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Post new topic Tuning Systems
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Author Topic:  Tuning Systems
Jeffrey McFadden


From:
Missouri, USA
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 11:32 am     Reply with quote

It is my (admittedly vague) impression that psg players do not universally use the exact same tuning system, i.e. just tuning, tempered tuning, etc.

Would any members care to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various tuning systems as regards psg? Or, alternatively, tell my I've got that wrong and how and why?

Thanks.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 11:35 am     Reply with quote

So much has been written about this that it's hard to know which way to point you.

The good news is that the PSG is a great instrument to experiment with. If you play the piano or the saxophone there is less scope.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 2:08 pm     Reply with quote

No one method will work for everyone. Players are different, ears are different, and instruments are different. That said, how you tune is not nearly as important as how you sound when you're playing! The different tuning methods simply allow certain players to sound "in-tune" under different circumstances (mostly when playing along with other instruments and players).

Or, as Buddy Emmons once said..."If it sounds out, it is out".
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 2:48 pm     Reply with quote

I recommend you use the Forum's 'search' function and look for all the past cussin' and discussin' about tuning.

You will find lots of topics and lots of opinions.
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Douglas Schuch


From:
St John, US Virgin Islands
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 3:09 pm     Reply with quote

Pedal steel is somewhat unusual in that it is an instrument that has a lot of personal variation in how it is set up. This applies to tuning as well - it seems each player has his own, unique way to play OUT OF TUNE! HAHA!
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Billy Carr


From:
Seminary, Mississippi USA
Post Posted 17 Feb 2018 5:31 pm     Psg Reply with quote

I like to use the Peterson VS-11 tuner first. Then temper tune guitar. Give the strings a few minutes and repeat. I also check it at the end of each set.
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Al Evans


From:
Austin, Texas, USA
Post Posted 18 Feb 2018 11:17 am     Reply with quote

I've had a pedal steel almost two whole months Very Happy and I'm already on my third tuning method.

I'm using the "Cleartune" app on my iPad with Jeff Newman's tuning chart:

https://steelguitarforum.com/b0b/jefftune.html

...and seem to be fairly satisfied with the results on the E9th side. I haven't tried the C6th tuning yet.

--Al Evans
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 18 Feb 2018 12:06 pm     Reply with quote

For decades there was a consensus that the ideal tuning for steel guitar was just intonation*. In truth, conforming to that ideal was not an easy task as people added more pedals and knee levers. Also, physical attributes of the instrument like cabinet drop make it hard to get everything "perfect".

Then Buddy Emmons made an online statement that he tunes to equal temperament, and that opened a big debate which is still ongoing. Today, there are 3 basic camps:
  1. Just intonation purists who attempt to tune to perfect harmonic intervals
  2. Equal temperament purists who believe that playing with other instruments requires it
  3. Players who split the difference in one way or another

Myself, I fall in the 1st category for lap steel, and in the 3rd for pedal steel. I only use equal temperament on instruments where it's necessary - marimba, fretted electric bass, organ, etc.

*Jeff Newman's tuning chart, made for the early Korg tuners, was a close approximation of just intonation.
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Jeffrey McFadden


From:
Missouri, USA
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 8:24 am     Reply with quote

Thanks, b0b, that was a very informative reply.

My ears are so damaged from war and combat that I really shouldn't even be playing. There is probably no possibility that I could actually hear well enough to make the decisions you describe. But I still find it fascinating to try to understand.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 9:31 am     Reply with quote

Jeff Newman was incredibly influential. The early tuning meters didn't show a "cents" scale - they showed a "calibration" scale for adjusting the tuner to orchestras that didn't use A=440 Hz as a reference. Jeff's original chart showed E to be 440. To this day, you still hear steel players say "I tune my E's to 440", which is clearly nonsense to anyone outside of our community. Everyone knows that 440 Hz is A, not E.

Jeff later added 2.0 Hz to all of his numbers to remove the negative bias of the chart. Players had noticed that open strings often sounded flat compared to an A=440 band. Adding +8 cents to everything solved that problem. He still used the calibration scale of the tuner, though.

I've translated Jeff's Hz numbers into the commonly used cents scale for modern tuners. https://steelguitarforum.com/b0b/jefftune.html
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