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Author Topic:  Guitar Players Delving into Lap Steel, check out THIS Tuning
James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 17 May 2021 6:10 pm    
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Like most Guitar Players, I’ve messed around with Open G and Open D playing “Keef Riffs” and The Common Blues Idioms. Wanting to expand my musicality and maybe try a new hobby, I thought about trying to learn some C6 Lap Steel. I bought a couple inexpensive Laps on EBay, thinking I’ll tune one to open E for Rock and one to C6 for learning Chord Melody Stuff and Country.

For the past couple months I have been trying to wrap my head around C6 and while making some progress, it’s slow going. My mind has been blown by some of the talent here on SGF. I love the sound of C6 and understanding that it becomes the base to launch out on, I will continue to slowly learn songs by rote until the lightbulb goes on.

However, the impatient part of me want to learn some of the songs we play in our Roots Americana Band and the Retro Rock Classics Duo with my wife. So while fooling around with Open E, but missing being able to play a true Relative Minor chord, I started researching Alternate E Tunings.

While searching the many “Which Tuning” threads, I came upon a Golden Nugget! Bob Lee suggested the E over A Tuning for Guitar Players as a place to start. With more research I figured out that this is the D over G Tuning, also known as the G Maj 9 tuning, or “the Stella” tuning! If you are new to all this, like I was, you might not know that Bobby Lee is bOb, founder of this Forum. He recorded an Super Cool Album playing and singing solo with a Vintage Stella Acoustic Guitar using this amazing Tuning, hence “the Stella” tuning. After downloading and listening to the Album, I got Inspired to put an extension Nut on an old Gretsch Jim Dandy Student guitar I had sitting around gathering dust, lol.

This is the Tuning, Low to High:

E Over A, or Ama9 is AC#EG#BE *corrected

D Over G, or Gma9 is GBDF#AD

Guitar Guys - the reason this tuning is a great place to start is you Probably already know your way around the Key of E on the guitar. You also. I gut have a junker acoustic you aren’t using that an inexpensive Nut Extension can get you going without having to buy a Lap Steel. The Money Part is this: without moving your Bar, depending on which of the 6 strings you pluck, you have a Root Major Chord, the Relative Minor Chord AND the Major 4 Chord PLUS the ornamentation of adding a Maj 7 and a Min 7. All of this AND the ability to play Slide Rock and Blues Riffs on the top 4 strings!

I’m sharing this in hope of getting some else a running head start on Steeling Without Pedals! A huge Shout Out and a Thanks to Bob Lee for helping me see the light!


Last edited by James Knox on 18 May 2021 11:16 am; edited 2 times in total
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 17 May 2021 6:14 pm     Here are some pics...
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Last edited by James Knox on 18 May 2021 5:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 17 May 2021 6:16 pm    
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Easy to do!

Last edited by James Knox on 18 May 2021 5:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cappone dAngelo


From:
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Post  Posted 17 May 2021 8:38 pm    
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Great post! Sounds like your journey was similar to mine a few months ago, except I put the conversion nut on a tele and ended up with a tuning that is pretty much that but with the 1st string a whole step lower - which gives the dominant 7 chord on the first 4 strings and a diminished triad on the first 3, and with a slant it's an aug triad on the first 3.
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Jim Graham


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 2:15 am    
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What is the tuning exactly, string by string?
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Jouni Karvonen


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 3:45 am    
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b0b-tuning:
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Jim Graham


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 4:27 am    
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Thanks! That's very interesting, I've been using C6 and open G dobro tuning for a while now but I've always thought there is probably more out there. I've also been playing a lot of bottleneck on conventional guitars which has led me to experiment with open D and various other tunings. After years of playing in nothing but standard tuning it's a real mind twister but I like it.
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 5:09 am    
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Cappone dAngelo wrote:
Great post! Sounds like your journey was similar to mine a few months ago, except I put the conversion nut on a tele and ended up with a tuning that is pretty much that but with the 1st string a whole step lower - which gives the dominant 7 chord on the first 4 strings and a diminished triad on the first 3, and with a slant it's an aug triad on the first 3.


I’m going to try that!
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 7:09 am    
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Steeler Greg Leisz and many others plays this tuning.

Luke Cyrus Goetze plays gorgeous stuff in this tuning as well using Benders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn3mR0HRcbg
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 7:45 am     Dobro Family Tunings
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There is a small “family” of tunings based on small changes to Dobro open G

Dobro: GBDGBD
G maj 9: GBDF#AD
G9: GBDFAD
G11: GBDFAC
GM11: GBDF#AC
G6: GBDEBD

My favourites are G9 and G11
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Current Tunings:
G B D G B D (6 string)
D G B D G B D and E B E G# B D E (7 string)
https://papadafoe.com/lap-steel-tuning-database
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 8:04 am    
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What is it about the G9 and G11 tunings that make them favorites?
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 9:32 am    
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Following...

James, I don't see a 9th in either of your tunings, Emaj9 (where's the F#? The B is the 9th in the A chord) and the Dmaj9 (no E note)? Splain, Lucy, por favor!
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 9:40 am    
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If you're playing rocky stuff and are a guitar player, Dave Gilmour's G6 is worth investigating...

Low to high...

D G D G B E

So a G major on the bottom 5, relative minor (Em) on the top 3, nice fat power chord on the bottom 4 and, best of all, you'll know your way around the top 4 strings for single note soloing.
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Joe A. Roberts


From:
Seoul, South Korea
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 10:02 am    
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I agree with John, something is very confusing here and ought to be sorted out!

“E Over A, or Ema9 is AC#EG#BE (961351) “
“D Over G, or Gma9 is GBDF#AD (961351) “
Both of these are wrong. There is no Emaj9 first of all. Those two tunings pitched in E and D respectively would both be (461351), not (961351).
With A and G as the respective tonics it would be (135795) which is a major 9 chord.

While I personally don’t think you should neglect your C6th studies, you should not be ashamed of using this tuning (or any!) as being a ‘shortcut’ for guitar players if you like the sound! That’s all that matters!

“What is it about the G9 and G11 tunings that make them favorites?”
The G11th tuning mentioned is the same as the popular B11th (EC#AF#D#B) but lower. Its an awesome tuning, B11th one of the coolest 6 string tunings to try IMHO, check it out!
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 10:17 am    
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John McClung wrote:
Following...

James, I don't see a 9th in either of your tunings, Emaj9 (where's the F#? The B is the 9th in the A chord) and the Dmaj9 (no E note)? Splain, Lucy, por favor!


John and Joe:

I’m not really sure why they are called that. I see what you are saying! I have seen them referred to by those names, but it is confusing to me as well. In fact, I’m sure bOb just calls them E Over A and D over G.

Here is one place they are named that:

https://papadafoe.com/lap-steel-tuning-database

I will go back in and correct my post, but let’s see if Papa Defoe or bOb might check in and clear it up for us!
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 10:46 am    
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My very first lap steel tuning was E over A. I tuned it that way because I wanted to have two major chords at every fret. It just made sense to me.

A C# E G# B E

It could also be called AMaj9, which is technically correct, but that implies a level of jazz sophistication which isn't really the intent of the tuning. That's why I call it E/A or "E over A".

Many years later I evolved to using D6th on pedal steel and on my 8-string lap steel. It seemed natural to use D/G on the 6-string. Moreover, it was just 2 notes different from standard Dobro tuning, so I started slacking the 2nd and 3rd string on my dobro, too.

G B D F# A D

Again, technically it's a GMaj9 but I rarely use Maj7 and Maj9 chords on 6-string lap steel.

I think that on 1 or 2 songs on Stella, I lowered the 6th string G to E. It's a quick and easy change that works well for blues tunes in E.

Lastly, the whole idea is similar to the the pedal steel C6th tuning, which includes a low F. Nobody calls that tuning FMaj9, which is technically correct, because most people think of C as the root note.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 10:48 am    
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Here's the link to Stella.

https://b0blee.bandcamp.com/album/stella

You can buy the CD in the Forum store:

https://www.steelguitarshopper.com/stella-bobby-lee-cd/
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 10:54 am    
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Joe A. Roberts wrote:
I agree with John, something is very confusing here and ought to be sorted out!

“E Over A, or Ema9 is AC#EG#BE (961351) “
“D Over G, or Gma9 is GBDF#AD (961351) “
Both of these are wrong. There is no Emaj9 first of all. Those two tunings pitched in E and D respectively would both be (461351), not (961351).
With A and G as the respective tonics it would be (135795) which is a major 9 chord.



As Joe noted, the "E over A" tuning is actually an Amaj9, not Emaj9 as James labeled it. An easy mistake since a guitar player would tend to approach it more like an E tuning than an A tuning. I know I do. It is my preferred tuning on a six string since it gives me the same intervals as open E on strings 1-4 but replaces the power chord on the bottom with expanded chord possibilities.

Edit: I see b0b typed up a better explanation while I was dawdling away on mine. Razz
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 11:26 am    
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John, Joe and Bill...

Thank you guys for pointing out the mistake in my first post ... I have corrected it!

bOb...

Thank you for posting and ‘splainin Very Happy
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 11:27 am    
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Jeff Mead wrote:
If you're playing rocky stuff and are a guitar player, Dave Gilmour's G6 is worth investigating...

Low to high...

D G D G B E

So a G major on the bottom 5, relative minor (Em) on the top 3, nice fat power chord on the bottom 4 and, best of all, you'll know your way around the top 4 strings for single note soloing.


Cool idea also - ima try it!
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 18 May 2021 6:12 pm    
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James Knox wrote:
What is it about the G9 and G11 tunings that make them favorites?


I play mostly blues. The G9 gives me a bunch of major chords plus the 7th and the 9th for added colour. Then for minor blues I get the root twice.

G11 gives most of the above, plus minor 7ths and 6ths.

Neither is a tuning that I’m currently using.
_________________
Current Tunings:
G B D G B D (6 string)
D G B D G B D and E B E G# B D E (7 string)
https://papadafoe.com/lap-steel-tuning-database
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 19 May 2021 7:55 am    
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Jeff Mead wrote:
If you're playing rocky stuff and are a guitar player, Dave Gilmour's G6 is worth investigating...

Low to high...

D G D G B E

So a G major on the bottom 5, relative minor (Em) on the top 3, nice fat power chord on the bottom 4 and, best of all, you'll know your way around the top 4 strings for single note soloing.

You'd need different gauges on the 5th and 6th strings for that (or use a heavy guitar set). Frankly, it seems really limited to me. All wide intervals. From what I've heard, Gilmore dabbles in steel as a special effect, not as a primary instrument. Maybe he doesn't want to bother learning a "real" steel guitar tuning, so he just retunes the bottom two strings for a power chord. It serves his purposes, but not mine.
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Wayne Shriver

 

From:
New York, USA
Post  Posted 29 May 2021 8:05 pm     New to lap steel
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Just starting to learn lap steel, and I haven't played much standard guitar in 40 years, and played mostly accompianment. From what I'm readying here, you guys are genius with regard to tuning as well as playing guitar. A friend of mine who builds lap steel guitars as a hobby suggested that I use open E tuning to get started. I went out and bought a cheapo RLS-1and a couple Hal Leonard books, but they're labeled C6 tuning. Do I start with C6 open tuning so I can follow the lessons in the books, or what? I'm open to any suggestions, and will probably never even begin to hold a candle to any of you. I'm really impressed, and since I'm just starting out, I guess I have a long way to go. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 30 May 2021 8:11 am    
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As a guitar player who gravitated to lap steel after many years of playing guitar professionally, I can say that I have successfully been able to acclimate to lap steel to the point where it is pretty much what I play exclusively. This did not come without its challenges. There is no easy way to do it unless you focus.

The tuning issues that everyone so frequently laments about are a real thing, but moreso for the newer player. You can find thread after thread here. People are looking for every possible triad in a single tuning, but why? That’s really not how the steel is designed to work. That’s guitar stuff and you are going to have to adapt to certain limitations. In fact, whether you can hear it yet, that’s what makes the steel guitar so interesting sounding.

It’s difficult to wrap your head around tunings coming straight from guitar, I get it. But the most important factor is to take a year or three and learn how to play some actual steel guitar tunes in their actual tunings. It will show you how the tunings work and how steel guitarists look at the neck. I transcribed a lot of music specifically for this purpose. It was incredibly fun and educational to the point that now I do my own thing and never play those tunes anymore. Learn them for educational purposes and get the techniques under your fingers.

Once you achieve a certain level of understanding of the possibiliies, you are free to explore and your progress will have more teeth. I play one neck tuned to C6 or 8 string tuned to C13 but I have a lot of variations that I’ve created for different purposes. I’ve gone through all of the tunings and eventually decided to focus on just this. You pick whatever you think will work for you, but learn the heck out of it and then you can fool around with making little changes.

I don’t want to discourage people from having fun and exploring, but you will make greater progress by stealing from the masters first.
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James Knox


From:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 30 May 2021 12:58 pm    
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Mike Neer wrote:
But the most important factor is to take a year or three and learn how to play some actual steel guitar tunes in their actual tunings. It will show you how the tunings work and how steel guitarists look at the neck..


Real Wisdom in this!

It was in listening to Mike Neers Steelonius Project that I realized one could really play ANYTHING in the basic C6 tuning. I decided then to commit to C6 and actually learn some SONGS! I bought Doug Beaumiers Book “25 Songs for Lap Steel Guitar” and have been tasting and sampling. Picked my first Song to learn (Tenderly) and will work it till I get it! Honestly, it’s slow going, lol.

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12 when the Beatles invaded America, so it is difficult to move at such a slow pace, but I KNOW it will play long term results.

Also, I get to Noodle and play “Accompany Riffs” on the Gretsch Jim Dandy set up with the Stella D Over G Tuning mentioned earlier in this thread. It’s more Underarm Guitar oriented, at least in my mind.

So, I have 2 different Tunings running in my head at once. Some might advise against that, but that is what is what I am doing. I kinda see one (D Over G) as Short Term Satisfaction and The other (C6) as Long Term Bucket List Enjoyment! Works for me - you do you!
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