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Author Topic:  Bars
Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 11:45 am     Reply with quote

I've been unable to find a central location/thread that discusses the bars available to players in 2016.

It seems that beyond Pearse and Dunlop, manufacturers run very small operations. It's nearly impossible for us relative newcomers to learn what materials are used, who makes them, and whether they're still in business.

After about four years with Dunlop stuff, I recently got a Pearse cryo bar. Within two seconds, I was like, "Oh, that was my problem. " The denser bar smoothed out a lot of unpleasant (upper mid?) harmonic content that had been plaguing me since I started playing. It's MUCH better for traditional clean country playing with my setup. Not nearly as much "hair" as the lighter Dunlops--even the much bigger size. And that "hair" is anathema to some of the playing I like to do.

My new bar has made almost as big a difference as anything else I've bought. Now, I'm thinking about a different bar to add back some "openness" for distorted Allman/Lindley sounds. You know, horses for courses.

I'd like to try many other materials/sizes but need a primer of some kind.

I've heard of brass, Delrin, Zirconia, chrome(d), ceramic, Nylon . . . it's overwhelming and apparently costly.

Where should I be looking/searching out this information? Is there a directory of manufacturers who are still in business?
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Robert Gifford


From:
Venus, TX, USA (DFW Area)
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 12:27 pm     Reply with quote

Don't forget there's also lead crystal/pyrex/glass tone bars as well. Oh and I think I saw one that was a brass center with a glass exterior as well.
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 1:34 pm     Reply with quote

Robert Gifford wrote:
Don't forget there's also lead crystal/pyrex/glass tone bars as well. Oh and I think I saw one that was a brass center with a glass exterior as well.


So complicated!

Does anybody actually make those?
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 3:22 pm     Reply with quote

Is BJS still in business?
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Ken Metcalf


From:
San Antonio Texas USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 3:51 pm     Reply with quote

Good bars are better than cheap bars.
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Carl Kilmer


From:
East Central, Illinois
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 4:22 pm     Reply with quote

I've got about 15 bars and I never use any of them since I got
the coated bars from Michael Hillman. Tommy White uses them.
These are truly the best bars I've ever used. Check em' out here.
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=297345
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Bill Ferguson


From:
Norcross, GA USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 4:28 pm     Reply with quote

Yes, BJS is still in business and in my book, they are the finest ever made.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 5:17 pm     Reply with quote

SDF bars in Topeka (call him at 785-608-0207) makes all sorts of bars. If you want extra-dense, he does a tungsten-filled stainless bar, if you want lightweight but still hard enough to sound "country bright" he makes a titanium bar, and if you want reduced sustain but bright tone he does a hard aluminum bar that's great for Dobro or Mooney pedal steel.
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 6:16 pm     Reply with quote

Red Barn is another high quality bar. Are they still making them?
_________________
My steels are Magnificent! Stupendous! Awesome!
-----------
Please visit my web site and Soundcloud page and listen to the music posted there.
http://www.mikeperlowin.com http://soundcloud.com/mike-perlowin
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Paul Stauskas


From:
Grand Prairie, TX
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 6:25 pm     Reply with quote

I have not played a lot of bars but I am very satisfied with Michael Hillman's bars.
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 6:32 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks everyone! Do these folks have websites at all? I can't imagine they're making bars in great quantities.

Anyone know much about ceramics or a similar light bar that would give me "looser" output for more of a "slide guitar" sound through a drive pedal (within limits, of course)?

Cheap Dunlops are better for that than Pearse, and I would think something less dense than the Dunlops would be even more useful for that purpose.

I've been playing six-string guitar a long time, and I'm flabbergasted at how much difference bars make in my PSG's sound.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 6:35 pm     Reply with quote

I don't think Steve Gunder has a website.
What do you mean by "looser"?
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More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Mike Wheeler


From:
Delaware, Ohio, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 6:44 pm     Reply with quote

Buell Wisner wrote:
Anyone know much about ceramics or a similar light bar that would give me "looser" output for more of a "slide guitar" sound through a drive pedal (within limits, of course)?


I think what you want is a hard, but lightweight bar...or maybe a glass bar...so you can get a bit of string chatter into the sound. Don't have any recommendations, though.
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Mike
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 7:10 pm     Reply with quote

Lane Gray wrote:
I don't think Steve Gunder has a website.
What do you mean by "looser"?


As opposed to "focused." With the Dunlops (especially the standard size, which is probably Ernie Ball labeled), there was always an openness in the mids--more overtones somewhere? This is less pronounced with the biggest Dunlop, which got far more downward pressure on the strings, but it's still there to some extent.

Anyways, these "overtones" often tended toward hair when I was playing "clean." Think "You Ain't Going Nowhere," and you probably know what I mean.

However, at band volumes and with an overdrive pedal, I was often able to get a pretty cool "slide" sound with the standard-sized Dunlop, much like one can get with open E tuning, a vintage output pickup, and a cooking amp, whether that's Derek Trucks or David Lindley.

The Pearse is more focused and helps me get better clean sounds, but it's still smooth and focused when I try to achieve the "slide" tone.

The difference has been an eye opener, and I'm wondering if many players keep a kit bag full of slides they use for different things. I've heard that "sitar bars" were popular in the '70s, for instance (I saw Ralph Mooney using one on youtube?).

I want to experiment, but I want to be educated before I do something crazy like throwing $300 at six different bars (if I can even find six different bars).
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 7:12 pm     Reply with quote

Anybody use one of these Poncha bullet slides?

www.rockymountainslides.com/poncha-bullet.ht


Last edited by Buell Wisner on 10 Apr 2016 7:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 10 Apr 2016 7:24 pm     Reply with quote

Mike Wheeler wrote:
Buell Wisner wrote:
Anyone know much about ceramics or a similar light bar that would give me "looser" output for more of a "slide guitar" sound through a drive pedal (within limits, of course)?


I think what you want is a hard, but lightweight bar...or maybe a glass bar...so you can get a bit of string chatter into the sound. Don't have any recommendations, though.


I do know that glass makes a pretty big difference on slide guitar (Allman, Haynes, Trucks). A lot of the notes that bloom into feedback for those guys don't do that with chromed steel or brass slides.

I actually don't like the string noise, though. Just the overtones (if that's what they're called) in the mids. That may just be an unrealistic expectation for modern PSG pickups, but I do wonder what different directions are made possible just by changing bars.

If I can get enough suggestions (thanks so far, y'all), I can bookmark this thread to keep me occupied for the next few years.

Bars are a whole lot cheaper than pickups!
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Marco Schouten


From:
Assendelft, The Netherlands
Post Posted 11 Apr 2016 1:58 am     Reply with quote

I have an Emmons bar, a Sho-Bud bar, a John Pearse an 2 Zirconia bars. All are extremely close in sound, except the Sho-Bud, it has an extra "sparkle" in it's tone. The Emmons feels the best in the hand, the rounded edges on the flat side are perfect. I usually use the Sho-Bud bar...
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Marco Schouten
JCH SD-10, Quilter Steelaire, Evans SE200, Sho-Bud Volume Pedal, Sho-Bud bar, zirconia bar, Emmons bar, John Pearse bar
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 11 Apr 2016 7:26 am     Reply with quote

In my mind's eye, it's a tossup between a John Hughey BJS bar and a zirconia bar.
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Brett Day


From:
Pickens, SC
Post Posted 11 Apr 2016 10:10 am     Reply with quote

I used a Dunlop bar when I first started playing steel in 1999 and I loved it, but it slid around a lot in my left hand, because of my cerebral palsy, it was my main bar until 2003, when I went to the ISGC in St. Louis and got my current bar, which is called a Sacred Steel, I believe. The Sacred Steel bar is my bar of choice now, and has been for thirteen years.
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James Taylor


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 11 Apr 2016 1:06 pm     BJS and especially the JOHN HUGHEY Reply with quote

I tried several Bars, but found for me, the tone and handling of the John Hughey BJS bar was the best. JAMES TAYLOR
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 12 Apr 2016 5:56 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks, everyone!

So, do most of you just use one bar? No one swaps materials mid-set to get different sounds?

I'm pretty happy with the the Pearse for standard clean country, but that's not all I want to play.

I like a variety of sounds.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 12 Apr 2016 6:06 pm     Reply with quote

I switch. The aluminum, brass and powder coated ones get a lot of play time, along with the BJS bar
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2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Leon Champion


From:
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
Post Posted 13 Apr 2016 4:49 am     bar Reply with quote

If you want the best get a B J S , YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.
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Buell Wisner


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 13 Apr 2016 5:51 am     Reply with quote

Lane Gray wrote:
I switch. The aluminum, brass and powder coated ones get a lot of play time, along with the BJS bar


You're about the only person who seems to have a big collection of bars. Wink

I've read nylon bars recommended (by you, maybe) for use with a Dobro simulator, but I'm not sure that anyone currently manufactures them.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 13 Apr 2016 6:17 am     Reply with quote

I have a large collection because Steve Gunder swapped me some of his early production for the loan of my MSA while he waited for the manufacture of his Ritt.
I mention them because they're good.
I find the aluminum bar does well enough for killing the sustain for the Dobro simulation.
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2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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