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Author Topic:  Anyone not lower their 4th string E-Eb?
Greg Milton


From:
Benalla, Australia
Post  Posted 17 Sep 2020 10:17 pm    
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I've been listening to a lot of steel from the 60s of late and have been thinking about how many of my favourite E9 players didn't lower their 4th string to Eb along with their 8th - Lloyd, Hal, Weldon, Jimmy Day, Curly.

I understand that a major factor in their setups involved the limitations of the mechanisms of the times and sticking with what they were used to - exclusively using string 2 for the high Eb - even when the mechanisms improved. Lloyd preferred sticking with it for musical reasons and speaks about it at length in his interview with PF: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPZdwbj9xq4 (check out from around the 58 minute mark)

Is there anyone who has chosen to follow suit? Was your decision for purely musical reasons or was it because of the limitations of the past? Or perhaps you learnt on an early model that didn't lower the 4th string and got used to it? Are there things that you do with the 8th string lower that you couldn't do if the 4th lowered as well?
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Alan Bidmade


From:
Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2020 4:27 am    
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Hi
I am no expert in psg setup, but...
Some time ago, I managed to set the two E strings as follows:
string 4 would lower a half tone on the E lower lever, while string 8 didn't lower, giving a Maj 7(almost like a half-stop).
A full extend of the E lever would drop string 8 to Eb.
I have no idea how I did this, and I re-tuned to standard soon after, but it gave some beautiful tones. In no time at all, I was knee-deep in Erik Satie, and it did sound good. I'd love to set this up again, but my lack of expertise means I must have chanced upon it by luck, and I can't manage to set it up again..
Someone will know how to do this, and it just might catch on!
HELP!
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2020 7:51 am    
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There's an almost inaudible tuning problem with lowering the 4th string. If you tune the E string with the "C" pedal or "F" lever, then lower it, it comes back slightly sharp. It never bothered me much, but it annoys some people.
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Brett Lanier

 

From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2020 5:20 pm    
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I don't lower string 4. Been playing that way for 5 or 6 years, so I didn't learn that way. It wasn't a tuning issue that made me try it, but it's certainly a bonus. At some point I noticed that the tone of that note always sounded better on the 2nd string, rather than dropping 4 (especially when played with string 5). I backed off the change as a personal challenge, just to see if I could play everything I wanted without it, and then I never put it back.

There are times when I notice I have an extra note that I wouldn't have if I still had that change. One that comes to mind is when playing a minor 3 chord with the Eb lever. You get the flat 6 on string 4 without having to let off the lever. It's definitely limiting in most ways, but it's sort of like when you go from an all pull to a push pull... There are certain situations where the push pull changer will give you a combination that you won't get with an all pull with splits, for better or worse.

There's more to it that I have a hard time putting into words. Something about the way the E9 tuning is laid out just makes sense to me without that change. A really dependable D note on the second string is probably extra important with that setup, because you end up playing and hanging on the 2nd string more often. Sorry that was a bit ramble-y, haha.
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Greg Milton


From:
Benalla, Australia
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2020 6:09 pm    
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Brett Lanier wrote:
I backed off the change as a personal challenge, just to see if I could play everything I wanted without it, and then I never put it back


It's funny you say that, Brett, because I'm having some issues with the retainer spring on the 4th string lower that makes the pull rod pop out of the bell crank on occasion. I could easily fix it with some pliers but have responded to a possible sign from the universe and decided to experiment with it, seeing what I can play without the lower.

Something that is very important to me is to try to have changes on most strings that allow me to land on a chordal tone no matter what fret and position (i.e. pedals up, pedals down, A/F, F#/Eb, etc.), so as to keep a string ringing throughout multiple notes and to maximise counterpoint, pivoting, and other moves. Not having the 4th string lower compromises that slightly. I have lost several of my favourite moves but on the other hand I really do like the sound of lowering the 8th and then raising it again while the 4th string stays where it is while using the pedals up and pedals down positions, just for some extra colour in those chords.

Just wondering if there are other ideas of things that can only be done if you don't lower the 4th with the 8th?

PS: b0b, that phenomenon doesn't bother me either
PPS: Alan, I use the 2nd string Eb for that sound, picking stings 8 and 2 and whatever other chordal tone I want to throw in
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Steve Mueller

 

From:
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2020 7:01 pm    
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I played a Sho Bud Professional D10 in the 70's that had bad hysteresis on sting 4 with the RKL lower and the C pedal raise. I started tuning open after using the knee lever lower making the string come back flat after the C lever was pushed. I finally got so disgusted with that arrangement I just took the 4th string lower off leaving just the 8th lower ala Lloyd Green. It worked out much better for me than having the 4th string sharp or flat. I've got pitch return comps now on all strings that raise and lower so it's no longer a consideration.
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Brett Lanier

 

From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 19 Sep 2020 10:16 am    
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Greg Milton wrote:
Something that is very important to me is to try to have changes on most strings that allow me to land on a chordal tone no matter what fret and position (i.e. pedals up, pedals down, A/F, F#/Eb, etc.), so as to keep a string ringing throughout multiple notes and to maximise counterpoint, pivoting, and other moves. Not having the 4th string lower compromises that slightly.

I know what you mean. But then again, I think that pedal steel players can get too caught up in the mindset of having all the options possible at every position. I've been there for sure! Used to have a full 8x8 setup, but now I'm down to 8x3.

There are those rare occasions like I mentioned where you may get something you wouldn't otherwise get from a more complex setup, but to me the point is to play what you hear and feel, and I can't think of a single time where I couldn't get my point across because of a lack of knee levers. I'm really inspired by people like Jerry Byrd, Buddy Charleton, Lloyd, or really any other great steel player who can jump to a different group of strings without breaking that continous sound. If you can do that, it's like having 100 knee levers.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 19 Sep 2020 11:39 am    
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That knack of jumping seamlessly to a different bunch of strings is an art which has possibly been eroded as mechanisms have become more sophisticated and you can do more in one spot.
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Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 19 Sep 2020 11:48 am    
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I couldn't think of not lowering the 4th string to Eb...

That would mess with the"B6"side of things considerably...

Yes,I know..."but the second string"...

...nope,I gotta have that change...like b0b,I find the
"hysteria"a very small problem...most of the time,you can hit the lever real quick and it'll come back where it ought to...

Just my opinion...and should be yours...

SH
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Andrew Frost


From:
Toronto, Ontario
Post  Posted 19 Sep 2020 12:43 pm    
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Interesting thread. I've often wondered about this particular topic and thought that the reverse set up would yeild more interesting results, ie lowering 4 but keeping 8 at E, as Alan described.

No doubt the limitation of just lowering 8 would push you in creative ways though. I've noticed Lloyd did/does alot of forward slants to get that unison between 2 & 4.
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Greg Milton


From:
Benalla, Australia
Post  Posted 19 Sep 2020 2:56 pm    
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Brett Lanier wrote:
I'm really inspired by people like Jerry Byrd, Buddy Charleton, Lloyd, or really any other great steel player who can jump to a different group of strings without breaking that continous sound. If you can do that, it's like having 100 knee levers


This is so true, Brett!
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Andrew Goulet


From:
••••••••
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2020 8:03 am    
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I don't have the E lower on the 4th string. On the Fender I previously played, I made two barn hinges levers (E and F) that only raised or lowered one string. I found it improved the action of a slightly squishy system. So I was already accustomed to not having it when I started playing the Marlen S12. Sometimes I think I miss that change when I'm doing a harmonized scale, but it's also cool to easily have that 6th tone in there for the minor chord too.
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Paul Sutherland

 

From:
Placerville, California
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2020 9:43 am    
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I've addressed the hystersis problem with the 4th string by tuning the open pitch just after lowering and then releasing the knee lever that lowers the E. My thinking is that I use that lever much more in my playing than either of the raises, so this has my steel the most in tune of the available options. On every steel I've owned this has worked well, and the raises do not come back enough flat to be a problem that I can hear. I can see it on a tuner, but I can't really hear it.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2020 9:57 am     Re: Anyone not lower their 4th string E-Eb?
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Greg Milton wrote:
I've been listening to a lot of steel from the 60s of late and have been thinking about how many of my favourite E9 players didn't lower their 4th string to Eb along with their 8th - Lloyd, Hal, Weldon, Jimmy Day, Curly.

Is there anyone who has chosen to follow suit?


Probably very few. And anyway, why eliminate that move from your setup when you can just not use that lever? To have it and choose to not use it as much makes far more sense.

IMHO, it does little good to go harping on who had what, and when, or who has something new and different, or who hasn't changed since cars had running boards. Laughing I think it's seriously wrong to believe that one lever move or pedal change is going to make a big difference in what you do or how well you play. Look, what matters more than anything is the player, and I'll argue that with anyone, beginner or pro, 'til hell freezes over.

The real "advantage" you're looking for isn't adding something new or having something different; it's knowing how to expertly use what you already have.
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K Maul


From:
Upstate NY/Hobe Sound FL
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2020 10:21 am    
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On my new Justice S10 JR I only have 2+2, as a personal challenge similar to Brett’s. My LKR lowers 8 and raises 4, like Mooney did. Right now I also have no C pedal so use the first string to get the B&C sounds. My other knee raises 1,2&7 so some of the bendy E-Eb sounds can be done with that. It HAS been challenging but I’m learning a lot. I play lots of dobro and non pedal steel so jumping smoothly between strings is not entirely foreign to me.
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Greg Milton


From:
Benalla, Australia
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2020 3:51 pm     Re: Anyone not lower their 4th string E-Eb?
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Donny Hinson wrote:
why eliminate that move from your setup when you can just not use that lever? To have it and choose to not use it as much makes far more sense


Thanks Donny. That is exactly what I am driving at. Not wanting to 'harp on' Winking, but I'm asking are there any musical reasons for it? As I asked in my original post:
Quote:
Are there things that you do with the 8th string lower that you couldn't do if the 4th lowered as well?


Not looking for an advantage or a silver bullet, just curious! Very Happy
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Larry Bressington


From:
The beautiful sunsets of Nebraska
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2020 6:36 pm    
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This is a great thread, I love to see a thread where a player is trying to get more or the same with less hardware I’m into that big time, I think this would work out just fine once you get it into your DNA and adjust your style accordingly. Good show matey! 😊
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Mitchell Smithey

 

From:
Dallas, USA
Post  Posted 21 Sep 2020 7:59 am    
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I took off the 4th string lower for a while just see if I could adapt to it. It made me a better player by making me use the second string more often. Also you pick up some great new voicings with the C pedal.
It’s easy to try if your guitar allows you to just slacken the 4th string tuning nut.
Warning, not all guitars allow you do this without things coming loose.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 21 Sep 2020 8:52 am    
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Steve Hinson wrote:
...nope,I gotta have that change...like b0b,I find the "hysteria"a very small problem...most of the time,you can hit the lever real quick and it'll come back where it ought to...

Bingo..

Steve Hinson also wrote:
Just my opinion...and should be yours...

LOL...
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James Quillian


From:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 21 Sep 2020 1:11 pm    
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I wonder who might use the second string for Eb and set the 4th string to drop a whole step to D.
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Greg Milton


From:
Benalla, Australia
Post  Posted 21 Sep 2020 11:07 pm    
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Steve Hinson wrote:
Just my opinion...and should be yours...


Opinion noted, Steve. I really love listening to Lloyd, Hal, Weldon, Jimmy and Curly. Just wondering why their opinion was different to yours Very Happy
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Brett Lanier

 

From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2020 8:43 am     Re: Anyone not lower their 4th string E-Eb?
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Donny Hinson wrote:
And anyway, why eliminate that move from your setup when you can just not use that lever? To have it and choose to not use it as much makes far more sense.

I think I can answer that. Because I do use that lever a lot (for the 8th string lower), but I stopped playing the 4th string in those instances, and didn't see the need for it to keep being lowered.
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Pete Burak

 

From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2020 9:39 am    
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It only takes a few seconds to turn the E-lower end-plate tuner so it does not engage the string-4 E-lower, so on most brands you can try that pretty quickly/easily.
The reason I like lowering both E's to Eb on an S10 E9th is that it allows you to play alot of 6th sounding stuff on E9th.
For example, with E's lowered, you get the 6th-chord two frets back from the AB down 9th-chord. So with E's lowered you get a G6th two frets back from the G chord at 10AB.
Any time you use the E lowers to get a relative minor, that is also a 6th chord, so the 8(E>Eb) Em, is also a G6th.
Then you release the E lowers and add string 9, and that is the P6 function of a standard 6th tuning. So you go from the One chord (I) to the Four chord (IV), then two frets up from the Five chord (V).
So can play a ton of Asleep At The Wheel, etc, type of Western Swing stuff using this method of playing 6th on 9th with both E's lowered.
With E's lowered I also use a half step lower slant on string 7 to get the P5 function for a swingy Two (2) chord.
Also with E's lowered the A-pedal functions much like P7, and the B pedal changes your open 6th chord to a 7th chord.
With both E's lowered your S10 E9th is alot like also having a basic 6th tuning.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2020 10:13 am    
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As Mitchell and Pete say - it's pretty simple to just back out either E-lower nylon just enough to disengage the pull. I generally do that by holding in the lever as I'm turning, to just disengage it enough to prevent it from pulling so I don't slack it off enough to cause the pull rod to come loose - that has definitely happened if I back it out too much.

In fact, I do that with a number of levers sometimes. Sometimes I pull back the string 2 D#=>D=>C# to just go to D. Sometimes I disengage string 1&2 changes which are on the same lever as my string 6 G#=>F#. Sometimes I disengage E=>Eb on either string 4 or 8. I'm probably just as likely to disengage string 8 for Emaj7 on 8,6,5,4. For me, that would be a special-purpose thing used occasionally.

But I would never willingly completely give up both changes for the reasons Pete mentioned, plus to bring E9 into B6 tuning a la universal E9/B6. I'd rather have the option to not use them both, rather than to not have the option to use them both.
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Duncan Wood


From:
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Post  Posted 3 Oct 2020 8:53 am    
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I'm late to the party here, but if anyone's still watching...

I'm a beginner and I just discovered this issue myself on my Fessenden U12 E9/B6 with 3 raises/3 lowers. Is this just an unavoidable issue? Can someone explain to me why there is hysteresis here?

What I thought was happening was: raises pull against the tension of the string, and the string tension returns it to the original place when released. Lowers pull against each spring of the strings they lower, and the spring tension pulls each of them back up to the original.

In my case the E > F# on string 4 stays in tune. But E > D# brings it up sharp when released. How does it manage to add extra tension? If anyone's written a good guide to various mechanisms and known issues I'd love to see it.
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