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Post new topic Old Vs. New PSG - Options, Timeframes, and Variables?
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Author Topic:  Old Vs. New PSG - Options, Timeframes, and Variables?
Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 11 Aug 2017 10:07 pm     Reply with quote

Hoping some of the more experienced folks here might be willing to explain the evolution of our instrument from the 50's to today.

Is there are timeline of PSG evolution published somewhere on the Internet?

My first PSG that stayed in tune was a 1973 MSA S10 Classic.

I recently got a mid-80's MSA D10 (thanks Jon!), and the pedals and levers have much less resistance compared to my old one. I'm guessing this is the result of a more modern changer mechanism?

Also, I understand that the first pedal steel guitars used cables to pull the changes... When did rods become the standard instead of cables?

What is the difference between an "all pull guitar" and a "push-pull changer"?

I know this is a lot to ask, but if there are basic milestones that are important to you personally, I'd welcome any information you'd be willing to share.

Thank you in advance!
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 3:58 am     Reply with quote

Here's a page describing the push-pull changer
https://www.steelguitar.com/maps/changerPP.html
And here's the all-pull changer
https://www.steelguitar.com/maps/changer.html
Before there was either of those, there was the pull-release changer, which is still in use by at least 4 makers (Stage One, the GFI student model, the WBS basic, and the Simmons). It's similar to the push-pull, but it uses a separate rod for lowering, instead of putting the finger in a lowering cradle like the push-pull does.
Carter didn't elect to make a page for it, but here's a picture

How old was the 73 when you got it? When properly cleaned and lightly lubed, the MSA is pretty easy playing.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 4:09 am     Reply with quote

BTW, later pull-release guitars refined the tuning of the open note, by putting a tuning nut on the end of the lowering rod, which I highlighted in red here

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2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 9:27 am     Reply with quote

Thanks Lane, much obliged!

Compared to my newer D10 MSA (85-ish?), the pedals and levers on my '73 S10 are noticeably stiffer.

When I was shopping for a D10, I also played a Rains, and the tension on the Rains was similar to the newer MSA, i.e., much looser than 73 S10.

I recently had the '73 changed to a Day set up, and in the process, cleaned the grease from the changer and had the fingers re-coated in silicon lube.

I understand that grease on older steels often attracts dust and dirt... That wasn't a problem with my MSA, as it plays with the same tension now as it did before.

It's still stiffer than the new ones. Maybe it's just a function of the spring tension and bell crank lengths?

Anyhow, thanks for your explanation of the mechanics involved. I think the evolution of the pedal steel is an interesting story... A book I'd buy!

There's some interesting info on Wikipedia too:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedal_steel_guitar
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 10:52 am     Reply with quote

Is your 73 crossbars, or round shafts?
To see if it's the changer or the pulltrain, take a Phillips head screwdriver small enough to fit into the holes in the endplate, and push on the scissors of each guitar, and see if one is stiffer than the other.
If I've got this right, they should be about the same.
I really think stiffness is more likely to be caused by gunk in the pull train.
Unfortunately, the cleanup (I'm assuming round shafts) means removing each shaft from the guitar, thoroughly cleaning the ends of the shafts and the bores of the nylon flanged washers, then cleaning the bores of the bellcranks, thoroughly cleaning the ends of the pull pins (the interface between pull pin and bellcrank is quite often the source of stiffness), and possibly pulling the pedal axle pin, as that grease may also stiffen with time.
My 1976ish S-12 plays almost as easy as my Zum, but it did get a thorough teardown and cleaning.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 11:24 am     Reply with quote

Top tip for cleaning brass pull pins:
Get a 4 inch length of pull rod (I've got some hanging around, too long and it starts flopping), put one pull pin on each end and tighten down.
Using a felt wheel on a Dremel, polish each end of each pin all the way around with Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish (or similar; paste wax also cleans). Use safety gargles to keep glop out of your eyes. Save your old felt wheels, they can get small enough to clean the bores of the bellcranks.
In my (not huge, but a fair amount) experience, pull pins sticking to bellcranks is the prime cause of MSA stiffness.
Darvin and Tom and Jim have seen more than I, they can tell me what I'm full of.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 7:35 pm     Reply with quote

Thank you Lane for the wealth of information! We should have tips like that in a separate thread... Or in the book! Wink

I'm surprised there aren't more books on PSG history. With modern desktop publishing, the economies of scale should work even with a small audience.

I have hope! Smile

FWIW, I found some nice historical resources on Bobbe's pages, as well as a great article I had missed from Premier Guitar.

https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/22152-pedal-to-the-metal-a-short-history-of-the-pedal-steel-guitar

http://pedalsteelmusic.com/?p=733

http://www.hsga.org/history.htm

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=279778


...About my 73 MSA, the changer has been cleaned and lubed a few times since I've owned it. It's pretty clean at the moment. The crossrods are round.

I thought that modern changers generally had a softer feel. I haven't played that many, but that has been my experience so far.

Longer bellcranks provide more leverage and a softer feel, but preferred resistance still varies from person to person.

I don't have a preference yet. If anything, I'm accustomed to the slightly stiffer feel, as that's what I started on.

Thanks again!


Last edited by Jay Friedrich on 12 Aug 2017 8:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 7:57 pm     Reply with quote

Farther out on the bellcrank gives a STIFFER pull.
But to repeat myself; on MSAs, stiff pedals and knees are usually, in descending order of prominence (worst first);
1) pull pins sticking in the bellcrank
2) shafts sticking in the bushings
3) pedals seized to axle pins/axle pins seized to pedal bar cleats.
I'm almost willing to bet that if you pushed on the scissors with a screwdriver (meaning you take the pull train out of the equation), your 73 will be about the same as your 85
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 9:06 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks again Lane! I haven't experienced any of those things lately, but when I first got it (20+ years ago) one of the ball joints gave way. I replaced all three and cleaned out the changer and it's been fine ever since.

One difference is the bushings that hold the cross shafts are made from nylon or Delrin on the newer one, and I believer regular plastic on the older one. That alone could account for any perceived differences in pedal or lever resistance.


Last edited by Jay Friedrich on 12 Aug 2017 9:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 9:07 pm     Reply with quote

Especially if a previous owner oiled the bushings.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 9:09 pm     Reply with quote

Lane Gray wrote:
Especially if a previous owner oiled the bushings.

Makes sense.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 9:13 am     Reply with quote

The detailed and comprehensive history of PSG is a book waiting to be written. There are those few decent articles on the web that you mention, albeit with conflicting "facts" here and there, but nothing that would fit that kind of title for such a discerning audience. Walking talking PSG encyclopedia and master player Joe Goldmark would be the guy to take on the project. Or maybe Ken Burns could do the documentary film Cool
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Dave Beaty


From:
Mesa, Arizona, USA
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 11:09 am     Winnie Winston book Reply with quote

For many years, the Winnie Winston book has been a treasure trove of information regarding the evolution of the pedal steel guitar, complete with individual tuning and pedal set-ups of pioneers in the business. It is currently available on Amazon at the following URL:
https://www.amazon.com/Pedal-Steel-Guitar-Book-CD/dp/082560169X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502651169&sr=8-1&keywords=winnie+winston+book
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Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 12:48 pm     Re: Winnie Winston book Reply with quote

Dave Beaty wrote:
For many years, the Winnie Winston book has been a treasure trove of information regarding the evolution of the pedal steel guitar, complete with individual tuning and pedal set-ups of pioneers in the business. It is currently available on Amazon at the following URL:
https://www.amazon.com/Pedal-Steel-Guitar-Book-CD/dp/082560169X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502651169&sr=8-1&keywords=winnie+winston+book


Agreed. That and Dewitt Scott's Mel Bay method.

The new (2014) Hal Leonard method looks promising too, has anyone gone through that one? I've currently got it in my cart at Amazon, but haven't pulled the trigger yet as I think it might be too remedial.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 15 Aug 2017 7:33 pm     Reply with quote

I don't have the DeWit Scott book, but the "Winnie Bible" is kind of an anecdotal teaser regarding pedal steel history. And listing all those mechanical variations and tunings and copedents only gives us a glimpse of what is going on in the players' and builders' minds. I believe that Winnie and Bill put that information in their book simply because it could not be found anywhere else at the time and it deserved to be documented along with their instructional material.

The pedal steel is still in its infancy compared to other more established instruments. It is obviously highly adaptable and highly adaptive and will probably continue evolving beyond what is considered "standard" now.

Hopefully someday somebody will put all the available information together in one comprehensive, well researched resource, without it having to be part of an instructional method. I would buy that book.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 15 Aug 2017 10:53 pm     Reply with quote

I'd VEHEMENTLY disagree with one thing Dave said, and as a merchant himself he probably would agree.
I'd ordinarily suggest getting it from the Forum store, but it's disappeared. Get it from Jim Palenscar or Billy Cooper.
Support real merchants instead of the megacorp that delights in killing small merchants.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Dave Morrison


From:
Whbg Ohio Usa
Post Posted 20 Aug 2017 4:34 pm     Reply with quote

AMEN LANE.THATS WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BUSINESS.CANT COMPETE WITH BIG CORPS AND THE INTERNET.THEY HAVE TAKEN DOWN A LOT OF BRICK AND MORTAR STORES!!
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