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Author Topic:  Buying first pedal steel - questions!
Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 16 Mar 2017 7:04 pm     Reply with quote

I promised a departed member of the forums (Ben Jones,) that I would learn how to play steel after he passed. I've finally saved myself a reasonable about of money to buy a steel, I think, so I have a few questions.

1. Is it better to buy a higher end/pro model steel over the ones considered "beginner" models? I know I should at least get a 3x4 or 3x5 at the minimum, and not bother with the very basic models. Should I not turn my nose up at the Carter Starters?

2. Are there issues with "outgrowing" a steel? I'm not overly confident that I will be a wicked good player, but I've definitely fallen victim to outgrowing my equipment many times in the past. I would prefer not to do that in this regard.

3. Volume pedals - is it total blasphemy to use a Dunlop? (I've played guitar for 11 years now, and have three or four of those volume pedals around...)

EDIT: Question 4: I'm a mechanic with fat hands, are there any bars out there that will accommodate fat hands, that are usually worn out at the end of the day? Something with maybe a bigger diameter, or not a full round bar with some extra grabbing room?

I'm looking very forward to honoring my promise, Thanks for any help/advice in advance!

Thanks,

Jake
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Bill L. Wilson


From:
Oklahoma, USA
Post Posted 16 Mar 2017 8:50 pm     Buy a Good One. Reply with quote

I started on a MSA Semi-Classic 3x1, pulled the tone pot out of my Vox Wah-Wah pedal, put in a 500K AB pot, plugged into an old Twin Reverb and I was off to the races. I think no matter what you buy now, you'll probably want to upgrade later on. After 43yrs. I've upgraded many times, and 12yrs. ago I bought an Emmons LeGrande II, D-10 and it will probably be my last pedal steel. Be Blessed on your journey.
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Richard Alderson


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 16 Mar 2017 10:10 pm     Reply with quote

If you post a price range, it would be easier to answer. How much moola is going to be invested in the instrument?
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Charlie Hansen


From:
Halifax, NS Canada and Zephyrhills,FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 4:29 am     Reply with quote

Zum Encore. You'll never out grow it for $1500.
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Bill Ferguson


From:
Norcross, GA USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 4:44 am     Reply with quote

Or a Carter Pro model, usually around $2000. You won't outgrow it unless you decide later on a double neck.

Volume pedal, use what you have and like was said, maybe change the pot to a new Goodrich pot.
_________________
AUTHORIZED GeorgeL's, Goodrich & Telonics Dealer: 1993 Green Emmons D-10 LeGrande w/ Emmons 108 pickups, 2004 Mahogany Carter D-10 w/ Lawrence XR16 pickups, 1989 Zumsteel D-10 w/ Alumitone pickups, Goodrich or Telonics Volume Pedal, George L's Cable & Strings, Peavey Nashville 112 (I have 2), Peavey Session 115 and a Telonics Combo 112
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 4:53 am     Reply with quote

Right now, I have about 1200$, excluding money set aside for accessories. I guess my question should have been "Should I save up more and get an excellent steel I won't want to upgrade, or get started now?
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Bill Ferguson


From:
Norcross, GA USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 5:22 am     Reply with quote

I would say YES
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AUTHORIZED GeorgeL's, Goodrich & Telonics Dealer: 1993 Green Emmons D-10 LeGrande w/ Emmons 108 pickups, 2004 Mahogany Carter D-10 w/ Lawrence XR16 pickups, 1989 Zumsteel D-10 w/ Alumitone pickups, Goodrich or Telonics Volume Pedal, George L's Cable & Strings, Peavey Nashville 112 (I have 2), Peavey Session 115 and a Telonics Combo 112
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 6:31 am     Reply with quote

Bill Ferguson wrote:
I would say YES


To be clear, Yes to waiting, or starting now? Haha.

I will wait if it will benefit me throughout my time playing. Despite my eagerness, I wont shy away from spending a little extra money and time. I'm 28, I figure by 40 I'll be able to get a gig. 😅
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Scott Duckworth


From:
Etowah, TN Western Foothills of the Smokies
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 7:29 am     Reply with quote

You could get a good Marlen, maybe even a D-10, for $1500 or less. They are a pull / release system, but you can get the standard E9 changes (and C6 if a D-10) on them. They sound great and stay in tune well.
_________________
(1) E6 Rogue lap steel, (1) A6 Rogue lap steel, Li'l Izzy, Zoom MS-50G Effects Pedal into a Berhinger mixer and Harbinger V2112 speaker(s).

Amateur Radio Operator NA4IT (Extra)
http://www.qsl.net/na4it

I may, in fact, be nuts. However, I am screwed onto the right bolt... Jesus!
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Jon Schimek


From:
Boulder, Co - USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 8:03 am     Reply with quote

With $1200 and some patience you should be able to get a fine steel. I think as long as you stay away from "student models" or a super old model you should be very good to go.

Dekleys, Marlens, Blanton and MSAs all pop up at a great price quite regularly. I'm a big fan of MSAs specifically the wood bodies (Vintage XL, SS, classic XL)... I think they come up at the best value for what you get.... they are all a little heavy, but for learning it's not so bad.

My opinion.
1) Find a good deal for $1200 on a functional MSA (D-10 or S-10) with a wood body.
2) Practice hard. Figure out what you dont like about it or what you love about it.
3) Play in a band and save up.
4) Re-sell and upgrade if you need. I would be very surprised to see an MSA lose value in 5 years at this point, so think of it like you are "renting a steel"

I've had several MSAs and never lost money. I honestly think the SS models, Classic XL and Vintage XL are the great... especially if they are setup well. Also parts are easy to come by and there is nothing really oddball about them.

-Jon
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MSA Vintage-XL U12 vs Kline U12
Nashville 400, Boss RV-3
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 8:42 am     Stage One Steel Reply with quote

I am very happy with my $1170 Stage One 3x4. I seem to remember Doug posting here that he is not taking any new orders till he clears out his back log, but that is probably among the best new instruments you can get in that price range.
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 8:56 am     Reply with quote

When you put it in terms of "renting," it starts to sound a lot less permanent. I take good care of my stuff. I've been a guitar and amp technician as a side job for years, and worked on a couple steels. I figure between the initial investment and a couple hundred bucks in accessories I would be ready to rock.

I've got oodles of amps, and bulk strings.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 10:29 am     Reply with quote

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=314077

I don't know the seller or anything about this guitar, but it appears to be a fair and reasonable price for a pro model 3+5 S10.

Carter is out of business, but there are parts available here and there should the need arise.

Far as the Dunlop pedal, it will work OK as long as the travel is not too great when sitting under the guitar.

I would just try one of yours and maybe later decide on something else if it's not comfortable.

I would advise against an old out of service model guitar for a new player. Sometimes the wear and issues are not immediately obvious. Try to stay with as current a model as you can afford.

As a mechanic, you have an advantage on servicing as everything is basically just right angle physics, but it gets really close underneath with all that linkage sometimes.

These are just my opinions and observations from playing and working on pedal steel guitars since the late 70's.

Good luck, whatever you decide.
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Fred Justice


From:
Mesa, Arizona
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 11:03 am     Reply with quote

Jake, you will have a long ride out growing a 3x4
Lloyd Green never did out grow his 3x4. Very Happy
Here's a link to our website, go have a look around.
The Pro Lite is our top selling model at present.
http://justicesteelguitars.com/
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Email: fredjustice@justicesteelguitars.com
Webesite: www.justicesteelguitars.com
Phone: 480-986-2599
Justice Steel Guitars and Accessories~Hilton Pedals~S.I.T. Strings
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 11:28 am     Reply with quote

Presumptuous of me, haha! Your steels are gorgeous.
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Jon Schimek


From:
Boulder, Co - USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 12:27 pm     Reply with quote

Jake Bopp wrote:
When you put it in terms of "renting," it starts to sound a lot less permanent. I take good care of my stuff. I've been a guitar and amp technician as a side job for years, and worked on a couple steels. I figure between the initial investment and a couple hundred bucks in accessories I would be ready to rock.


It's not really about taking care of things, it's more about finding a steel to learn on and to help determine what you like or don't like about it. A simple S-10 3x4 MSA may very well be all you need an want for your life, like the Lloyd Green comment. You may decide in several years that you want splits in your changer or a compensator mechanism. You may decide you want to explore C6, or U12. You may like a heavier steel or you may prefer a lighter steel. You may want tight mechanical feel or maybe you prefer it a little loose. I mean how do you know what you need if you are new to the instrument without some starting point and why not start out simple?

From my perspective it's a complicated instrument to figure out and there aren't a whole lot of places to try many of them. So "rent" a good one at a reasonable price and figure out if your needs warrant features of a more expensive instrument. I've moved around quite a bit, at first I never wanted to touch the C6 neck, then randomly got into a group where it made sense to learn, then I decided I wanted to explore the U-12 rather than learn two separate necks. For me the quality of the instrument didn't change but the actual instrument did.

I think you'll find few people on this forum whom have been playing for 20 years and are still using their original instrument.
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MSA Vintage-XL U12 vs Kline U12
Nashville 400, Boss RV-3
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Jon Schimek


From:
Boulder, Co - USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 12:42 pm     Reply with quote

That Carter would be great.

This MSA D-10 is a steel -$1500
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=309378

LOVE the look of this guitar - $1800. U12 can be used as an e9. It's a 3R/3L so you could expand it to your heart's desire:
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=311953

Dekley at $1350 is a great deal:
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=313812

This blanton is super configurable - $1000
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=313097

Top Notch D-10 - $1800
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=312679

I'm sure I'm missing a ton, but thats just first glance of the first two pages of "for sale"
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MSA Vintage-XL U12 vs Kline U12
Nashville 400, Boss RV-3
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Dave Campbell


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 2:26 pm     Reply with quote

in my opinion you need to get a functional standard steel and get started right away. if you know someone who plays steel or there is a steel club near you, i say buy an older solid model that's within your budget. have someone who can check it out after you buy to make sure that nothing is out of whack.

some folks say that the carter starter is a good beginner guitar, but some folks say that some starters have problems that make them hard to learn on, and you sure don't want to make it any harder.

a stage one is a great beginner guitar, but the wait list can be long if you can't find a used one.

i started with a dunlop volume pedal for the first while. it didn't matter 'cos i was hopeless with the volume pedal for a while anyway. once i started having brain power left over to use it, i got one that was designed with pedal steel in mind.

no matter what you buy, you're probably going to want something else eventually anyhow. it seems to be the nature of the beast.

you can get a bigger diameter bar. keep checking out the forum accessories section.

good luck.
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 2:29 pm     Reply with quote

I actually saw that Dekley on Craigslist, it's a pretty steel, no doubt. The gentleman contacted me earlier, I just responded to his email.

I am going to scrape all my pennies together, and be ready with cash in hand for the right steel.
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Kevin Fix


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 3:10 pm     First Pedal Steel Reply with quote

Get a Pro Model S10, 3-4 for sure. If you buy a student model and you progress you will want to trade up for sure. I just sold a Sho Bud S-10, 3+4 a month ago. for $1200.00. There are some good deals out there. I am playing profesionaly a Mullen Discovery, 3+5. I hauled a Sho Bud D-10 around for a lot of years. Weight and my age got the best of me. Use a 1" bar. Works best for me. I am a retired HD Truck mechanic with big fingers also. Goodrich or Hilton best volume pedal. Have them both. Would not use anything else. Very smooth pedal action. You want a pedal that will float. A man in my area wanted to learn to play also. I told him to get a Pro S 10. He went out and bought a GFI D 10, 8+4 off the forum for $2300.00. !!!!!!
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 3:13 pm     Re: First Pedal Steel Reply with quote

Kevin Fix wrote:
Use a 1" bar. Works best for me. I am a retired HD Truck mechanic with big fingers also.


It's good to hear there's hope for us bear-pawed fellows. I was legitimately worried that hand fatigue would make this particularly difficult My pointer/thumb muscles are usually pretty hosed at the end of the day, and looking at people play, it seems that pinching motion is most of what holds the bar.
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 4:43 pm     Reply with quote

I am very happy with my Stage One, and you will have to make a lot of progress to outgrow it.

My suggestion would be to get something reasonable and get started NOW. Who knows what life has lined up for you, and the sooner you start playing the sooner you start learning. You can always upgrade in a year, 3 years or 5 years from now.

Another thing to consider is if you buy something decent but not top shelf, you are not tying up your money in the event it just turns out this isn't for you. Having too many bells and whistles which you don't know how to use can be intimidating and bad for morale.

Good luck, you have many good suggestions here and I don't think you find any of them are "wrong". It's more a case of finding what is right for you personally.
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Jake Bopp


From:
Tallahassee, FL
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 6:08 pm     Reply with quote

i think i am going to pick up that Dekley posted above. Anyone see anything majorly upsetting about that deal?
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Kevin Barber


From:
Marianna, Florida, USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 8:42 pm     Reply with quote

Hi Jake, I live in Marianna, about 60 or so miles from Tallahassee. You are more than welcome to come over and sit down behind my steel. I have a Mullen Royal Precision steel, and also use a 1 inch diameter bar you could put in your hand to see how you like the feel of it. Just send me a private message or an e-mail if you think you might like to take a little drive to Marianna.
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Mitch Ellis


From:
Collins, Mississippi USA
Post Posted 17 Mar 2017 9:44 pm     Reply with quote

Fair warning, Jake.
That Mullen will spoil you. Smile They are exceptionally fine steel guitars.

Mitch
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