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Darrell Criswell


From:
Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2019 6:00 pm    
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Last week at the Chet Atkins Convention I heard three great telecaster players, they had guitars with B Benders and G Benders. I liked some of the pedal steel licks they did where they bent the strings with their fingers, but I have never particularly liked the pulls with the Clarence White mechanism on the telecaster.

What do other people think of these, do you like them and do they really sound like a pedal steel? Thanks
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Steve Hinson


From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2019 7:58 pm     B benders...
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I love b-benders...

I’ve had one for 35 years...

I never thought they sounded like a steel,just a different flavor of guitar...

Kinda like Phil Baugh...loved him and his playing,just never thought he sounded like a steel..

SH
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2019 9:14 pm    
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I use the Bigsby palm pedal on my telecaster. I've got a B and G bender but it's capable of bending all 6 strings by adding more levers. the palm pedal was patented by Boomer Castleman, who was the staff guitarist at the Smoky Mountain Jamboree steel show in Knoxville for many years. he complemented the steel players well and no one ever complained or compared his sound to a pedal steel.

there may be some guys who try to replicate steel licks with benders, but I never thought string benders sounded much like pedal steel either.

I'm a big Clarence White and Phil Baugh fan, both geniuses in my book. there's lots of other hot pickers who use benders: Ricky Skaggs, Brad Paisley, Jim Olander (Diamond Rio), of course Marty Stuart plays Clarence's original b-bender. Buck Trent had one of the earliest benders on his solid body banjo, possibly inspired by the special homemade tuners Earl Scruggs used on songs like Earl's Breakdown and Randy Lynn Rag. those might even predate the pedal steel as played on Slowly... I'm not sure.

at any rate, pitch shifting devices have been around for quite awhile but there's only one way to really sound like a pedal steel and it ain't with a standard guitar.
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Last edited by scott murray on 18 Jul 2019 5:21 am; edited 2 times in total
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2019 9:14 pm    
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It'll never sound like a steel because there's no bar movement to go with the (apparent) pedal movement.
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Dave Magram


From:
San Jose, California, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jul 2019 10:27 pm    
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Speaking of making a 6-string guitar sound like a pedal steel..check this out:
Chuck McDermott & Wheatstraw - Another Way To Cry
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKkfGgIdwqQ

Those great “steel guitar” parts are played by Rocky Stone on what I’d heard was a standard Telecaster without a B-bender.

Rocky later played with Mickey Gilley for a number of years, before his untimely passing.

- Dave
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 1:59 am    
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I agree with Steve.

B-benders add another dimension to electric six-string. I have never thought they they replicated pedal steel even if, way back in the '60s, that was the inventors' initial aim.

I have three. My #1 Telecaster - a Custom Shop Thin-skin '62 reissue - has a Glaser unit installed. I have a nice '90s G&L Asat Classic, also with one of Joe's benders fitted.

A couple of years ago I began to hanker after one of Dave Evans' benders. Dave's earlier guitars featured bespoke bodies made in various guises, most notably his 'butcher's block' look.

I spoke with Albert Lee about these and he swears by them saying that he'd 'never liked' the Glaser unit because the anchor-point (where the strap attaches) isn't on the guitar's upper bout but is mounted on the neck-plate. That's never been an issue with me mainly, I suppose, because it's all I've known and I'm comfortable with it.

Dave told me that he no longer makes his own 'Tele' bodies but just installs his unit on an existing guitar. I acquired another Thin-Skin Tele (a '52 reissue in Butterscotch) and sent it to Dave. His work is immaculate and he kept me updated with photos throughout the process.

As great as his unit is (the sustain on the B string is remarkable) I've since found that it just sits in the closet. I'm just too accustomed to Joe Glaser's neck-plate mounted pull-lever.

I'd say Dave's mechanics are close to the original Parsons/White benders in principle but are far superior in build quality. His use of titanium keeps the weight down.

Another shout-out for the Glaser unit: I like the fact that routing of the body is minimal and, at a glance, the mechanism is almost invisible.

I'd like to add another name to the B-bender Hall of fame - Bob Warford. He was an early exponent and somewhere I have a live Everly Brothers performance of 'Mama Tried' featuring Bob. He's amazing!
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Darrell Criswell


From:
Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 4:49 am    
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Do the sounds you get from one of the bender devices replicate or resemble in any fashion the sounds that are obtained that are called "pedal steel licks" that are obtained from bending the strings with your fingers?
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Jerry Jones


From:
Nashville, Tenn.
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 4:57 am    
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Here's an exposed view image of the Dave Evans bender. This one belongs to Joe Wilson of "Classics IV" fame. Although it does require a heavy route, it's very well made and very smooth.


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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 6:33 am    
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Darrell Criswell wrote:
Do the sounds you get from one of the bender devices replicate or resemble in any fashion the sounds that are obtained that are called "pedal steel licks" that are obtained from bending the strings with your fingers?

Sometimes it's hard to tell, at least for me. I was convinced for years that the guitarist here, a guy called Martin Stone used one, until he told me that he wished he owned one.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfosK8DQUuM
The guitar player with Tin Machine does a good string bender emulation here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euhgArTfk0w
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 7:17 am    
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The first b-bender I ever heard was Clarence playing on the Everly's 'I'm on my Way Back Home Again' in 1968. It still gives me chills!
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 7:23 am    
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Here's my Dave Evans bender under construction.



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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 7:46 am    
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Steve Hinson wrote:
I never thought they sounded like a steel,just a different flavor of guitar...


Yeah same here.. I've been playing a lot with a local Austin Tele guy named Charlie Murphy. After playing a B-Bender Tele for years, he just bought a Forrest Paisley Tele with B and G benders. Great guitar!

http://forrestcustomguitars.yolasite.com/

The B-Bender is on the usual strap knob (push down), and the G-Bender is actuated via a small cable that attaches to his belt and connects to a strap-button/lever near the neck-plate (push away). All the bender stuff aside, those Forrest PUs really sound good (I think he winds his own?).

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Jerry Jones


From:
Nashville, Tenn.
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 8:40 am    
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Roger, that's some fine workmanship on your new guitar and a great example of 40 years of refinement to an already great design.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 8:44 am    
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Beautiful guitars above ! Those Evans guitars are killer.


I only own 3, ( currently) my primary guitars are now B Benders. IF we look at or approach B Benders ( or G's) as replicating a Pedal Steel, my comment would be "don't do it ". Its really easy first time out to play a few traditional Pedal Steel licks, they sound kool and they are fun but they are NOT what the Benders are about. They are not novelties.

Playing a B Bender requires playing out of half a dozen or more varied chord shapes on the fly,this is where the meat is. Shapes that allow raising the pitch or the opposite, lowering the pitch . Many folks who grab a B Bender don't put the time in and not long after they acquire it, they sell it. Those that put the time in almost never go back to a 6 stringer with no bender .

What Roger says is exactly right, they are an extension of what we already know and do, it's a mix and match kinda thing. If we get locked into "Pedal Steel" licks we will run out of licks quickly.

Obviously if we are covering Marty songs or Clarence songs, play em the way they do, that would be no different than playing Steel songs the same way others do. Its not a bad thing.

They do sound "Steelish" but thats ok, we are moving notes UP or down, just like a Steel does.

My guitars

2008 USA Tele which I sent off to Forrest Lee jr for his system, accurate, no added weight, positive pull and release. The FL jr system has the ball end connected thru a wheel which turns, the wheel turns, the pitch raises. The string glides across the B string fixed saddle. The throw and tension are fully adjustable to suit the user.
This is now my #1 guitar.

2012 Fender PG Bender, nice guitar but comes in a bit heavy. The PG Bender is probably the least desired but it is indeed functional and worry free. The string is connected to a cam which is pulled which raises the pitch of the string, which also glides across a fixed saddle. This guitar I added a brass cam and a roller bridge for the B string. This guitar cannot be adjusted for throw or tension , you can change the spring . Its right in the middle with throw and spring tension. I've owned several of these guitars since 96, but never appreciated or recognized their value previously, I didn't put the time in.

2012 Gibson Music City Jr, basically a Les Paul jr with a Glaser system. The glaser system is very much like a Pedal steel, the string is connected to a moving bridge/saddle. The saddle is pulled thus causing the string tension to increase. This guitar can have the pull on the B or the G. This guitar is not throw adjustable but spring tension can be adjusted.

B vs G ? IF we are loving the music of Clarence or Marty, thats off the B string as opposed to mid octave chord shapes like Brad does, thats off the G string.

Jump into the pond !

Heres a few practice clips and a short video I did for a guitar forum

http://www.tprior.com/PEF_2.mp3 We play this every gig

http://www.tprior.com/buck2.mp3 I play this every now and then at my bi monthly show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9EoqrAazt8

Big fun, but can be addictive. Also known as a big TIME HOG. Wink

My absolute favorite Telecaster in life, a 1989/52RI, will be sent off to FL jr soon for a Bendectomy.





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Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
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Last edited by Tony Prior on 18 Jul 2019 11:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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John De Maille


From:
On a Mountain in Upstate Halcottsville, N.Y.
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 10:41 am    
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This is my 68' Tele. I bought it new and sent it to Gene in the 70's to have the B Bender installed, serial #80.
Clarence is one of my guitar heroes, so, I've always tried to play emulating that style.
It's not a pedal steel though and won't ever sound like it, close maybe, but, no cigar.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 12:58 pm    
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Although a B-Bender won't replicate or replace a steel, the bends are different from finger bends and you can play stuff that is impossible to play with fingers only.

Certainly it gives a flavour of pedal steel and if I'm on guitar and playing a song that requires pedal steel, it enables me to play something that fits.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2019 2:25 pm    
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Jeff , correct, we can't bend notes inside of a triad with our fingers on guitar, well at least I can't !

Years back a good friend was over and we were just jamming a bit, I picked up the Bender and he immediately said "Oh, a cheater"..I just uhmmm... and played a few phrases pulling and releasing notes inside the triad.

he said "WHOA, What was that !! ? ". He picked up the Bender and started fooling with it, we had to pry it out of his hands to come eat dinner ! Smile
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Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
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Benjamin Davidson


From:
Connecticut, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jul 2019 4:20 am    
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Do they emmulate a pedal steel, for that I feel any bender on a guitar is going to come up short. There is a dynamic there that isnt part of a 6 string guitar.

I've put a McVay B bender in my '10 American Telecaster, as Brent Mason is my heaviest guitar influence - him and Brad Paisley. Medium throw lever on the neck plate, and minimal routing of the guitar. Balance takes a little to get used to with the strap point being moved, but it sounds amazing. Again, its a 6string with a bender to pull off guitar bends you cant manage with your fingers, though you may be able to fake a few steel intros if you're selective enough.
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 19 Jul 2019 9:20 am    
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I believe Brent's Tele has a Glaser bender.

Correct, Tony - moving a string a precise whole-step within a chord-shape is where the b-bender really scores.

Here are my three. The two on the left are my Glasers - the Evans is the odd man out.





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Dave Hopping


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jul 2019 12:20 pm    
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I have a '99 American Nashville B-Bender(with a P/G) and had a MIJ Esquire with a P/W clone before that.For a six-string it's pretty versatile,but on the whole I'd rather be playing steel.

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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 20 Jul 2019 2:52 am    
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For me, I could go either way, full time guitar player or full time Steel player . I live in two worlds. Half the gigs I do are double duty,mostly Steel, the other half are guitar only. One of life's conflicts I guess ! Smile

But keep in mind that being a Steel player has advantages when moving to a Bender guitar, we can transfer phrases, parts of phrases etc, we have a catalog of phrases in our brain that can work on a Bender. We can live in both worlds on the Bender guitar, straight ahead 6 string or ADD "tension" with bender phrases which in a typical situation would not be available.

here's a simple example I play on a very familiar Don Williams tune, on Steel we play it one way, Lloyd Green'ish, on Bender another way , hybrid, very traditional and add some additional phrasing to give it some "tension".

http://www.tprior.com/lord1.mp3

During the "chorus" chords, the F#m is a two finger open chord which allows that B to be "pulled" up. To my ears, thats the most significant Bend phrase in this entire example, pulling a note UP in a triad. Its totally unexpected.

enough rambling.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 20 Jul 2019 5:49 am    
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I lived in Nashville briefly and had Forrest Lee JR. put a B-Bender in my guitar. I confess I've never learned how to use it (still working on some basics) but it feels great and works perfectly. The funniest part to me is that I generally forget it's there...I never play it but the guitar sounds and feels great.

He was super easy to deal with and got the job done in some ridiculously short amount of time. Very nice work.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 20 Jul 2019 7:19 am    
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Paul McEvoy wrote:
I lived in Nashville briefly and had Forrest Lee JR. put a B-Bender in my guitar. I confess I've never learned how to use it (still working on some basics) but it feels great and works perfectly.


Not to worry, you still have it, you can practice "tomorrow". There's no rush ! Smile

Agreed on the FL jr system, it's a great system, it's my primary right now. Hes awesome to work with, and a great player as well !
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post  Posted 21 Jul 2019 8:27 pm    
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Quote:
Do the sounds you get from one of the bender devices replicate or resemble in any fashion the sounds that are obtained that are called "pedal steel licks" that are obtained from bending the strings with your fingers?


No, and for myself and most of the players I know (I've played them since the 70's- have 7 on different guitar types) the worst way to play one is to try to play pedal steel licks or even sound "pedal steely". So I think you're maybe missing the point, which is NOT to play imitation pedal steel.

At first it seems like a gadget of "effect", but if you work at it and develop a skill level with the bender you play it as a completely different musical instrument.

If I want to play electric guitar I strap on a Strat, or Tele, or Les Paul, or whatever and play "guitar".

But If I'm playing b-bender I'm in a different mindset. I don't play "electric guitar with a b-bender" - I play B-bender. The was also the approach Clarence White eventually used and why his '69-'72 playing was SO different from his early bender playing - in 1968 and early 69 he was still finding his way.

So if you don't like Clarence's later playing you won't like most of the players who play the "west coast" style of Clarence White, Bob Warford, Al Perkins and others.

although there's much more of a pedal steel-influenced style of bender playing around Nashville, if you hear someone who sounds more "outside" - loosen up and try to hear them as playing a third instrument - NOT a pedal steel, and NOT a guitar Because there's some really creative, unique music you're missing out on.
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Justin Jardine


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jul 2019 12:14 am    
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I bought one of those B-benders that Fender put out in the '90s and am pretty happy with it, if anything because it's also just a solid-playing Telecaster. I'm not a huge fan of the six individually adjustable saddles - the threads of the B saddle must have been stripped because I had to reset it almost every day. I picked up a roller saddle that somebody makes and sells on eBay, and that works fine. As to whether it sounds like a steel, you can definitely get the minor changes by engaging the A pedal, the major by engaging the A pedal and your E to F lever, and that typical sound of rocking the A pedal with B engaged. Not sure if you'll fool anybody, but there are similarities. It still sounds like a guitar tone, but I think a lot of older steel players played with more treble.
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