge breaks it." -Gerbergler ♪
Rice & Bean on Sierra Laptop ♪ Wine Country Swing on Desert Rose S-8 ♪ Carter D-10 ♪ Stella
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Darrell Owens


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 7:52 pm     String Sequence Reply with quote

The WAY COOL thing about the Pedal Steel Guitar is you can set it up any way you want to! If you don't like the E9 chromatic tuning, change it! There are no steel guitar POLICE who are going to arrest you for changing the sequence on your steel guitar.

There are a number of great players who have changed their tunings and pedal arrangements. Some "CRAZY" guy even put his E9th on the back neck and C6 on the front neck. Imagine that.

BTW, I heard that after the pedal steel was invented, they stopped issuing harps in Heaven!
_________________
Zum Steel, Webb Amp,
Darrell Owens
www.darrellowens.com
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 8:43 pm     Reply with quote

Hi, Roger, and welcome to the vagaries of steel guitar.
    While it seems illogical, the staggered tone stack on the top four strings is actually immensely usable and logical. From single note arpeggios to chord extensions and gorgeous harmony lines, some of the most beautiful sounds reside up there. I suggest a visit to the archives, particularly in the tablature section, for examples and discussions of the many uses for the (misnamed) so-called "chromatic strings".

    As for who "stands most to blame" for the position and order of the top strings, it's a pretty well-established fact that we have Buddy Emmons to thank. He came up with the pitches and placement of those strings only after years in the professional trenches and much experimentation. Again, hit the search function above for many threads on the development and player participation in the evolution of the E9 tuning.

    As for "why has no one in the Nashville community ever raised an objection"... I can only assume it's in appreciation for so much effort and experimentation having been expended on the development, and the fact that it works so very well.

Work with it a while, track down even a few of the literally millions of cool licks that demonstrate just why this string sequence works, and you'll probably get it. The search function here is a gold mine.
Best, MvA
_________________
Stop by the Steel Store at: www.markvanallen.com
www.musicfarmstudio.com
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Roger Travagli


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 9:07 pm     Reply with quote

Really fascinating stuff. Thanks so much Bob and Mark. I knew that such an obvious quirk had not been overlooked and that it eventually would be made clear to me.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Dave Grafe


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 28 Mar 2012 10:12 pm     Reply with quote

...I will only add that many C6 players do drop the first string from a G to a D in order to do some of the same things in passing figures that the F# string provides for the E9 tuning, a middle scale note on the outside of the major triad. The more you learn to actually play the instrument more you will come to realize the brilliance of the arrangement and thank those who have gone before you for leaving you such a legacy.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Keith Davidson


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 3:25 am     Reply with quote

To the 2 Ray's - you guys come across as if this tuning is the best that ever was and is not to be questioned or else expect the rath of the Ray's.

Everyone is entitled to question things and that is why this forum has been so great. There are so many helpful people on this forum and I would go as far to say this is one of the best forums I've ever seen and/or been a part of.

The guy had a legitimate question which actually makes perfect sense. He shouldn't have been shot down with ridicule for asking it.

To Roger: check out Zane King's tuning for both 10 string and 12 string, might be of interest to you. It interests me. Will I go with it, don't know yet but it's an option.

Let's keep this forum informative and welcoming to all that frequent it.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Ransom Beers


Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 4:00 am     Reply with quote

I was always given to believe that the reasoning for the E9 string sequence was the amount of pressure it took to bring each string into pitch without putting an undue amount of pressure on the mechanics so as not to warp on somehow deform it & to make it easier to achieve.JMO.
View user's profile Send private message
b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 4:46 am     Reply with quote

Ransom Beers wrote:
I was always given to believe that the reasoning for the E9 string sequence was the amount of pressure it took to bring each string into pitch without putting an undue amount of pressure on the mechanics so as not to warp on somehow deform it & to make it easier to achieve.JMO.

I never thought of that, but a sequential arrangement requires more bar pressure when you're playing parts that don't require the chromatic strings.

Also, having a major chord on 4 adjacent strings makes the instrument easier to learn. I know that's not a valid reason for the tuning's design, but it's true nonetheless.
_________________
Bobby Lee, a.k.a. -b0b- (SGF Admin) ♪ "Music is not so fragile that knowledge breaks it." -Gerbergler ♪
Rice & Bean on Sierra Laptop ♪ Wine Country Swing on Desert Rose S-8 ♪ Carter D-10 ♪ Stella
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 5:21 am     Reply with quote

I've watched many very accomplished six-string players walk up and strum across my E9 neck, and walk away shaking their heads at the "craziness" and "unfriendliness" of the tuning.
I find it helps beginning students a lot to think of the tuning as being designed for plucking, with just simple triads across the neck on strings 10,8,6,5,4, and 3 and with other scale tones mixed in for chord flavor, full scale access, and later exploration (for instance the world of chords with roots on string 9 and 7).
C6 is a more "strum-friendly" tuning, with the newer top D adding one "out-of-place" note, which as has been noted mimics the feel of the top E9 note.

The E9 tuning just as it stands is really genius, I think. I find new stuff all the time.
_________________
Stop by the Steel Store at: www.markvanallen.com
www.musicfarmstudio.com
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ray Anderson


From:
Jenkins, Kentucky USA
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 5:25 am     Reply with quote

Hey, Just so we are all on the same page here, there was no "wrath" in my statement. He had a valid question and deserved to be answered. There are still many of the"pioneers" of the genius of this instrument around today and I just felt like a little respect is in order for their achievements on this instrument(don't see any craziness in any one of them). I see no more "venom" in Ray Montees' post than that is in the first post. The way you present yourself will determine how you are responded to.JMHO Every time I sit and try and play this instrument I am appreciative to those that engineered it. Very Happy Show your "mousetrap" and it's proven usefulness, before you badmouth someone elses. Winking @ Roger, My humble appology to you, Friend Very Happy
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Dave Grafe


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 7:03 am     Reply with quote

From the article "Pedal Steel Guitar, a Biography" written by Buddy Emmons:
"Apart from the addition of two strings, the E9th pedal tuning has undergone three changes. In 1956, Jimmy Day placed an E note in the middle of the 8-string tuning. Around 1958, Ralph Mooney added a G# note at the first string position. In 1962, after steels had advanced to 10 strings per neck, I added a F# and D# note to the first and second string positions, giving the tuning a diatonic structure. The original three-note pedal sound is still intact, but the melodic capabilities have been greatly enhanced by the combined changes."
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ransom Beers


Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 7:35 am     Reply with quote

A bit off topic but Paul Sutherland has a video dealing in quite a bit of detail on using the 9th string.It sure opened my eyes & ears.
View user's profile Send private message
Ransom Beers


Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 7:39 am     Reply with quote

b0b wrote:
Ransom Beers wrote:
I was always given to believe that the reasoning for the E9 string sequence was the amount of pressure it took to bring each string into pitch without putting an undue amount of pressure on the mechanics so as not to warp on somehow deform it & to make it easier to achieve.JMO.

I never thought of that, but a sequential arrangement requires more bar pressure when you're playing parts that don't require the chromatic strings.

Also, having a major chord on 4 adjacent strings makes the instrument easier to learn. I know that's not a valid reason for the tuning's design, but it's true nonetheless.


I agree,of course I'm still in the learning stage & perhaps will be until the end as I was on six string,never mastered that & don't even hope to master pedal steel,but it shore do be fun trying.
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Sinkler


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 7:49 am     Reply with quote

Although, a bad way to present his thought, the original poster does have the right to ask questions and to question why things are the way they are.

To add a little humor to this, Mark said:
Quote:
I've watched many very accomplished six-string players walk up and strum across my E9 neck, and walk away shaking their heads at the "craziness" and "unfriendliness" of the tuning.


A long time ago, I had a very well respected country guitar player here locally, who had never worked with a steel guitar player, strum across my neck , walk over, pick up his tuner and hand it to me, and tell me there was a serious problem with my tuner and I should use his because my guitar sounded like "S#!T". I honestly don't think he knew it was supposed to be tuned that way.
_________________
Richard Sinkler's Website w/Mickey Adams YouTube Videos
Carter D10 9p/9k, NV400 with Fox Mod, Tech 21 Roto-Choir, Danelectro EQ for dobro sim, Digitech RP155.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 7:52 am     Reply with quote

Reece's Bb6 Universal tuning moves the 9 of the first string back within the sequence, but the VI/Maj VII (Reece uses a C for the 1st, David Wright uses a D. I'm inclined to follow David, but my U-12 is still a couple weeks away, so it's just speculation now) is still out in front.

Personally, I found the oddity of those "chromatic" confusing for only about a week and a half.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Roger Travagli


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 8:50 am     Reply with quote

As an afterthought I must agree that my initial posting seems a little harsh toward those who pioneered the PSG. Didn't mean it that way, of course.
Were I to run into Buddy Emmons, knowing that he was a key developer, I'd still probably say to him- "Buddy, why in the world..?" (and refrain from using the
word 'crazy' or 'craziness'). Even though, to the unitiated as myself, the word seems rather appropriate. All the same, my apologies to any who may have taken offense.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
CrowBear Schmitt


From:
Ariege, - PairO'knees, - France
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 9:07 am     Reply with quote

that E9 Nashburg tuning was conceived for a reason
the pioneers paved the way for us parrots
for those of us who have some knowledge of notes & some theory, or who taken the time to study the phenomena, it's obvious that there are 2 chords in that there tuning : E & B
add pedals A & B & you've got on A
so that's either 1, 5 & 4 in E
or 1, 4 & dom 7 in B
now that's pretty straight ahead
wait till you ask Rick Schmidt for some chord advice !
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Joseph Meditz


From:
Sierra Vista, AZ
Post Posted 29 Mar 2012 10:59 pm     Reply with quote

I have to confess that I only got comfortable with those chromatic strings after my teacher forced me to use them for which I am grateful.

Actually only the D# is foreign. Being the "ti" in the E major scale it saves you from moving the bar or using a lever. Economy of motion makes it easier to play faster passages.

As for the G# and F#, if you swapped their positions then you would not have a major third from the E to G# on adjacent strings. Playing two adjacent strings simultaneously is easier than skipping strings to play the same thing.

This ingenious arrangement has withstood the test of time. However, you may tune your guitar as you please and set your pedals and levers as you please and you will not be alone in doing so. Play what like and how like and enjoy!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  

Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction,
steel guitars & accessories

www.SteelGuitarShopper.com

Steel Guitar Music
Instrumental steel guitar CDs for your permanent collection
www.SteelGuitarMusic.com

Jewelry by Mom
beautiful one-of-a-kind
pieces handmade by
Mrs. Lee in California

JewelryByMom.com

Please review our Forum Rules and Policies

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 South Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Support This Forum


Batman 4 Sale
Batman & Robin collectibles
Toys, comics & cool stuff

www.batman4sale.biz
HTTP