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Author Topic:  Tone Changes
Larry Robertson


From:
Denver, Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2018 6:10 pm    
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Do you change the tone of your setup for different tunes? By that I mean do you change the bass or treble controls on the amp or maybe have an inline eq box or have a tone control on your guitar?. It seems that a lot of guys use the same tone on every tune, but maybe a slow tune or a blues could benefit from a darker tone than an uptempo jump tune or shuffle. What do you do?
Larry
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2018 6:21 pm    
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Mainly change picking style and position to change the tone to suit the tune, and leave the eq alone. I do have a treble control attached to the PSG though, that I can use to brighten or darken the tone.
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Dan Robinson


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2018 9:36 pm    
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Larry, you know me... my tone is always too dark. You told me yourself. Laughing

I rarely adjust tone controls on my amp during a gig or any kind of session, even a jam session. The XR-16 on my Carter is wired straight to the 1/4" jack, and it does not have the coil choices that you get with a 705.

My S10 Sho-Bud has volume and tone controls on the deck. I added a switch to provide choices on use of the orignal pickup's coil-tap. I played with those controls during gigs and found them to be amazingly useful.

I'm surprised that we don't see more steel guitars made with passive controls. Easy, inexpensive, and versatile.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 1:58 am    
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Excel have them as an option (which I declined Smile )
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Ollin Landers


From:
Chapel Hill, NC
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 6:15 am    
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I have a Sarno Freeloader that I use primarily as a buffer when using a pot pedal.

The rest of the time it gets used as a tone control. And yes I do use it to control the tone on some tunes. For instance when going from a Nashville style ballad to a Bakersfield honky tonk tune.

I find it very useful to thin the tone out for those Bakersfield songs.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 6:23 am    
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Caution!

Rant ahead. Take the detour if you can't stand the bumps.

Sadly, a lot of pedal steel players seem stuck with a "one-tone mind". Everything they play sounds the same, and their sound (no matter how good) just gets boring after awhile. You see, I'm probably in the minority because I feel there is no one "best" tone. I often change my tone and reverb settings on the amp, as well as changing the EFX, for different songs and singers. I look at it as just one more way to add some color and variety to what I play, and to enhance the song.

I don't have to tell most of you that the steel sounds on modern recordings are, for the most part, pretty bland and ordinary. It's obvious. But I blame that mostly on today's producers and engineers...who also seem trapped in the "valley of one boring sound". That certainly contributes to the monotony and sameness we hear in today's music. Often, we hear about having only one certain tone - supposedly so we can "regulate" how the steel "sits in the mix". Has anyone ever considered what a positively stupid and unimaginative thought process that is? So, Mr. Record Man, the steel guitar can only have one sound or tone??? That's ridiculous, and pretty sad if you ask me. Look, it's the musician's job to develop and get "his sound", and the engineer's job to capture it - not to modify it so it fits his own narrow conception of what is, or is not, a correct sound.

On recordings back in the day, Buddy had one sound, the other Buddy had another, and Tom, Weldon, Pete, and Hal as well, all had their distinctive sounds and tones. And unlike what the McMusic factories are putting out today, they all sounded pretty damn good to me! Nowadays, most all the steel playing on recordings (and a lot of that in live performances) comes off as technically perfect, but bland and homogenized...boring and unimaginative.

Plain vanilla steel sounds, anyone?
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 6:38 am    
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I have found that it is important to develop the ability to control my sound and tone with my hands. I pretty much never touch my amp settings. I found it to be unproductive and a distraction from learning how to get the most out of my steel. I do use a couple different overdrives and delay pedals but found myself getting in trouble on stage messing with EQ.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 6:53 am    
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On a Peavey amp with the parametric EQ, I've used the same exact settings since the Session 500. I've messed with EQ and come back to the same settings. I can vary tone with picking and pick location. I've been playing pedal steel since 1969 and never felt the need for a different tone for different songs.
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Glenn Suchan


From:
Austin, Texas
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 7:32 am    
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I agree with Bob Hoffnar. I never change the tone controls on my amps (Nashville 400 and Evans SE200), just occasional changes to the reverb - the only effect I use. Of course, the only venue I play in these days is my church.

My philosophy on the amplifier tone controls (since I don't use any effects) is to neutralize negative acoustic effects of the room I'm playing in. Not to 'color' the sound of my guitar ('77 Emmons D10 p/p). Since I'm only performing in my church, the acoustics are always the same. Hence, no need to change the tone controls.

I can't lay claim to this philosophy. I first got the idea from reading about Henriksen amplifiers, which are designed to accomplish that idea.
https://henriksenamplifiers.com

BTW, are any of you, who are reading this, using an Henriksen amplifier. Or have any of you demo'd one on steel? Let me know, I'm interested in your opinion of them.

Keep on pickin'!
Glenn
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 1:15 pm    
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Bob Hoffnar wrote:
I have found that it is important to develop the ability to control my sound and tone with my hands. I pretty much never touch my amp settings. I found it to be unproductive and a distraction from learning how to get the most out of my steel.


I appreciate and respect that, Bob, but I can't agree. I don't care how good your hands are (and believe me, I've sat and watched the best there is) you'll never get Chalker's "whump" playing with Tom Brumley's amp settings. And you'll never get "Black Album" highs with the amp settings Lloyd uses now.

Like Larry and Ollin, I try for different sounds. I can't play like Chalker, Emmons, or Brumley, but I can try to emulate their tone, somewhat, with my amp (and my hands). Besides, anyone who's been around as long as I have knows that all the famous players changed their tone settings through the years. Just listen to Emmons, Green, or Weldon stuff from the '60s, and then from the '80s. There's a world of difference in their tone, and it ain't all "hands".
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 1:34 pm    
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I always play with a Goodrich Match Box.
That way I have a tone and volume control right at my fingertips, I never have to touch my amp. Very Happy
Erv
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Ken Metcalf


From:
Converse Texas USA
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2018 1:57 pm    
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I used to use a Goodrich 7A and now have had MSA put tone knobs on my U-12s.
Very Nice and useful like switching between pickups.
Great for effects like B3, heavy distortion, DoBro, Etc.



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