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Author Topic:  More newbie questions
Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 10:10 am     Reply with quote

I posted a separate thread here about lessons in NJ - thanks to those of you who offered your thoughts there.

I have a bunch of other newbie-type questions as I contemplate whether to take the plunge into buying a steel and devoting the time to learning.

Probably my biggest concern is the mechanical complexity of the instrument. The pedals, levers, rods and other moving parts seem way beyond anything I encounter when doing routine maintenance on my 6-string electric and acoustic guitars. This worries me from the standpoint of buying a steel as well as keeping it in good playing shape over time. Is this the kind of thing that requires a professional, or is it easy enough for a newbie to learn and pull off without a lot of learning and skill? Even basic things like changing strings and tuning? Based on my initial research, there are few to no dealers or repair shops in the northern NJ/NYC area who work with PSG. I'd hate to buy a steel and then find that I'm unable to fix any issues that might be present upon unboxing - or even to keep it in tune/in playing shape as small things arise.

That brings me to another topic - what's a good starter steel? I'm interested in E9 and a single-neck instrument. Looking here and on Reverb.com/eBay it seems there are a lot of "starter" or old guitars in the $1K-1.5K range but based on what I've read here and elsewhere these may have maintenance/setup/functionality issues that would make spending a bit more cash worthwhile. Other than GFI, are there steel makers that sell direct to the public and offer good quality instruments that don't break the bank? For instance, I've been looking at the GFI Expo series and could probably swing their "factory direct" pricing in the $2300 range if it meant getting a brand new instrument that would be set up correctly, with the appropriate number of pedals/levers so I can grow into it, not to mention far fewer maintenance issues.

A related question is what's the value of a pad on a single-neck guitar? I've messed around with lap steel a bit so I'm thinking I probably wouldn't need a pad on a single-neck PSG but maybe i'm missing something here with respect to playability and comfort?

OK, that's probably enough questions for one thread. Thanks in advance for any thoughts, folks!
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 10:29 am     Reply with quote

As long as the guitar isn't in need of a teardown, it won't need much of anything.
If you can get up to Southern New England, John Widgren is a good mechanic (I think he's in someplace like New Haven).
The GFI student model is a decent guitar and is readily available from several dealers.
Many of the used single neck guitars in that price range are good to go, although some might need work. If you can, find an existing player to audition the guitar you're thinking of buying, to get input as to the condition
_________________
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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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 10:32 am     Reply with quote

If you can locate one or more steelers that are near you, especially ones that have played a while and can play fairly well, they could probably answer some of your questions. You should do your own research too, and see where that leads. If you buy an older guitar, or one from someone that is not an experienced player, there is a good chance it will need some work, or at least adjustments. A new guitar, like the GFI student model or the Stage One, is a good choice. A late model used guitar can be a good deal too, just be aware of what you are buying. Here is where someone with experience can help.

I think anyone can get comfortable playing either a single neck or SD-10 guitar. It's just a matter of positioning your body in relation to the guitar. Good luck to you in your search.
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Jim Kennedy


From:
Brentwood California, USA
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 11:06 am     Reply with quote

I bought my guitar 12 years ago, a used ShoBud Pro 1, e9, 3 & 2,double raise, double lower builit in 1984. The guitar was well used, but not abused. The first thing I did was completely tear it down, cleaned and lubed everything. No problems. A year later I replaced the fingers with new ones from the late John Coop. To me the mechanics were pretty straight forward. However, being comfortable with mechanical things is highly individual. If you are mechanically inclined, playing and working on a steel shouldn't be a problem. If you are "mechanically handicapped" repairs and adjustments might be a bit of a challange. Either way, do not be deterred. There are plenty of resources here on the forum. Be patient and ask your questions. You will find the help you need right here.
_________________
ShoBud Pro 1, 75 Tele, 85 Yamaha SA 2000, Fender Cybertwin,
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Slim Laurence


From:
Austin, Texas
Post Posted 2 Jan 2018 5:22 pm     Reply with quote

I agree with Jim.

"...being comfortable with mechanical things is highly individual.....Either way, do not be deterred."

Obviously buying a steel that is in good operating condition is a great idea, and the better it plays and stays in tune the more fun it will be to play. And then learning will be more of a pleasure and less of a chore.

Having said that, I'm glad I was forced to make all of the necessary adjustments and optional modifications to my first psg all on my own. That experience has left me capable of maintaining and modding my own steels as well as those of others. I actually even enjoy doing it.

After a few months with my first guitar, an MSA Classic D10, I ordered a brand new steel from a well established company. When it showed up to my doorstep it was absolutely unplayable. The pulls weren't timed, and a couple wouldn't even make it to the target pitch. Brand new, freshly assembled, and it needed to be entirely rerodded if it was to be played.

My point is, if I hadn't learned a lot with my first guitar I would have had to send the new one back and wait for them to fix it, or pay someone to fix it and spend even more money on it than I already had. Instead, I just spent a day of my life setting it up properly and it turns out to be a great guitar. I still have it, I love it, and I thoroughly understand it.

Hopefully you will find one you don't have to work on. But if not, you will probably be a little frustrated at first but you will be better off in the long run.

Slim
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 1:38 am     Reply with quote

The question of mechanical aptitude is only the same as with cars. Some drivers like to do what repairs they can, others wouldn't dream of trying. No shame attaches to either.
_________________
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 3:01 am     Reply with quote

I'll be repeating what's already been covered:

The most important thing with a used steel is buying something that has been 'certified' by someone who knows what's what. You really want the opinion of someone with a clue. Then, the most hand's-on you will need to be is the equivalent of knowing how to change a tire on that car that you otherwise may or may not be interested in getting under the hood of.
The GFI, Stage One and Encore, new, should be trouble-free and there should be no worries. However the better you study the mechanical aspects of making adjustments, the better equipped you will for eventual fine tuning (and the eventual undoing of some bad bonehead adjustments you will be bound to make -- don't ask how I know.....we've all done it).

Just in case it were to fit in with your life, I live near Woodstock, NY. If that somehow happens to fit into your orbit, then you can consider me a resource.
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Jack Stepick


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 6:05 am     NJ Steel Tech Reply with quote

Yes, John Widgren in Ct. Great to deal with, super tech guy.
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 9:56 am     Re: More newbie questions Reply with quote

Justin Schack wrote:


A related question is what's the value of a pad on a single-neck guitar?


The value is that some people like them and find them comfortable. It's purely a question of personal preference. It will not make any difference in your playing.

What you should do, if possible, is try out a guitar with a pad and see if you like it.
_________________
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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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 4:03 pm     Reply with quote

I don't like pads. If you sit and address your guitar properly, you don;t need to reach across empty real estate to play. Much more comfortable for me, and I'm 6;2", with overly long arms.
_________________
Dr. Z Surgical Steel amp, amazing!
"74 Bud S-10 3&6
'73 Bud S-10 3&5(under construction)
'63 Fingertip S-10, at James awaiting 6 knees
'57 Strat, LP Blue
'91 Tele with 60's Maple neck
Dozen more guitars!
Dozens of amps, but SF Quad reverb, Rick Johnson cabs. JBL 15, '64 Vibroverb for at home.
'52 and '56 Pro Amps
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Slim Laurence


From:
Austin, Texas
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 4:31 pm     Reply with quote

That's interesting, John. It shows how different each player's situation is.

I don't really care one way or the other about the pad, but without the extra body width under the pad I can't put the left knee levers in a position that works for me.

But then I do have disproportionately long legs and arms. It's always interesting to me to see how this stuff lines out for others. It truly is a unique instrument!

Slim
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 5:10 pm     Reply with quote

Jon Light wrote:
I'll be repeating what's already been covered:

The most important thing with a used steel is buying something that has been 'certified' by someone who knows what's what. You really want the opinion of someone with a clue. Then, the most hand's-on you will need to be is the equivalent of knowing how to change a tire on that car that you otherwise may or may not be interested in getting under the hood of.
The GFI, Stage One and Encore, new, should be trouble-free and there should be no worries. However the better you study the mechanical aspects of making adjustments, the better equipped you will for eventual fine tuning (and the eventual undoing of some bad bonehead adjustments you will be bound to make -- don't ask how I know.....we've all done it).

Just in case it were to fit in with your life, I live near Woodstock, NY. If that somehow happens to fit into your orbit, then you can consider me a resource.


Thank you, Jon, and everyone else, for your advice. The 'certified' comment makes sense, though also seems to be a strong incentive to buy new. Any seller I don't personally know and trust may not be 100% forthcoming about an instrument because he or she is more interested in making a sale than in my welfare. Reverb and eBay ratings can help, as can reputations on a forum like this one, of course.

Generally speaking, I am not naturally gifted with things mechanical. I can do basic guitar and bass setups, though. I think I need to do more research about the parts of a PSG, how they work, etc., before buying, to gain a little more confidence.
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2018 5:14 pm     Re: More newbie questions Reply with quote

Mike Perlowin wrote:
Justin Schack wrote:


A related question is what's the value of a pad on a single-neck guitar?


The value is that some people like them and find them comfortable. It's purely a question of personal preference. It will not make any difference in your playing.

What you should do, if possible, is try out a guitar with a pad and see if you like it.


Fair enough. I didn't ask all that artfully, and I know it's subjective, but I guess I'm looking for folks' opinions on pad vs no pad.

Would love to be able to try before I buy but, where I live, I don't get the sense that's a viable option.
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 9:18 am     Reply with quote

John Light's post has a lot of excellent advise. I second everything he wrote.

There are a few used guitars in the classifieds that would be perfect for you. Later today I will look them over and make some recommendations.
_________________
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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Ronnie Boettcher


From:
Brunswick Ohio, USA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 9:40 am     Reply with quote

If you have a few days you can spend, Take a ride to Nashville, and check out some of the people who sell them, and have a few you can see, and sit behind them. You will be amazed at what you will find out from experts, and the products. It is just like buying a car. You don't buy one sight unseen, whether new, or used. Once you have one, over time you will be more adapt to make adjustments, or changes. Good luck.
_________________
Sho-Bud LDG, Martin D28, Ome trilogy 5 string banjo, Ibanez 4-string bass, dobro, fiddle, and a tubal cain. Life Member of AFM local 142
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 11:46 am     Reply with quote

Ronnie, I think I'd stop halfway to Nashville, and look at Billy Cooper's Music. They'll have some used guitars in inventory.
The slight disadvantage of buying from a dealer is the slightly higher price.
The HUGE advantage of buying from a dealer is that the machine will have been gone over by people who know what they're doing.
_________________
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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Ronnie Boettcher


From:
Brunswick Ohio, USA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 12:12 pm     Reply with quote

I agree with you, Lane!!!
_________________
Sho-Bud LDG, Martin D28, Ome trilogy 5 string banjo, Ibanez 4-string bass, dobro, fiddle, and a tubal cain. Life Member of AFM local 142
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 7:00 am     Reply with quote

Ronnie Boettcher wrote:
If you have a few days you can spend, Take a ride to Nashville, and check out some of the people who sell them, and have a few you can see, and sit behind them. You will be amazed at what you will find out from experts, and the products. It is just like buying a car. You don't buy one sight unseen, whether new, or used. Once you have one, over time you will be more adapt to make adjustments, or changes. Good luck.


I wish I could take a few days to drive to Nashville! And not only to check out pedal steels. Unfortunately that's not an option given my current work and family situation. Leaning toward buying something new.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone!
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Ken Boi


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 7:10 am     Reply with quote

I bought a new Stage One about 2-years ago (I still consider myself a beginner). I ordered the pad on mine, and the design allows you to remove it. I tried with and without. For most of my time spent on this instrument, it has been without. Not sure why other than it feels fine without it. As others stated, sounds like personal preference.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 7:30 am     Reply with quote

Justin Schack wrote:
Ronnie Boettcher wrote:
If you have a few days you can spend, Take a ride to Nashville, and check out some of the people who sell them, and have a few you can see, and sit behind them. You will be amazed at what you will find out from experts, and the products. It is just like buying a car. You don't buy one sight unseen, whether new, or used. Once you have one, over time you will be more adapt to make adjustments, or changes. Good luck.


I wish I could take a few days to drive to Nashville! And not only to check out pedal steels. Unfortunately that's not an option given my current work and family situation. Leaning toward buying something new.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone!

If you can take one day off (or if you're off Saturday), wake up early and drive to Orange, Virginia. It ain't Nashville, but Billy and Wanda can take care of you. And it's only 5 hours from Woodbridge NJ
_________________
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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Dick Hitchcock


From:
Wayne, Nebraska
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 9:18 am     Reply with quote

Justin....If you're looking at new...take look at Fred Justice...You won't find a more honest builder anywhere...and he will take care of you after the sale also....Ask anyone on here!! http://www.justicesteelguitars.com/index.html[/url]
_________________
Justice Pro Lite 4x5.... NV112 amp.... Steel seat.
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 11:33 am     Reply with quote

Doing a little more research on parts of a PSG, how they work, maintenance, etc., I came across a great website. I guess it used to be the Carter website but now appears to be more of a resource for the PSG community. A lot of good info here for newbies. I'm sure many of you are already acquainted with it but figured I'd post here in case others in my boat wind up reading this thread now or in the future. With just a bit of reading I'm now familiar with changers (and how they work), pull rods, difference between all-pull and push-pull, and a host of other stuff. There's a good PSG buyer's guide and info on lubrication as well.

https://www.steelguitar.com/index.html
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Dan Cope


From:
West Virginia, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 7:58 pm     Reply with quote

If you’re seriously considering buying new and want to stay in the price range you mentioned, you might want to take a look at the Mullen Discovery model. A great guitar and great people to work with at Mullen!
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Jim Williams


From:
Meridian, Mississippi, USA - Home of Peavey!
Post Posted 12 Jan 2018 8:42 am     Reply with quote

I had a long paragraph written but decided just to keep it simple. I've tried about three or four times to learn pedal steel over the years. The first few times were with various used guitars. I have had much more luck this time with the new GFI SM10 I bought new than the other attempts. I would have bought a Stage One if they had been available at the time and if I hadn't gotten such a sweet deal on financing the GFI. If you can find a good used guitar from a reputable seller with the modern pedal / lever setup, there is nothing wrong with that route either, but you want something to play...not to constantly adjust or tinker with.
_________________
GFI SM10 3/4, 1937 Gibson EH-150, 2 - Rondo SX Lap Steels and a Guyatone 6 String C6. Peavey 400 and a Roland 40 Amps. Behringer Reverb Pedal.


Last edited by Jim Williams on 12 Jan 2018 8:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Justin Schack


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 12 Jan 2018 8:52 am     Reply with quote

Jim Williams wrote:
I am on about my third attempt at learning pedal steel. In short, I have had much better luck with the new GFI SM10 I bought this time than with previous attempts with various used guitars. Particularly if you do decide to go with used, try and buy one from a reputable member here on the forum or a reputable dealer...Beware of Ebay.


Thanks for this. Funny, I've been leaning more and more toward ordering a new GFI S10 Expo.

One question I keep running into is with respect to the number of knee levers. I see that a "3&4" setup seems to be pretty standard, but I've also come across a fair amount of guitars on the used market that have a 5th knee lever, often described as a "vertical" knee lever. Do y'all think this is necessary/worthwhile for a beginner? It's not that much more $ to add the 5th at the factory, so I'm thinking if it's something that will eventually get some use as I learn and grow into the instrument, it might be a good thing to get upfront.
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