| Visit Our Catalog at SteelGuitarShopper.com |

Post new topic Why do Franklin guitars sound so great?
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Why do Franklin guitars sound so great?
Rich Upright


From:
Florida, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2020 9:34 pm    
Reply with quote

It seems that every once in awhile, a "mystique" develops around a piece of equipment that sends the price skyrocketing to ridiculous levels; 100K for a Dumble amp, 2K for a Klon Centaur pedal, and 14K for a Franklin guitar, and 2K for a Princeton Reverb amp that ain't even loud enough to gig with.
These are all good machines, but IMHO not worth anywhere near the prices they command. Franklins sound
Great, but not better than a Zum, and certainly not better than a PP, which can be had for 1/5 the price of a Franklin.
And, AFAIC, there ain't an amp in the whole world that's worth anywhere NEAR 100K.
_________________
Emmons LeGrande II D-10
Mullen HWP D-10
'72 Stratocaster
'89 Custom Shop Telecaster
'65 Mosrite "The Ventures" model
2019 Hallmark Custom 60
'74 Precision bass
'77 Guild D-50
Gold Star GF85 5-string banjo
Peavey Renown 1-15"
'76 Fender Twin Reverb w/JBLs
Peavey Classic 30 (2)
'65 Ampeg Gemini II
Fender Rumble 200
Fender Sidekick Switcher
Hartke amp
Various delays, reverbs,compressors,etc
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2020 4:05 am    
Reply with quote

If had money tell you what I wood do I would go down town an buy a Franklin or two.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2020 11:17 am    
Reply with quote

I don't claim to know why Franklins sound so great. But I have an early D10, and I can tell you that it does sound great, and different from anything else I've played.

I completely tore my Franklin down several years back. When I got it, it was very gummed up - changes weren't returning to pitch properly, and you could feel the stickiness. One thing I noticed is that the changer is different from any changer I've had apart. It had the look and feel of a hand-crafted, hand-machined device. No doubt certain other things in the mechanics have an impact. But everything about that changer fit very precisely, and it felt substantial in my hands. In re-assembling the guitar, I had to make sure I got it back exactly the way it was before it was torn down. Luckily, I had made extensive notes before I started - but still, I had to tear it apart and start over a few times before it felt right to me.

I honestly doubt there is a "formula" for how to make a great steel guitar, or any type of guitar for that matter. Yes, there are certain design choices that play a strong role. But beyond that, I think it is about pure craftsmanship - and also, I suspect - using the ears to fine tune as the build progresses. This is definitely the case for fine guitars, such as high-performance arch tops and flat top acoustic guitars. A builder of really top-flight acoustic guitars tunes various parts by ear and adjust things as they go. The whole of a great instrument is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. My opinion, anyway.

IMO, there is no substitute for a fine craftsman who knows how the various design variables influence their design, and gives a damn enough to take the time and energy to get it right.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Asa Brosius

 

Post  Posted 13 Jul 2020 1:01 pm    
Reply with quote

I've played a few Franklins in various conditions- while they've all sounded different- as has been my experience with other brands, even the high production volume ones-I love the way they play.
In terms of 'great sound'-why do we think they sound great? It's hard to separate Paul F's genius on the instrument, the inherent tone of the Franklin mechanism, and importantly how often we've heard all of that as a part of music we enjoy (or just hear a lot). While there are choices today- i.e., Russ Pahl recording on big hits with a Show-Pro- I'll speculate that successful popular country steel has been dominated by Paul and his Franklins in the studio for awhile now. Popular country has always been about replicating aspects of the most recent big seller- that's much easier and efficient when you get the same group that contributed to the last hit- all this to say perhaps we hear an extremely well played Franklin steel more than others in well-produced well-engineered popular recordings on the radio, etc. An anology- old Fender amps were made by Leo as cheaply and simply as possibly, following basic RCA tube guides- he wasn't a Dumble- now we've heard them for decades recorded and live, and so culturally we love them and their associations and spend fortunes on the originals and modern replicas, chasing familiar sounds. (For the 'take offense' crowd-the analogy isn't about the quality of the product, but how often we've heard it).
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Greg Milton


From:
Melbourne, Australia
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 1:11 am    
Reply with quote

This is a very astute observation, Asa.

I also believe that cognitive dissonance for those who have spent big on guitars and need to justify their decision to themselves and others is a big factor in hype surrounding particular brands. Flame on!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 2:07 am    
Reply with quote

Unless you have owned a Franklin, as I have, or sat down to one and played it and heard the sound you will never know. Listening to someone else with a Franklin or any other brand does not tell you anything.

Also, what someone perceives as a great sound to someone else may sound like crap.
_________________
GFI Ultra D-10, Quilter Travis Toy 12 Amp, POD X3, MatchBro, Cakewalk Sonar and Studio One Pro V4.6 DAWs, MOTU 4pre
R.O.P.E. Member
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Greg Milton


From:
Melbourne, Australia
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 2:38 am    
Reply with quote

That cognitive dissonance jibe was definitely not directed at you, Jack!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 2:59 am    
Reply with quote

Click Here
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Bill Duncan

 

From:
Lenoir, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 4:13 am    
Reply with quote

[quote="Rich Upright"]It seems that every once in a while, a "mystique" develops around a piece of equipment that sends the price skyrocketing to ridiculous levels; 100K for a Dumble amp, 2K for a Klon Centaur pedal, and 14K for a Franklin guitar, and 2K for a Princeton Reverb amp that ain't even loud enough to gig with.

I agree. However, if someone is willing to pay astronomical prices, then I am all for letting them. The old adage comes to mind. "A fool and his money are soon parted"
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 5:03 am    
Reply with quote

Johnie King wrote:
If had money tell you what I wood do I would go down town an buy a Franklin or two.

And you could haul them both home in the trunk of your Mercury.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 5:11 am    
Reply with quote

I have owned 3 Franklin steels. There is a difference. They are built in a way that accentuates the even partials in the overtone series. This makes them hold there own in a recording without taking up more sonic space. Plus they have a richness and character of there own that can be heard without bringing them up in the mix. Sorta like an oboe in an orchestra.

I have not played or heard any other pedalsteel that sounds or plays like a Franklin. Best or better is a subjective judgment.
_________________
Bob

Wash your hands !
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 6:50 am    
Reply with quote

Ron Shalita wrote:
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..

Just noticed this on the first page - you asked the same question on this thread - https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=358401 - and I replied there. I also added some additional context about my own Franklin. I won't repeat all that here.

As far as "cognitive dissonance" goes to justify spending big bucks on a Franklin - I didn't, and I honestly don't think I have anything special to justify. I have other guitars that I also love. I never said my Franklin was a "better" guitar - I said it was great, and different, and I think it is both.

To me, a Franklin pedal steel, even at the prices they're going for now, is still priced nothing like a typical "holy grail" vintage 6-string guitar, such as an early Strat, Tele, Les Paul, or a prewar D45 or herringbone D28. The last couple of Franklins I saw for sale went for around $8 grand. OK, I agree, not cheap - but this is chump change to the guys who wheel and deal high-end vintage guitars. Better hope those guys don't start glomming onto Franklins, or it could be a brave new world.

And, let me add - there are some brand new guitars that run in the $8-10+ grand range. Late model ZumSteels have been escalating and seem to be fetching $5-6 grand or even more for the right one.
Quote:
It's hard to separate Paul F's genius on the instrument, the inherent tone of the Franklin mechanism, and importantly how often we've heard all of that as a part of music we enjoy (or just hear a lot).

Of course, I love Paul's playing too. But it's not from listening to tons of mainstream commercial country music since the early 1990s, because I haven't. I don't really listen to or play modern commercial country music much - my country influences are mostly from earlier periods. My views on steel guitars are based on what they do for me, not anybody else.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 10:24 am    
Reply with quote

Simple answer is this. If the Franklin tone is what you like the best and you want to fork out 10 grand, knock yourself out! My opinion, I feel like there are guitars being built that sounds just as good and plays just as good. That’s not saying anything bad at all about a Franklin. As I’ve heard it said before, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Every man’s purpose to not own a Franklin, is just as viable as a man’s reason to own one.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 11:51 am    
Reply with quote

Dean Holman wrote:
Simple answer is this. If the Franklin tone is what you like the best and you want to fork out 10 grand, knock yourself out! My opinion, I feel like there are guitars being built that sounds just as good and plays just as good. That’s not saying anything bad at all about a Franklin. As I’ve heard it said before, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Every man’s purpose to not own a Franklin, is just as viable as a man’s reason to own one.


That has absolutely nothing about what I asked but... thanks.
_________________
I need an Emmons!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2020 8:00 pm    
Reply with quote

Never mind!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 6:09 am    
Reply with quote

By the way, there are other responses to your post that absolutely have nothing to do with your question, but thank you for singling me out.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jerry Horch


From:
Alva, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 6:14 am     O
Reply with quote

peace....be still
_________________
Franklin D10 /Walker Sterio Steel JBL's /DigiTech Quad4/ Korg Toneworks/ Dobro DM 1000 / Santa Cruz Guitar VA
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 7:36 am    
Reply with quote

The only thing I implied is that Franklins have a sound of their own, just like other brands of guitars. Paul Sr built that inherent tone in his guitars, just like an Emmons sounds like an Emmons or a Zum sounds like a Zum. It’s the same with Franklins, and if that’s the sound you like best and money is no issue, than get a Franklin. I thought I was encouraging the fact that it’s worth to some to buy a Franklin and certainly have no problem with it. As to my point about the subject matter, it went right along with other replies about how tone is subjective and we all hear things different and we all like what sounds best to our ears regardless of what kind of guitar it is. Hence the phrase I used “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, which is a saying that Jimmy Crawford used to tell me. So, the question is not just about Franklins, it also pertains to sound. I don’t think that there’s anyone that doesn’t like the sound of a Franklin, but it’s also a preference, and some guy’s don’t prefer the sound of a Franklin, not that they don’t like the sound or anything else about the guitar. As far as how Franklins are built, it was Mr. Franklin’s research and experience and the guitar is the end result. But my reply sure didn’t merit being singled out.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Ross Shafer


From:
Petaluma, California
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 8:01 am    
Reply with quote

Whenever tone or tone/brand discussions like this get rolling, I can't help but wonder how everyone with strong opinions on a specific brand or type of guitar would fare if they participated in an honest to goodness blind test.

I'm not saying anyone is right, wrong, better, best, worser or worst. It is my experience that those with strong opinions about the tone of a particular brand, model or type of amp/speakers/guitars/strings/picks etc. are often surprised at the results of a true blind test.

Not an answer to the original post, but worth consideration and apropos to the discussion.

Of course, this is just my opinion and everyone knows what they're like!

play music, stay safe!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jerry Roller


From:
Van Buren, Arkansas USA
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 10:36 am    
Reply with quote

Franklin guitars sound great because they was designed and built by Mr Paul Franklin. He knew what he was doing. Same goes for Emmons, they were designed by Buddy Emmons and Ron Lashley. Zum sounds great because of Bruce Zumsteg. Del Mullen, Bud Carter, Shot Jackson, DeWayne Marrs, Zane Beck and other (sorry for leaving anyone out) pioneers of designing and building great guitars all contributed to give us a choice of great sounding guitars. I personally play primarily Emmons guitars because they have the sound I like. Gary Carter sounds great on his Zum and I'm sure he plays Zum because it is his choice. Tommy White sounds great on his Mullen which I bet is his preference at this time. Truth is these guys I mentioned could switch around to the other guys guitar and still sound great. I loved the sound of Buddy Charlton's push pull. I believe there is no "best" player and there is no "best" sounding guitar brand. A Rolex watch is very impressive but a Timex does the job also. We all have our preferences and reasons.
Jerry
_________________
http://www.littleoprey.org/
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 11:07 am    
Reply with quote

Dean Holman wrote:
... but thank you for singling me out.


Mr. Holman, your abilities on the steel singled you out, long ago! What I wouldn’t give to be in your league.
_________________
Clinesmith consoles D-8/6 5 pedal, D-8 3 pedal & A25 Frypan, Pettingill Teardrop, & P8 Deluxe.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jerry Roller


From:
Van Buren, Arkansas USA
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 11:24 am    
Reply with quote

There you go Rick! You are so right! Thanks!
_________________
http://www.littleoprey.org/
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 11:34 am    
Reply with quote

Dang this is depressing. What I was looking for was, do Franklins have hotter or cooler pickups than other all pulls? Is the changer made of a different material? Is the under carriage different in some way? Why do so many engineers in Nashville seem to prefer a Franklin in the mix? Instead I get this.

I played steel for a lotta years four nights a week in some of the best dives in NorCal. I'm a pretty decent picker on anything with strings. I know Sho-Buds and Emmons guitars cold and have owned many of both. I know why and how they work but as I said initially, I have never owned a new-style all-pull guitar. They are totally foreign to me.

As far as cost, I have $60K in guitars around the house not because I' m rich but because they are my hobby in my old age. I drive a 20-year-old truck and travel, golf or whatever is not part of my life. So I can afford $10K for a steel although outside of a wraparound I don't see many other brands demanding that price so there must be something about Mr. Franklin's guitars that appeals to some players.

I e-mailed Paul privately and he was kind enough to give me some pointers on the guitars.

Bob, please close this up...
_________________
I need an Emmons!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 12:22 pm    
Reply with quote

Tom, you have to understand something, there’s many answers to your question. It’s not only about how a guitar is built or why was it done this way or why was it done that way. There are other elements that play a huge part in why a certain guitar sounds the way that it does. I think that the pickups that are used on a Franklin, plays a huge part in the sound of a Franklin. The Lawrence 710 pickup is a hot pickup with a lot of bite and grit. It cuts through very well, but I hear that in other guitars where a 710 is used. Certain equipment used, certain picks that are used. Now I by no means mean this as a negative, but I think psychology plays a little part in this. I think Paul Jr has created such a sound of it’s own , that that became part of his success as a studio musician. I think other studio musicians feel there is a criteria to use a Franklin to get that sound. I also think that pulling out a Franklin in a recording studio, presents some sort of recognition to a producer or an engineer, that that guitar is going to give them what they want, when a different guitar could produce the same results, at least close enough to where the common listener wouldn’t be able to tell a difference. Marketing is a very psychological tool and the fact that there were only a certain amount of Franklins built, the mechanics and sound of a Franklin, and the fact that Paul Jr is such an incredible player and musician, everything was marketed just right, to make those guitars as popular as they are. So, in my opinion, there’s more to it than just the sound of the guitar itself. Again, I don’t think that that’s a negative assumption, I just think that’s smart business on the Franklins’ part.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 12:37 pm    
Reply with quote

Quote:
What I was looking for was, do Franklins have hotter or cooler pickups than other all pulls? Is the changer made of a different material? Is the under carriage different in some way?

Before this gets shut down - I didn't address a couple of these issues:

My 1980 Franklin D10 came with the original single-coil pickups that Paul Sr. wound in his kitchen - I talked with him about that, and they have the typical appearance of that standard type of pickup design. But they are definitely hand-wound pickups. They measure similar to my favorite Emmons-style pickups in the 17.5K range. They are tremendous pickups on that guitar - I have never been able to bring myself to take them off. But I think most newer Franklins came with Lawrence pickups. I think they initiated that change with original 705's, and I believe Paul uses 710's. So I'm not sure it's really the pickups. I've seen players write/say that pickup changes didn't change the fundamental sound of a Franklin. I can't comment on that since I'm probably never gonna take those originals off.

I commented on the changer above. Again, I think the changer construction I noted on disassembling mine was different from what I usually see. Very solid, the whole assembly fit together as a whole, felt hand-crafted. Seemed like pretty dense material to me, but I'm not a metallurgist. And no excess slop whatever.

The undercarriage on mine resembles the Sho Bud period that I prefer - let's say mid-70s - more than, let's say, a push-pull. Everything very precise mechanically, I found zero excess "slop" in the pull train. When I tore mine apart, I was totally paranoid about losing that type of precision, but just flushing the changer didn't come close to getting the sticky gunk out of the mechanism. One of my mechanical type genius buddies (RIP JB) drove over with me when I got it and said it resembled a Maserati, albeit he really didn't know anything about pedal steels except what they did. And I confess I've never been under the hood of a Maserati. But he knew mechanics. Anyway - it does sort of have the feel of a hot rod, and the mica is flat black, all original. And the hand-cut early Franklin logo. IMO, it all totally fits.

And I'd say that my Franklin has the type of tone I prefer in the best Sho Buds I've played, but the mechanics feel better, to my tastes, and the sustain is more pronounced. It has a pretty noticeable mid-to-high-midrange cut that definitely cuts through a mix but is not strident. Sorta like a good 50s Les Paul Junior, to mix a metaphor a bit.

Everybody has opinions, and that's fine. But I don't really understand why a thread asking about the mechanical/tone specifics of a Franklin guitar has to get into issues about whether or not they are overpriced, worth the money, whether someone is a fool to spend the money, and so on. The question was not about whether they are "worth" the money. That is a question about "economic utility" that is impossible to answer for anybody but oneself.

Of course, there is a psychological and marketing aspect to selling guitars. Look, I bought mine used reasonable just months after I first started playing steel, but had been playing guitar about 30 years. I didn't have a clue about pedal steels, did not have any real sense that these were valuable (I don't think they were particularly at the time). I knew who Paul Franklin was, but that made zero impression on me with respect to buying a pedal steel. It was purely the sound and mechanical feel of that guitar that sold me, period. It cut like a knife, even in my very inexperienced hands. I was just lucky, period. But there a several other guitars that I also absolutely love and use frequently. It is not a freakin' contest.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  
Please review our Forum Rules and Policies
Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction, and steel guitar accessories
www.SteelGuitarShopper.com

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 S. Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Click Here to Send a Donation

Email SteelGuitarForum@gmail.com for technical support.


BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles for Band-in-a-Box
by Jim Baron