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Author Topic:  How to sound like Ralph Mooney?
Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jul 2019 6:14 pm    
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Is there a certain musical mindset you can get into to play his style more intuitively? I feel like if you don't play his style convincingly and with full investment, it flops.

I don't think I've ever tried to learn his parts note for note. They've always run so against my grain from the get-go that I just make my own parts for his songs instead. His style sounds both rudimentary and tricky at the same time. To me, much of his stuff sounds like he's shoehorning his style and sound into songs regardless of what else is going on in them. But it works and people love it, so I want to figure it out. In fact, I'd love to be able to do his kind of shoehorning so that it's easier to sit in on pretty much and Waylon song and similar stuff.
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Kevin Fix


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jul 2019 6:23 pm    
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I do know for tone wise I pick close to the PUP. I also tend to pick a little more aggressively at the same time. I always enjoyed playing Waylon tunes back 30 some odd years ago. I loved playing the "Moon" licks. Listening to the "Moon" got me into right hand aggressive style picking.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 24 Jul 2019 8:12 pm    
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Al Brisco's DVD teaches the style very well.

www.steelguitarscanada.com/online-store/products-page-2/al-brisco-dvd-instruction/al-brisco-ralph-mooney-style-e9th-tab-in-pdf-dvd/
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Michael Johnstone


From:
Sylmar,Ca. USA
Post  Posted 25 Jul 2019 8:01 pm    
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If you really want to absorb and internalize a player's style, you actually DO have to learn his licks note for note. The enterprise of doing that forces you to dig deep to discover his positions, their connective tissue, bar vibrato, syncopation, timing and picking details. That doesn't mean you'll ever sound exactly like the players you've stidied and dissected. It just means you've done your homework, done it well and the tools in your toolbox are sharp.
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Rick Abbott


From:
Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 5:02 am    
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If I remember correctly, Jeff Newman was into Mooney and did a series of articles detailing his years-long search for Moon licks. He had figured out lots of stuff on standard E9. I forget where I read them, some newsletter years ago?

You might take that clue and discover a way forward?
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Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 5:59 am    
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Michael Johnstone wrote:
If you really want to absorb and internalize a player's style, you actually DO have to learn his licks note for note. The enterprise of doing that forces you to dig deep to discover his positions, their connective tissue, bar vibrato, syncopation, timing and picking details. That doesn't mean you'll ever sound exactly like the players you've stidied and dissected. It just means you've done your homework, done it well and the tools in your toolbox are sharp.


I appreciate the response. My first hurdle is that I'm pushing against my musical grain with Mooney. Sure, I could suck it up, put all my other projects aside, and learn his stuff note-for-note until it re-wires my brain, but then what use would the Steel Guitar Forum be? Very Happy I think if someone could impart some musical philosophy on me that it'll give me a head start.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 6:14 am    
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IMHO, playing like Moon is more of a mindset than it is just playing those simple licks. You have to get into the nuance and his way of thinking, the note combinations, the tone settings, that unique syncopation he often used, the way he picked, and lastly, the volume pedal phrasing. I've heard dozens of players try to get it right, but few can. The fluidity and smoothness we hear from the other great players, probably the bulk of what we've heard, kinda runs against what Moon and a few other players did. So in the end, learning to play like Moon becomes more like "unlearning" all we've picked up from others.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 6:30 am    
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Donny, that is a great answer to Curt’s question. I’m no expert on anybody’s playing style, but your comment seems to encompass the general philosophy and some very helpful specific insight on an iconic player’s approach. I have experienced the futility of trying to copy or imitate, and I wish all those “Star Licks” videos I watched way back when had started off with a disclaimer like the one you just wrote.
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Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 6:37 am    
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Donny Hinson wrote:
The fluidity and smoothness we hear from the other great players, probably the bulk of what we've heard, kinda runs against what Moon and a few other players did. So in the end, learning to play like Moon becomes more like "unlearning" all we've picked up from others.


That resonates with me. My default mindset for pedal steel is to use it to either build and resolve tension in a song, or add interesting little ornamentals to it. And it took me so long to make myself sound smooth on the instrument that going full-out Mooney on it causes my brain to short circuit.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 7:23 am    
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You DON't have to go "full-out" Mooney. It's just another tool in your toolbox. If it will "short circuit" your brain, well, that's another issue.

I don't know what kind of philosophy you are wanting. That's probably a tall order. No one is going to be able to tell or teach you how to think like Mooney, or any other player for that matter. If you feel a need (or want) to learn Mooney, then do it, and Michael's suggestion of learning note for nor note is a good one. Obviously you have an interest in it. It shouldn't replace or negate anything you have already learned.
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James Mayer


From:
back in Portland Oregon, USA (via Arkansas and London, UK)
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 7:47 am    
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Can someone post some links to quintessential "moon" licks for context?
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Gary Watkins


From:
Bristol, VA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 8:17 am    
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To sound like "MOON", can it be done on any steel or only one one like he had? Does it make it easier to have a GFI?
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Curt Trisko


From:
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 8:41 am    
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Richard Sinkler wrote:
I don't know what kind of philosophy you are wanting. That's probably a tall order. No one is going to be able to tell or teach you how to think like Mooney, or any other player for that matter.


For example, my flippant impression is that his philosophy is simply to take a mental note of the time signature and chord progression - and then put his head down, go on auto-pilot, and power his way through songs with sharp, rolling licks.
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David Gertschen


From:
Phoenix, Arizona
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 8:42 am    
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He did have a rather strange copedent, however I suspect he could have sat down at any guitar and sounded exactly the same.

To my ear, he sounds more like a dobro player on a pedal steel, with the hard picking, open string and hammer-on usage, and somewhat limited pedal/lever movements.

I have been meaning to get the Al Brisco dvd as well...
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 10:05 am    
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James Mayer wrote:
Can someone post some links to quintessential "moon" licks for context?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lxaTNh_OcgI
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Joseph Carlson


From:
Grass Valley, California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 10:15 am    
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Here's Al Brisco doing a sort of tribute to Ralph as part of his Ralph Mooney DVD instruction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y14CKpmv3qU

Pretty good distillation of his basic style.
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 12:13 pm    
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for me, Buck Owens' 1961 self-titled album on Capitol is the most quintessential of Ralph's session work. key tracks include Above & Beyond, Excuse Me, and Under Your Spell Again.


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Billy McCombs


From:
Bakersfield California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 1:31 pm     Rainy day woman
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Here's Mr. Emmons Playing the Intro to "Rainy day woman" Sounds great but not exactly like Mr. Moons. Just play it the way you feel it.https://app.box.com/s/8zl8k0idn9a6udipg3cbaxz5h4f3xkqu Check out "WAILIN" featuring the steel guitar sounds of Mike Headrick and Ralph Mooney. Its all instrumental Waylon songs with Mr. Moon playing in your face on half the songs.
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Last edited by Billy McCombs on 26 Jul 2019 1:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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J R Rose


From:
Keota, Oklahoma, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 1:32 pm    
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It should be noted that the great Moon played a Sho-Bud for a very long time. And the early day recording's with Buck was I think on a Fender cable pull. And then the GFI. I never thought it sounded like either one of the others. It was Moon but just not quite the sound. Check out Wynn Stewart with Moon on his Fender. That was around the same time as with Buck. Most were recorded at the old round Capitol studio in North LA. I got to see him with Wynn when I was young and then with Buck in my early 20's and then with Waylon around 1980's. Then saw him many times in St.Lewis. He was quite a character, R.I.P. Moon. Thanks, J.R.
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James Mayer


From:
back in Portland Oregon, USA (via Arkansas and London, UK)
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 1:36 pm    
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Fred Treece wrote:
James Mayer wrote:
Can someone post some links to quintessential "moon" licks for context?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lxaTNh_OcgI


Nice...
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Billy McCombs


From:
Bakersfield California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 2:13 pm    
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Mooney and Mike Headrick playing "Rainy day woman" featuring Ralph Mooney (:00-14 :53-1:08 1:32-1:58 https://app.box.com/s/y7yonw9nnf5qvquhziqhuppmdtv3acwr
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Billy McCombs


From:
Bakersfield California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 2:23 pm    
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What songs did Mooney play his homemade steel on? Was it early Wynn or Buck any one know? You can see the coat hanger in this picture.

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Jack Aldrich


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 3:35 pm    
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I spoke with Mooney at the 1977 NAM show. I asked him how he got that tone. He said "I used a Fender Twin Reverb with everything set to 10. I said, "Man, that would be too loud!" and he said "I had to be very careful with my volume pedal".
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 6:30 pm    
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Billy McCombs wrote:
What songs did Mooney play his homemade steel on? Was it early Wynn or Buck any one know? You can see the coat hanger in this picture.

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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2019 7:51 pm    
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He meant Wynn Stewart, Fred. Rolling Eyes Laughing
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