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Post new topic Bar Slant/Tuning Question
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Author Topic:  Bar Slant/Tuning Question
Dave Alfstad


From:
Indianola, IA USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 7:45 am    
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On my 1955 T8 Stringmaster, I currently tune the necks, front to back, to A6, C6/A7, and E13 (with a G# on top). I have been playing a long time and I am decent with bar slants. I tune my guitar with a Peterson StroboPlus tuner and use the presets LA6, EM6, and EM9 to tune the respective necks. It works well for me, but there is one quirk.

I will use C6 as the example. My question revolves around a forward slant that uses the A and C strings (3 and 4) For example, let's say I'm covering string 3, fret 14 and string 4, fret 13. On the C6 and E13 necks, I have no problem keeping this slant in tune. On my A6 neck, however, I can't seem to hit a sweet spot. It sounds sour unless I really over exaggerate the slant, and even then it usually doesn't hit my ear right.

The only difference that I can think is that with the A6 tuning, that interval involves a plain string and a wound string. With the other tunings two plain strings are involved in that interval.

Would plain/wound strings account for this? Does anybody else struggle with this? If so, what do they do to compensate?

Thanks for the advice.
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Dave Alfstad
Indianola, Iowa
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 8:11 am    
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I only use the tempered tunings on the pedal steel, on my non-pedal guitars, I tune them straight up.
Erv
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Dave Alfstad


From:
Indianola, IA USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 9:19 am    
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My ear just doesn't like the sound of the 3rds not flattened just a bit. I have always tempered the tunings of my lap/console steels, even if its by ear.
At any rate, I don't think that's the issue because it would also be a problem on the C6 and E13 necks. Furthermore, since the slant needs to be exaggerated on the A6 neck, the problem would be exacerbated by tuning straight up.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 9:30 am    
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John Ely recommends offsets on his tunings. I have been meaning to try them on my Stringmaster, since I never knew any better than tuning straight up and it seemed to work okay for me.

Major 3rds play tricks on our ears. If you take them out of context they will never sound right. Play it against the chord and find the sweet spot. Or you might be getting overtones from another string that isn’t quite getting blocked. Or maybe a bad string?
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Norman Evans


From:
Tennessee
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 2:15 pm    
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The 4th string in that tuning is probably flatted more than you may think. I would guess about 16 to 18 cents.
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Dave Alfstad


From:
Indianola, IA USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 3:28 pm    
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If I am tuning by ear, I always tune my tonics and major thirds to what sounds good to me. Then I tune my fifths with with the tonic. This gives me a good, sweet major chord. Then I tune the 6 tone with the major 3rd tuning out any beats between the two.
This method has worked for every lap steel tuning I've used for the last 23 years. The Peterson tuner seems to get the job done to the same standard without having to actually hear the notes in a noisy barroom.
I did not expect this thread to be about the sweetened tunings from the Peterson tuner, but so be it. Does anybody else use the LA6 tuning in that tuner?
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L. Bogue Sandberg


From:
Chassell, Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 6:42 pm    
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I try not to overthink this stuff. I tune roots and 5th A440 and 3rds and 6ths a bit flat, between 5 and 10 cents. The guitar sounds decent by itself and coexists with the tempered tuned guitar and banjo. When using slants, I let my ear decide what's right. The bar is going across those strings at an angle. The bar pressure is varying. The parallax is varying. The notes' positions in the scale are changing. (The lower note in your pair was a 6th in straight bar and now might be a root, while the upper was the root and now might be a third.) You've gotta trust your ear. Never mind what it looks like.
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Dave Alfstad


From:
Indianola, IA USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 7:00 pm    
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OK folks, I appreciate the willingness to have a discussion about tuning techniques, but I'm not a novice. I know enough to know how I like to tune my guitars, and I'm not likely to change what has worked for me for a long, long time both on the bandstand and in the studio.

This post is not about the tuning method I use. I only gave those details so that people would know how I typically tune. No amount of discussion about tuning techniques is going to make me do anything different unless it pertains to the SPECIFIC question that I asked, which has to do more with the intricacies of different tunings and string gauges.

If tuning technique were the problem, then I would be experiencing the phenomena on each neck.
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L. Bogue Sandberg


From:
Chassell, Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 7:18 pm    
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It might very well have to do with the wound and plain pair involved. That doesn't change the solution. If your guitar is tuned to your liking, fudge the slant until you feel it's in tune. If it doesn't line up exactly the way it does on the other necks, so what? That's all I'm suggesting.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 10:50 pm    
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Dave Alfstad wrote:
No amount of discussion about tuning techniques is going to make me do anything different unless it pertains to the SPECIFIC question that I asked, which has to do more with the intricacies of different tunings and string gauges.


I don’t see what difference wound versus unwound strings would have on the way strings intonate up and down the neck. I may be ignorant on the science of that, but I’m just ruling it out. What is different is the timbre of the sound. If this is the only string set (3+4 on the A6 neck) where you are playing forward-slant major 3rds on a wound+unwound string combination, then you are going to hear it differently for sure, even if the intonation is perfect.

The other glaring variable is in the actual notes produced by the different tunings. You might hear G+B on your A6 neck differently than you hear G+B on C6 or E13. They are played at different frets, and the amount of slant is different. If you are hearing sour major 3rd forward slants on strings 3+4 all along the length of your A6 neck, then experiment with how each un-slanted note sounds when played individually. Check the intonation with the Peterson if you want, but get both those sounds in your head, then try to match them with a slant. Compare the sound of the same notes on the other necks, using the same process if you have to.

Maybe one more minor thing. A6 tuning is what I would call symmetrical tuning. C6/A7 and E13 are asymmetrical. This might play a role in the way you perceive harmonies in general on the different necks.

Most of all, I wouldn’t let this nag you into an obsession. You are an experienced player. Trust your instincts and just play. Pursue perfection, but settle for mere excellence.
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 11:42 pm    
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Wound strings react (raise) less on increased bar-pressure than plain strings, a phenomenon I utilise to fine-tune chords on-the-fly by varying pressure and thereby vertical angle on the bar. May or may not be a factor in this case.
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