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Post new topic What Was Herb's Tuning on the Original Boot Heel Drag?
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Author Topic:  What Was Herb's Tuning on the Original Boot Heel Drag?
Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 2 Mar 2017 8:01 pm     Reply with quote

I'm getting like a F#6 feel on the first four strings with the low 8th string F# for the drag part.

F#
D#
A#
F#
?
?
?
F#

Am I even in the ballpark, or is that just totally messed up? I don't know what to do with the rest of them...
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Greg Booth


From:
Anchorage, AK, USA
Post Posted 2 Mar 2017 10:00 pm     Reply with quote

I believe Herb's tuning on the original recording was C#m. Check out this thread:

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=870749&sid=ecf36a1924ae452af201a4a9f1fff62b
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 2 Mar 2017 10:32 pm     Reply with quote

They probably sped up the recording. The song is in A, not B.

Herb normally plays an A6th tuning. You can see in this video that he retunes his 3rd string A to G# for the song.
https://youtu.be/Kxa5zuqEBag?t=2m34s

Earlier in the video he tuned his low string to E, so I assume the tuning is

E A C# E F# G# C# E

A solid candidate on a multi-neck guitar would be E13th, a popular tuning during that era:

E G# B D F# G# C# E

I've seen Herb play several times. He thinks nothing of retuning a string or 2 for a song. He does it quickly and effortlessly.
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 2 Mar 2017 10:48 pm     Reply with quote

It is interesting trying to find the original version.

The production on this one that come up first on Youtube sounds like the 1963 version. It is in Bb but I think there is a problem with the tape. It might be too fast because of the open strings in bar 11 suggest Dm tuning not C#m. If it is 1963 version the steeler is Gene Crownover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2foUa1jIKiA

The version from Herb's album Steel Guitar Holiday is in A. I'd be interested to know when that was recorded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBdG6UcvWmo

The original Bob Wills 1949 version that Herb recorded is also in A. This digital transfer was made by Chris Clem. Bless him!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrvPRBi0UJ0
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 3 Mar 2017 2:44 am     Reply with quote

I was wondering if that was sped up. I was trying to play along with one I got off iTunes, The MGM Years. Is this one Herb? I don't know my Bob Wills history.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttblPm-gtpg

I guess there must be hundreds of different versions out there. Chris Scruggs' version is what got me started trying to learn it, but I'm not ready for that F13 with the G note out of sequence yet. Shocked
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 3 Mar 2017 3:35 am     Reply with quote

Sorry but that video is not available to me down here but I am guessing it is the same as number one in my post (in Bb).

The original, number three in my post above is actually in Ab not A (whoops) but I am guessing that might also be a transfer or tape problem. I would go with the middle one from Steel Guitar Holiday.
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 3 Mar 2017 3:48 am     Reply with quote

Not the same one, Guy, but it's but a good one. i don't have time to fool with it this morning, also my tuner battery just went dead. Mr. Green
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 3 Mar 2017 3:50 am     Reply with quote

I've just had a fiddle around with it and while it is possible of E13, the grips seem much easier with C#m.
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 4 Mar 2017 4:13 am     Reply with quote

Tim, this is what I hear. Doable on E13 but this is much easier.


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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 4 Mar 2017 2:32 pm     Reply with quote

Beautiful tab, Guy. Smile

With three E notes in the tuning, I'd call it E6th instead of C#m7. But I understand there's a tradition that goes back to the early days of lap steel, in the Oahu courses and maybe Jerry Byrd's lessons too. The C#m chord on the top strings is the essential flavor of the tuning.

The 5th string B isn't even used in this song.
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 4 Mar 2017 2:52 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks, boss.
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 4 Mar 2017 5:06 pm     Reply with quote

That's pretty awesome, Guy!!!


Where's the rest of it? Mr. Green

I just tried watching that video b0b posted again from the 2009 TSGA, I'm not convinced he's doing any slants in that slidey part on the V chord before the open strings bit.
I know he does slants in the second section where he goes way up high to the 17th fret.

Regardless, I really appreciate you doing that transcription, nice job!
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 3:15 am     Reply with quote

Guy, you are a force of nature, tablaturly speaking. Smile
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 4:10 am     Reply with quote

Cheers, Andy. Compulsively obsessive is probably nearer the mark.

Tim, you may well be correct! This is no precise science. But a couple of things:

The 2009 video is 60 years after he wrote this for Bob Wills, (in a hurry for the recording, I believe, but I would need to check that. I am sure I have seen reference to that somewhere in the bunch of interviews of his that I have). Any number of conditions could have changed from the original recording. He could well have refined his technique. Also, I am betting that he could play this tune on a number of tunings.

My tab may well be wrong. I think it is always a percentage game. The more time you spend trying to get the nuances of articulation (unwound or wound, open strings, string skipping etc) the better the job but you need to draw a line. With our instrument, you can play the same lines in different places on a single tuning but then there are so many tuning permutations to consider.

Once I have got the notes down with the tuning established, I usually just look for what would have been the easiest way. I think one "trick" of the masters is to make something that is easy, sound amazing/hard so if there are two ways or more to play it, more than likely it will be the easy one.

I think my percentage is getting higher the more I work at it.
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 6:15 am     Reply with quote

Guy Cundell wrote:
Cheers, Andy. Compulsively obsessive is probably nearer the mark.


Well, thank you, since your "obsession" is to all our benefit.
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 6:20 am     Reply with quote

Well, I certainly wasn't trying to criticize in any way, and my eyes could be deceiving me, too. Herb is so smooth and fluid with the bar he may be doing a slant. Shocked
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 7:46 am     Reply with quote

Peer review is vital and welcome!
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 8:38 am     Reply with quote

More props coming your way, Guy! Nice looking tablature. And I was very impressed with your transcription of my B11 tune "Maui Moonlight" a while back. Keep up the great work.
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 5:28 pm     Reply with quote

Cheers, Doug. You really should do more composing!

Guy Cundell wrote:
Compulsively obsessive is probably nearer the mark.

Now that I look at it there are a couple of very annoying enharmonic mistakes in the dots!
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Ethan Shaw


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 9:11 am     Reply with quote

In Herb's own writing:



You can buy the tab here:
http://www.remingtonsteelguitars.com/
It's great to see how he played all of these classics!
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Ken Pippus


From:
Lake Oswego, OR
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 9:34 am     Reply with quote

That seems like a pretty definitive source!!!
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 9:37 am     Reply with quote

So, I had the intervals right on the first four strings, but I was uptuned trying to play along with a sped up recording.

Thanks to all who contributed!
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 12:42 pm     Reply with quote

Excellent! Most definitive! Thanks, Ethan. The question of how 6 string tunings were adapted for 8 string tunings is tough to work out by ear. I wondered if strings were simply left off or not. Murphey is another one where this question comes up.

I wonder what octave that second to bottom E is? If he is using the bottom note for the bass note then is it a duplication?

This tuning configuration can be added to those which Herb gave Andy for his Lap Steel book.

The instructions are a puzzle. They may not tally with the tuning. What they look like are directions to change A6 to a tuning on which you could play this C#m tune. If that were true it would still leave an F# on the 4th string which would be a nuisance.
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 12:48 pm     Reply with quote

I'm curious about the numbers on the 4th, 5th and 8th string to the side of the string tuning reference.
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 6 Mar 2017 1:09 pm     Reply with quote

4/5 string numbers look like time signature. 8 string number would be a pick up note, the initial slide up, I reckon.
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