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Author Topic:  Why do Franklin guitars sound so great?
Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 12:59 pm    
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Your right Dave! I’ll leave it at that. But please, don’t close this thread on my account. Maybe my perspective is a little different than others, but I think very very highly of the Franklins and everything they have contributed to steel guitar, and my perspective, in no way, does it disrespect the Franklins’ or the guitar.
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Steve Spitz

 

From:
New Orleans, LA, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2020 1:47 pm    
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I think Bob H. Said the most relevant, quantifiable, comments.

They record well. Nashville session guys like the way they “sit in the mix”

As a tool used to earn a living, in a highly competitive field, you can understand the demand. Add to that the limited supply, and mystery solved.

I realize some folks play them that aren’t session heavy hitters, but I think the logic is sound.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 12:49 am    
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Bob Hoffnar wrote:
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.


I would like to ad that the necks and end plates on the Franklins I owned were cast aluminum and not CNCed . Also I found that they had a resonant peak around 2K (if I remember right) which if played with the right technique kept the tone even and balanced everywhere on the neck. No weak strings or spots in the neck. You don’t need to choose between making the low strings growl/high strings shrill or high strings sweet/low strings thunky. It was a little like driving a sports car. It could get away from you pretty quick if you don’t stay focused. The way it is built is probably the main thing though. Every part of the steel resonated and worked together. It’s hard to describe. It’s like the whole steel is a connected circle. Paul Franklin Sr. is a genius builder. He could build something in his head and then look around at it and test it out well before picking up any tools.
Hanging out with the Franklins at there table in St Louis was always the highlight of those conventions.
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 2:30 am    
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I've only played one Franklin guitar years ago,I subbed for my good friend Dan Tyack at a Mexican restaurant upstairs in Long beach,The good news was that Dan would leave his Franklin guitar set up all I had to do was turn it on and play...the first thing that got me was the spider web fret markers,and how light the guitar was,I also remember how great the guitar sounded but knowing that my broke ass could never afford to buy one it was a one shot deal...all in all a wonderful sounding guitar!
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Mike Holder


From:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 7:52 am    
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I don’t think it can be stressed enough that the current asking price of Franklins is not in any way an issue to ponder period. We all know they play better and are the watermark for newer companies being compared today. Do they sound better? .. in 1990 when they weren’t any more expensive than any other brand on the market, players like Stu Basore, Bruce Bouton, Mike Johnson, Bobby Black & Hal Rugg thought enough of them to own one. Tommy White has been witnessed playing almost everything on the market, did he ever own or play one? Tom Quinn there’s another post on here about the sustain of Franklin’s and Paul goes into deep technical detail about his father’s concepts and putting them into his instruments. It’s a good insight into the more constructive answers you were looking for but you got a bunch of other really good opinions in your post too, even if they weren’t what you originally asked.
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Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 9:13 am    
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Thanks Mike. I found that post the other day and together with a private e-mail from Mike, I got my answer.
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Mike Holder


From:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 9:23 am    
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Care to enlighten everyone??
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Bill Lowe


From:
Connecticut
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 10:59 am    
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I’m glad that was cleared up.... Laughing
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Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 11:11 am    
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Franklin guitars are so good that Tennessee named a city after them. Top that...
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Dean Holman

 

From:
Branson MO
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 12:30 pm    
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I want to apologize about all the riff-raff earlier. I don’t normally respond to very many threads on here, but once in a while a topic peaks my interest and I like to add my perspective on certain issues. I have very much respect for Paul Sr, Paul Jr, and the whole family for that matter. In a nutshell, I would love to own a Franklin, but I would be afraid to, if I had to spend that kind of money for one, I would be afraid something would happen to it, damaged in a fire or stolen. Not only would I lose the money, but on top of that, the loss of an irreplaceable guitar. So, there’s other reasons than just the value of the guitar itself, that some people wouldn’t be able to buy one. My other perspective on the value of a Franklin, is the market itself. The steel guitar market is relatively small compared to the guitar market. We as steel players, whether we realize it, are small potatoes compared to the guitar market. As far as the Franklin guitar goes, there’s no dispute that they are a well built, great sustain and great tone. I had an opportunity to order one about 33 years ago when you could still buy them for just over 3 grand, but being from Missouri, it was more feasible and convenient to get a Zum, and they were a thousand dollars cheaper than a Franklin. I look back and think maybe I missed the boat on getting a Franklin, but I was only 17 years old and earning my own money to buy a guitar. So, Why do Franklins sound so great? Talent, God given talent for a great builder and a great steel player.
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Mike Holder


From:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 12:41 pm    
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Dean;... you’re a great pedal steel guitarist / musician, no matter what guitar you owned your personal tone would come out of it end of story. The cost of these guitars today is not what makes them play good or sound good at all or it wouldn’t have been there 30 years ago when they were built. A master craftsman built them just like Scheerhorn resonator guitars, Martins, Lloyd Loar mandolins, Little Walter amps, Dumble amps, Tiffany lamps, Frank Lloyd Wright chairs or houses... is that so hard to understand and accept?... not to me.
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Jim Pitman

 

From:
Waterbury Ctr. VT 05677 USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 3:31 pm    
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Ears are very good at detecting subtlety in tone....but so is a Fast Fourier transform. We should settle this by measuring the spectral response of the different brands of guitars. We could measure the attack envelope, the length of sustain, and the harmonic content.
I think we would find each guitar has a signature. Now whether we could agree on what the best signature is doubtful.
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 3:57 pm    
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Mike Holder got the answer at least I think is spot on.
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 5:15 pm    
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Jim Pitman wrote:
Ears are very good at detecting subtlety in tone....but so is a Fast Fourier transform. We should settle this by measuring the spectral response of the different brands of guitars. We could measure the attack envelope, the length of sustain, and the harmonic content.
I think we would find each guitar has a signature. Now whether we could agree on what the best signature is doubtful.


But, could all this answer the original question of:

Why...?

This reminds me of previous discussions regarding Emmons push/pull guitars.

It's fun to read all the guesses and opinions.
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Ned McIntosh


From:
New South Wales, Australia
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 6:45 pm    
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Not to take anything away from the great builders we have today (and we are blessed with several of note), but ultimately it comes down to the player.

The late, great John Hughey was once asked where tone was to be found. He held up his hands and said "here...tone is in the hands of the player".

It's also in his head, his feet, his knees, and above all else, it's in his heart.

That's why Franklins sound so good; they're played by people who put their all into it.
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Murray McDowall


From:
Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2020 10:03 pm    
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Ned, that’s it, in a nutshell.

Regards to all,
Murray.
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Jim Pitman

 

From:
Waterbury Ctr. VT 05677 USA
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2020 1:36 am    
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Lee, my point is this could be answered quickly if you could identify the attributes of tone you are after. A set up that would make these measurements would point out the differences of one guitar verses another. Then could you quickly experiment with say mass of changer, mass of key head, thickness of body, changer coupling to body, tightness of neck bolts, etc, to arrive at what you are after.
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2020 6:12 am    
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Jim Pitman wrote:
Lee, my point is this could be answered quickly if you could identify the attributes of tone you are after.


Agreed!

It would be interesting to see such measurements taken of several Franklin guitars to see how they compare from guitar to guitar.

Lee
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Travis Toy


From:
Nashville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2020 2:58 pm    
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Ross Shafer wrote:
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!


1000% this. Blind tests are my favorite. It’s the only way that I test opinions on products that I’m involved with, and the only way to get an actual answer that isn’t tainted by “hearing” with our eyes, and with past experiences & biases.
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2020 6:27 pm    
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sometimes I erase my thoughts!

Last edited by Johnie King on 23 Jul 2020 8:12 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2020 3:03 am    
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I have NOTHING to sell here so i really dont have an iron in this fire... but for me it seems like a marketing strategy when someone says that one is really worth this much money and that the reason is that they sound/sustain better... come on.. arnt they all pretty much built the same, OR close? for those of you that dont know this ... IF you tweak your amp a little different and maybe learn how to use your hands... they are all really pretty much the same... Thanks from someone who ALSO fell for marketing ..
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2020 4:17 am    
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They are not all the same. They are all Pedal steel guitars but that's all. I owned a 71 D-10 PP Emmons (bought new) and played it for 10 years. I owned a D-10 Franklin for 38 years and now have a D-10 GFI. I can tell you these three are not the same in sound and playability. Which one is the best? to me the Franklin. Someone else may think its overhyped and a piece of crap. Just as one person must have a tube amp and another is perfectly happy with a solid state amp.

My Franklin was recently sold. I asked 8K (and got it) but not greedy and could have asked more and probably got it. Supply and demand set prices on items such as this.
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2020 7:16 am    
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Deleated.

Last edited by Johnie King on 23 Jul 2020 8:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ken Adkins

 

From:
Galena, Mo
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2020 7:34 am     Why do Franklin guitars sound so great?
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I think my mullen would sound great with Franklin playing it!!
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 19 Jul 2020 12:14 am    
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Nobody would ever argue that the Franklins are not great Instruments. They indeed are. Thru the years it was always my thought and contention ( assertion) that it was the ONE AT A TIME hand built by Paul Sr that was the dominating factor. His total attention to detail and expert craftsmanship was the premium aspect, and rightfully so.

To argue that one brand Steel or another has the absolute BEST tone, well, thats where I leave the conversation.

Case in point, St Louis many years back, Buddy was playing the Carter Steel in the PV room, it sounded like Buddy on his PP Emmons.

I listen to AJ records non stop, I love learning from both Paul and Brent. Brent sounds pretty much the same cut to cut ( tone wise) Pauls Steel has varied Tone Shapes cut to cut. All excellent but not all the same.

Put 50 players on ONE Steel , the same Steel, the same amp, I suspect we will have easily 20 or 25 different tones we could all argue about !

Then the next questions we get typically is -

What EQ do you guys set your amp at ? Why doesn't my Katana sound like YOUR Katana ? we have the same Steel .

What Speaker do you use ?

Which Strings sound best ?

Yeah I know, I'm on the fringe now Shocked
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