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Author Topic:  New Player Buying advice
C. Eric Banister


From:
Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 7:59 am    
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I am looking to get into pedal steel playing and need some advice. I was looking at getting a new Stage One steel. But a used 1970's MSA has come up for sale in my area for about the same price. The MSA has 4 pedals and 4 levers (the Stage one has 3 and 4).

Which way would you go?
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 8:11 am    
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I would strongly suggest that the MSA be inspected by an experienced player. It could be a nice choice but would be not much different than buying a used car with no knowledge of what to look out for.
The Stage One needs no such caution. You can buy it with confidence.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 8:31 am    
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IMHO, the choice between the two would come down to what model the MSA is, and what the price and condition is. Advising you without seeing pictures, at least, of the MSA, should therefore be postponed.
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C. Eric Banister


From:
Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 9:15 am    
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Thanks for the responses. I contacted the seller and the model is MSA Classic. It has recently been serviced and new strings put on. It was once a double neck but was professionally converted to a single neck with arm rest.

The price is $1200 (obo).

Here are a couple of pictures:




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Tony Glassman


From:
The Great Northwest
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 9:19 am    
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I’d recommend the new Stage One. It’s a great guitar with all the changes you need to keep you occupied for years to come. Since it’s new it will likely be problem free and has great customer supportive If any issues do arise.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 9:39 am    
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Tony Glassman wrote:
I’d recommend the new Stage One. It’s a great guitar with all the changes you need to keep you occupied for years to come. Since it’s new it will likely be problem free and has great customer supportive If any issues do arise.

+1
Very satisfied and busy Stage One owner here. I see Doug still has the “no new orders” notice up on the website. There may be a waiting period for your order to be filled, but it is definitely worth a phone call to find out.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 9:41 am    
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I agree with Jon's caveat - find a pedal steel player local to you and go check out the MSA. But I think it's worth the trouble to try to find someone to help you out. Maybe start a separate thread entitled "Need experienced pedal steeler from XXX, Indiana to check out steel". A lot of the players on this forum are very generous in terms of helping out a new player.

Speaking only for myself, if I checked out the MSA and found it in good playing shape, I'd go with it instead of any starter steel, as good as they are. For me, the obvious advantages are:

1. I'm tall and I need a professional, adjustable steel, at least 1-1/2 wide and preferably double-wide body, to make it fit my long legs and arms. This may or may not be an issue for you, so YMMV. But ergonomics is very important to me.

2. Old MSAs are, IMO, really the prototype for modern all-pull pedal steels and are very solid guitars and ahead of their time. I consider $1200 a good price if this is in good shape - and if it is, I can't imagine losing money on this steel.

3. Although the MSA Classic is not the easiest steel to work on, the setup is readily changed if you decide you want to do that at some point.

IMO, the only major disadvantage to old MSA Classics is that they are heavy, but at least you don't have to contend with the weight from the C6 mechanics.

BTW, that steel sure looks nice if the pictures are representative. But playability is more important than looks.

Again, be cautious, but an old MSA Classic in good playing shape is a good guitar. I would not dismiss it out-of-hand.

PS - does it come with the old Sho Bud volume pedal? IMO, that's enough pedal to last a lifetime, provided you can deal with changing the potentiometer every once in a while.
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2018 9:57 am    
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Do you know who did the servicing?
And what exactly did they do?
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Bob Carlucci


From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 3 Nov 2018 3:24 am    
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That MSA is a pro model steel guitar that will last you a lifetime.. parts for them are readily available and cheap, but they rarely if ever need anything replaced.. I know of NO other brand or design thats more stable and reliable...

The Stage One is not even close to being in the same class mechanically, although it is a much smaller lighter guitar.. Price of the Stage One is about the same as the MSA..

In my mind its not a horse race, the MSA is simply a much better guitar. They just don't wear out and they don't break.

Many people will buy a Stage One, and although its a nice little starter guitar that plays and sounds good, will move up to a pro model in short order.

I would also say that if you decide against the MSA due to size and weight, you should consider spending the extra money for the Zum Encore over the Stage One.. Its a much better guitar in every way, and you won't be looking to replace it as you might with the Stage One.. Its more of a "stripped down" pro model steel guitar, NOT a student model... bob
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Dave Campbell


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post  Posted 3 Nov 2018 5:09 am    
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i've owned a stage one, and it's a great guitar. that said, if you can get someone to check out the msa, i'd go for that instead. you'll avoid the wait time for the stage one, and i think the msa will be more stable, better sounding and a little more vibey.
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Ed Boyd


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 3 Nov 2018 9:07 am    
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I like my old Classic D10. It's all stock except for a 5th knee lever I don't use. I would post a thread searching for a pedal steel tech within driving distance. I don't know what part of Indiana you are from but Jerry Erickson was still working at Corson's Music in Champaign IL part time last I heard. When I got my MSA it was a totally disassembled project guitar a friend had started to rebuild after getting his Emmons. He never got around to finish it. Jerry refurbished and built the steel. He did a great job. If you can find d a good tech I would take the MSA over a student model. But if you can't locate a tech the Stage One is a safer option. My only problem with my MSA is the weight. I now gig with a Sho-Bud S10. I may change the E9 pickup on my MSA. It has a darker sound compared to my Sho-Bud that I've really grown to like.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 4:21 am    
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Eric, I had 2 bits of advice when I ordered my MSA. the first, from Jim Palenscar about an old Zane Beck I was looking at on Ebay for $1200.00: Great guitar but, probably a nightmare for a newbie, and, if I could afford to buy new, that would be much less of a head-achy way to go.

2nd (from any number of forum members): If you buy a student model, you're only going to want to trade up to a "real" guitar in short order.

... I went with a new MSA, and waited 10 months for it. It was quite pricey, and I had to wait. But, I'm very glad I did, because the only deficit I have impeding my steel guitar endeavor, is finding the time to practice, and my ability. I'll not ever have to worry about whether I have good gear.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 5:11 am    
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I'll second everything Bob Carlucci said, that MSA is an absolute steal for $1200! The other guitar you were talking about isn't even in the same league. In fact, if that MSA were local (where I could go get it) I'd buy it...and I need another guitar like Bill Gates needs discount coupons. Laughing
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Al Evans


From:
Austin, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 6:04 am    
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Here's another vote for old MSAs. I started with a D10 Classic from 1976 only 10 months ago. I learned a lot about how to play it. Then, when I replaced it with a newer (and more expensive) guitar, I renovated the bottom of it, changed the copedent to what I'd decided I liked best, added a third pull on one of the C6th fingers, and learned a whole lot about the mechanics of the thing.

All that, and I'm pretty sure I can sell it for what I paid. What a deal!

--Al Evans
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 6:48 am    
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Let me add to what I said before - the only reason I had even the slightest hesitation to just say, "Forget about it, just buy the MSA!" is that you are completely new to pedal steel and therefore have no idea how to evaluate its playing condition or the innate ability to fix it if it needs work. Otherwise, I completely agree with what Bob and Donny stated. If I needed a guitar and didn't have a lot of money, I would not hesitate for one second to get that MSA. But I work on my own guitars. On the other hand, if the undercarriage is intact and in good shape, it shouldn't cost too much to get someone to set it up if it needs it. But I think you should go in with your eyes completely open, since you are new to this.

For your information, here's another good brand of a pro-model single-neck pedal steel, a BMI S10, for a similar price for sale right now on the forum - https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=337543

I don't know the seller, have nothing to do with the sale, and have only the pictures posted there to go on. But I have had both a 70s MSA Classic D10 and two BMIs (S10 and S12) of this general vintage (which looks like 80s to me). They were all excellent guitars, but the BMIs were not particularly heavy, played and sounded excellent, and were extremely easy to work on. In fact, I'd probably argue that BMIs are one of the very easiest to work on. The only reason I sold mine is that the smaller single-body doesn't work for me. I raised them up 3 inches and they still didn't really fit me. But they are very good guitars, as are old MSAs.
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James Quillian


From:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 7:10 am    
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I wouldn't touch that with a 10 ft. pole.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 7:23 am    
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James Quillian wrote:
I wouldn't touch that with a 10 ft. pole.

You wouldn't touch what, and why?
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James Quillian


From:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 10:05 am    
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Dave Mudgett wrote:
James Quillian wrote:
I wouldn't touch that with a 10 ft. pole.

You wouldn't touch what, and why?


My rule of thumb is to never buy an instrument that has been altered, customized or worked on a lot no matter how good it looks otherwise.

That is my rule of thumb and everyone else in the world is free to use their own criteria

On another note, I am sure that for $2000 the guy could buy a great playing steel guitar with two necks. For $1200, he could buy a guitar that had not been reshaped and remodeled.

I am not an expert on steel guitars. I know very little about MSA. I would use the same logic buying any instrument.
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Charley Bond


From:
Inola, OK, USA
Post  Posted 5 Nov 2018 12:02 pm     Buy the MSA.
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The MSA is in a room full of Pedal Steel Guitars, so someone in that room can talk about that MSA. Someone there can tell you all about it & help you understand what it is you are getting & maybe give you some info about how to someday make it like new again.
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C. Eric Banister


From:
Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2018 12:09 pm    
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Thank you everyone for their input! It is valued and appreciated.
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 7 Nov 2018 4:56 am    
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MSA was considered to be the Rolls Royce of pedal steel guitars. If this one is in good condition, grab it.

BTW, it was probably made by Bud Carter, who worked at MSA during the 70s, before starting his own company.
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Patrick Huey


From:
Nacogdoches, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2018 10:55 am    
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C. Eric Banister wrote:
Thank you everyone for their input! It is valued and appreciated.

Can you get photos of the underside? The mechanics? And post them?
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2018 2:20 am    
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A couple of years ago in Phoenix while waiting to go onstage the guy who was ahead of me played a Stage One ,and it was a great sounding guitar,and though I can't remember the player's name he was a great player and obviously could play any guitar that he'd want to chose the Stage One...after his set I got a good look at the underside,Two Thumbs Up!!
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Andy Henriksen


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2019 10:04 am    
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I'm just going to bump this thread instead of creating my own, since there are a few similarities to my situation.

I'm a newbie of 1.5 years at PSG. I have a stage one that I really like, however, I also would really like a second guitar for convenience (one at home, one at rehearsal space), and I also, wouldn't mind a D8 so I can start dabbling in C6.

This 1978 (ish) SuperSustain II is for sale locally, and described as "good to excellent."

I've never bought a used PSG before, and I'm not really sure what to look for to determine what condition its truly in. I know some parts in the undercarriage can wear out with heavy use or neglect. What would be the most likely to fail? And how would I ascertain their condition? (pics of common issues would be great!)

And, just generally, what is the general consensus on this guitar? is this something I might be happy with for years to come? Or is it a known dud? What would a fair price for it be (if in good shape)?

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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 12:31 am    
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This is not a "supersustain." It's an MSA. One of the best steel guitars on the market. This one appears to be from the very late 70s or early 80s.

Pros: Better than excellent quality. Built like a Sherman tank. Will last forever.

Cons: Weighs as much as a Sherman tank. The undercarriage uses round cross rods, which make changing your setup much complicated and difficult. Newer steels have square crossrids, which make it much easier to work on the undercarriage.

It's a great instrumernt, but 99% what you play will be on the E9 neck. Unless you plan to play C6, I'd say you should get a single neck.
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