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Author Topic:  Benders on an open D tuning
Karlis Abolins


From:
(near) Seattle, WA, USA
Post  Posted 19 May 2022 3:57 pm    
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Benders - How I use them on an open D tuning (DADF#AD)

After building my lap steel, I installed the Certano Benders on the 2nd and 3rd strings in what I see as the standard configuration. These benders gave me DADGBD. These are equivalent to the A and B pedals on the E9 pedal steel. They are great for playing traditional country licks. I found this tuning lacking a usable minor chord. The B pedal gives a B minor chord DF#BD but the voicing isn't the greatest in the world.

I re-tuned my guitar to the hybrid D tuning GBDF#AD which has a G chord on the bottom and a B minor chord in the middle. This gives a usable minor and still has the A and B pedal changes which give GBDGBD. In spite of giving me a more usable tuning, I missed the low D and the 6 string strum-able chords.

What to do? How could I use benders on the open D tuning to give me strum-able major and minor chords. The answer was so simple that I really didn't believe it could be true. Lower the third string a half step with a bender. This gives DADFAD. That is a full strum-able minor chord. People who are familiar with benders know that most benders are raise only. The Duesenberg Multibender is one of the few benders that provide lower capability. It is also currently (May 2022) unavailable from Duesenberg. I ordered one from Thomann in Germany and was placed on back-order. I finally cancelled that order after a couple of months. I was fortunate to find a UK vendor who had a couple in stock. I installed the Multibender and lowered the 3rd string. What to do with the remaing bender? After kicking it around in my head for a couple of weeks, I decided to lower the 1st string to C. This gives a strum-able 7th chord. Major, minor and 7th are the only chords I need for most of what I play. The other chords have partial (2 note) possibilities.

I don't have the traditional A and B pedal changes on my guitar and I frankly don't miss them.

Karlis
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania and Gallatin, Tennessee
Post  Posted 21 May 2022 9:57 am    
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If what you have is the Strat-style Duesenberg multibender, it looks like Thomann has them in stock now - https://www.thomannmusic.com/duesenberg_multibender.htm. Is that correct?

I think I agree with you on mechanical lowering vs. raising on a lap steel in a straight major tuning like D/E Vestapol (1 5 1 3 5 1) like you're using, or G/A (Vestapol shifted up one string - 5 1 5 1 3 5). I play pedal steel, and am not too worried about making my lap steel do the cliche pedal steel A+B licks. And if I did want to do that, I would probably prefer to approach it by working harder on pulling behind the bar. But there's no relatively straightforward method (notice I didn't say easy, ha!) like that to lower strings on a lap steel besides some type of mechanical bender. Just lowering the 3rd to give a minor is worth the price of admission to me. I would personally lower the lower 4th string root instead of the 1st string, but that is related to how I play slide guitar.

So, FWIW, this is closely related to the Sonny Landreth style of 'fretting behind the slide' slide guitar, which I took up in earnest several years ago. You can read interviews with Sonny where he described being able to smoothly get in and out of a minor chord as one of the initial motivations behind this move. But there are a ton more possibilities, as he has been exploiting for a long time now.

Of course, with this slide guitar move, one can, in principle, readily lower any string either one, two, or even three half-steps if you can stretch that far. Using hammer-ons and pull-offs, there are an extraordinary number of chords and melodic runs possible if you slide on the pinky, which leaves at least the index and middle fingers fully available to fret, and I think with considerable work, also the ring finger, which is significantly more awkward. And that is all in addition to just standard fretting the guitar. But of course, with some of these moves, one loses the smooth texture of pure sliding, and of course, it is much, much harder to slant the slide in the upright (Spanish) position.

Anyway - as just an example in open D Vestapol - if you lower both the string 3 F# a half tone and the string 4 root (D) a whole tone, you get a major 3rd (F) chord on strings 5, 4, 3, and 2 (and a strummable Dm7 across all 6 strings). That by itself is interesting, but I more often just slide up two frets for the 4th (G) chord (or strummable Em7 on all 6 strings). This can be used to get a somewhat modified faux pedal steel A+B move type of effect. Of course, lowering string 1 two half-tones instead of string 4 works too, but I think the voicings come out better lowering string 4. And I also think there are more and better melodic possibilities. With all the slide guitar moves available, those two behind-the-slide moves are the ones I use most.

Anyway - it looks like that Duesenberg is readily re-configured, so there are probably many avenues to explore. I think I'm gonna have to try one.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania and Gallatin, Tennessee
Post  Posted 21 May 2022 10:13 am    
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Here's one of those Sonny Landreth videos I saw back when, where he explained the origins of his approach - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DUxs2aIa_g

There are a bunch more out there, but this is the one I was thinking about.
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Karlis Abolins


From:
(near) Seattle, WA, USA
Post  Posted 22 May 2022 6:59 am    
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The Multibender on the Thomann site is the unit that I bought. I am glad to see that it is now in stock again. I guess I would have gotten it from Thomann eventually if I waited a couple more months.

When configuring the lowers which are spring returned, I found that I had to lower the gauge of my strings to balance the springs. At 28 pounds my F lower would not return to F# accurately. If you are used to heavier strings, I would not recommend the Multibender. I also found that the gap for feeding the unbent strings would not accommodate my A string. It hangs up on the end of the winding and not the ball. So far I have not broken the A string and it stays in tune but I think that this is a design or manufacturing fault.

As far as lowering the 4th string D to C versus the 1st string D, my decision came from ergonomics. I originally set it up lowering the 4th string D. I found that I used the 3rd string lower far more that the 4th string lower and the 4th string lower lever made lowering the 3rd string feel awkward. I changed the D lower to the 1st string and I find that playing minors is a lot more comfortable now.

All in all, I think that the Duesenberg Multibender is probably best suited for installing on a Tele because of the much lighter string gauges. If you install it on a lap steel, there are issues and maybe compromises to be made. Since Duesenberg installs the Multibender on their 25.5 scale lap steels, I have a feeling that there is a different model bender for lap steels that they don't sell retail.

Karlis
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania and Gallatin, Tennessee
Post  Posted 22 May 2022 9:09 am    
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Interesting about the issue with heavier strings. My preference is generally for relatively heavy lap steel strings - usually around 30 pounds per string. But if I set up a lap steel for bending and/or pulling strings behind the bar, I guess I can get used to lighter strings. There are always compromises to be made to achieve different goals.

I can definitely see where having lowers on both strings 3 and 4 might be awkward. I guess I'll have to think about that. Maybe there is some type of workaround. And I won't know about that until I get the bender and put it on something. Idea
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Garrett Foster

 

From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 25 Sep 2022 4:52 pm    
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Novice to benders, but not lap steels or tunings: any thoughts on adding a bender to the 3rd string (middle D) to move it up a half step while tuning it down to a C#? You’d remove the lever to get a minor chord (iii from the I). I suppose you could also tune the 5th string (low A) to a B to get a deeper minor iv chord? It may also sound a tad Hawaiian. That’s where my thoughts go as someone who achieves pulls by using behind the bar finger bends on lap steels. I agree that the minor 6 with the high A pulled up a whole step is a weak voicing. You could get some ideas by nixing the lowest two strings and changing them out for higher pitches. You could get some odd variety from making the lowest 2 strings an F and a Bb. That’d give you a D-minor, Bb major, G minor (with a bend). I’m probably off base with these suggestions, but I find the endeavor intriguing.
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Cappone dAngelo


From:
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Post  Posted 4 Dec 2022 8:02 pm    
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Hi Karlis - I'm planning a lap steel with benders, and I was considering whether the 'raise the A to B' would be adequate for minor chords, given the voicing - sounds like you had the same concern! Here's what I'm contemplating:

The multibendor allows the addition of a third lever. I know some players say it gets a bit cluttered with 3, but some seem to be fine with it and I won't know until I try it. So I'm thinking that I'd try with the traditional PSG pedal 'A and B' changes, but then add a third lever with a D->C# change (i.e., like an "E lever" on PSG), which would give both a dominant 7 chord in the 'home' position (for example, AC#GA on the inner 4 strings) which will resolve the 'traditional' way (the G falls to the F# and the C# raises to D when the benders are released ...), but also gives the option of AC#F#(A) for - in this example - a first inversion F# minor chord:

D
A->B
F#->G
D->C#
A
D

Or perhaps it would make more sense on the first string so the D->C# change is on top?

D->C#
A->B
F#->G
D
A
D

If anyone has thoughts on this setup I'd love to hear them!

Thanks,
Cappone
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D Schubert

 

From:
Columbia, MO, USA
Post  Posted 5 Dec 2022 12:49 am    
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I played with the D and D/G tunings with Certano bender for 2nd and 3rd strings. . More recently, I’ve changed that to a higher E6 tuning (B C# E G# B E) with the palm levers raising those two strings to an A chord. Embracing the country pedal steel changes, with minor intervals on the lower strings.
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