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Author Topic:  looking for steels with Hawaiian tone
Dan Yeago


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 11:43 am    
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What 6 and 8 string steels will give that authentic Hawaiian sound? The Fender Stringmaster does alright, but what about some of the others? How about Remington and the Clinesmith w/horshoe p/u? Are the others more suited to country and other styles?

Sadly, a vintage Ric frying pan is out of my budget.
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 12:01 pm    
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Most of the tone is in the hands, I think.

Hawaiian steel players span a pretty wide range...from Sol to Andy Iona, Jules, Barney, Jerry Byrd, Billy Hew Len, and many others...is there a particular player's sound you are thinking of? I think the great players could play any steel and make it sound Hawaiian, and more specifically, like them. Jules / Barney / BHL did a lot of work with Fender pedal steels. Jules used a Magnatone a lot as well as Fenders.

That said I own a Clinesmith pan with horseshoe, and it is by far my favorite guitar. Can't say enough good things about it.

If you want a cheaper-than-vintage-frypan option for the Ric sound, bakelites / pandas get a lot of rave reviews among Hawaiian steel guitarists...still in use a lot. But the guitar certainly doesn't set the tone. Jerry Byrd playing a bakelite and Megan Lovell playing the same guitar...worlds apart!
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Jim Mckay


From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 12:22 pm    
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[quote="Nic Neufeld"]Most of the tone is in the hands, I think.

I agree with Nic

You can spend a lot of time and money chasing sound with different guitars and amplifiers. Concentrate on the playing and the sound gets better. learn the tunings that give various Hawaiian tones, its a long road but very satisfying. Very Happy
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Excel Jerry Byrd frypan
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 12:29 pm    
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As was wisely said above, it ain't the wand, it's the magician. Smile

Listen to how great Hawaiian players connect the notes and leave space between them. That's the open secret, not any particular brand of guitar.
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Joe Elk


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 12:38 pm    
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Well Said Andy - it ain't the wand, it's the magician
I wish I was one of the magicians!
Joe Elk Central Ohio
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Dan Yeago


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 3:11 pm    
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Thanks for your helpful replies. Yes, it's so true that how one plays that makes the greatest difference with all instruments. It also helps to use instruments that are able to give certain tones...lightweight swamp ash Telecasters with the right pickups are an example that comes to mind - that popping sound just won't come out of a hard ash body that makes the guitar weigh 10 pounds.

The Hawaiian tone i like most seems to come from Bobby Ingano and Jeff Au Hoy. They both play Ric frying pans.

However, do these Ric's do well in country and Western swing? Or are the Stringmasters are the best all around?


Last edited by Dan Yeago on 5 Jul 2019 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 3:34 pm    
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Lots of the players (especially these days) play a pretty wide variety of steels. Horseshoe pickups, wood consoles, laps, modern EMG (!) pickups. Alan Akaka's Asher has that active modern style pickup and in many ways it is still hard enough to tell just by ear, because HIS sound comes through so clear.

I used to listen to the playing on "Steel Guitar Magic" with Billy Hew Len and Barney Isaacs, and I thought the difference in tone between the two was guitars...BHL playing his Fender 400 and Barney playing (for whatever reason, I thought) a Stringmaster. I'm not sure what they did use, but for all I know it could have been two similar Fender 400/1000s, since they both used them regularly...the big difference in tone is really just their unique playing style.

I've seen Jeff play fry pans but also a blonde Stringmaster, and I think he also has a Fender Dual Pro. Here's him playing the SM. Still sounds like Jeff!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0405GdzeGmY

The short version is I think most all of the major non-pedals are at least conducive to use in the Hawaiian style. There are some (with neck pickups for example) that wouldn't be my first choice. The hard part is getting the playing closer to the style.

Don't really know much about country and Western swing...Jerry Byrd played a fair amount of country, likely on a Rick. Now he really sounds like himself no matter what he's playing.

My desert island steel would be the Clinesmith. But if I were "stuck" with my Stringmaster or Magnatone, I'd be just fine. The CS frypan has a more compressed, sustaining sound, harmonics pop out, and it's got a ton of high end that tempers very well with a strong dialback on the tone circuit. So I like 'em a lot. But there's no one ideal guitar for the genre. I've heard Bobby Ingano talking about the cheap 1950s student 6 strings from various brands and he seems to think highly of quite a number of them!
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Tom Snook


From:
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2019 2:46 am    
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There's a video of Alan Akaka in 2013 playing a Canopus 8 string lap steel.He's being interviewed for the 2013 Maui Steel Guitar Festival,And the tone he gets from that Canopus,to my ears is pure Hawaiian!
I'm sure a Canopus lap is rather pricey,but if you buy one,get one with lots of vibrato Very Happy
ALOHA
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2019 4:51 am    
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Tom Snook wrote:

I'm sure a Canopus lap is rather pricey,but if you buy one,get one with lots of vibrato Very Happy
ALOHA


Ha ha, indeed! And get the Nahenahe Model Upgrade for the extra sweet tone.

(off topic, but...) I googled Canopus and came upon this thread. Man, back in the early days of this forum, these old threads are hilarious and humorously "combative", basilh and others...the forums gotten a bit too civilized these days! Smile Jeff Au Hoy stirring the pot in this one:
https://www.steelguitarforum.com/Forum2/HTML/004358.html
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I hear the rolling surf calling
Calling and calling to me
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Terry VunCannon


From:
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2019 7:26 am    
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I am happy with my V-MUSE tone with that style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DasSGtdPcWw
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Jack Aldrich


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2019 7:43 pm    
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Tom Snook wrote:
There's a video of Alan Akaka in 2013 playing a Canopus 8 string lap steel.He's being interviewed for the 2013 Maui Steel Guitar Festival,And the tone he gets from that Canopus,to my ears is pure Hawaiian!
I'm sure a Canopus lap is rather pricey,but if you buy one,get one with lots of vibrato Very Happy
ALOHA
I have the same model but I don't sound nearly as Hawaiian as Alan does. A good amp makes a difference. ya know.
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Tim Whitlock


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 8 Jul 2019 6:12 am    
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IMO if you understand the elements of the Hawaiian style (or any style) any good quality lap steel will work. Style is not a circuit or a particular pickup or construction material. I can't imagine that a Stringmaster would limit you in any way from playing great Hawaiian, Western Swing or Country music. These styles are not mutually exclusive or cemented to any particular model of steel guitar.

That being said, I am partial to Rickenbackers with horse shoe pickups. Yes the frying pans are super expensive but some of the other Rics are very affordable. There's a boatload on reverb.com right now that would be just dandy for making Hawaiian music.
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Tom Snook


From:
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 8 Jul 2019 9:46 am    
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Remember, we're talking about tone not style.When James Jamerson was asked what it was he liked so much about the Fender P-Bass he said "the tone".
ALOHA
P.S.Jules and Barney both sounded very Hawaiian on Magnatone consoles in the 50s
ALOHA
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Dan Yeago


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 7:11 am    
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Thanks very much for your thoughts. The Clinesmith frying pan is looking and sounding especially good at the moment.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 8:38 am    
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I recently bought a short scale Clinesmith aluminum with the Bigsby fretboard and horseshoe and couldn't be happier with it.
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 5:43 pm    
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Dan Yeago wrote:
Thanks very much for your thoughts. The Clinesmith frying pan is looking and sounding especially good at the moment.


I can't say enough good things about it, I love my other guitars but it was telling when I switched, during a practice, to my Stringmaster to accommodate a B11 song...just in close proximity, I couldn't wait to get back to the frypan!

That said, it's still 90% technique and touch, I think. A good guitar helps, but when you look at the old videos of Andy Iona, the McIntires, etc., some of those guys were using guitars we'd deride as low-grade or beginner instruments today. But man, they had such a tone!
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Waikīkī, at night when the shadows are falling
I hear the rolling surf calling
Calling and calling to me
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Michael Johnstone


From:
Sylmar,Ca. USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 8:39 pm    
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A little bird told me Colin Alder moved from Santa Cruz to the Big Island and is making CruzTones again. I'll put my 8 string CruzTone console with a horseshoe against any steel - old or new. Having said that, the Clinesmith stuff is totally happening.
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Mark Helm


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 8:56 pm    
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Nic Neufeld wrote:
Most of the tone is in the hands, I think.


Erv is spot-on. That said, Stringmasters, Bakelite Ricks, and frypans are great for Hawaiian.

Todd Clinesmith's frypan's one of the finest instruments you can hope to get your hands on for the $1,800 price-tag.
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Sebastian Müller


From:
Berlin / Germany
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2019 11:42 pm    
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I think one of the best values would be a panda B6 postwar, that is the one Feet Rogers used, not too hard to find and the price is right ! And yes, it's primarily the way you play and how you dial in the tone on the guitar and the amp.
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Robert Allen


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2019 12:36 pm    
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At 3:42 in this recording Casey Olsen plays a Melbert. No need to mortgage the farm to buy a Melbert. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj3YhR2-QwQ&list=RDzj3YhR2-QwQ&start_radio=1
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Don Kona Woods


From:
Hawaiian Kama'aina
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2019 5:02 pm    
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I have nine steel guitars and have played all but one in Hawaiian Steel Guitar conventions. For Hawaiian tone the following are rank ordered:

1934 Rickenbacker frypan
1940's Rickenbacker Bakelite S-6
1950's Magnatone Lyric D-8
1960's String Master D-8
Excels - D-8 and S-8
Custom Made Koa Wood D-8 by Tom Reeder
Sierra D-8
Oahu Acoustic S-6

Note: Because of my age I am selling all but the Excels.
I have just sold the 1934 Rickenbacker. I will be listing the other steel guitars right away. All in excellent conditions If interested PM me. I will show photos. Any sell made through Forum will be followed by contribution.
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