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Author Topic:  MSA Cabinet Drop
Scott Spadafora

 

From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 2:43 pm    
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All,

I have a recent model MSA Legend Universal and am having significant cabinet drop issues. The guitar came that way but as I am improving, I find it more and more bothersome.

Some facts:

The problem is pervasive and happens with almost any raises or lowers
The most egregious sinners are the A + B pedals (there are 5 raises on A + B) causing the 8th string E to lower 6.9 cents, the 4th string E also 6.9 cents, the 2nd string D# 4.9 cents, the 12th string B 12.6 cents - just to cite a few examples.
The E lowers cause most of the strings to go slightly sharp
The E raises cause detuning of several strings
With A + B the detuning effect occurs at the beginning of the pedals' travel (I do this very slowly) and increases until the pedals are fully engaged, separately A and B will each detune
The steel has what's called an 'harmonic transfer comb' (see below) which is supposed to transfer string vibration to the pickup/cabinet sound board. It is unclear to me if it would also prevent the axle from flexing but it seems like it would.

I have tried to isolate where it's happening but am not having any luck. Here are some tests I've run:

I have wedged things under the pedal bar to prevent it flexing (still detuning)
I have tuned the guitar as if A + B were being pressed (no detuning)
I have manually pushed A and B bell cranks (no or slight detuning of the E strings)

I'm perplexed. Any ideas?




Thanks,

Scott
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Chris Templeton


From:
The Green Mountain State
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 3:04 pm    
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How about compensators?
I see they come as a feature for the Legend:

Jim Sliff wrote a nice piece about compensators:

"There are three (3) types of Compensators:
Tuning Compensators: are extra "pulls" that allow you to be in tune when using the pedals or knee levers.. A typical implementation is to flat the two (2) F#'s (strings 1 and 7) about 1/8 of a tone when the "A&B" pedals are used (E9 to A6).

Return Compensators: are extra rods typically attached to a fixed point, such as a cross-brace. These make sure any string that both lowers and raises will return true. Not all steels use or require this type of compensator.

Detuning Compensators: are mechanisms that apply pressure to the changer to reduce an excessive "drop" in pitch that occurs due to mechanical stresses caused by using the pedals and/or knee levers. Very few steels use this type of compensator.

As to how well the different brands stack up, I recommend that you talk to the various manufacturers, try out the different makes, and talk to other players who use or have used those products. And, I suppose, just like anything else in life, your own personal preferences will shape your outlook and opinion of what is a good steel, as well as a good deal. "
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Dick Wood


From:
Springtown Texas, USA
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 4:04 pm    
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I tend to go with Chris on this one if you have compensators. Lowering and raising E's is another issue it would seem.
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Wayne Baker


From:
Oklahoma
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 4:22 pm     Msa
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Have you spoken to the good folks at MSA? They've always been very helpful with any questions I've had. I don't own an MSA, but I've been reserching the steel for some time and looking seriously at the new ten six.
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Tucker Jackson

 

From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 4:56 pm    
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That's an unacceptable level of drop, and on a bunch of strings not attached to compensators. Try tightening the screws on the two endplates.

It probably wouldn't hurt to do the same on the screws that attach the changer to the body (loosen all the strings first).

And if those easy things don't fix it, like Wayne said, contact MSA.
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Jim Palenscar

 

From:
Oceanside, Calif, USA
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 5:46 pm    
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12 string guitars have more cabinet drop than do single or double 10's in general. If you are not lowering the 6th string a full step use a wound 6th- .020" if you can. That will many times cut the drop in half. Call Kyle at MSA- that comb may have an adjustment to help.

Last edited by Jim Palenscar on 14 Sep 2021 7:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 5:59 pm    
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Almost any guitar will drop if you press the pedals, and drop considerably more if you press the pedals too hard. This is because of the downforce the pedal rods exert on the front apron of the guitar. Even pressing down firmly on the center of the guitar with your thumb will cause a measurable drop. And keep in mind that the pedals pull down a LOT harder than you can push down with your thumb! Winking

My two MSA guitars are quite acceptable, with a drop of around 3-4 cents.
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Steve Mueller

 

From:
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 12 Sep 2021 6:07 pm    
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I have 2 D12 Williams with .022W on E9 6th. Cabinet drop with AB pedals on both steels is 1.5 cents. I use a .012 3rd, .015 4th, .018 5th, and .038W 10th. I had a D10 Williams with the same result. I would think there's got to be a problem with that steel. I'm sure MSA will be anxious to help you resolve the issue.
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 13 Sep 2021 1:00 am    
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I know cabinet drop has been discussed since the Neanderthals became extinct but I really don’t think it is due to pedal pressure.

    The A and B pedals are not near the centre of the cabinet where force effects are more pronounced and where pressing the cabinet will cause a string to define.

    Pressing the pedal exhibits a force only when it reacesh the end of the travel and unless you are going gang busters it shouldn’t be that much force.

    Cabinet drop still happens with gentle pedal pressure

    Using a knee level can create cabinet drop and has nothing to do with vertical forces.


From my experiments with building a PSG the movement of the bridge is generally the culprit
John


Last edited by John Hyland on 13 Sep 2021 6:56 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 13 Sep 2021 1:34 am    
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John Hyland wrote:
From my experiments with building a PSG the movement of the bridge is generally the culprit

Same experience here, and changes in string tension are the main cause.
One does not even have to set up the PSG on its legs and attach/use pedals (or levers), just increase string tension on one or more of the strings that are already under highest tension in neutral, using the keys. That will cause other strings to drop.
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post  Posted 13 Sep 2021 7:37 am    
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From my first MSA Legend review:

"Cabinet drop" is 1.5 cents, measured by tuning E9th 4th string to 440 on Peterson strobe tuner then pushing pedals 1 and 2 and noting the drop against the tuner. Within 0.1 cents I got this number over and over again. Note: This is EXTREMELY low "cabinet drop" for a wood bodied guitar!

Full review here:

http://www.gregcutshaw.com/Msa/msa.html
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 13 Sep 2021 12:57 pm    
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Greg Cutshaw wrote:
"Cabinet drop" is 1.5 cents, measured by tuning E9th 4th string to 440 on Peterson strobe tuner then pushing pedals 1 and 2 and noting the drop against the tuner. Within 0.1 cents I got this number over and over again. Note: This is EXTREMELY low "cabinet drop" for a wood bodied guitar!
Agree … that is very good.

The OP has a reasonably new S12, which I would not expect to compete with a S10/D10 in the "body drop" department. Something more like 2.5% - 3% deviation would be OK, but 6% to 12% is not OK.

The OP's MSA seems to behave more like my own MSA S12, which I have characterized as sounding like a seasick cow when pushing pedals. All very fixable – same as on most PSGs with "a bit too much body drop" detuning. I haven't bothered doing anything but test what a fix can do on my MSA so far, since I have other PSGs with well below 1.5% detuning to play on, but I sure understand the OP's frustration over such bad numbers.
One cannot overhear 6% to 12% detuning and claim it is "just visible on electronic tuners".
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John Hyland

 

From:
South Australia
Post  Posted 13 Sep 2021 6:25 pm    
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Greg Cutshaw wrote:
From my first MSA Legend review:

"Cabinet drop" is 1.5 cents, measured by tuning E9th 4th string to 440 on Peterson strobe tuner then pushing pedals 1 and 2 and noting the drop against the tuner. Within 0.1 cents I got this number over and over again. Note: This is EXTREMELY low "cabinet drop" for a wood bodied guitar!

Full review here:

http://www.gregcutshaw.com/Msa/msa.html

I note the OP has a 12 string. As the bridge has a wider span this create a larger bending moment at the centre of the bridge. I've not seen it discussed but are 12s are more of a problem than 10 stringers.

EDIT: just read Jim's statement above that this does appear to be the difference between 10s and 12s
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 4:23 am    
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The numbers in the original post are consistent with mine on my late model Williams SD-12 with metal neck. Actually, some of my numbers are worse.
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Johnny Cox


From:
Williamsom WVA Lives in Hallettsville Texas
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 9:16 am    
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Spend more time playing and less time looking at a tuner. All steel guitars have cabinet drop. As Jim Palenscar said 12 strings are worse. Play around it like the pros have been doing since the 50s.
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"YANKIN' STRINGS & STOMPIN' PEDALS" since 1967.
Sho-Bud, Jackson and MSA pedal steels. Telonics,Quilter and Sho-Bud amplifiers and volume pedals.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 11:48 am    
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What Johnny just said! Exclamation

Or, as I've often opined:

"A steelplayers' biggest problem is usually between the seat and the steel."

Laughing
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 3:24 pm    
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Lol @ Johnnie .. I was gonna say that also …
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 7:01 pm     Re: MSA Cabinet Drop
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Scott Spadafora wrote:

I have tuned the guitar as if A + B were being pressed (no detuning)
I have manually pushed A and B bell cranks (no or slight detuning of the E strings)



Well, those two observations eliminate the changer axle as the problem. In addition, they eliminate the nut roller or keyhead as the problem. And lastly, they also eliminate bowing of the cabinet due to the increased string pull as the problem.

So, what's left?

Put the guitar on a firm surface, like a wood or concrete floor (no carpet). Then put a rigid piece of wood (a cut-off broomstick, 2x2, or piece of pipe under the center of the guitar from the floor to the bottom of the front apron. Shim as necessary to make sure it is firmly pressing against the guitar and floor. (If there is no flocking, you can also put the support against the bottom of the body.)

Then push pedals, check the drop, and report back. Neutral
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 7:01 pm     Re: MSA Cabinet Drop
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(duplicate post deleted)

Last edited by Donny Hinson on 15 Sep 2021 8:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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Derek Puckett

 

From:
Cookeville Tn
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 7:13 pm    
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I’m not sure if this was mentioned but where are you ABC pedal do you have 0-00 pedals?
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Jim Palenscar

 

From:
Oceanside, Calif, USA
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 9:33 pm    
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In deference to my esteemed friend Mr. Hinson, I don't believe that what you have tried eliminates the changer axle as being involved. It is my belief that it generally is a multi-factorial problem- not just one thing but a combination of things- many of which can be mitigated in any number of ways.
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Johnny Cox


From:
Williamsom WVA Lives in Hallettsville Texas
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2021 10:53 pm    
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Jim Palenscar wrote:
In deference to my esteemed friend Mr. Hinson, I don't believe that what you have tried eliminates the changer axle as being involved. It is my belief that it generally is a multi-factorial problem- not just one thing but a combination of things- many of which can be mitigated in any number of ways.

Absolutely, it's cabinet construction,type of wood, thickness of wood, roller nut shaft, changer shaft, ease of pedal ratios, ect. There is no way to completely eliminate it, only compensate for it.
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Johnny "Dumplin" Cox
"YANKIN' STRINGS & STOMPIN' PEDALS" since 1967.
Sho-Bud, Jackson and MSA pedal steels. Telonics,Quilter and Sho-Bud amplifiers and volume pedals.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2021 1:19 am    
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John Hyland wrote:
I know cabinet drop has been discussed since the Neanderthals became extinct

Before then also. They didn't have a bunch else to talk about.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2021 5:43 am    
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I hate too be the barrier of good news.
Here's a steel I built with Sho Bud parts with absolutely no cabinet drop actually it gained one cent when A an b pedals were used.
I took this steel over too Harry an David's Jackson's shop.
David was amazed to find there was zero cabinet drop on this steel.

The apron's have a rabbit joint.
The front apron also has 3/8 inch Birdseye glued too the 3/4 inch front apron making a total one inch thick front apron.
The front apron aluminum trim was also milled an screwed too the front apron.


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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2021 6:42 am    
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Nice looking steel, Johnny!

I'm treading in deep water, here. Messrs. Cox, Palenscar, (and a ton of others) have far more experience than I do. I'm not an engineer or a genius, but I do have a fairly good memory and decent powers of observation. I've never built a pedal steel, and I'm not that great of a player. Nevertheless, I like to talk about these things because it keeps me thinking and I can offer other points of view.

The cable-operated Fenders have no drop. None, zero, zilch. They also have an extremely thick deck, a terribly rigid frame, and no changer axle. I'm fairly certain that these qualities all add up to the final result, just as I'm sure that this "problem" can come from several areas in other guitars. And I do think (as inferred by some others) that the problem is overblown and over-accentuated by digital tuners. It's interesting and rewarding to solve these dilemmas, but I think that more often than not, the best thing to do is just to go ahead and play. That's what all the greats who have gone before have done.
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