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Author Topic:  Why Not 9ths?
Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 29 May 2022 6:29 pm    
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It seems like 9th tunings have been the homely big sister that nobody wants to date. And just like her, once she gets dressed up and puts on her makeup, she’s the prettiest of them all.

Every ninth tuning holds a major chord and a minor chord, plus a dominant 7, and the colourful nine. Also hidden in plain sight is a minor 6, and a minor 6/11. And lest we forget, there’s that jazzy m7b5 chord in there. AND the all important Tritone interval.

Why are these beauties so much less popular than their 6th and 13th cousins?

A few examples of 9th tunings:
E A C# G B E (A9)
C E G Bb D E (C9)
G C E G Bb D (C9)
D F# D A C E (D9)
D E F# G# B E (E9)
E B D F# G# E (E9)
G B D F A D (G9)

Seven String
D A D F# A C E (D9)
D F# A C E A D (D9)
D G B D F A D (G9)
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Current Tunings:
6 String | G – G B D G B D
7 String | G6 – G B D E G B D
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 29 May 2022 6:37 pm    
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For an E9 tuning, I would highly recommend using B D F# G# B E. It’s a really great sound.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 29 May 2022 6:42 pm    
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Mike Neer wrote:
For an E9 tuning, I would highly recommend using B D F# G# B E. It’s a really great sound.


That looks like a nice option for C6 players since the same set of strings can be used.
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 30 May 2022 4:55 am    
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Dammit Allan! Just when I decided on A6 Laughing
In all seriousness, you make some very good points!
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David Becker

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 30 May 2022 5:49 am    
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Mike, What would you add to that E9 tuning for 8 strings? Thanks.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 30 May 2022 7:16 am    
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On an 8 string, the tuning would be: E G# B D F# G# B E

This was the tuning that some of the early steel players like Emmons, Speedy etc had on their Bigsbys with pedals. I started transcribing a bunch of tunes and found that I could get all the stuff they played without pedals. For instance, check out Buddy’s Boogie.

With this tuning, if you raise the B to C#, you get the nice Noel Boggs E13. It’s also a really nice tuning.

I basically only use C13 now, but this E9 is my second tuning of choice.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 30 May 2022 11:00 pm    
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Mike Neer wrote:
On an 8 string, the tuning would be: E G# B D F# G# B E

This was the tuning that some of the early steel players like Emmons, Speedy etc had on their Bigsbys with pedals. I started transcribing a bunch of tunes and found that I could get all the stuff they played without pedals. For instance, check out Buddy’s Boogie.

With this tuning, if you raise the B to C#, you get the nice Noel Boggs E13. It’s also a really nice tuning.

I basically only use C13 now, but this E9 is my second tuning of choice.


Interesting. Dropped down to D it would be D F# A C E F# A D, similar to the 7-string tunings I’ve been experimenting with, D F# A C E A D, D F# A D A C E, and D A D F# A C E, which is basically just open D plus the 7 & 9 on top. My preference is D F# A D A C E; it has a more natural flow for me, though it forces me to work harder at keeping the playing interesting.


Last edited by Allan Revich on 2 Jun 2022 8:08 am; edited 6 times in total
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 31 May 2022 7:02 am    
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Quote:
On an 8 string, the tuning would be: E G# B D F# G# B E

I think this is Bud Isaacs tuning also or darn close. This album is one of my all time favorites. Is this the first "solo" steel album? His playing is so fresh sounding and completely unpolluted. It is obvious Bud listened to a lot of jazz. I would love to know of any other recordings in this tuning. They seem to be scattered about on various obscure country records. I really want to set up an 8 stringer with this and A6 on a couple pedals.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKZ6cr34UQY
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 31 May 2022 8:17 am    
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Tim Toberer wrote:
Quote:
On an 8 string, the tuning would be: E G# B D F# G# B E

I think this is Bud Isaacs tuning also or darn close. This album is one of my all time favorites. Is this the first "solo" steel album? His playing is so fresh sounding and completely unpolluted. It is obvious Bud listened to a lot of jazz. I would love to know of any other recordings in this tuning. They seem to be scattered about on various obscure country records. I really want to set up an 8 stringer with this and A6 on a couple pedals.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKZ6cr34UQY


This was my attempt at trying to emulate Speedy West on Wild and Woolly West, which was played in E9. I’m pretty sure this is a note for note transcription. I recorded this about 10 years ago.

https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/eNN6rG5RCiDFaSXf6
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 31 May 2022 10:24 am    
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After trying a bunch of D9,E9, and G9 variations on 6 string, I settled on a minor variation of my seven string tuning for six strings D F# D A C E. For seven it's D F# A D A C E.

Last edited by Allan Revich on 2 Jun 2022 8:05 am; edited 2 times in total
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jun 2022 6:37 am    
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Quote:
This was my attempt at trying to emulate Speedy West on Wild and Woolly West, which was played in E9. I’m pretty sure this is a note for note transcription. I recorded this about 10 years ago.

Dang Mike! That is flat out amazing!!
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 1 Jun 2022 9:32 am    
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Mike Neer wrote:
This was my attempt at trying to emulate Speedy West on Wild and Woolly West, which was played in E9. I’m pretty sure this is a note for note transcription. I recorded this about 10 years ago.

https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/eNN6rG5RCiDFaSXf6


Geez! That was some fine playing there Mike.
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 3 Jun 2022 7:10 am    
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9th tunings, or what I consider to be effectively 9th tunings, have been popular for ages, going back all the way to the 1930s with Andy Iona and others. It's just that they often fly under arguably "false colors" as 11th tunings, eg B11.

True, a B11 tuning is a proper 11th chord, but if you listen to the way people use it, you'll hear many many more 9th chord strums than the full 11th chords (though those are used sparingly...see Jules' fret one C11 chord where he allows the 11th to resolve to a 3rd by pulling his bar back, on Sand). It's a great tuning that I think of as a combination B9/A6 depending which side of the neck you are on. Danny Stewart (who's not my favorite player, but one of the first I listened to, so somewhat influential) used it a lot where he would play sweet melodic parts on the top strings (A6) while doing lots of one fret slides with 9th chords from the bottom to accompany. B11 is great for that. I haven't listened to it too critically recently but I kind of assumed that this recording was done in B11, doing that kind of approach:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaNl_NEk0rI
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2022 3:38 pm    
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That’s pretty impressive! I have found that the 9th tunings manage to give me flexibility without complexity. Once the 11 or 13 gets added to the mix, the added complexity outweighs the KISS advantages. Maybe after a few more years of practice I’ll find the additional versatility worth losing some simplicity.
_________________
Current Tunings:
6 String | G – G B D G B D
7 String | G6 – G B D E G B D
https://papadafoe.com/lap-steel-tuning-database
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Stefan Robertson


From:
Hertfordshire, UK
Post  Posted 4 Jun 2022 11:01 pm    
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13th tuning has a 9th and 11th - hence why its a more common choice than just a 9th and requires less bar movement for single string work.
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Bill Hatcher custom 12 string Lap Steel Guitar
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 6 Jun 2022 7:51 am     Don Helms E6th/A6th, A9th Maybe
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I've recently been using Don Helms E6th/A6th on my long scale Clinesmith. Don called it that.
A9th Maybe would be a better name for it?
DeWitt Scotty calls it E13th in his Don Helms Book?

Bottom up...
A C# E G# B C# E G#.
I used a number 12 for the first string and broke the first one before it got to pitch.
Didn't have an 11 so I used another 12 and eased it up from F# slowly. It's still hanging in there, but for how long? I need to get a 10 or 11 for that string length I think?

Whatever the name I've been having a time with it, but find the slants more difficult than when I had E9th on that steel.
I'm thinking I'll put this on the next short scale lap steel when it's done to see if that helps with the slants.

I've also expanded it to 10 string with a low E at the bottom and high F# for the first string as a possible tuning for the short scale pedal steel I'm building. So far it just a possible tuning to get some E9th and A6th stuff on a 10 string neck.



I wonder if others have tried this tuning or something close to it?
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Promat S-10, 3&4 Black with wood neck.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3 PSG, Restoration Project.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 17 Jun 2022 4:34 pm     Re: Don Helms E6th/A6th, A9th Maybe
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Andy DePaule wrote:
I've recently been using Don Helms E6th/A6th on my long scale Clinesmith. Don called it that.
A9th Maybe would be a better name for it?
DeWitt Scotty calls it E13th in his Don Helms Book?

Bottom up...
A C# E G# B C# E G#.
I used a number 12 for the first string and broke the first one before it got to pitch.
Didn't have an 11 so I used another 12 and eased it up from F# slowly. It's still hanging in there, but for how long? I need to get a 10 or 11 for that string length I think?

Whatever the name I've been having a time with it, but find the slants more difficult than when I had E9th on that steel.
I'm thinking I'll put this on the next short scale lap steel when it's done to see if that helps with the slants.

I've also expanded it to 10 string with a low E at the bottom and high F# for the first string as a possible tuning for the short scale pedal steel I'm building. So far it just a possible tuning to get some E9th and A6th stuff on a 10 string neck. ]

I wonder if others have tried this tuning or something close to it?


I think that A C# E G# B is an AM9 (A Major 9) chord. b0b (SGF admin) incorporates GM9 into nearly all of his tunings, G B D F# A D.
_________________
Current Tunings:
6 String | G – G B D G B D
7 String | G6 – G B D E G B D
https://papadafoe.com/lap-steel-tuning-database
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 17 Jun 2022 8:09 pm    
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With reference to the OP, it should be noted that "homely" as a euphemism for "ugly" is a specifically American use of the term. Not so elsewhere, often meaning a person who is a good homemaker.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 17 Jun 2022 10:26 pm    
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David Matzenik wrote:
With reference to the OP, it should be noted that "homely" as a euphemism for "ugly" is a specifically American use of the term. Not so elsewhere, often meaning a person who is a good homemaker.

Not entirely “American”. Works in Canada too. Apparently both uses originated in British English, and we Canucks have had to become bilingual in American English and British English.

And now, back to 9th tunings, SVP! Laughing
_________________
Current Tunings:
6 String | G – G B D G B D
7 String | G6 – G B D E G B D
https://papadafoe.com/lap-steel-tuning-database
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 18 Jun 2022 9:05 am     9th vs Major 9th (G9 vs GM9)
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A couple of Major 9th tunings have been posted in this thread, so I thought I’d compare the relative advantages of each using G tunings as examples.

G9 = GBDFAD (GBD, GBDF, DFAD)
GM9 = GBDF#AD (GBD, GBDF#, DF#AD, BDF#, BDF#A)

G9 gives us major chords, dominant 7 chords, and minor chords. Plus some interesting jazz chords, like m7b5, m6, and of course 9ths.

GM9 gives us major chords, Major 7 chords, 6th chords, minor chords, m7 chords. Plus major 9s, and in major keys, the root and 5th chord (or 4 &1) on every fret.

Which is “better”, I think, depends mostly on what music you like to play, AND on your skill and experience.

For newer players or 2nd instrument players, the 9th tunings have the advantage of no “sour notes” in either major or minor keys. They are also easier to “wrap your head around” with one primary major chord and one primary minor chord per fret.

For more advanced players/full-time steel players, M9 tunings open up a lot more possibilities, especially having the 1 & 5 on every fret, meaning less bar movement is necessary. And also having the 6/m7 combination that is now common to most standard tunings. Giving up the easy half-diminished chord is a small price to pay for a player that will be able to quickly find it elsewhere on the fretboard.

Speaking strictly for myself, as primarily a blues musician whose first instrument is blues harp, I found the M7 less useful than the dom7, and struggled to stay on top of which root note was where, when playing in different keys. So I’m sticking with the simpler 9th tunings.
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Andrew Frost


From:
Toronto, Ontario
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2022 5:48 pm    
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Hey Allan
Ya 9th voicings are really pretty indeed, on any instrument. Maj9s, Add9, Min9 etc. Nothing like them. The 9 in any context has a certain musical intrigue, absolutely.

I don't think there really is a shortage of 9th steel tunings, but, one thing to contemplate, for what its worth, is that in most harmonically 'pure' tuning systems, the 6th and the 9th are liable to be at odds with one another...
If you take a 6th (or 13th) tuning it can all be tuned up very sweet, based on overtones, and it all works beautifully.
As soon as you introduce the 9th tone, the whole system can get get really strained.
I'm not saying its impossible, but this may be one of the reasons that 6th tunings frequently didn't/don't feature 9ths, or why the 6th tunings have historically been more prevalent than 6/9 tunings.

Take straight C6 for example, the 3rds and 6ths ( E & A ) have a nice P4th/5th relationship, and Roots/5ths ( C & G ) can be tuned up together nice and flush.
All the 3rds, m3rds,4ths and 5ths within the system more or less sit pretty well together and some of the overtones even overlap. Its almost perfect.
As soon as that proverbial older sister comes in the room, the 9th, ( D ) she tries to get along with everybody, and all sorts of compromises end up being made.

When it sits on the top string, it can be tuned in a way that agrees with the G/Cs and also the E/As, somewhere between the two extremes. Its kind of more manageable sitting up there, but in the middle of the tuning , some hard decisions have to be made about which strings it is in tune with.
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Andrew Frost


From:
Toronto, Ontario
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2022 6:05 pm    
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Quote:
I wonder if others have tried this tuning or something close to it?


Andy, I really dig what you're doing with that copedent. I've considered some very similar ideas, moving C6 up a couple tones and adding some E9 changes etc.
I don't want to get off the OP thread topic too much, but I think your E6 chart would make for some great discussion in the " non-non-pedal" section! Wink
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2022 4:55 am    
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Quote:
As soon as you introduce the 9th tone, the whole system can get get really strained.
I'm not saying its impossible, but this may be one of the reasons that 6th tunings frequently didn't/don't feature 9ths, or why the 6th tunings have historically been more prevalent than 6/9 tunings.

My experience exactly! I want the 9th in there badly, but everything fell apart for me when I added it in there.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 8 Jul 2022 8:58 pm    
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In the 9th tunings that I’ve been using, there is no 6th. Definitely simpler, but at the price of no minor 7th chords, and no 6th chords.

Lately I’ve been playing with a 7 string Jerry Byrd combination tuning, A7+C6, except I’ve dropped it down to G7+Bb6. GBDFGBbD This gives me dom 7s and minor 7ths. Perfect for blues, and flexible enough for just about anything else too.

Seems like Mr. Byrd knew a thing or two about tuning a lap steel. Rumour has it that he played quite well too. Razz
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Paul Strojan

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2022 10:09 pm    
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I have theory that the more sophisticated lap steel tunings fell out of favor with the rise of pedals.
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