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Post new topic E9 tuning for 6-string lap steel?
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Author Topic:  E9 tuning for 6-string lap steel?
Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 5:55 am     Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm planning to buy and start learning how to play an S10 E9 pedal steel in the reasonably near future. Heretofore I've been a 6-string guitar and 5-string banjo player. I also have a 6-string lap steel tuned to C6 that I've dabbled with and am thinking I may try to change the lap tuning to something that would help me make the transition to E9 pedal when the time comes. My question: what tuning do y'all recommend for the 6-string lap that would get me comfortable with some of the basic chords and runs available on the E9 pedal steel (without pedals or levers engaged, of course)?

I'm not planning to spend a huge amount of time trying to learn a new lap tuning, just looking for something that will help me make the transition to 10-string E9 pedal steel.

I have searched the forum on this, btw, and came up with some interesting information, mostly in this thread:

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=321335

But I'd still like thoughts from the group.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Robert Murphy


From:
Maryland, USA
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 6:18 am     Reply with quote

Mel Bay lap steel guitar by Roger Filiberto was designed to do exactly that. Still available and still relevant.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 8:56 am     Reply with quote

My answer probably won't be the most popular but it worked for me. I'd say tune it to A6 and get to know that (it's not a million miles from C6 in fact if you used C6 with a high G on top, it is the same relative tuning, just moved down 3 frets).

The reason I say this is that with A&B pedals down and the 9th string lowered to C# (a common change on a knee lever) you have that A6 tuning on strings 4-9. When I play E9 pedal steel (I'm a relative newcomer having previously played lap for years), if (when!!!) I get lost, I can instantly engage my A6 safety net and play something vaguely musical until I've got my brain back in gear. Also, I can use all the licks and chords I learned in A6.

From my point of view, I hardly use E9 without any pedals and levers engaged and I'm not sure you'd learn that much from a 6 string E9 lap steel tuning that would translate to pedal.

I know many people say that learning lap first won't help with pedal steel, but from my own experience, having tried a pedal steel right at the start, getting overwhelmed and giving up and getting a lap. Returning to it many years later, I found it made a lot more sense when I already had an idea what to do with my hands and only had the pedals to worry about.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 9:22 am     Reply with quote

Justin, thanks for posting the link to my E9 lap steel thread. I like that particular E9 tuning because it's exactly like E9 pedal steel, strings 4 though 9. It's very familiar territory for a pedal steel player.

Jeff's suggestion (A6) is also familiar territory for a pedal steel player. The most often used pedals on E9 PSG are pedals A & B (used together). That makes an A6 chord (open). So A6 lap steel tuning will help you to learn the "pedals down" chord positions on PSG. There are a million PSG licks built into those pedals, but of course you won't get those pedal sounds on a lap steel.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Oakdale, California
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 9:42 am     Reply with quote

Possible tuning for me would be (top to bottom) :

G# E. B. G# F# E

F# D# G# E B G#

THE FIRST IS WHAT I would probably use. You could use it for learning scales and learning 3 of the 4 main grips.

The second one if you want to learn the ever-so-important strings 1 & 2.

My steel playing career started on a triple 8 string National console guitar. I used a combination of the two.:

F# D# G# E B G# F# E
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 10:00 am     Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for the replies. So if I were to try to combine the approaches recommended by Doug and Jeff, I might spend some time on E9 (D-E-F#-G#-B-E) and then re-tune to A6 (A-C#-E-F#-A-C#) for the "pedals-down" experience? I think I like this idea as a way to feel what "home" might be like in both modes. Jeff, do I have that A6 correct?
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 11:40 am     Reply with quote

Justin Schack wrote:
Thanks everyone for the replies. So if I were to try to combine the approaches recommended by Doug and Jeff, I might spend some time on E9 (D-E-F#-G#-B-E) and then re-tune to A6 (A-C#-E-F#-A-C#) for the "pedals-down" experience? I think I like this idea as a way to feel what "home" might be like in both modes. Jeff, do I have that A6 correct?


Not quite - it has the E on top so low to high it is C# E F# A C# E

So you can see it's very easy to retune between it and the E9 tuning (of course, your retuning is just reflecting what the pedals would be doing!). If you are currently using C6 with a high E, you can use the same string set for that as well as A6 and E9.


Last edited by Jeff Mead on 8 Feb 2018 1:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 12:40 pm     Reply with quote

Yes, the best part is... you don’t need to change strings to go from one tuning to the other.
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Keith Marlowe


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 3:11 pm     Reply with quote

One other approach - stick with the C6.

I came from guitar (30+ years) and then played some six string C6 lap steel for about a year before jumping into E9 pedal steel about 4 months ago (I picked up the lap steel with intention of going to 8 string lap and then E9 PSG but I skipped the interim step). I found the transition very smooth and in many ways found the pedal steel much easier to learn than C6 lap steel (I think mostly because E9 translates to guitar standard tuning more naturally, at least for me). But the C6 helped me a lot with technique (bar, blocking, etc.) and thinking about the fretboard differently than guitar. My learning curve has been much faster than I anticipated on E9 PSG and I attribute a lot of that to the year I spent on C6 lap steel.
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 9 Feb 2018 6:08 am     Reply with quote

Awesome - so close to the CEGACE tuning I'm already in! Thanks again, guys! Also appreciate the "stay on C6" thoughts. What a great community here.
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