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Author Topic:  Don Helms
James Taylor


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 12 Jul 2013 11:50 am     Reply with quote

What were the tunings that Don Helms used while with Hank Williams? What did he use on his single neck FENDER too? JAMES TAYLOR
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 12 Jul 2013 1:55 pm     Reply with quote

I don't think this should be in pedal steel.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 12 Jul 2013 2:33 pm     Reply with quote

Moved.

I think that everything Don Helms played with Hank Williams was E6 with A bass. A C# E G# B C# E G#

I never heard of his single neck Fender.
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-b0b- (SGF Admin) a.k.a. Bobby Lee ♪ CopedentsRice & BeanWine Country SwingStella
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Rollin Schmidt


From:
Kansas, USA
Post Posted 12 Jul 2013 5:25 pm     Don Helms Reply with quote

According to the Don Helms book compiled by DeWitt Scott, you bOb are quite correct with the tuning. I too have never known of a single neck played by Mr. Helms. I believe his double neck is in the country hall of fame?
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Steve Green


From:
Gulfport, MS, USA
Post Posted 12 Jul 2013 6:09 pm     Reply with quote

Here's what Don used on both necks of his Gibson:


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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 12 Jul 2013 10:26 pm     Reply with quote

FWIW, that B13th is actually B11th. The 13th tone in B is G#, and there's no G# in that tuning. B11th is a really good tuning. Jerry Byrd used it sometimes. I'm not sure who invented it.
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Steve Wilson


From:
Morgan Hill, California, USA
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 12:46 am     Reply with quote

Did Don switch back and forth between necks in a single song, or did he use mostly one neck or the other? Also what would be a good example of a song from the Hank years that is easy to distinguish which neck he is using?
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 2:12 am     Reply with quote

He mostly played the E6 neck - just about all the solos were done on it using mainly just the top 6 strings.

In his book, none of the tabs use the lowest 2 strings.

He also didn't use bar slants.

He used the other neck mainly for fills here and there.
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James Taylor


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 5:42 am     Reply with quote

Many thanks to you all. You are a bunch of heroes.In one of his intervues on "The Country Family Reunion ", he told of the night when someone offered him the Gibson . It turned out to be more than he could aford,even in part exchange forhisFender. However, they did manage to broker a satisfactory deal; but only after his performance with Hank that night.He explained he would have to change the strings and this could only be done later that evening. In some of the 1960's Hank Williams' song books there are photographs of Don with a single neck Fender . I do have a single neck Fender pedal steel and I was considering changing the tuning. Especially since now the proud owner of a ZUM ENCORE. YOURS AYE JAMES TAYLOR - SLANGE
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 6:05 am     Reply with quote

James Taylor wrote:
In some of the 1960's Hank Williams' song books there are photographs of Don with a single neck Fender .


The photos with a single neck Fender must have been from very early in Don's Career. The Fender he part exchanged for the Gibson was definitely a double neck - a Fender Dual Professional.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 8:08 am     Reply with quote

Jeff Mead wrote:
He mostly played the E6 neck - just about all the solos were done on it using mainly just the top 6 strings.

In his book, none of the tabs use the lowest 2 strings.

He also didn't use bar slants.

He used the other neck mainly for fills here and there.

I watched Don Helms backing Jett Williams at the ISGC. He stayed on the front (E6th) neck for the whole show. He never used bar slants in fills or solos, but now and then he would play chord backup on the low 3 strings, and do a forward slant on those strings to get the "other" major chord.

Don used a Stevens tone bar, which doesn't lend itself easily to slants. He routinely used 5 or 7 fret moves to get the correct straight bar harmony for the next note. He knew that tuning very well.

Also, he never played the 3rd and 4th strings together (C# and B). This is good news for pedal steel players, as both of those notes are on the same string in E9th tuning with the A pedal. All of Don Helms' fills and solos can be played at the same frets on E9th pedal steel by using the A pedal to emulate his 3rd string.
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James Taylor


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 1:27 pm     Don Helms Reply with quote

Well, well you do not have to go to a university for steel or pedal steel as we have got it all here on this educational FORUM. This is so interesting I can hardly believe all this information is flowing through so quickly . In the olden days it could take weeks,even months and often not very satisfactorly. However, I could now write a book on what I have been tought on this FORUM.Thanks everyone ,but keep it coming YOURS AYE JAMES TAYLOR
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Larry Phleger


From:
DuBois, PA
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 1:41 pm     Reply with quote

On one of Don's interviews with Jim Vest, he mentioned that he traded a Fender for the Gibson Console Grande he used with most of his sessions with Hank Williams. I don't recall him mentioning if the Fender was a single or multiple neck guitar. Smile
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Clyde Mattocks


From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 7:35 pm     Reply with quote

The Fender was a double neck and I believe Don told me the trade was made somewhere in Virginia.
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Mitch Druckman


From:
Arizona, USA
Post Posted 13 Jul 2013 8:08 pm     Reply with quote

Are there any examples of him playing anything in the B11 tuning?
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Clyde Mattocks


From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 14 Jul 2013 9:16 am     Reply with quote

Don would often play "Marie" on the back neck. I've heard it on some radio transcriptions, but I don't recall which. His Drifting Cowboys instrumentals on MGM were all on the E6th neck.
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Wesley Medlen


From:
LaCygne,Ks
Post Posted 14 Jul 2013 10:14 am     Reply with quote

About 3 months before he passed Don was here at the Middle Creek Opry we visited about an hour he was using the Gibson. He told me how much Martry Stewart offered for the Gibson but said it was going to hall of fame when he passed on a super gentleman
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James Taylor


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 14 Jul 2013 12:51 pm     Don Helms Reply with quote

B0B, So I should be able to get Don's sound acurately on one fret just with the A pedal on my Encore with E9 tuning? Thanks a lot YOURS AYE JAMES TAYLOR Scotland Smile Smile Smile
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 14 Jul 2013 7:20 pm     Reply with quote

The A pedal raises B to C#. Don never played his B and C# strings together - his harmonies used one or the other. He didn't use bar slants or use his two lowest strings on the Hank Williams songs. Therefore, everything in his songbook can be played on 5 strings of the E9th pedal steel, at the same frets as written in the book.
Tab:
   E6         E9th pedal steel
   ---        -------------------
1. G#         3rd string
2. E          4th string
3. C#         5th string, A pedal
4. B          5th string, no pedal
5. G#         6th string
6. E          8th string

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-b0b- (SGF Admin) a.k.a. Bobby Lee ♪ CopedentsRice & BeanWine Country SwingStella
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Joseph Barcus


From:
Volga West Virginia
Post Posted 15 Jul 2013 9:45 am     Reply with quote

I have my back neck tuned to E6th and the pedals also changed around for some of the slants that is hard to do on a ten string guitar. as some of you know I play the part of Don Helms for David Church he is one of the best Hank Williams tribute artist out there. I keep my center switch for the pickup in the middle bringing my ohms down to about 8500 I just picked up a 6 sting 1948 electromuse that has a winding of 7.9 thats closer to the gibson windings and I plan on taking it along for the next Rfd recording in October. playing the Hank Williams Museum this week end
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2003 emmons double neck 8floor 6 knees,E9th /E6th setup nashville 400,DD-3,supro 8 string lap steel
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James Taylor


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 15 Jul 2013 10:47 am     Don Helms Reply with quote

THANKS JOSEPH,That was interesting and thank you so much b0b for all the information you have cramed into this section on this particular theme and in particular on the E9 set-up . Steve these diagrams were so helpful too. YOURS AYE JAMES TAYLOR SCOTLAND Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 15 Jul 2013 11:33 am     Reply with quote

I should mention that while you can play the same notes on E9th pedal steel, it's nearly impossible to make a pedal steel sound like Don Helms' Gibson. It's close enough for on stage with a generic country band, but not for a real Hank Williams tribute band.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 15 Jul 2013 12:34 pm     Reply with quote

Here's a good thread from 2009 about the B11th tuning. I've seen a lot of variations over the years in what tones people put in the bass end of the tuning.

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=1340116&sid=f3438b28784db08d841e75ed0c040a86
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Joseph Barcus


From:
Volga West Virginia
Post Posted 15 Jul 2013 2:59 pm     Reply with quote

you have that right Bob but I got it pretty darn close will have send you a link sometime. oh I dont use any pedals only now and then a slant is required Don didnt do many slants. now the old supro it has a tone pretty close to that time but with David have to use the pedal steel because he goes back and fourths from hank stuff to modern e9th material
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2003 emmons double neck 8floor 6 knees,E9th /E6th setup nashville 400,DD-3,supro 8 string lap steel
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Tom Harris


From:
Mississippi, USA
Post Posted 19 Jul 2013 7:34 pm     Reply with quote

At a Steel Jam I talked to Don for a while and he told me that He use mostly the E6 on the songs he did with Hank,,but sometimes he would use the B13 for a kick-off or a run,,one of the songs he did with Hank ( which Is my fav ) where he used the E6 all the way through Is "Why Don't You Love Me Like You Use To Do",as per our conversation..R I P Don..
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