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Author Topic:  the sound is in the right hand
Ted Barnhouse II

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 8:41 am    
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Ok I have checked what has been written so far but I have some questions. I am probably considered to be between a beginner and intermediate player. I've always heard that the sound is in the right hand. If that's true why is there so much attention given to the "toys" to improve our sound or get the sound we want instead of the right hand? Are there exercises we should be doing that would improve it. I've heard players over the years that seem to sound the same no matter what equipment they had. It seems sometimes like what ever you start with is the way you will be forever except you improve on the execution of the songs, faster etc. So what do ya think?
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 8:52 am    
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I'm in the camp that believes your sound (tone) is not ALL in the right hand. Much of it is, but you make a valid point about the electronics. If it was ALL in the right hand (I also will include the left hand), why do some players constantly go through and try different amps. They shouldn't matter. So and So's Little Walter should not sound any better than any other amp, regardless of price or age of the amp. This not a slam on Little Walter. They are great amps. I just needed a high dollar example.
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Paul Sutherland

 

From:
Placerville, California
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 9:02 am    
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It is far less controversial to suggest that one piece of equipment is better than another, than to suggest that one technique is better than another. So most of us tend to avoid starting those fights that can never be won.

The right hand is very important, but everything has an effect on the total product.

Regarding your question as to whether there are specific exercises to improve the right hand, the answer is yes. They break down mostly into the palm blocking versus pick blocking techniques. However, there are those that reject all such categories/labels and say do whatever feels natural. Good luck with the later approach.

The Jeff Newman Alpha Right Hand course is pretty much the gold standard for palm blocking. For pick blocking look at Joe Wright's various courses.
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Last edited by Paul Sutherland on 20 Aug 2015 9:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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Hal Braun


From:
Eustis, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 9:08 am    
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I think it is equally important to recognize that not everybody is looking for the same tone. I am not that interested in the clean steel amps with lots of headroom and I am sure that not only will I never sound like BE or Lloyd or even Richard or Ted.. That I am ok with that and want my own.

That tone will be a combo of my guitar, my pickup, my tube amp and my fingers and bar.. Learning to play this darn thing is tough enough without trying to sound like someone I am not. 😊
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Dylan Keating


From:
Montreal QC
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 9:27 am    
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The way I interpret what people mean when they say tone is all in the right hand is that "guitars and effects won't make up for bad technique." Being able to play well is more important than the gear you use, and that's true for any instrument. I really liked The Right Hand Alpha course from Jeff Newman. And William Litaker teaches right hand technique on his weekly broadcast.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 9:28 am    
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Right on Hal. Great post.


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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 10:02 am    
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My take - it's not ALL in the hands, not ALL in the steel, not ALL in the amp, or ALL in any one thing. It's the whole enchilada that matters - everything from brain to hands to picks to strings to pickups to changer to body to cables to gizmos to amp to speaker to room acoustics to ears, which feedback to brain.

But I do basically agree that in players in beginning stages probably are not wise to focus overly on the equipment. If a steel sounds good and plays comfortably and well - enough so a player can profitably woodshed like crazy for a goodly period of time - that's more important than anything. To me, any amp that can produce a reasonable clean tone will tell me at least whether my basic sound, intonation, and execution are going in the right direction.

Once you get past the basics, I think it's reasonable to start worrying about equipment. I also agree with Hal that there is not just one "desirable tone". I personally like a bunch of different ones, and use different approaches and sometimes different equipment.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 12:22 pm    
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Dave Mudgett wrote:
I do basically agree that players in beginning stages probably are not wise to focus overly on the equipment. If a steel sounds good and plays comfortably and well - enough so a player can profitably woodshed like crazy for a goodly period of time - that's more important than anything. To me, any amp that can produce a reasonable clean tone will tell me at least whether my basic sound, intonation, and execution are going in the right direction.

This is great advice. My sound has been improving lately and I have done nothing different except practise. Same amp (a Fender with nothing dialled in*), same strings (nearly a year old now) and yet it's beginning to sound quite pleasing. So it can only be that my right hand is learning to behave. For the time being I'm very happy to hear exactly what I'm doing without trying to embellish it. I may need to sound more commercial at some stage, but I'll deal with it then.

*when I'm using headphones I use a tiny bit of reverb so the guitar doesn't feel wedged inside my skull, but that's all.
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Jason Putnam


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 12:52 pm    
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Tone is in the instrument and equipment. Ability to make pleasant tones with that equipment is in the hands.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 12:59 pm    
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That is spot on and very profound.
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Ken Metcalf


From:
Converse Texas USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 1:01 pm    
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Another way to say it's all in the hands is...
The first 10 years are the hardest.
After that it is merely difficult.
Smile
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Ted Barnhouse II

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 1:27 pm    
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You guys are awesome this is exactly what I wanted very good comments. Learning to play this thing is like trying to lose weight with videos, at some point you have to do more than watch the videos. Thanks to all!
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 1:34 pm    
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Ted Barnhouse II wrote:
trying to lose weight with videos

Laughing
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Jamie Mitchell

 

From:
Nashville, TN
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 1:39 pm    
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Richard Sinkler wrote:
I'm in the camp that believes your sound (tone) is not ALL in the right hand. Much of it is, but you make a valid point about the electronics. If it was ALL in the right hand (I also will include the left hand), why do some players constantly go through and try different amps. They shouldn't matter. So and So's Little Walter should not sound any better than any other amp, regardless of price or age of the amp. This not a slam on Little Walter. They are great amps. I just needed a high dollar example.


i don't think anyone actually believes it's all in the hands...
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Ned McIntosh


From:
New South Wales, Australia
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 2:27 pm    
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"Tone" is hugely contentious when it comes to pedal-steel, and we have all witnessed the ferocity of arguments from time to time on the subject so I won't rehash old ground. There are plenty of threads a search will turn up for those who wish to do the research.

I will add, however, that as a playe we are mostly in what I call the "near-field" of our instuments, that is we are close to our amplifiers, or we have foldback.

What we hear isn't necessarily what is headr by someone thirty feet away, in a room with carpets, furnishings, a ceiling and walls and curtains and a hundred other things which will modify the sound once it travels beyonf the near-field.

The same happens to violinists who are well aware how the instrument sounds "under the ear" is not how it sounds in the middle of the concert-hall. Bluegrass banjo-players likewise are hearing what is coming out sideways from their instrument and not what the audience well out to the front of the instrument is hearing.

Also, we all need learn to like what our own tone is when we play well. We can't all be Emmons, Hughey or Franklin...but we can be ourselves on the instrument.
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Dave Grafe


From:
Upstate NY
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 3:09 pm    
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Quote:
I've always heard that the sound is in the right hand. If that's true why is there so much attention given to the "toys" to improve our sound or get the sound we want instead of the right hand?


Remember that it is mostly folks who have not spent the time working on hand technique giving so much attention to the "toys" in hopes of a functional shortcut to what they hear and aspire to. Not to say that experienced players do not have a compelling interest in finding and getting the gear that best serves their needs, but they know they still have to go home and practice if they want the gear to work right.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 3:28 pm     warner mack
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Ted Barnhouse II wrote:
I've always heard that the sound is in the right hand. If that's true why is there so much attention given to the "toys" to improve our sound or get the sound we want instead of the right hand?


Ted, that's only true for "gear heads" Many players (probably most players) buy infrequently, and concentrate more on playing than they do on buying equipment or gizmos.

Quote:
Are there exercises we should be doing that would improve it.


The best exercise is playing. You get out what you put in, and if Buddy Emmons had only played an hour or two a day, he wouldn't have become anywhere near as good a player as he was. You have to live it and breathe it to really master it. For the first 6 months, I played 10-12 hours a day, and if I had kept that regimen, I'd likely now be as famous and as good as anyone out there. But, I had other priorities, responsibilities, and interests. I have no regrets about that.

Quote:
I've heard players over the years that seem to sound the same no matter what equipment they had. It seems sometimes like what ever you start with is the way you will be forever except you improve on the execution of the songs, faster etc. So what do ya think?


I don't think you're doing enough listening. Nothing stays the same, and almost no player that I can think of kept the same sound or tone over the years. Everybody's playing changes - not only in ability and technique, but in tone, too. Tastes change, music changes, equipment changes, and so do the players themselves.

Listen to these examples of how a couple of famous players' sounds changed through the years...

(Emmons)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug870Xo3G4o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYe4tYvOxeo&index=1&list=PLeuw7YWa2KJ4yjzZRx2aryC-zJ-G4hen4

(Green)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qVO3f9Dgr0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgijdMkyE4c&list=PL8BC984B1FBA3522F&index=4

(Brumley)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wrKmi-_wZw&list=RD7wrKmi-_wZw#t=14
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH4RpdmMKhI

Very Happy
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 4:22 pm    
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I can't speak for anyone but myself and the guidance I got from Mike Auldridge.
My path was:
1) learn to make this machine give me the notes I wanted.
2) learn more about which notes it wanted to give me.
3) learn to play it reflexively (without thinking "how do I play what I'm thinking").
4) learn to make items 1-4 come out with better tone.
I've been playing since 1980, and only in the last 6 years have I gotten happy with my tone.
And the tone that makes me happy comes from a SIMPLE rig.
Steel - Goodrich volume pedal - amp.
Amp means, in decreasing fondness of tone:
Super Twin Reverb into closed-back 15 cab
Ultralinear Twin, stock two 12s with above closed-back 15 as extension cab.
Threeway tie for third, reissue Twin, Session 400 and Session 500.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2015 4:57 pm    
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Jamie Mitchell wrote:
Richard Sinkler wrote:
I'm in the camp that believes your sound (tone) is not ALL in the right hand. Much of it is, but you make a valid point about the electronics. If it was ALL in the right hand (I also will include the left hand), why do some players constantly go through and try different amps. They shouldn't matter. So and So's Little Walter should not sound any better than any other amp, regardless of price or age of the amp. This not a slam on Little Walter. They are great amps. I just needed a high dollar example.


i don't think anyone actually believes it's all in the hands...


They may not believe it, but you see a lot of people say that it is "all in the hands", and that Buddy, Lloyd, Hughey, et al... Sound the same on any guitar they play.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 21 Aug 2015 3:22 am    
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Dave Mudgett wrote:
It's the whole enchilada that matters - everything from brain to hands to picks to strings to pickups to changer to body to cables to gizmos to amp to speaker to room acoustics to ears, which feedback to brain.

I would swear that Bishop Ronnie Hall gets his horn sound by 'hearing' a horn in his brain and have called him on it. He admits to that being true.
Playing a part on any instrument requires my hearing that part as the sound I'm looking to create.

Now it I can get it to my hand (but body is mind, so they go hand in hand)....
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Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 21 Aug 2015 4:07 am    
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It's all in the hands, period. But you can't sell hands and you can sell amps and toys. Garbage in, garbage out and nothing will ever change that.

If you want to be good on the steel, you need to be able to palm block, pick block, play in tune, play with pop, have an excellent ear and be able to be humble enough to put in the time to get where you want to go.

Otherwise you are kidding yourself and anyone who plays with you or listens to you.
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Jim Bob Sedgwick

 

From:
Clinton, Missouri USA
Post  Posted 21 Aug 2015 4:51 am    
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The secret is in your A$$. I say this because you will sit on it until you learn to develop good technique and tone. This will take literally thousands of hours. Smile
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Tom Quinn


Post  Posted 21 Aug 2015 6:32 am    
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Jim Bob Sedgwick wrote:
The secret is in your A$$. I say this because you will sit on it until you learn to develop good technique and tone. This will take literally thousands of hours. Smile


-LLL- You are sooooooooooooooo right!
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Jim Park

 

From:
Carson City, Nv
Post  Posted 21 Aug 2015 7:19 am     Tone
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I agree that the playing style and compentecy is in the hands, But equipment must play a part, otherwise nobody would pay the prices that Franklins, Zums, and PPs are commanding, and everybody would play Mavericks thru PigNose amps....... Just sayin
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Hal Braun


From:
Eustis, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 21 Aug 2015 11:25 am    
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Tom Quinn wrote:
It's all in the hands, period. But you can't sell hands and you can sell amps and toys. Garbage in, garbage out and nothing will ever change that.


So Tom.. Does that kill that PP vs all pull tone argument?

Laughing Just kidding.. Giving you a little poke..
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