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Author Topic:  Best pedal steel on the market 2020
William Carter

 

From:
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 3:36 pm    
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It looks like it's been about a decade since somebody got you guys arguing over which brand of steel is the best. I am looking to buy a new pedal steel, and I have very little information to make a decision. Unfortunately, Zum is no longer making them, or I would not need any help. I'm trying to find the next best thing to a Zum, probably in a universal. If you had to pick your next guitar from the manufacturers currently in business, what would your first choice be? For whatever brand you pick, do you like that particular one due to tone, mechanics, looks, or something else? Like probably 90% of people in America, I cannot just drive somewhere and try out different models for myself, so I need good honest opinions.
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Douglas Schuch


From:
Valencia, Philippines
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 3:58 pm    
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Well, opinions are going to be all over the place, and truly, there are few standouts these days. But choosing a Universal changes the list a little - you add Sierra (who does not make D-10's, but forget Sho-Pro, who I think does not make Unis.

So I guess the Sierra would be top of my list. But then, it costs 2x to 3x what the others cost, so it sure ought to be the best! Is it? I can't say - never played one. You can find out for $12,500.

Next - probably personal bias, but I'd opt for an Excel from Fuzzy in Japan - I think they are the lightest full function steels made, have tons of options for setting up pulls to get timing exactly right, and have a number of other innovative ideas.

Behind that, I'd go with MSA. They are arguably making the prettiest steels around, with bodies by Mark Giles. They have plenty of innovative features of their own that rival those of Sierra and Excel.

If budget was a factor, I'd probably take a look at Williams. They make beautiful steels, with no up-charge for lacquer (I don't insist on a lacquer guitar - but I'd probably prefer one if I was buying new today), and seem to do it at a price point that beats all the others.

Again, this is just my opinion. I've only ever played an MSA of any of these mentioned. But I think all are equal, from what I've been able to read, to a Zumsteel. And I have owned and played Zumsteels.
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Nicholas Cox


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 4:43 pm     U12
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I love my MSA U12 for its mechanics but not for its pickups. Not sure how their pickups are these days, but they are not known for having good pickups. Obviously you can change them out though. There’s a gorgeous U12 up on Fessenden’s website.
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Lonnie Portwood


From:
Jacksonville, fl. USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 7:21 pm    
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I humbly offer this thought, that there is no such "best" steel guitar! guitars are like everything made by man, and mankind in general. Everyone is different, unique, if you will. I've owned many brands,and among all, there is always one that will feel special when you sit down to it. The same applies to any instrument, especially involving those made mostly of wood. I won't mention the brand, but I've had ten or twelve of a particular brand before I found one that suited me, while at the same time, any one of them may have felt right for you. I don't mean to cause any consternation
for you and I will conclude with this. Any of the current popular brands are well built and will produce beautiful music, not a "bad" one in the bunch, you could say. If you have one made to you specs, buy one from one of the current mfg's, you can't go wrong. Just sayin'. Lonnie
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 8:07 pm    
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Mullen. Plays smoothly like a Zum. Like putting on a glove. Great action, clean mechanics. I see they offer the U-12 now on both a single frame and a double.
The G2 model has splits which you will find very handy on a Universal tuned guitar.

Excel has a lightweight Uni. The keyless model is very compact with a tiny footprint on the stage. Never owned one, so I can speak to neither the tone nor the playability.

Williams builds nice guitars with some options in the Uni model.

MSA already mentioned. Check out some of David Wright's posts re: same.
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Richard Alderson


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 9:13 pm    
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Are we there yet ? Laughing
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 9:33 pm    
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MSA
Magnificent Superior Awesome.
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MSA: Magnificent! Stupendous! Awesome!
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 9:34 pm    
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MSA: Magnificent! Stupendous! Awesome!
-----------
Please visit my web site and Soundcloud page and listen to the music posted there.
http://www.mikeperlowin.com http://soundcloud.com/mike-perlowin
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 11:34 pm    
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Richard Alderson wrote:
Are we there yet ? Laughing

As Lonnie says, there is no best.
I wanted keyless, so I ended up with a Williams at home and an Excel to gig with, and a bunch of money left out of the price of a Sierra.
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Make sleeping dogs tell the truth!
Homebuilt keyless U12 7x5, Excel keyless U12 8x8, Williams keyless U12 7x8, Telonics rack and 15" cabs
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Johnny Cox

 

From:
Lives in Hallettsville Texas
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 1:22 am    
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MSA or Jackson
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Johnny "Dumplin" Cox
"YANKIN' STRINGS & STOMPIN' PEDALS" since 1967.
Sho-Bud and MSA pedal steels. Telonics,Quilter and Sho-Bud amplifiers and volume pedals.
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 4:07 am    
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MSA for all the great features and Excel if you want a super compact and light guitar. Both are mechanically superb.

MSA:

http://www.gregcutshaw.com/MSA%20Amber/MSA%20Amber.html

Excel:

http://www.gregcutshaw.com/Excel%2012%20String%20Keyless/Excel%2012%20String%20Keyless.html
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K Maul


From:
Mechanicville NY/Hobe Sound FL
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 5:45 am    
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GFI makes a Universal 12. I do not have one currently but I’ve had a couple in the past and they are excellent mechanically plus very good customer service. I’d also recommend EXCEL because I do have one of those. Extremely light and really really well engineered.
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Kevin Maul: Asher, Airline, Beard, Clinesmith, Dobro, Evans, Excel, Fender, Fluger, Gibson, Hilton, Ibanez, Justice, K+K, Live Strings, Martin, National, Peterson, Quilter, Rickenbacher, Sho~Bud, Supro, TC, Ultimate, VHT, Webb, X-otic, Yamaha, ZKing.
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Ross Shafer


From:
Petaluma, California
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 6:50 am    
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The "best" pedal steel for 2020 is the same as the "best" pedal steel for any other year.

It's the one that inspires a player the most.
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Paul Sutherland

 

From:
Placerville, California
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 8:52 am    
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Ross nailed it. The steel that inspires you to sit your butt down and practice is the best one. We are all different, so there is no one correct answer.

What inspires me is tone. A beautiful cabinet or design, and sophisticated mechanics mean nothing if the tone is less than stellar.
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Bob Carlucci

 

From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 10:31 am    
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They are all good.. Not a stinker in the bunch and that includes student models... Young steel players on a budget today, have a a lot better choices and much higher quality than we had 40-50 years ago...
Its all personal taste really... Me personally? If someone were going to give me any new steel I wanted??.. I would have to say a decked out, loaded Jackson.... bob
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 10:53 am    
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It's true that the pickups in the older MSAs left something to be desired. I replaced them in both my old classics.

But today, the modular pickup system lets you install any pickup you like, in seconds. After trying out several different ones, I put an Alumitone in one of my Millies and a Telonics in the other.
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MSA: Magnificent! Stupendous! Awesome!
-----------
Please visit my web site and Soundcloud page and listen to the music posted there.
http://www.mikeperlowin.com http://soundcloud.com/mike-perlowin


Last edited by Mike Perlowin on 5 Aug 2020 7:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 12:23 pm    
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???? Impossible to answer this Question!! There’s no best brand.

Last edited by Johnie King on 4 Aug 2020 6:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Dale Foreman

 

From:
Crowley Louisiana, USA
Post  Posted 4 Aug 2020 2:03 pm     Rittenberry
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Rittenberry!
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Dick Hitchcock


From:
Wayne, Nebraska
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 6:06 am    
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IMHO It's not the arrow, it's the indian...Here's my choice!

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Steve Spitz

 

From:
New Orleans, LA, USA
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 6:17 am    
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Tough question, I’ve owned a bunch, and some of the ones I’ve traded/sold were really fine as well.

Traded away Mullen, Emmons push pull, MSA, GFI. All great guitars, just feeding my gear addiction. It didn’t make sense for a hack like me to own more than three D10s.

Ones I’ve kept: Infinity, Zum Hybrid, Fulawka. I don’t think I could replace them, and they inspire me.

Unlikely I’ll get any others in these odd no gig times.

In a perfect world, I’d try a Ritt, Jackson,Williams,excel, Fessy, wraparound, Franklin , and on and on....

It was hard enough to convince my future ex-wife I needed another steel when I was working.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 6:25 am    
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Johnie King wrote:
???? Impossible to answer this Question!! There’s no best brand.


Right Johnie, there is no "best"...only opinions.

Anyone, why would you want the "best" in the first place? Do you live in the "best" city? Drive the "best" car? Own the "best" house? Have the "best" job? Oh Well

So, the "best" is probably what's best for you! You're different from anyone else, so what's good for them may not even be in the ballpark for you.

Lotsa good steels out there. Pick one...and just start playing. Cool
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 7:22 am    
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William Carter wrote:
If you had to pick your next guitar from the manufacturers currently in business, what would your first choice be? For whatever brand you pick, do you like that particular one due to tone, mechanics, looks, or something else? Like probably 90% of people in America, I cannot just drive somewhere and try out different models for myself, so I need good honest opinions.


It seems to me the OP is getting what he asked for. At least they are honest opinions about different guitars which must be helpful or informative.

I don't see how scolding and patronizing remarks help in any way and seem belittling to the poster and his questions.


Last edited by Jerry Overstreet on 5 Aug 2020 11:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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John Palumbo


From:
Lansdale, PA.
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 7:51 am    
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I can only offer my comments on 3 different guitars that I have owned (all purchased new):

Carter S-10: an all round great guitar, great tone, like the weight, easy playing, no real negatives.

Mullen RP (SD-10): same as the Carter, no negatives, wish I still had it.

Williams S-10: Honestly do not like it as much as the Carter or Mullen it just does not fit me ergonomically (I'm average size) where as the other two did. Knee levers for me need to be a bit longer and plays very stiff compared to the Carter & Mullen. Very rarely breaks strings.


Of all I wish I had the Mullen back.
(my own honest opinion)
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 8:18 am    
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What Ross said!!
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Desert Rose S-10 4+5,Desert Rose Keyless S-10 3+5... 8+5 Mullen G2D-10 8+5 Carter D-10 8+5,Blanton SD -10 any amp that isn't broken.Steel Seat.Com seats...Licking paint chips off of Chinese toys continously since



the mid 50's.Peavey Nashville Scott Swartz Z-pickup...112,and LTD ,Sho-Bud Bill Groner .Telonics volume pedal,and 206 pickups.
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Dennis Montgomery


From:
Western Washington
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 10:35 am     Re: Best pedal steel on the market 2020
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William Carter wrote:
Like probably 90% of people in America, I cannot just drive somewhere and try out different models for myself, so I need good honest opinions.


This is, I think, the key to the OP's question and the same boat I live in. When I decided about 3 years ago to bust open the piggy bank and buy my dream PSG brand new, I would have loved having a pedal steel store within a 4 hour drive I could've gone to and tried out various makes/models. There were so many I was considering and wanted to see in person. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, so like with many important decisions in life, I had to make it with insufficient data, much of that second hand Laughing

Based on my experience with pedal steels I've actually owned (Sho Bud, Dekley, Carter, Fender, MCI, BMI) nothing has come close to my Mullen G2.

On the plus side: it's very smooth to play and can be setup with a very light touch on the pedals; it's super easy to change copedents and try different ideas; it holds a tuning incredibly well; it sounds great; it's very solidly built: doesn't move around while I play and I've never noticed any cabinet drop; it's obviously easy to get parts (I bought a vertical knee and string 2 half stop mechanism direct from Mike at the factory and installed them myself) and support is just a phone call away.

The only negative thing I can say is regarding the finish options. If you want a lacquer finish it adds $1000 to the price. If you can't afford that and want something more exotic than a solid mica color, I found the options very limited. Several of the mica pattern choices on the website didn't look anything like the picture when I received the physical samples. In the end, I had to go with a pattern I wasn't really crazy about which was disappointing. I ended up doing a vinyl wrap anyway so I now have a custom orange space burst finish (see my avatar) which is cool.

When it comes down to mechanics, playability, flexibility, stability & sound, I can't recommend the Mullen G2 highly enough Winking
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Check out the Mutiny in Jonestown progressive rock album that has Fender 400 pedal steel on every song at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/album/the-daemons-mock-me-while-i-sleep
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