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Post new topic To slant or not to slant, that is the question...
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Author Topic:  To slant or not to slant, that is the question...
Francisco Castillo


From:
Easter Island, Chile
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2019 7:06 pm    
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Hi all.

i have a question,

if two notes can be played in straight or slant position...


What makes you chose either one?

always straight?
glissando above all?
other thoughts that may come in to play at the moment of choice??

thanks a lot
iorana, maururu
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2019 7:22 pm    
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Ease of play under pressure is one consideration, if you're learning a song to perform it. Otherwise, the timbre should be the primary concern. How does the position sound against the notes before and after it?

The decision to gliss or not is one of musical phrasing. The timbre is always correct when you're sliding from one position to another, but blocking might improve the lyrical quality of the line.
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Dom Franco


From:
Beaverton, OR, 97007
Post  Posted 7 Apr 2019 8:30 pm    
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To my ear, most players who (try to) slant often sound a bit out of tune Kinda like a Diesel Train horn...

So if I can play a chord or interval with a strait bar I do. but sometimes it requires a jump of several frets, and if that breaks up the flow so bad that I would rather slant, then I will slant. Some songs just beg for a slant allowing a note to sustain while the harmony changes, then I must slant. Because with out pedals that's the only way to get that sound.
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2019 5:48 am    
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For me it's an issue of phrasing.

Does the passage need to be very legato? Then I'll choose a slant to keep the line connected. If it musically works well with more detached articulation I'll use a straight bar option for the same pitches.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2019 8:27 am    
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Depends on what comes before, what comes next. Also, the timbre I’m looking for (position on the neck affects timbre greatly). It’s best to learn to have both available just to break up the monotony and give options.
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 9 Apr 2019 3:48 pm    
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I used to hate slants and avoid them whenever I could (block and shift on the neck). But my teacher kept throwing them at me and I got a bit better at them ("the fault, dear Brutus, was not in slants, but in myself"). In the Hawaiian style particularly there's such a high premium on connected notes that slants are so important for a connected melody with harmony line. But no hard and fast rules, sometimes jumping around or shifting strings works better musically, in Hawaiian just as in any other style.

Also, there's plenty of stuff you can't do any other way without pedals...split bar diminished chords, etc.

Subconsciously I think I'm doing a kind of priority ranking when I'm picking where to go with a melody line:
1. Nearby/same strings straight bar
2. Nearby/same strings slant
3. Nearby/same strings reverse slant (may frequently trade positions with #4...these aren't my favorite)
4. Jump strings or jump a bunch of frets, straight bar
...
...
...
37. Jump a bunch of frets for a slant...I've done something wrong and should reevaluate my life choices (OK, I guess there's always an exception...jumping up for a split bar on Paradise Isle, for example)

At least for slow, legato numbers where you need that nahenahe sound.
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James Kerr


From:
Scotland, UK
Post  Posted 12 Apr 2019 12:04 pm    
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If you are playing Live then you have to make those choices, but if you are recording you can choose to do as I do here, double tracking to give you the Harmony's you need.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f8txnTMp8g

James Kerr.
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 12 Apr 2019 12:10 pm    
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Slants are completely unnecessary in my tuning, I've yet to find something I couldn't play straight bar. Of course you can use them for effect, but I never do. I'm actually trying to make the steel sound less like a stereotypical steel guitar.
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Joe Elk


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 12 Apr 2019 12:38 pm    
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It may be, but that's what got me hooked!!!!! Oh I'm Old I did not have to go to
bed until I had heard Lulu Belle and Scoty sing on Saturday.
Joe Elk Central Ohio
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 12 Apr 2019 3:30 pm    
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Bill - You didn't think to mention how many strings you have to have (and that you do have) to make slants a moot point...
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 12 Apr 2019 3:53 pm    
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Smile yeah, Steve. 12 Strings comes in handy
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Steve Marinak


From:
Ocean Ridge, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 13 Apr 2019 4:16 am    
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I'm no expert on slants, but at the stage where I'm starting to use them.

Some slant notes just seem more appropriate than their same straight choice in tonality. It's almost like the straight notes sound too wholesome/straight ahead/boring. (In some cases I should add).

Plus if I have to jump far away to get that straight set of notes, the flow doesn't sound continuous.
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Mike Christensen


From:
Cook Minnesota
Post  Posted 16 Apr 2019 6:33 pm     slants
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Why would you not want to learn and use slants? Can be used for smooth flow and for a different voicing option. You are missing out on quite a bit by denying yourself these few moves in my opinion especially on 6 strings.
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 22 Apr 2019 6:15 am    
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I was just thinking this morning about my gradual transition from "slant if I have to, I guess" to actively seeking them out for musical reasons.  I adapted a version of Basil Henriques' E13 tab of South Sea Island Magic to C13 a while back (it's a great arrangement but I spend so little time in E13...so I shifted strings back and changed key and a few frets to make it work with my "home tuning").  There is a section at the end of the bridge..."start of an endless devotion", that goes something like this (key of D):

Doing this from memory without a guitar, could be a fret off:
Code:

E--------------------------
C--9-9-9---9-9-9-/-11-\-9--
A--9-9-9---9-9-9-/-10-\-9--
G--------------------------
E--9-9-9-\-8-8-8-/-9----9--
C--------------------------

So three chords there, "start of an" on straight bar, then "endless de-" on that split bar for the seventh, then a two fret slant up for "-vo-" and slowly fall back to the straight bar on fret 9 for "-tion".  They aren't particularly hard slants although split bars were hard at first (reverse split bars...the very devil!) but the great part of it is how you can keep the smoothly connected lyricism of the melody going, staying on the same string, and just rising and falling between those harmonies.  If you were muting and jumping strings to hit those notes on "devotion" it would sound more disjointed and less lyrical, IMO. 
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Twayn Williams


From:
Portland, OR
Post  Posted 29 Apr 2019 12:22 pm    
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For my needs, slants are useful as another way to get a harmony, usually a minor 6th. Slants are also extremely important for walk-ups/downs. I tend to avoid whole-step slants -- i.e. a slant that spans 3 frets -- but will use them if needed.
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Francisco Castillo


From:
Easter Island, Chile
Post  Posted 4 May 2019 10:21 pm    
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I was trying to avoid them, but it seems like i will have to practice harder....
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 2:52 am    
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When I started playing steel, I only had Jerry Byrd's book so I just assumed that slants were part of steel playing and I learned 'em. They just became part of my steel guitar DNA along the way. You can play most anything without slants but if so, IMHO, you're not using all the tools in your tool box.

Do I always play them in tune? Heck no! But there are certain musical passages where slants make the liquid, voice like character of the steel shine like no other instrument. So put some time into slant playing and see if it speaks to the sounds you want to hear.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 4:52 am    
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There's an iphone app called TE tuner which has a great drone thing. You can drone one note or several.

For playing slants in tune it's incredibly helpful. For instance if your slanting in to the notes C and E, you can drone a C major chord. It will be super clear to you when you get in tune. And you can wiggle around a bit when you get there and see how perfect you can get it.

If you are really interested in it, I'd recommend a book called harmonic experience, which is all about intonation and [singing] against drones. It totally changed my ear and my ability to hear in tune. Like a night and day difference.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Harmonic-Experience/W-A-Mathieu/9780892815609
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 7:28 am    
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To slant or not to slant, that is the question...

Practice and learn how to employ bar slants in your playing. It won't be long until slanting becomes second nature. You won't always need to use them, but why eliminate anything as simple and useful from your bag of tricks? An important technique that is integral to all but the most rudimentary of lap-style playing.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 8:35 am    
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Like b0b said. Degree of difficulty in actual performance is huge. Slanting is possible on steels with just about any scale length or string spacing, but some designs work a lot better than others. I have a 24.5” scale Stringmaster. It is a wonderful instrument, but not great for adjacent string slanting. John Ely has an interesting chart and calculator for determining exact slant angles and gives difficulty ratings for various instrument models.
https://www.hawaiiansteel.com/instruments/slant_angles.php
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 12:37 pm    
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Fred Treece wrote:
I have a 24.5” scale Stringmaster. It is a wonderful instrument, but not great for adjacent string slanting. John Ely has an interesting chart and calculator for determining exact slant angles and gives difficulty ratings for various instrument models.
https://www.hawaiiansteel.com/instruments/slant_angles.php


It's funny because my two main instruments (medium/long scale Stringmaster like yours and a Magnatone DCool both show up near the bottom of his list for ease of slanting...oops! But hey, didn't stop Jules, not gonna stop me.

Different slants are easier than others. They all come with time and practice. Forward slants with skipped strings are some of the easier ones. Then you have adjacent string forward slants (super useful but requires a sharper angle). Forward split bar slants...great for seventh chords and other things in C6, but take time getting in tune...three note three fret forward slants...also a challenge to keep in tune but very useful melodically (see my above reference to South Sea Island Magic for an example). Then you have the reverse slants which were very difficult for me at first and still are some of the more challenging ones for me to execute quickly. I think bar grip and bar style are important here. I had a bit of trouble with a slick steel bar...then I had trouble with a nice sticky polymer bar that was a bit too big...best of both worlds, polymer bar sized like the smaller bullet bar.

Other weird ones...my teacher introduced me (in B11) to a reverse split bar. That's a tricky one to be sure. Also I tried to get a major 7th melody line out by doing another sort of reverse split bar, but using the base of the bar for the "split" section (unfortunately not bullet shaped)...2nd string, 5th and 6th, but with the 2nd string one note lower for the seventh instead of root. Tricky and I never quite play it to my liking as far as tuning. So yeah you can probably take slanting too far but it is very useful...I find it is like using fingerpicks (at least for me...I had a hard time with the picks as well as slants at first)...you kind of hate it at first because it feels like it gets in your way and makes you worse sounding than you otherwise would be, but eventually you get past that, and it becomes an essential tool...
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 7:22 pm    
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After I first saw a Billy Robinson video, my question was, to slant or to pull? On a Stringmaster, or any longer scale steel, you do have a little more room for adjusting sloppy slants, at least up to the point of having too much bar on the string. But the option for pulling behind the bar was something I’d only goofed around with. Mr. Robinson turned it into an art form, seamlessly combining it with forward and reverse slants. When I found out he played a short scale Derby 10-string, I thought I should go get one. As if...

Ultimately, I opted for pedals 🤠
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 10:16 pm    
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I find it easier to slant with a short scale because the angle is less severe. With a long scale you need wider string spacing, which guitars like a long scale Stringmaster don't have.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 6:48 am    
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Almost all of my steels are long scale and they have varying string spacing between them. I don’t find that I have any more difficulty slanting than I did when I had short scale guitars.
In fact, two of my Clinesmiths have tighter string spacing and in some cases I prefer it that way for slanting, one of the reasons being that wider spacing requires a longer bar (many of my chord slants span 6 and 7 strings). The difficulty lies with slants on adjacent strings as they are susceptible to sitaring or whining.

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not making the most out of slanting, you’re not really playing steel guitar to its fullest. It’s all about self-discovery and investigation. There is nothing more satisfying than making some discoveries that become a permanent part of your playing. Just learning it from a book is not nearly as fun.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 8:50 am    
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Coming from pedal steel, slanting was the obvious way to reclaim the great stuff that pedals do for you...partially to be able to include some of that exact sound where it is relevant, and then also to gain access to the other thing pedal steel has - many ways to play the same notes, so thinking about where you are coming from and where you are going to is a lot richer in opportunity, with slants.

My favorite little pedal steel imitation slant is the classic "end every song" A+B, V->I squeeze, with the B pedal coming a little sooner than the A (from rolling your foot across the pedals)

e.g., (I'm in dobro GBDGBD, but you can figure it out in any tuning) bar on string 2, fret 3 - and - string 3, fret 4, pluck and sweep bar to fret 5 on both strings for G->C chord.
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