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Author Topic:  Why do Franklin guitars sound so great?
Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 11:21 am    
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I went to Jeff's school in 1977 with my Sho-Bud Professional. While there, I had two knee levers installed by Duane Marrs at his home. I also had lunch with Paul Franklin senior at his home, This skinny young guy -- Junior -- was there; great (then) kid, polite, and a demon on the steel even then. He played about 30 seconds of pedal steel in the house that made me want to take up accordion. Wonderful folks, I feel so very lucky to have met Paul, Duane and Paul Junior.

I've never owned an all-pull new-style instrument. Always played Emmons or old Sho-Buds. All-pulls all look pretty much the same to me under the hood. So I am asking sincerely -- why do Franklins sound so great? What is the special sauce? Cause I'm between steels now, I'm older than dirt and the next one will be my last. If I have to sell the Harley for a Franklin I most certainly will.

Big thanks...
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 11:46 am    
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I can’t answer your question, but I can give you a different perspective, Harleys sound good, too but a Franklin isn’t as likely to kill you.
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Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 11:56 am    
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Rick Barnhart wrote:
I can’t answer your question, but I can give you a different perspective, Harleys sound good, too but a Franklin isn’t as likely to kill you.


-LLL- I dunno. When I was a kid, I played steel in joints where you could get whacked easy. But I made a hundred bucks and lived to tell bout it...
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 12:08 pm    
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I owned a D-10 Franklin for 38 years. It did sound great. Why? better than others? A lot of little things combined is what I get from Paul Franklin Sr and from Paul Jr. Longer sustain is one thing.

I owned a 71 D-10 PP Emmons that I played for 11 years (until I got the Franklin new in Dec 82) and the first time I played my new Franklin the Emmons was history. There are those that consider the PP Emmons the "holy grail" of sound, and they do sound great, but the Franklin surpasses the Emmons sound.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 12:18 pm    
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Rick Barnhart wrote:
I can’t answer your question, but I can give you a different perspective, Harleys sound good, too but a Franklin isn’t as likely to kill you.


Maybe, but coming home with a $10K used steel guitar just might do it!👊
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Bill Duncan

 

From:
Lenoir, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 12:44 pm    
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Whether a pedal steel sounds the "best" is very subjective and is dependant upon what the particular person making the decision believes is best. Opinions vary. I believe my pedal steel sounds best. Of course, that is just my opinion.
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 3:05 pm    
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Good post!

Last edited by Johnie King on 23 Jul 2020 8:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Miller

 

From:
Gaspe, Quebec, Canada
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 5:02 pm    
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I like the sound of a Franklin and if I could, I'd own one. But whether they sound better is purely a matter of personal taste. There are so many great sounding guitars. I consider my Mullen G2 to be a great sounding guitar. The Emmons push-pulls and some of the Legrandes sound great as do many Zumsteels. And when I listen to Jean-Guy Grenier on any one of his Sho~Buds he sounds fantastic to me. I'm not a fan of GFIs but again...personal preference. Not to take anything away from Franklins but surely a lot of the cachet they have is linked to Paul Franklin's well deserved fame as a player. I'm not sure they'd fetch the astronomical prices if it weren't for that.
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Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 5:05 pm    
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I never used the term "best." And, again, I've never owned a new all-pull guitar. Franklins certainly have a huge reputation. I just wondered what makes one all-pull guitar sound such that it is a go-to instrument in Nashville studios. We aren't comparing here and I've owned at least seven Emmons D10s over the years.
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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 6:21 pm    
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This is weird...
My first steel (c. 1992) was a Zum Stage One. Perfectly fine for me to start off on, sounded great to me, and I ended up selling it to my PSG teacher for what I paid ($650 I think). c. 1995 I bought a Franklin D-10 8x4 from Paul Sr. at Scotty's convention - pure luck that a newbie like me at the time chose that one. I love that guitar. Its not so complicated underneath so I have tweaked it perfectly to my biomechanics. After their value started to shoot up, our bass player fed my paranoia about me taking such an "expensive" guitar to our seedy gigs. I did some research and ordered a new keyless Excel D-10 8x5 from Mitsuo. Lighter, smaller, "cheaper" and replaceable (not so much anymore) in case something terrible happens. Well I love that guitar too. I told Mitsuo how I set up my Franklin (including the half-pedal timed stop on P7 of the C6), and he just nailed it right out of the box. I haven't tried to work on the mechanics of the Excel, but I have never needed to. I don't know that the two guitars actually "sound" different. It seems that I can tweak the tone of the notes to be just about the same with my electronics, and the sustain is fine on both. The difference for me is that they FEEL different, which radically affects my approach to playing. Yeah, the Franklin plays "like butter", and the Excel is certainly easy enough too. Somehow the Excel demands a more "deliberate" pedal execution. I seem to be more in tune and cleaner on the Excel because the Excel says to me "dammit, tell me what you mean". You could view this as restrictive, and you could say my Franklin allows more expression because it doesn't protest when you play in the cracks. It has me wondering about the supposed "tone" of the Franklin, and how much the feel of the guitar affects the player's approach to playing it.
Side note: I'm an engineer, and I was once enamored with the possibility of servo-motor/computer-controlled/programmable copedant "next generation" of electro-mechanical PSG's. After my experience with my two guitars - forget about it. Just find one or two that you like and play the hell out of them.
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 6:46 pm    
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Not sure I believe that they do.. its really all in your hands ..
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 10:47 pm    
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Glenn, when you say that Excels are not as replaceable as they were, what did you mean? Nothing bad, I hope.

As to the original question, it is indeed subjective and could be asked of any guitar. The answer lies in good design and choice of materials and skill in manufacture, all of which are open to opinion.
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Gene Tani

 

From:
The Pacific NW,
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 12:58 am     steels
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What PF Jr said

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=2929854#2929854
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 4:05 am    
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Hey No offense to the group, but maybe someone here can explain to me why is it Buddy always sounded the same on every guitar he played..
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 4:31 am    
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He didn't, to my ears. One year at St Louis he was playing a Sierra and something in the sound was missing and it just didn't sound like him. I remember the next year he was still endorsing Sierra but "his Sierra was on the bus" and he played his rosewood PP Emmons and Buddy sounded like Buddy.
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 5:14 am    
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Mr Franklin is a gifted talent genius steel guitar builder that refused too settle for average tone an playability. He has created the most sought after pedal steel I know of.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 6:28 am    
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Johnnie, after many discussions (actually lectures) with Mr. Franklin it comes down to everything in the guitar was designed or material used for a reason. Not just "parts is parts".
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Jack Stanton

 

From:
Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 7:02 am    
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Buddy always sounded like Buddy, but to my ears, he sounded different on different guitars. He switched from the Emmons to the MCI in the middle of recording Expedition E9, and back when I was listening to it non stop I could tell you which tune was recorded on which guitar.
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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 7:54 am    
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Hi Ian:
Well, Mitsuo isn't getting any younger (who is), so new "replacement" Excels won't be available forever. That's all.
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Roger Crawford


From:
McDonough, GA USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 8:36 am    
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There are those who record with Franklins but play other brands live. Different people get different tone from the same guitar. I always heard that PPs ruled for tone, but I never played one that I thought was what I was looking for. Given the price of Franklin guitars, I’ll probably never own one, so it’s a good thing I love the tone of the guitar I do own.
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 5:49 pm    
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If I was a guitar builder and believed all of this .. the first thing I would do is buy a Franklin and copy it exactly .. but I’m not so i guess i will just play what i have ... too bad it isn’t black then as we all know it would sound better lol.. sorry guys just not going for all of this.. but if you want too and want to sound the best you can then drop 10 to 15 grand for a Franklin OR paint what you have black.. oh dont forget the derby heh heh
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 7:18 pm    
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Jack Mr Franklin Is right he used the right ingredients for tone an playability.
I know Franklin steels will lower the strings too the fret board no problem. Some major brands steels do good to lower a whole step.
I
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Mitch Ellis

 

From:
Collins, Mississippi USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2020 10:10 pm     Re: Why do Franklin guitars sound so great?
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Tom Quinn wrote:


So I am asking sincerely -- why do Franklins sound so great? What is the special sauce?


The answer to both of these questions in my opinion is a talented steel player. I have NEVER heard John Hughey, Buddy Emmons, Lloyd Green, Paul Franklin Jr., Tommy White, or other players of their skill level sound "bad".

Mitch
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Mike Holder


From:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2020 8:01 am    
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I think the " special sauce" is the musician, your sound is in your hands and it will change as you mature, every major player's has! Emmons played several different brands of guitars and always sounded like himself. Lloyd sounded like Lloyd on his JCH or LDG, Paul JR. sounds like himself on an Emmons, Sho-Bud or Franklin, same goes for Hal Rugg, Doug Jeringan, Weldon, Jimmie Crawford etc. I have a franklin after owning many major brands and it was purchased in 94 when they were as competitively priced as an Emmons, or JCH, ZUM etc. so the price they currently go for isn't truthfully in this equation at all period, no more than a 56 Les Paul or 60 Strat...good instruments appreciate in value. What drew me to get mine was how easy it was to play mechanically, no more hard pedals or sloppy knee levers etc. it does what it should do effortlessly! A comparative parallel would be to say riding a Harley makes you a better rider which simply isn't true. If you don't practice good skills you'll end up sporting some painful road rash and if you don't keep riding you'll become worse at it. Keep the Harley Tom because they have poor resale value but are priceless for " Wind Therapy"...Pedal Steel will also keep you highly engaged, play what feels good to you, your sound will develop if you put in the effort..it's a journey, not a destination....As always, just an opinion!
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2020 8:04 am    
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Glenn Demichele wrote:
Hi Ian:
Well, Mitsuo isn't getting any younger (who is), so new "replacement" Excels won't be available forever. That's all.

That's why I bought mine when I did (2 yrs ago). I sometimes wonder if there's anyone to take over.
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