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Post new topic The various E13 tuning choices for 10-string lap steel
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Author Topic:  The various E13 tuning choices for 10-string lap steel
Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 4 Dec 2017 8:02 pm     Reply with quote

I have an old 10-string Gibson that's currently strung for C6 that gets precious little playing time. I'm contemplating setting it up for E13. Would a 22.5" scale instrument be conducive to E13?

I have read about the Morrell tuning, the Jules tuning, the McAuliffe tuning, Boggs, West, etc... Can anyone explain the similarities and differences, and the strengths and weaknesses of the various E13 tunings?

What variation would be the most natural for a guy like me to slide into (pun intended). I'm most familiar with the standard 10-string pedal steel E9, the 6-string C6-based tunings, and the high bass 6-string resonator tunings.
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Tom Cooper


From:
Orlando, Fl
Post Posted 5 Dec 2017 2:32 am     10 string tuning Reply with quote

Here is what I have ended up with after lots of debate:
B D E F# G# B C# E G# F# .
It's Morrell tuning with top two string reversal to be like familiar pedal steel, and low B instead of E. I could drop he B down to E if I had to. So far liking the low B. I do a lot of classic country type stuff, but also trying to learn swing and jazz. The G# where it is on top keeps my Don Helms parts, the rest is familiar E9 grips and 6th chord. I think I will be with this for a long time. Just got a ten string. Want to live in one tuning for a while.
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 5 Dec 2017 6:32 am     Re: The various E13 tuning choices for 10-string lap steel Reply with quote

Jack Hanson wrote:
I have an old 10-string Gibson that's currently strung for C6 that gets precious little playing time. I'm contemplating setting it up for E13. Would a 22.5" scale instrument be conducive to E13?

I have read about the Morrell tuning, the Jules tuning, the McAuliffe tuning, Boggs, West, etc... Can anyone explain the similarities and differences, and the strengths and weaknesses of the various E13 tunings?

What variation would be the most natural for a guy like me to slide into (pun intended). I'm most familiar with the standard 10-string pedal steel E9, the 6-string C6-based tunings, and the high bass 6-string resonator tunings.


22.5" scale length is ideal for non-pedal playing especially E13 as its easier to slant in tune lower down the fretboard.

E13 is filled with plenty of advanced, intricate voicings but using slants gives you even more. Forward and reverse slants.

The Morrell tuning encompasses ALL of the stated tuning intervals above except the low B. A combination of all three would be best and encompasses that low B in the tuning.

Which in itself would offer you a extremely useful and common

Drop 2 Dom7 chord inversion which is also a Dim7 Chord inversion.
And a Root position Dom7 reverse slant

Weakness is the wasted Low E string which is not as useful as a root on the 10th string but offers ALOT more if you place it in between the D and F#. So imagine Tom Morrell's tuning with a low B instead of Low E.

Some can't live without the Low E because of Boot Heel Drag - (Just change the key and play it a semitone up in F - easy)

I would honestly sacrifice the high G# string and make it a low G# as there is NOT a single voicing that this offers that you can't play somewhere else. This may seem odd to many C6 players as they are used to the 3rd interval on top However in such a high pitch tuning having a lower register is more beneficial.

Plus the low G# gives you now,

m7 Root/Drop 2, 1st inversion
m7b5 Root/Drop 2/1st inversion
Dom9 chords
M9 Chord inversion as used in Nightlife with the 5th on top
m6 chord inversions
Dim7 Chord inversions
7b13
7thb9
7th#9
mM7b9
mM7#9
m11 inversions
sus4
9thsus4 inversions
6/9 Chord inversions

and many others.

To answer your last question E13 is like E9 basic theory but playing it is NOT.
You need to approach it slowly.

I think its full potential can be achieved on 12 strings or if you are lazy on a 14 string add the high G# and Low E but honestly they are NOT necessary.

E13 thrives on TRIAD theory. Every single chord and inversion can be suggested with 3 notes. Remember this and you are well on your way to Discovering E13.

Open your mind to slants and you will soon see its true potential on where they are in relation to the current chord and your future chord position in a progression.

As far as feeling right at home you will and you won't.

The basic chord qualities line up like standard guitar (Here are some repeated grip patterns for your major chord and minor chords) but if you delve deeper you pretty much have to study triad theory and learn where the positions are.

Tuning I'd recommend but its up to you as to what you like:

Strings 1 - 10 on my Tuning.
https://ilapsteel.wordpress.com/the-bebop-tuning/

Missing the 2 extra string you are missing some inversions and voicings in the LOWER register but you have still achieved most of what I have. I won't bore you with the full list of some of them but just a taster.

missing:
Cm13 quartal voicing
mM7 root /drop 2
Major root/inversions positions
Augmented
M6
M7 Root/Drop 2
Dim7 full 4 notes
m9 stronger voicing than what is offered higher

etc.

Hope this helps and great to have you on board of the E13 Discovery.

Message me anytime I'm happy to share.
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Stefan aka Bilal Khalif
Bill Hatcher custom 12 string Lap Steel Guitar
E13#9/F Bebop Tuning

Head & Hands to Steel your Heart.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 5 Dec 2017 4:01 pm     Reply with quote

Ultimately the tuning doesn’t matter. A 6 string dobro tuning will let you play any kind of music you can think of, and give you more to practice to last a lifetime. The problem is not the tuning, the problem is being musical in your tuning of choice . As much as steel players think the perfect tuning will allow them to play everything, the fact is steel guitar will never replace a piano. Just as a piano will never replace a trumpet or a sax. Pick a tuning . Learn how to make music on it. And screw the rest. Chords are nothing but possible harmony notes to be played against the melody. It can be achieved in 2 notes as well as 4 or 10. For my ears steel guitar is and always will be a melody instrument, where it’s unique ability to mimic the human voice gives it its power.
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 5 Dec 2017 10:58 pm     Reply with quote

Bill McCloskey wrote:
Ultimately the tuning doesn’t matter. A 6 string dobro tuning will let you play any kind of music you can think of, and give you more to practice to last a lifetime. The problem is not the tuning, the problem is being musical in your tuning of choice . As much as steel players think the perfect tuning will allow them to play everything, the fact is steel guitar will never replace a piano. Just as a piano will never replace a trumpet or a sax. Pick a tuning . Learn how to make music on it. And screw the rest. Chords are nothing but possible harmony notes to be played against the melody. It can be achieved in 2 notes as well as 4 or 10. For my ears steel guitar is and always will be a melody instrument, where it’s unique ability to mimic the human voice gives it its power.


Different journey.

If Buddy and others agreed with that pedal steel guitar wouldn’t exist.
And there wouldn’t be a point of different tunings/necks on lap steel guitar EVER.
Heck why use more than 2 string with that theory.

Different goals and journey for different people.
Rolling Eyes
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Stefan aka Bilal Khalif
Bill Hatcher custom 12 string Lap Steel Guitar
E13#9/F Bebop Tuning

Head & Hands to Steel your Heart.
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 5 Dec 2017 11:09 pm     Reply with quote

Bill McCloskey wrote:
Thanks Lane. I fantasize from time to time about adding pedals. At heart I am an acoustic dobro player, who dabbles in lap steel. Looking at the six string pedals always gives me a Jones to explore pedals. But then I look at the mechanics, and I freeze.


Didn’t you say that Bill?
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Stefan aka Bilal Khalif
Bill Hatcher custom 12 string Lap Steel Guitar
E13#9/F Bebop Tuning

Head & Hands to Steel your Heart.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 5:42 am     Reply with quote

I did say that. About 10 years back, when I was playing dobro and lap steel I also jonesed to play trumpet. Which I then proceeded to do for the next 5 years, eventually playing flugelhorn in a jazz band in Manhattan.

That was because I wanted to play jazz and for me, jazz is all about the brass and reeds.

But none of that has anything to do with what I said. If you need to play a certain repertoire, you are a western swing player who is required to play Boot Heel Drag every night, that is going to indicate your tuning. If you are in a very traditional country band, you are going to have to play pedals. And you are going to be asked to play the solos exactly the way they appear on the record.

But if you just want to play music, certainly tuning doesn't matter. If it did, Rob Ickes and Jerry Douglas wouldn't be playing jazz. If you are trying to replicate the past, you are confined to how the past played it.

If your goal is to be a musician, you can achieve that with any tuning. This obsession with tunings, and how many straight bar chords you can play is a waste of time. Your time is better spent learning the tuning you have and figuring out how to make music on it. When I played trumpet, I never played two notes at the same time. But I certainly played chords.

My brief interest in pedals was about adding some additional effects, not some additional chords.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 5:49 am     Reply with quote

"f Buddy and others agreed with that pedal steel guitar wouldn’t exist. "

The reason why pedal steel exists or any instrument for that matter, has nothing to do with musicality or being a musician. Do you think that if Buddy Emmons wanted to play music on a dobro, he couldn't make brilliant music on it?
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 7:04 am     Reply with quote

Bill McCloskey wrote:
... This obsession with tunings, and how many straight bar chords you can play is a waste of time. Your time is better spent learning the tuning you have and figuring out how to make music on it. ....

My brief interest in pedals was about adding some additional effects, not some additional chords.


Different Journey.

I wish Reece Anderson were still around to chime in RIP. But he and many others didn't see it as a waste of time. But moreso potential possibilities.

Anyway. Bill your journey is yours.

And I'm calling BS on having to tune your steel to ONLY that specific tuning to play certain songs. That's rubbish and more of a limitation of the tuning/player. And that thinking is Archaic.

Boot Heel Drag in the Key of F instead of E or any other key is still Boot Heel Drag. Ask any audience member or band member and a change in key doesn't change the song? Do you need to tune your steel for each song???? Archaic.

Chords and scales don't change because you want to play Western swing/Jazz/Hawaaian/Blues and that thinking to me that was once used is more the ease and less theory approach or limited number of intervals in said tuning.

ie. A Major 6 Chord is still a Major 6. So whatever tuning you use as long as those intervals exist you can play one. If you want to be more specific even to octaves then yes it doesn't change. Middle C is still Middle C. (on a side note interesting to know that Middle C is even debatable - ask Roland Keyboard manufacturers)

Back to it.

Music is about making music. - Bill is right

Steel tunings - are about can it be played or not (if not what are the sacrifices/substitutions)
_________________
http://ilapsteel.wordpress.com
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Stefan aka Bilal Khalif
Bill Hatcher custom 12 string Lap Steel Guitar
E13#9/F Bebop Tuning

Head & Hands to Steel your Heart.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 7:33 am     Reply with quote

"
Boot Heel Drag in the Key of F instead of E or any other key is still Boot Heel Drag."

Not really. Most traditional bands are going to play traditional songs in the key they were written in and a band is not going to accommodate the steel player. The steel player needs to be able to play the tune in the original key. If you are playing bootheel drag every night , or sitting in with a band, you are most likely going to be playing 8 strings in A6 or C6 tuning. Just like fiddle tunes are played in certain keys. If you play dobro, you are going to play those tunes in the key that they are traditionally played in. If you join Asleep at the Wheel, you aren't going to be playing Boot Heel Drag in F.

Not sure I understand your point about Reece and a waste of time. It is never a waste of time to learn the tuning you choose backwards and forwards. Reece's tuning is really just an extension of C6. And you can play any tune traditionally done in C6 on it.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 8:36 am     Reply with quote

BTW, Stefan, I used to be where you are. Tried every tuning under the sun. Ultimately, I found the endless search for the perfect tuning fruitless. For me:

1. If you want to play bluegrass: get a 6 string dobro and put it into GBDGBD tuning.
2. If you want to play western swing, get an 8 string and put it in A6 or C6 tuning (or get two necks one for each.
3. If you want to play country, get a 10 string Pedal Steel in E9th tuning.

And if you want to play jazz, rock or other non traditional forms of music, or you want to forge your own musical path: tuning doesn't matter. Pick one, learn it backwards and forwards and make music.

For me I only play the following;

1. on 6 string, I'm going to be playing GBDGBD, regardless of acoustic or electric guitar.
2. If I play 8 string, I'm going to be playing a G6 tuning, whether it is acoustic or lap steel.
3. I recently ordered a 12 string super slide and I'll put Reece's tuning on it, but mainly so I can play any C6 stuff.

People waste years fooling around with tunings that they should be putting into being a better musician.
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 9:21 am     Reply with quote

LOL. Fair enough Bill.

I'm actually surprised that key is that important to you at least. I know for sure that anyone of the 12 keys if it sounds good the audience/band won't care.

Also I used to have to change keys based on the singer's range all the time when I played guitar.

I will just agree to disagree as I believe that you should be able to play anything you want on a single tuning.

Lest we forget before there was pedal ALL steel was non-pedal. Thus a lot of country and Western swing was forged on it.

You can play Dobro based songs on any competent tuning as its just a major chord repeated. (really not all that much to it) - R, 3, 5.

But I get your point that for many the search is fruitless and they could have spent their time practicing instead.

Everyone has their journey and thank goodness Emmons, Anderson and Many others wasted many years with tunings as they are the ones we remember the most.

Those who dare to dream as opposed to those who just follow.

Anyway much love to you and enjoy your journey whatever/wherever it may take you. Very Happy
_________________
http://ilapsteel.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/ilapsteel

Stefan aka Bilal Khalif
Bill Hatcher custom 12 string Lap Steel Guitar
E13#9/F Bebop Tuning

Head & Hands to Steel your Heart.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 6 Dec 2017 10:47 am     Reply with quote

Accompaniment is certainly a different thing, and part of learning your instrument is being able to play in any key. That is different than playing signature songs that contain signature licks.

And no, you can't play dobro based licks on any competent tuning. Smile

In fact many signature dobro licks can only be played in certain keys. You can't play certain G licks in any other key without capoing. They are unique to the dobro and G tuning.

But I agree with one statement; "Anyway much love to you and enjoy your journey whatever/wherever it may take you."
You as well. keep sliding.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 9 Dec 2017 7:35 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for the lively discourse, gentlemen. Lots of information to ponder. In the meantime, I'll have to figure out what variation I will use to start out, and order the appropriate gauge strings (if necessary).
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 9 Dec 2017 10:14 pm     Reply with quote

Congrats, gentlemen! I thought this one was going over the precipice, but you dialed back. To me the big diffie is in the density of interior intervals. If you're like careful & sensitive and real, real accurate about "grips" E13 will reward lush chordish-style. But the close intervals take a lot of slants out at the starting gate, I just don't "need" to play minor 9ths, on a steel guitar? And if you're at all prone to... ahem... BLASTING AWAY at the thing, I think the open-er voicing of the 6th tunings este muy better. The "I can get EVERY chord!" mentality on 6-strings may be kinda drizzling over to steel?

The other rap is, "You don't need the root, the bass player will get it." Uh-oh - WHAT BASS PLAYER?!? Is he hiding under the furniture again... oh. I IS the bass player dammit.Yes you maybe CAN get all the color notes, but minor seconds sound mighty weird in the bass. It's (eliptically) all Ted Greene's fault.
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