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Post new topic Fender 400 8 pedal. A good starter steel?
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Author Topic:  Fender 400 8 pedal. A good starter steel?
Ron Randall


From:
Dallas, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 4 Apr 2002 9:35 pm    
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I am a newbie to the pedal steel world and have been playing a Fender triple 8 non pedal Stringmaster for about a year now. Fun.

I have a chance to buy a cherry Fender 400 with 8 pedals. single neck.

Is this a good guitar to learn pedal steel?
I like it 'cause it is a neat old Fender and has that sound. I have no idea if it is a desirable guitar to play and learn on.

Modern steels seem to be 10 string minimum.

Any advice?
Now I will duck for cover!

------------------
Fender Stringmaster T-8
PV N400
Dobro squareneck
Dobro roundneck
Lots of Taylors
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 2:11 am    
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I say no. You'll need the extra strings and knee levers sooner than you think.You need a guitar with 10 strings, 3 pedals and a minimum of 3 knee levers. A Carter Starter, or perhaps a used pro guitar.

The cool thing about the Carter Starter is that it has all the changes you'll need to learn on (unlike other student guitars.) It is IMHO the best student guitar ever made. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a pro guitar, but it does have all the essentials, and it's good enough to use on a gig if necessary.

The Fender may have a cool sound, but I guarentee you'll be frustrated with it's limitations very quickly.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 3:00 am    
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I disagree with Mike. I think that if the price is right, it's a fine "starter steel". Many players today are hung up on lots of pedals and strings, but there's a lot that can be done with a simpler guitar. The cable Fenders are...undeniably...the best guitars to learn about pedal setups and tunings because of the ease of making changes. You can change the whole tuning and pedal setup in less than 10 minutes! (That alone makes the guitar worth having.) Adding a knee lever or two is no big deal, either.

No, you won't be able to do all of Paul Franklin's stuff on that axe, but you will be able to do eveerything Jimmy Day did on his "Steel and Strings" album...and that ain't bad! (Jimmy cut that album on an 8-string Guitar.)
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Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 6:03 am    
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There are no bad questions, just confusing answers. Whatever instrument you choose is up to you and how you will use it. It would take a complete interview and psychological makeup to know what is right for you.
Although I would say, get an instrument that can do most of the things that the players you admire do. And then practice everyday for the rest of your life. And love it!
Dave
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Jerry Hayes


From:
Virginia Beach, Va.
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 6:07 am    
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Just listen to what Sneaky Pete Kleinow did with a Fender 8 string steel. He played with Linda Ronstadt, the Flying Burrito Bros. plus a host of west coast major league recordiing dates. Also check him out on the Suite Steel Album. And in country music listen to the old Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart stuff it was all played on a Fender 8 string neck. Also Buck's great recording of "Together Again" with Tom Brumley's classic break was done on a Fender 8 string (actually double Cool....

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Livin' in the Past and the Future with a 12 string Mooney tuning.

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C Dixon


From:
Duluth, GA USA
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 6:44 am    
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Gotta go along with Mike on this one.

carl
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Steven Knapper


From:
Temecula Ca USA
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 7:01 am    
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Ditto
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Bob Blair


From:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 7:03 am    
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For most people, Mike and Carl's advice is the right advice. If you get a mainstream instrument with you will be able to take advantage of all of the instructional material that is out there, for one thing. And pick up stuff to play right here on this forum as well. There is a lot of frustration that comes from not being able to try the stuff you are reading about. But you may not be most people. You have already started into steel by what is now an unconventional route, and you obviously have been playing music for a long time. You don't necessarily fit the standard novice steeler profile. If you can accept that the instrument has serious limitations by today's standards, but still dig it for what it is, why not? Just don't go that route to save money, because if what you are looking for is a guitar with modern capabilities you'll be out buying something else real soon. I think, for example, that most people who buy an old three pedal, one lever student steel like a Maverick or a Sidekick and who are serious about learning to play do wind up replacing it real quick with something with more capability for all the reasons that Mike puts forward.
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Jay Jessup


From:
Charlottesville, VA, USA
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 7:40 am    
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And finally, from what I have seen on e-bay you can get a Carter Starter for about the same price as some people are willing to pay for a Fender or a Maverick, which is a little nuts if you ask me!
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 7:48 am    
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I went from a triple neck Fender to a pedal steel. I wouldn't mind adding a Fender pedal job to my collection of guitars but I would never play it. I would be lost without my knee pedals. Sure there were a lot of great songs recorded with the old Fender pedal guitars but the guys playing them had way more talent than I have. I need all the help I can get!
Uff-Da!
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ebb


From:
nj
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2002 5:44 pm    
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i completely agree with donny. i think that this is one of the best ever guitars to start on. by not following the herd you may learn to squeeze alot of music out of this very simple but very versatile beast as did a couple of other mavericks(ralph mooney and sneaky pete).
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2002 8:13 am    
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I believe the E to F raise was discovered in 1967. (I could be mistaken abouyt that.) Assuming the date is correct, that means is took 13 years from the time Bud Issacs stepped on the pedals on Slowly, for the pioneers to discover the change.

However, back when I first started playing and only had a borrowed Maverick with one knee lever, it only took me 30 seconds to read about the change, and as soon as I did, the Maverick was no longer adaquet for my needs.

The Fender is a cool guitar in a lot of ways, (I wouldn't mind having one myself) but given the amount of instructional material available today, chances are anybody who does not have a guitar with 10 strings and 3 or 4 knee levers will read about something that's not on thier guitar and be frustrated.
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Bobby Lee


From:
Cloverdale, California, USA
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2002 9:05 am    
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The Fender 400 is a good starter for people who like to "find their own way". If you want to learn the standard steel stuff, though, it is inadequate.

The E9 copedent requires 3 pedals and 3 knee levers at a minimum. Would you want to learn to play bass with only two fingers on your left hand? You could do that, but learning with all four fingers would probably make you a better bass player in the long run. On a pedal steel, the pedals and levers are your "fingers".

I enjoy playing limited, antique pedal steels. It's a challenge. The tone is way cool if you're in a retro band. But I don't think I'd be a very good player if those limits were built into my main axe.

My first pedal steel was inadequate. I destroyed it out of frustration and bought a Sho-Bud. It came with only one lever, and I added two more. I wasn't satisfied musically until I had 3 knee levers. That's the minimum, in my opinion. Without 3 knee levers, you don't have the basic chord positions.

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Bobby Lee - email: quasar@b0b.com - gigs - CDs
Sierra Session 12 (E9), Williams 400X (Emaj9, D6), Sierra Olympic 12 (F Diatonic) Sierra Laptop 8 (D13), Fender Stringmaster (E13, A6)
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2002 9:36 am    
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Mike makes some valid points. Jerry and I do too. But Bob Blair probably made the best reply...wish I had said it that way.

Mike says...
Quote:
chances are anybody who does not have a guitar with 10 strings and 3 or 4 knee levers will read about something that's not on thier guitar and be frustrated.


My main axe has 8 down and 8 hangin'...I've got 16 pedals, some of which I don't even bother putting on when I play (my verticals are removable). And, I still don't have those "popular" ones that are so big now (the F#-G#, the Franklin pedal, etc.) Does not having these pedals make me "frustrated"? The answer is no. What frustrates me is listening to recordings of players 30-40 years ago, and still not being able to play as good as they did back then...with a lot less.

I guess that's what separates me from most of the players here on the FORUM. They'll reach a plateau in learning, and then automatically think that their equipment is their limiting factor. I, on the other hand, contend that the major "limiting factor" for myself (and for 98% of the players I hear) is between the seat and the steel.
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Joerg Hennig


From:
Bavaria, Germany
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2002 1:49 pm    
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Donny, very well said!
Incidentally, Ralph Mooney and Sneaky Pete were about the first steel players I consciously listened to, that must have been about 15 years ago, way before I took up steel myself. I believe if I had stumbled across a Fender 400 back then, I might have gained a background that just couldn´t be replaced by anything else, even if later on I´d upgraded to something more modern. And I don´t think that you could compare a Fender to a Maverick. I understand the guitar in question has eight pedals and someone who has some skill with mechanical things could even add a knee lever or two, that would give you a lot of options, even without the chromatic strings. If I were you, Ron, I´d go for it!
b0b, I can´t help it but for me the logical conclusion from that statement you made would be that bass players 40 years ago used to play with only two fingers...

Regards, Joe H.
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Ron Randall


From:
Dallas, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2002 6:18 pm    
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Thanks for all the input.
I started with the no-pedal stringmaster T-8 with the intention of learning western swing, that Don Helms sound, that Leon McA sound.
I'm learning and loving it.

From what I have heard, I'll probably do both. What the heck. I'll learn the modern PSG methods quicker, I think with a 10 string. (When I taught 6 string acoustic guitar, I wanted my students to have good strings, a good neck setup, a tuner, and an easy guitar to play. If they didn't they soon quit).

I'll get the Fender 400 to setup, tweak, and get that cool sound. I can always play it without the pedals, too.

I'll get a modern PSG and get going.

Thanks.
The Forum is a great part of my learning, too.

Ron

------------------
Fender Stringmaster T-8
PV N400
Dobro squareneck
Dobro roundneck
Lots of Taylors
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Bobby Lee


From:
Cloverdale, California, USA
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2002 10:01 pm    
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Quote:
b0b, I can´t help it but for me the logical conclusion from that statement you made would be that bass players 40 years ago used to play with only two fingers...
A lot of them sure sounded like they only had two fingers. ... and just two strings, too!

[This message was edited by Bobby Lee on 07 April 2002 at 11:01 PM.]

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Jussi Huhtakangas


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2002 2:20 am    
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Ron, it all depends what you want to do with the pedals! Here's what I've been fooling with for the past few weeks: (from high to low)

pedals: A B
1. E
2. B C#
3. G# A
4. F#
5. D E
6. B C#
7. G# A
8. E

Only eight strings and two pedals, it's the old E9 tuning, with "split" pedals, both pedals down it's A6. I love the sound of it, and would never consider it "limited". No chromatic strings or even the high G#, but there's still those classic E9 changes, that you're probably looking for. And with a slant here and there...
Just a thought!
Jussi

[This message was edited by b0b on 08 April 2002 at 08:34 AM.]

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Jussi Huhtakangas


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2002 3:42 am    
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Oops, the copedant came out sc&@¤d up... anyways, it has the B's on the A pedal and the rest on the B pedal.
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Bobby Lee


From:
Cloverdale, California, USA
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2002 8:32 am    
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Jussi, read the UBB Code page for instructions on entering tab and charts.

Maybe you misunderstood what I meant by "limited". On the standard E9th, you can play all 3 inversions of the major and minor chords on the 3, 4, 5 string grouping. This gives you the ability to slide from any triad to any other. It's a "complete" musical system.

You can play a lot of good music on any steel guitar. If you want to play just classic country or just blues, there are lots of tunings you can use. But if you start your serious musical study on an incomplete instrument, your playing will always have a bias towards the positions and groupings of that instrument.

For example, I know a lot of players who only use the F lever for a few licks. They don't see it as one of the three major positions. This bias is the direct result of learning to play without the F lever, and adding it later.

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Bobby Lee - email: quasar@b0b.com - gigs - CDs
Sierra Session 12 (E9), Williams 400X (Emaj9, D6), Sierra Olympic 12 (F Diatonic) Sierra Laptop 8 (D13), Fender Stringmaster (E13, A6)
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B Bailey Brown


From:
San Antonio, TX (USA)
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2002 3:12 pm    
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There are a couple of things about this post that made me pay attention!

First of all, Ron said…

Quote:
cherry Fender 400 with 8 pedals


If the guitar were really “cherry”, it would be a collector’s item in my mind, and well worth buying if the price was right. Sure, by modern day standards it does not have enough strings, or knee levers (depending on what you want to do!), but those were GREAT sounding guitars. Classic guitars should be cherished, played by people that know how to do that, and remembered for the sounds they produced in the hands of the right player. If I had the money I would buy one in a heartbeat!

Is it a good starter guitar? Well, yes and no! If you are a “beginner” and want to play like any of the great players of this time in the next 4 months, then I would say NO. If you want to learn the “basics” of a steel guitar, then I would say YES! You can play all the same notes on an 8-string steel with a few pedals that you can on a 10-string steel with a bunch of pedals, and a bunch of knee levers. The 8 string with a few pedals will take a lot more time and practice, but who knows…you might actually LEARN something in the process!!

Look at it this way. If you start with a “simple” guitar, you will have to figure out the neck, where the notes are, and how to play them…because you can’t “cheat”. Once you get to that point, THEN you can get one of those “fancy” guitars with all the bells and whistles, and your life will become SO much simpler!

Donny Hinson said…

Quote:
but you will be able to do everything Jimmy Day did on his "Steel and Strings" album


That to me about says it all. Start simple and work your way up from there. If you don’t believe that, go watch Tom Morrell play sometime. He is kind of strange because he doesn’t use any of the “bells and whistles” anymore, but I have yet to hear anybody say he is a less than adequate player. Jimmy Day was pretty much the same way. He had pedals, knee levers, and all the rest of the “neat” things, but by and large he didn’t need them and many times didn’t use them. If you ever watched him play the thought came to your mind that…”Yikes, you could give this guy an Orange crate, with 6 rusty strings on it, put a bar in his hands…and then you would get a lesion in HOW to play steel guitar!”

I guess the point is, do you want to be playing as well as the greats in a year or two, or would you like to learn the instrument? Am I being facetious? Of course I am. But the point is, it is not the guitar, it is the player! It depends on what you want to learn, how fast do you want to learn it, and more importantly…how MUCH time do you want to put into learning it?! (Whatever “IT” is!)

B. Bailey Brown
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