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Author Topic:  Existential question: Why do I own a S-10?
Dan Beller-McKenna


From:
Durham, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 6:52 am    
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Interested in hearing from others about the merits, necessity, advisability of owning a S-10.
Lately, most of my gigs have not called for C6, and I could easily get by with just a S-10. Sure there may be a swing or blues tune where C6 would be “better,” but I have can make E9 work for those if I need to.

Yet.

When I decide what steel to bring to a gig, I always choose one of my D-10s. It’s not that I don’t have a S-10 I like; the Zum Encore I bought earlier this year is a fabulous guitar. It plays smoothly, sounds very good, stays in tune, light weight…. I really love that guitar. But when push comes to shove, it’s not what I choose to bring to a gig. I suppose I like my Super Pro and Fessy D-10 a little bit better in terms of sound, but not much (and certainly not enough for anyone in the audience to appreciate). The same was true of my last S-10, a Sho Bud R&B 6139. I loved that guitar too, but I brought it to gigs more out of a sense of keeping it in the rotation rather than feeling it would be preferable to one of my D-10s.

So why do I own a S-10? I guess the lightweight feature of the Encore makes it a first choice as a flying rig. I did use it for that in May, but that was the first time I have ever needed to fly with a guitar, and I don’t see any further occasions on the horizon. I suppose if I had students, I could set it up to a super standard E9 and let them use it. But I don’t have students (and they should use their own axe, anyway.) I used to think it would be a more compact option on a tight stage, but, in fact, it only saves a couple of inches: not a big difference in footprint from my D-10s. Certainly the S-10 (and especially the Encore) would be a lot less weight to carry if I split it between a soft case and a leg bag as I do with my D-10s. But when I have opted to gig with a S-10 in the past, I always end up putting the whole rig in one case for compactness, and then that single case weighs as much as the soft case carrying the D-10 body.

Wondering whether anyone else who goes through phases where they don’t need the C6 neck (or never uses it much at any time) similarly find themselves using a D-10 anyway. I am not selling the Encore: I like it too much to part with it so soon after purchasing it. Just musing on the reason for owing a S-10.
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Dave Campbell


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 7:26 am    
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i have a d10 push pull that is my main instrument. it's really comfortable to play and inspires some confidence sitting behind it.

dragging it across an open field with my amp and other gear to play a 45 minute set dampens my enthusiasm for it, though.

i bought an s10 push pull of similar vintage, and i have a piano bench/backpack rig along with lightweight amp just for these occasions. i can carry everything in one load and setup very quickly with this rig.

even though my s10 plays much better and i think even sounds better, i know i'm going to play better on the d10. if the gig is more is local and more than one set, i pretty much always bring the d10.

i'm lucky enough to have the extra dough for an s10, and i could always sell it if i need to, but man it's a great convenience on the gigs where you want it.
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James Quillian


From:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 7:43 am    
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I don't move my D10 out of my studio and don't play gigs but this is what I would consider if I did.

An SD is lighter than a D10 but by how much? Is the S10 light enough to justify giving up the sounds of the C6 neck?

I personally use the C6 neck because I am a traditionalist and like to put authentic C6 sounds including the lap steel type sounds where I think they sound right. I don't know that that is the best approach. It is just my approach.

If C6 sounds generated on the E9 are accomplishing what they need to accomplish and that is the go to method,I can't see much use for a C6 neck.

The fact is that everyone is not looking for the same outcome. Those are my criteria, but there is nothing special about my criteria.
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Keith Bolog

 

From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 8:29 am     s10 vs d10
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I never, ever dont need that C6 neck. In one band I dont use the E9 at all. But I want it there just in case...

I dont think the 'C6 on E9' is adequate. C6 has an exponentially greater choice of intervals and giant rich complicated chords.

So instead I keep looking for the lightest possible D10s. I had an Excel 8 x 8 built that weighs 53 lbs in the case. and use a $2.00 thrift store portable luggage cart, those extinct things everyone had before all luggage came with wheels. Lighter than some S10s, and fully equipped.
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Dan Beller-McKenna


From:
Durham, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 8:34 am    
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Interesting responses.

Keep in mind that my (current) situation has me playing gigs where C6 is really not necessary. I would no be "giving it up" if I brought the S-10.
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Eric Philippsen


From:
Central Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 8:46 am    
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This is a timely subject for me.

For decades I’ve used D10’s for gigging. But over the last year I’ve found I’m grabbing an S10 more and more. It’s really because of the weight and the less setup time involved. I mean, it’s actually a relief to only attach 3 pedal rods instead of 8 and to tune only one neck. Teardown is fast, too. Add to that I use a little NV112 and single B9 organ pedal and I’m happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still using D10’s but not as much.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 11:18 am    
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Well there is another way to look at this, if we do not bring a D10 to a gig we will never increase our proficiency on the C6th tuning. Even if its' only ONE song.

I no longer own an S10, on purpose.

I play a bi-monthly gig every month, I am required to perform 2 songs each show, I can sing , play guitar or play Steel instrumentals. My choice. Sometimes I play C6h tunes sometimes E9th tunes. I Love You Because, Release Me, Night Life, Panhandle Rag, King of the Road, etc...The other guitar player and I know many different songs from previous life, we add them as we remember ! The Preacher is coming up soon.

I'm not to be considered a whiz on the C6th, but I'm, better this year than last year ! And it's because I play the D10 all the time. Its hard to improve on a gig when the C6th neck is at home ! Very Happy
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Dave Hopping


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 11:22 am    
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I don't play enough C6 to justify taking either of my D-10s to work,so they've both lived in the (figurative) barn for a long time,and the B6 side of my U-12 takes care of the little non-E9 I do do.Since I got the U-12,my S-10 has only gone out once or twice.Did fine,and the portability and quick setup/tuning was a breeze,but I missed that bottom end.
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Douglas Schuch


From:
Valencia, Philippines
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 4:10 pm    
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My band plays Nightlife. I probably don't need to explain, but just in case, here it is: I've never heard a version of Nightlife on E9 that sounded very good. It is one of the greatest country songs of all time (IMO, at least), and I think of it as an homage to Buddy every time I play it. If I did not have the C6 neck, I'd rather not even play it. Just my opinion.
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Dan Beller-McKenna


From:
Durham, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 4:18 pm    
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For gigs that require C6 (for a song like night life) I would never think of leaving the D-10 at home. What I am referencing are recent gigs with players who have no familiarity with music that calls for C6 or situations (like some Neil Young Tribute shows I played last month) where C6 would be inappropriate, yet I choose to bring the D-10 anyway. I guess I was not very clear in my initial post.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 5:22 pm    
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I wonder why I have a D-10! It's heavy and switching necks is a pain in the butt. Guitar players carry multiple guitars for different tones, but they're usually all tuned the same. The idea of different tunings for different kinds of songs is sort of strange. Pedal steel is the only instrument I can think of that supports that notion.
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 5:52 pm    
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I've been playing in bands since the early/mid 1970s. I lugged a beautiful, but heavy, lacquer MSA D-10 for a long time. Never needed the C6 neck. Switched to U-12s in the early 1980s. Never needed the 6th tuning. The bands played mainstream, popular country dance songs. No instrumentals. We've always had strong vocals/harmonies. E9th all evening.

I got a good deal on a pre-owned Williams Keyless S-10. I fell in love with the 10-string E9 tuning all over again. I had a problem, though, switching between my Mullen U-12 and the Williams S-10. I sold the Mullen and never looked back.

I've got two S-10s now, set up exactly the same. They do all I need them to do. I have a soft Gator keyboard bag they fit in. My skinny arms and weak back are happy.
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Greg Lambert

 

From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 6:30 pm    
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I wouldnt think of going to a gig without the C6th. theres just so much more you can add to the music with this neck.
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Benjamin Davidson

 

Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 6:48 pm    
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b0b brings up the most logical point here. I can't place another instrument where tunings are different between necks. And the player switches between necks in the manner we do as Steel players. Which I feel is holding a lot of poeple back from picking this up these days (one of many reasons). There are drop tunings and what not in guitar, and the various lap steel tunings depending on genre and culture, but neither of which take on the scale we as Pedal Steel players do.

I only own the Justice Pro lite (really a frame and a half, kinda between the S10 and SD10 in the industry) before that a true S10 GFI student. I dont have a desire for a full D10 - I dont feel that calling to learn another full neck, when I have 6 of those strings already in front of me (1/2 step away) in E9th. (And 8 of them in front of me in my Universal 10 Copedent)

How much is actually gained on the second neck (regardless of tuning)? I am working through great C6th material (PFM) with my setup, and there are purists out there that would find that effort wasted when I could just be playing C6th. Well, I dont play notes lower than the standard E on a guitar. I base that on where I feel the steel guitar belongs in the mix (above the guitar player) and not to be weaving in and out of what the guitar players doing.

When I came to the realization that most of what I wanted to learn outside E9th neck was truely C6th or faux C6th on the E9th neck, I had a choice to make. Sell this guitar and go D10 or U12 route, or adapt this S10 to my taste. I worked with Fred to tear the guitar back down to her cabinate and re work a copendent that can cover most of a Universal range with 10 strings. I have 9 pedals and 7 levers to manage, all in one neck and one tuning that is really coming together in my mind. I dont have mode mindset wall to overcome, and I dont change how I sit behind the guitar to play. I look at it, I guess as a piano player would look at thier keys, everything is right there, just play music.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2019 9:55 pm     Existential question: Why do I own a D-10?
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Thanks for that, Benjamin. It's only an issue among steel guitarists. Very few bandleaders or music purchasers care what tuning we use. They just want an acceptable pedal steel sound. We should be able to supply that and satisfy our individual musical urges with a single neck.

If your muse is making you copy "Night Life" and "A Way To Survive" just like the record, you might need a D-10. Just remember, Jeff Newman did a pretty good job without one.

I went from a D-12 to an S-8 and didn't lose any clients. Actually gained some. Now I play an S-10 tuned to D6 with E9 pedals added. It's clear to me that there's little if any financial benefit for playing a D-10. In fact, my D-10 is for sale. See my ad elsewhere on the forum.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 1:04 am    
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For one person, an S10 may very well fill the immediate need. For another the D10 is a personal requirement regardless of the immediate need.

RE: I now only play B Bender Tele's, many say they can play the same phrases by bending with their fingers.. Uh no they can't, try bending a note inside a triad or starting a phrase with the note already pulled a whole tone up and releasing it. Various triads in different fretboard positions, different left hand positions. Its a different instrument , not a novelty or an add on. We approach phrasing and fretboard positions with a different mind set.

If we are playing in a band that just wants us to float around and offer a Steel Sound then thats kinda too bad, not uncommon these days but too bad. IF we just want to kind of emulate a C6th, sure we can do that too.

But as individuals, if we want to improve , advance, call it whatever we want, then the C6 is a need.

IF we are playing Lodges, Halls , Dances etc, standard Country or Swing , be bold , learn a few songs even in simplicity. Release Me, Panhandle Rag, King of the Road , Love You Because...etc... see if the band can keep up.

When I started playing C6th instrumental maybe 2 years ago it was the band that noticed, they started playing those songs differently. Maybe the crowd didn't notice but the band members did. All of a sudden they were "swinging". Next thing ya know we started talking about other songs that were Steel Guitar C6th driven.


I'm certainly no whiz on the C6th but I'm better this year than last year and I was better last year then the year before. IF the style of any song suits the C6, then I can and will move down and play a ride as well as connect with the band on turnarounds.

How many bands don't play Your Cheatin Heart ? Theres a jam song right there and I am not talking about the stock Don licks, intro's and turnarounds. I'm talking about an add lib solo. Maybe we can wake the other band members up ! Shake things up, force them to play differently as well.

Its a preference. Play a D10, or play an S10. But to my way of thinking, don't play an S10 because you can capture all the same stuff thats on a C6th tuning, that's kinda not true. Play an S10 because the D10 is too heavy to lug around, thats legitimate.

If we indeed study a song such as Night Life and copy it, the rewards are plentiful, its a Blues tune and those progressions and phrasings can be used on massive amounts of songs for years upon years. Its a music lesson , unless of course we are just playing the licks in front of us and not paying attention to the music.

Its our choice , there are no rules.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 1:58 am    
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There's a lot of interesting discussion here, but most interesting of all is how few contributors consider the uni 12 as a solution to the weight problem.
Even if I were inclined to haul a D10 I wouldn't be able to drift between the two tunings as I'm inclined to do.
I can only think that if you've played E9 for many years the absence of that 9th-string D is the deal-breaker.
I don't miss it, and I enjoy the choice of alternatives. Can anyone confirm my suspicion?
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 2:18 am    
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I'm gonna push back a bit too ...
Quote:
... I can't place another instrument where tunings are different between necks. And the player switches between necks in the manner we do as Steel players. ...

Plenty of guitar players change tunings routinely. It's not the mainstream approach, but very much a thing for many.

But even more so - many if not most slide guitar players use a variety of tunings - I know I do. This is all dictated by the fact that, like steel guitar, we are more limited to chordal combinations of notes straight across or slanted across the neck. Actually, with a slide guitar properly set up, one can get notes behind the slide a la Sonny Landreth or in front of the slide like many others, to give more combinations yet - and still, slide players routinely use different tunings for different approaches to playing different types of material. And yes, many carry multiple instruments to the gig with different tunings on them. [Now, if you're gonna tell me slide guitar is basically similar to or much the same as a non-pedal steel guitar - well, you're not gonna get a big argument from me, but you will from most people on this board. Confused]

I do not feel it's always necessary to have a D10 with me. But I rarely play just a single 10-string neck - it's usually a D10 or a 12-string E9/B6 universal. For me, there's no significant weight advantage to an S10 since my long frame doesn't like most narrow-frame single-body S10's - it's SD10 or nothing. So I figure I may as well have 2 necks or 12 strings.

There are, of course, players like Randy Beavers who, seemingly effortlessly, get an enormous range of different styles of music out of the E9 neck. But I find myself occasionally running out of room on the bottom end of 10-string E9 playing some types of material. For example, working out of "A6 mode" with A+B down on 10-string E9. 12-string universal works better for me. And sometimes I like having a dedicated C6 neck. It's about what I want.

Most people I do and have worked with couldn't care less what type of steel guitar I play. They're generally fine if I just play E9 from string 8 and up. But I notice the difference, and that's enough for me. YMMV, and that's fine - but there is zero "illogic" to having more available.
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Marc Jenkins


From:
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 2:32 am    
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Banjo players often play a different tuning for one or two songs and then switch!
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Dan Beller-McKenna


From:
Durham, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 3:00 am    
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Ian,

the lack of the open low D string does scare me away. Having said that, though, Bruce Derr plays a S-10 E9 without that string and you'd never know, so I suppose the real issue is my lack of willingness to relearn/rethink my E9 grips: I use that string a lot.

Looking over all these responses, I think I am becoming self-aware that part of the reason I bring a D-10 to a gig where I know for certain I won't use the C6 is the comfort of sitting under the double frame body. That hadn't occurred to me, because in my mind I've been a S-10 E9 player for a lot longer than a D-10 player. But if I stop and do the math, I came back to pedal steel about fifteen years ago, and I got my first D-10 in 2012, so I guess I've had enough time to become (more) comfortable behind the D-10.
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Gabriel Edell


From:
Hamilton, Ontario
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 6:27 am    
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b0b wrote:
I wonder why I have a D-10! It's heavy and switching necks is a pain in the butt. Guitar players carry multiple guitars for different tones, but they're usually all tuned the same. The idea of different tunings for different kinds of songs is sort of strange. Pedal steel is the only instrument I can think of that supports that notion.


This is kind of ironic considering that the pedal steel was basically invented as a solution to reduce the number of necks that steel players were using back in the 40s and 50s.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 6:30 am    
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I'll give a brief description of my uni setup in the string 9 area:
E lowers are on RKR on a half stop to give the B6 tuning. If I push on through, string 8 goes down to D. This is sometimes useful in E9 in a major, major 7th, 7th progression, and it serves as P6 in B6.
RKL raises 9 from B to D and string 2 from its open C# to D#, putting me into what I think of as E9 mode.
I've been totally happy with this system for some time now as it covers both tunings. Both my instruments are very light.

What Gabriel wrote while I was posting this is true! The first pedals were a way of combining E9 and A6 to get three necks down to two. Now we have the technology to reduce still further, why not use it?
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Herb Steiner

 

From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 10:57 am     Night Life on E9? Why not?
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Interesting to me, hearing about guys who carry a C6 solely for "Night Life." I'd venture that Willie's version of the song is the far more familiar arrangement than is Price's from 1962.

Willie's turnaround is the standard 1-6-2-5 changes. Price's arrangement is the Tadd Dameron "Lady Bird" progression, which is the "flat 5 substitution" changes to 1-6-2-5.

The "flat 5 substitution" says you can substitute a dominant (b7) chord with another dominant based on the flatted 5th tone of the original chord. So Willie's original D-B7-E7-A7-D progression becomes Price's (simplified) DM7-F7-Bb7-Eb7-DM7. I use the b5 sub ad nauseum to the point of cliche' when soloing (and no smartazz comments either, please [lol])

Anyway, back to E9th now, is it such a sacrilege to NOT play Buddy's solo to an audience that isn't that familiar with it? The Price turnaround can be approximated on the E9, and solos have always been open for free interpretation IMHO. The popularity of Willie's version validates the playing of the song, not necessarily a particular turnaround in one version. If I carried a C6 neck for one purpose and one purpose only, I'd find a way to make it work with the S-10 I carry.

Matter of fact, I also carry an S-10 in C6 if I'm doing an exclusively Western Swing gig, or a gig with my own quartet/quintet, or flying to do a steel show. If by chance a guest singer wants to do a country song, I can approximate an E9 type solo on the C6. Note-for-note Buddy, Jimmy, or Paul solos? No. But am I playing the song? Most definitely.

For sure I carry a D-10 because on most gigs I play both necks equally, more or less. But I can't say that I may in the near future relegate myself to the S-10 dedicated to the predominant style of the gig at hand, be that E9 or C6. I have a PP designated to each.

BTW, one of my favorite versions of "Night Life" is BB King's from 1983. Not a "country" note in it.
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Daniel Morris


From:
Westlake, Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 11:25 am    
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I concur with b0b and Ian.
A U12 (or something similar) is a logical choice for someone not tied to a D10.
On my RKR, I lower string 2 from D# to D, then C#. With that C#, I also get a D note on my 9th string. I then have the 8th string at either E or D#, plus the D on 9, which is useful.
I do recognize that some players have always had a D10, and really play C6, so for them, saving some weight is probably not enough reason to switch to a U12.
Yes, I work with guitarists who switch to drop D periodically, but I simply cannot see that as the same thing as a double neck pedal steel. I thought that pedals were meant to eliminate the need for multiple necks. In nearly 50 years of playing, I have yet to see a guitarist bring several guitars, all tuned differently.
Probably no end to this issue, but I'm very pleased that Ross Shafer is only building single neck Sierra pedal steels (I have #12), and he's done his R+D.
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Greg Lambert

 

From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2019 11:58 am    
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Couldnt have been said better by tony

" unless of course we are just playing the licks in front of us and not paying attention to the music."

When attention is applied to what we are doing the entire scope of music opens up.
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