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Author Topic:  Looking for ideas on setting up a knee lever to lower Es
Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2024 4:28 pm    
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I have been thinking about adding a knee lever to one of my steels to lower the Es (1st and 5th strings).
Curious as to any non-destructive under-the-guitar ideas anyone might have. This would be a string-thru body. I just can’t think of anything other than a Bigsby vibrato style mechanism

I am interested in some Speedy West style things for fun and this would be essential.

Thoughts?
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Last edited by Mike Neer on 23 Jun 2024 7:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2024 5:47 pm    
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Mike -- there's a cat making guitars under the name Toneacane that are lap steels with a lowering knee lever. A friend brought one over a few years ago and it was nicely done.
But it was an integrated mechanism and would be anything but non-destructive on another guitar. It was not at all an add-on accessory. So I don't expect this info to be at all useful unless looking at pictures of his creations might spark some brainstorm ideas.

https://www.toneacane.com/
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Shea Stevenson


From:
Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 4:55 am    
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Jon Light wrote:
Mike -- there's a cat making guitars under the name Toneacane that are lap steels with a lowering knee lever. A friend brought one over a few years ago and it was nicely done.
But it was an integrated mechanism and would be anything but non-destructive on another guitar. It was not at all an add-on accessory. So I don't expect this info to be at all useful unless looking at pictures of his creations might spark some brainstorm ideas.

https://www.toneacane.com/


Any clips out there of it? My eventual goal is to get a pedal steel and a Mohan Veena too. This slide really helps with my tinnitus, the muscle version. It truly affected my touring when I was younger and playing in general for even a set length. Really happy to have got into lap steel!
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Tim Toberer


From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 5:51 am    
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What about a stand with the levers built into the stand? I think it could be done, but it would take some engineering.

Or something like this https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=378315&highlight=lower+lever
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Bill McCloskey


From:
Nanuet, NY
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 5:59 am    
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The simplest way would be just to buy a 2x2 pedal steel.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 6:40 am    
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Tim Toberer wrote:


Or something like this https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=378315&highlight=lower+lever


Yeah, that is similar to what I had in mind but underneath the guitar--sort of similar principle to a Bigsby--but where the lever would be vertical.

Perhaps it's just another pipe dream.

If I was going to buy a pedal steel, it would likely be a Fender 400, which I have experience working with. But I think that is a last resort, as this is not really that high up on the list of priorities.
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Gary Meixner

 

From:
New York, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 7:08 am    
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Mike,

Years ago Bobbe Seymour showed me a guitar that had a simple lowering mechanism that was mounted on the keyhead of a Bigsby pedal steel guitar.

The base of one tuning machine was secured to a thin plate, sandwiched between it and the side of the keyhead. The plate was not secured to the keyhead so the entire tuning machine and plate could rotate, with the string peg acting as the axle.

The plate extended a little past the base of the tuning machine where a rod was attached that went through the deck of the guitar to a pedal. The pedal would cause the entire tuning machine to rotate, lowing the pitch of the string. There was a return spring and stop mechanism that controlled the sweep and returned the the string to pitch.

As I recall, it was a simple add-on, with the only modification being a small hole drilled the deck of the guitar.

The guitar also had a changer on the tailpiece, but it could only raise the pitch of the strings - the pitch of the string was raised from the tailpiece and lowered from the keyhead.

Bobbe played the guitar for me and it sounded awesome.

Gary Meixner
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Gary Meixner

 

From:
New York, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 7:12 am    
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Mike,

To clarify, the tuning machine and plate rotated together with the string post acting as the axel, not the peg as I originally described.

G. Meixner
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Tim Toberer


From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 7:40 am    
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This is an interesting guitar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXYuLuVEQPo
I see he has one knee to operate the levers and another anchored to keep the steel from getting pushed off his lap.
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Terry VunCannon


From:
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 8:35 am    
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I wonder if a cable system may work for you like this system used by Harmos years ago for a steel made for Robert Randolph.

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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 9:52 am    
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That is cool but way too involved for me.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 9:54 am    
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Gary Meixner wrote:
Mike,

Years ago Bobbe Seymour showed me a guitar that had a simple lowering mechanism that was mounted on the keyhead of a Bigsby pedal steel guitar.

The base of one tuning machine was secured to a thin plate, sandwiched between it and the side of the keyhead. The plate was not secured to the keyhead so the entire tuning machine and plate could rotate, with the string peg acting as the axle.

The plate extended a little past the base of the tuning machine where a rod was attached that went through the deck of the guitar to a pedal. The pedal would cause the entire tuning machine to rotate, lowing the pitch of the string. There was a return spring and stop mechanism that controlled the sweep and returned the the string to pitch.

As I recall, it was a simple add-on, with the only modification being a small hole drilled the deck of the guitar.

The guitar also had a changer on the tailpiece, but it could only raise the pitch of the strings - the pitch of the string was raised from the tailpiece and lowered from the keyhead.

Bobbe played the guitar for me and it sounded awesome.

Gary Meixner


Interesting, Gary. Doesn't sound like something I would or could do, but it does sound like a pretty cool idea. Almost like banjo tuner mechanism.
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Mark Perrodin

 

From:
Tucson Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 10:24 am     shot jackson
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here are two versions of plunger style changers. pa bigsby used plungers as well. i guess you could tune the string to e in a raised position and then when your pull rod descends it could stop on the e flat you're shooting for. you could probably use a sho bud barrel tuner to tune the change. when i was rerodding my 8 string marlen i used 1/8" welding rod with barrel tuners and it worked great. welding rod is very easy to cut to length, dress the ends and install. and cheap so great for experimenting. or not. hope you find a solution that works.
good luck and take pictures of your progress.
mark
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 10:54 am    
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Thanks for entertaining my whims but I've realized it just isn't going to work. There is no non-destructive way to do this that I can see and even if I could make a crazy idea work, the ability to actually pull it off underneath the guitar would render playing nearly impossible.
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Paul Strojan

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 11:09 am    
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Give David Jackson a call, he told me that he could add a knee lever that would raise and lower my top E string.
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Karlis Abolins


From:
(near) Seattle, WA, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 11:24 am    
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Mike, I spent several months this past year looking for the same solution. I play in open D and wanted a knee lever to lower the F# to F to give me the minor. The best idea that I could come up with was to make a mini pull-release mechanism with a spring to install in a cavity under the bridge. However, I took a left turn and went the electronic route. I just finished my new guitar build which includes a hexaphonic pickup. I run the 13 pin output of the pickup into a Roland SY-1000 guitar synthesizer. One of the functions of the SY-1000 is alternate tuning. I setup the alternate tuning to only lower the 3rd string pitch a half step. I turn the alt-tune on and off with a foot switch. Works like a charm. Beyond this basic alt-tune, the SY-1000 offers a number of different possibilities including pitch-to-midi. I bought a used Roland XV-5050 synthesizer and have been having a blast trying out patches from the thousands available - things like church organs, synth pads, string orchestras, horns, etc.

Karlis
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 1:19 pm    
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Karlis, that’s very cool. I’m glad that you found another solution.
I am not opposed to doing something like this. In fact years ago I had done a lot of research into having a guitar built exclusively for MIDI purposes, but then my dream came true when I discovered MIDI Guitar software, and the world just exploded open for me. I spent a year deeply entrenched in MIDI and synthesis, it was amazing. I learned so much that I always wanted to know and I made hundreds of recordings in a short period of time.
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Bill McCloskey


From:
Nanuet, NY
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2024 7:48 pm    
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I know I sound like a broken record and I know you've rejected the idea every time I bring it up, but it would be SOOO much easier to get a dedicated 10 C6 neck pedal steel. You could just play it open like a lap steel, but any changes you want are there when you want to incorporate them. You were using pedals when you were doing that organ stuff. It would seem to just open so much stuff up to you that hasn't been explored. I am baffled why you don't want to at least give it a try, but I'm not you, nor do you I have your talent, so far from me to say.
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Tim Toberer


From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2024 4:24 am    
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Mike Neer wrote:




If I was going to buy a pedal steel, it would likely be a Fender 400, which I have experience working with. But I think that is a last resort, as this is not really that high up on the list of priorities.

The price of these seems to be getting crazy. How cool would it be if Fender did a reissue! I am sure this is a pipe dream though... For people who want an 8 string pedal steel and don't need (or want) a complicated copedant there is almost nothing on the market. I don't see this changing sadly. The Fender 400 is also unique in that it is supposed to be relatively easy to change the tuning and you can have up to 9 pedals + knees if you are creative. Not to mention these things are seemingly built like tanks.
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HowardR


From:
N.Y.C.-Fire Island-Asheville
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2024 7:40 am     Re: Looking for ideas on setting up a knee lever to...
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Mike Neer wrote:
I have been thinking about adding a knee lever to one of my steels to lower the Es (1st and 5th strings).

Thoughts?



I know you love your Clinesmith......perhaps contact Todd....
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HowardR


From:
N.Y.C.-Fire Island-Asheville
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2024 8:23 am    
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I just remembered.......I had a few Higgins Benders on a few of my dobros........the Higgins Bender is a cable operated foot pedal that attached to a tuning key without being invasive.....it was a lower only pedal.....

Here is a photo of one - I'll see if I have other photos but I have to run out right now.....




Brad Higgins was a violin builder who played pedal steel.....his violins were named "Bradivarius"......I no longer see his website and don't know whatever happened to him.....I'll continue this later......

Just found this.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9ufG-qdSPk&t=7s
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David DeLoach


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2024 10:05 am    
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Wade Black, who is on the forum, brought over a lap steel he'd made with a really cool knee bender under the lap steel. You might reach out to Wade.

I've got one of Wade's 3-Bender Telecaster guitars in my music room. It is as high a quality build as you will find.

https://www.3bender.com/
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Keith Weiss

 

From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2024 11:42 am    
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Saw this on my YouTube feed last week. There’s no link to a website but seems like an interesting option.

https://youtu.be/WXYuLuVEQPo?si=InG_ysM5ZNtHn1dJ
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, BC
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2024 9:00 am    
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Here’s a thought…

Mount a Certano or Bigsby UNDER the guitar and activate it by RAISING your knee against the lever. This would require the guitar to be on sturdy console that doesn’t allow the guitar to move up.

To play lap style the same thing could work by pushing down on the guitar while the lever rests on your knee. Would require practice and experimenting to make sure that the lever isn’t accidentally activated.
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Current Tunings:
6 String | D – D A D F# A D
7 String | D6 – D A D F# A B D

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