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Author Topic:  Maurice Anderson - Statement on Universals
Tim Sheinman


From:
Brighton, UK
Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 2:21 am    
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Taken from Maurice's 'PEDAL STEEL GUITAR,
BACK AND TO THE FUTURE!';

Quote:
In the not too distant future the most recognizable player of that day will make an evolutionary decision to totally commit to the universal concept. Their doing so will have a significant and sudden impact resulting in wider acceptance of the instrument while demonstrating the pedal steel guitars incredible capability to play all styles of music.

In addition it will revitalize and unite the steel guitar players of the world toward the common goals of consistency and standardization, thereby creating a new greatly accelerated and exciting direction for the pedal steel guitar of the future. Change is the only constant in the universe, and I will always envision the dreams of the future, while remembering the history of the past!



While MA is talking predominantly about technical innovation, he also seems to be hinting that the future of the steel lies in a degree of mechanical and musical consistency, which allows for more standardised teaching and sharing of information.

What do we think about this?
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 3:46 am    
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Ain't happened yet.

I understand what he was saying, and why he was hoping for. But there are still so many options and there are disciples of each. I doubt we will see the standardization he speaks of, at least in the foreseeable future.

JMHO
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Tim Sheinman


From:
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Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 4:24 am    
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For those less familiar, here is a picture of a Universal Tuning copedant.




What I find quite interesting is, to me, this tuning is an extended E9 with added harmonic options. It's big and complex and pricey to build. Because I don't come from the Country vs Western Swing vs Jazz debate, my head isn't where Reece's was, i.e. that he should cook up something for country players to play Jazz licks on and vice versa.

I think that broadly E9 Emmons is now actually a very standard tuning, which allows for teaching etc etc. However, I am not sure that the Emmons tuning is actually a very good one.

I think that the chromatic strings Emmons added stopped players being able to strum the strings, essentially closing off an open instrument and reducing a lot of its ambient potential, as well as beginner appeal. Also the F# on the top is just weird.

If I had to create a new, standard tuning (just batting around ideas), perhaps something like this?



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Donny Hinson


From:
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Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 7:38 am    
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I think you can debate the question either way, but the "universal" approach just never caught on. I can't say exactly why that is, but my gut feeling is that the instrument's unique sound was more important than it's harmonic capabilities. Increasing the popularity of something normally requires simplification, since not everyone is technically minded or extremely talented. But the tendency on pedal steels has been to make the instrument more complex, and therefore harder to learn, as well as making it more expensive. While the "universal" approach may eliminate one neck, it does normally require more strings, pedals, and levers in it's effort to be all things to all players.

I'm certainly no genius at this stuff, and I know many will argue, but this is just the way I see things right now.
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Barry Blackwood


Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 7:47 am    
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Quote:
What do we think about this?

Sounds like a Henry Ford concept of progress. Were that to happen, all steels might soon be black....
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 8:02 am    
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I used to think the Universal was the wave of the future too. I still think it could and should be the standard. Unfortunately, most or many of our steel guitar heroes and high profilers don't agree.

Yes, there are a few mechanical issues such as the latent return of the 6th string when moving from tunings, but I really think those could be overcome with a little bit of ingenuity from our excellent and knowledgeable craftsmen and builders. Lots of progress has been made in the last several years by them and it should be possible to have a Universal tuning that will do all the things a D10 will do.

Besides, it has the low bottom end and endless possibilities within this huge tuning range. Ideal for modern music of any style IMO.

I would personally like to see this come to fruition as I think it would eliminate some of the confusion concerning Uni v. D10....but I don't see it happening...at least not in my lifetime.

Reece was a visionary, as are people like Tom Bradshaw et al who seek/sought to expand the range and acceptance of the steel guitar and I believe this arrangement would be an excellent way to help do that.
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Dennis Montgomery


From:
Western Washington
Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 10:29 am    
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After I ordered my Mullen SD-12 last year, I had some time to decide on a copedent. I had no preconceived ideas of what direction I wanted to go. I spent a lot of time and effort researching whether to go Uni, Ext E9, Zane Beck Uni or something custom.

I read and studied Reece's original article with great interest and was soon convinced that was the way to go. I followed up with purchasing and studying both Jeff Newman's and Joe Wright's 12 string Uni courses. As someone with some E9 but zero C6 experience, I finally concluded that the Uni was trying to solve a problem I didn't have...how to incorporate both my E9 and C6 experience into 1 neck. Since I had no C6 experience, there was nothing to incorporate and I went Extended E9 Smile
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 14 Apr 2019 10:01 pm    
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Donny Hinson wrote:
I can't say exactly why that is, but my gut feeling is that the instrument's unique sound was more important than it's harmonic capabilities. Increasing the popularity of something normally requires simplification, .

That is why Universal is the tuning for the future, and always will be...

I keep finding myself amazed at the genius and versatility of E9/Emmons. It is an excellent standard. I have never thought of pedal steel as a strumming instrument, so that was not an issue when I started playing. And yet there are strums to be had on it.

I played C6 non-pedal long enough to know what I’d have wanted from pedals and levers, but I didn't want a D10 and now I really don’t see the need for one. I see S12 E9 as a less intimidating, less complicated Universal with the added bonus of an open D string. That will be my next step up.

So many players here have played them all - S10, D10, Uni - with all manner of copedent, resulting in no particular consensus on it all except try it and see if it’s for you. It would be nice to have a room full of all of them and 20 years to get to the bottom of what they can do, but some of us don’t have that room or that time 🤠
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Floyd Lowery


From:
Deland, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 7:54 am    
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I love my Universal tuning. Bob Simmons and Eddie Long helped me set it up when I first ordered it. I love the fact there is no open D in the tuning to try to skip over. It is on a knee lever. Also I have the E to F# on a knee lever not a petal. I can kick it in and out with my petals down and not have to move my foot. Then I can lower my low B to an A with a knee while my A and B petals are down for one heck of a full A chord. Actually my A and B petals are 2 and 3, my #1 petal raises G# to A#. I originally had 7 petals. Since I got older and weaker and was not playing a lot of C6 (B6 with Es lowered) I left 3 petals off when I ordered my Carter. I did add a petal to lower G# to G.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 9:59 am    
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As Jerry says, Mr Anderson was a visionary, which straight away puts him at odds with reality. To me the universal tuning is a way of carrying two necks when you're too old to lift a D10, nothing more.

It's not a philosophy, it's just a clever idea that I can play E9 or C6 tabs on.

No disrespect to a great and influential player...
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 11:01 am    
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I think the C6 tuning Buddy came up with is perfect as well, just like the E9. on E9, some folks don't like the F# on top or the D near the bottom, including several pros. they've changed it to suit their needs but the Emmons set-up remains the standard.

likewise, his C6 set-up is the standard for anyone that still plays C6... I think there is actually a resurgence happening.

I love the idea of a single neck that combines both tunings into one, but the reality for me is that it just don't work. as Buddy said, when playing a Uni you lose a little bit of each tuning.

my approach is quite different on each tuning and it just makes sense to keep them separate. if it ain't broke, don't fix it. there's a reason nearly all the greats still play D-10s... they've had decades to perfect a Universal guitar but as Don said, Ain't happened yet.

I realize there are a very large number of Uni players and it's part of what I love about the instrument: all the possibilities. I just don't see the Universal ever taking over or becoming the predominant tuning. and I don't see any reason why it should.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 12:08 pm    
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As long as players exploit E9 and C6 to their maximum potential, the D10 will remain the standard. But "losing a little bit of each tuning" still leaves plenty, and the uni suits some people's musical circumstances. I play a little swing, less country and no jazz, but I do have to adapt to a variety of styles and to be able to move between and occasionally combine the two tunings is perfect for me, in a box I can lift.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 12:19 pm    
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https://b0b.com/wp/copedents/maurice-andersons-tunings/

Reece played other tunings. I guess the Bb6 is probably his most used. These above are from b0b's copedent links.

The 12 or 14 universal tuning has a lot more to offer than just weight savings and combining the 2 necks of a D10. Anyone who thinks so is just not familiar with all the possibilities available with these tunings.

Several players are using Universals. Junior Knight, David Wright, Christopher Woitach I believe are using the Bb6 tunings. Joe Wright plays the E9/B6 uni, I think. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

One can start a run on the bottom low B string and go all the way to the highest G# string on that tuning.
You can't do that on a double 10 without switching necks. Besides that, there's so much more that can be done with pedals and levers combinations that make for a plethora of possibilities.

I don't own a pedal steel at the present, but I have played them off and on for years and if I purchase another pedal steel, it will most likely be a 12 or 14 Universal.
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Christopher Woitach


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 12:43 pm    
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I have never thought of a Universal tuning as “way of combining two necks into one”, and I can tell you from numerous conversations with Maurice he didn’t either. It’s just a big tuning that uses elements of other tunings to create a set of melodic and harmonic tools to use in whatever way you wish for whatever your musical goals might be.

D10 suits a lot of people, S10 suits a lot of people, E9/B6 suits less people, Bb6 (which I play) suits even less people. (Not to mention Johnny Cox’s tuning, Zane King’s, Bob’s D6, etc). All are perfectly good systems, depending on your needs and musical personality, in my view. I have zero interest in talking anyone else into playing Bb6, just as I have zero interest in playing E9, C6, or E9/B6 (which I started with).

Maurice could play all of the mentioned tunings and no one could ever tell the difference, he saw the musical goal and used the tuning to achieve that goal. My favorite musical quote is Pat Martino - “guitar is the fork, music is the food”. To me, the different tunings are just different forks.

My comments are just my opinion - I’m sure much more experienced players have a different view...
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 2:03 pm    
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Some see it as one big tuning while others don't. That's the fascination of this instrument - it's whatever you want it to be.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 2:36 pm    
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My statement concerning the tuning run from low B to G# was in error. I stated one couldn't do that on a double neck, but in fact one can.

The low C of the C6 tuning and the high G that some players employ on a D10 can certainly cover the range with lowering and raising strings. In fact, I doubt a lot of us, myself included, have really explored all that's available on that tuning....or the E9 10 string tuning for that matter.

Still, the Universal offers so much and only using one neck and I just don't feel that enough players have given these uni tunings a fair shake.

But as I have stated elsewhere, to each his own.
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post  Posted 15 Apr 2019 2:52 pm    
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I purchased a Uni a couple years ago because I loved the idea of having the best of both worlds in one neck. I devoted some time to it, but it was disorienting going to 12 strings from 10 and I definitely missed some elements of each tuning.

I know some players can go from 10 to 12 to 14 no problem. they can sit down at any guitar and make it sound great. but for us merer mortals, I think we tend to stick with whatever we started on or have spent the most time with.

part of me wanted to keep the Uni around just to have another option of guitar, but for me it was too hard switching back and forth so I made a choice. maybe I'll try again some day
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Paddy Long


From:
Christchurch, New Zealand
Post  Posted 16 Apr 2019 6:12 pm    
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I think the future of the instrument is not so much in what tuning, or necks your playing ..... but rather that the instrument evolves into other forms of music than just country/swing/jazz ... it is already appearing in rock, gospel and other alternative forms of music so thats a great thing in itself .... several big name artists who are still touring (Bob Dylan for example) wouldn't have had a bar of pedal steel 20 years ago, but now have a steel player in their road bands !!! It can't be bad for the instrument Very Happy

So we need to open our minds as musicians to go forward....
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 16 Apr 2019 7:12 pm    
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Paddy Long wrote:
several big name artists who are still touring (Bob Dylan for example) wouldn't have had a bar of pedal steel 20 years ago...

Maybe not 20 years ago but 50 years ago he did, when he released "Nashville Skyline". (Geez, has it been fifty years already??)
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Jon Schimek


From:
Lyons, Co - USA
Post  Posted 16 Apr 2019 8:08 pm    
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Dylan has toured with pedal steel on and off for a long time. Check out the rolling thunder review your album. It's a good one from 1975...also the never ending tour has had steel for a while.

Your point is taken though. I've seen a lot of more modern bands pull in steel out of the typical it's context.
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David Wright


From:
Pilot Point ,Tx USA.
Post  Posted 17 Apr 2019 3:35 am    
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Christopher Woitach pretty much hit it on the head,Universal tuning is not for everyone. I started with it , I like it because it fits my way of thinking and playing, I like to intertwine the two sounds of 9th & 6th....drifting in and out..it would be much harder for "Me" to use a double neck to achieve it ...Bb is where it's at in my world...
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 17 Apr 2019 4:01 am    
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"Drifting in and out" is what I do a lot because of the musical situations I encounter. I wouldn't want to be switching necks.
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Johnny Cox


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Lives in Schulenburg Texas
Post  Posted 17 Apr 2019 12:13 pm    
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I have played about every pedal steel tuning around. As far as universal tunings I found that Bb was too limited for country because of the lack of E9th type changes. E9/B6 didn't work because of always having to think in different key modes. The D13th I have now allows me to have 100% of the changes I had on a D10 8X8. I have two versions, 5x7 and 7x6 same movements just placed differently. From my experiences this is the best "Universal" tuning I have found.
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Olli Haavisto


From:
Jarvenpaa,Finland
Post  Posted 17 Apr 2019 1:02 pm    
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Johnny, please post your tuning chart!
Sounds VERY interesting.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 17 Apr 2019 1:12 pm    
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Two other things also enter the equation and argument for universals. First, there are far more S10 and D10 guitars available than there are universals. Second, there are far more learning materials and teachers for the standard C6th and E9th 10-string tunings.

Personally, I don't really care what anyone else plays. Once you've learned the basics, with luck and perseverance, you can play anything you want on any guitar. I feel that any "advantages" other than the two mentioned above to be purely subjective.

It doesn't matter what you play. What matters is how well you play.
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