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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Music Lap Steel?: Tunings and Strings?
Lap Steel?: Tunings and Strings?
FreakBear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 361
From: Springfield, Ohio
Posted: 2005-08-15 09:56 am   Permalink

A question for the pros: I've recently been researching Lap Steel. This includes common tunings and availability of string sets for "Hawaiian" tuning. So far I've located a set of GHS strings for "Hawaiian 'E'" but nothing for the "A" tuning. What gives? Am I just as well to by any old set and just tune it any way I want.

My experience with string instruments thus far has been bass guitar and uke. I found that one set of strings works well with alternate tunings on either of these... is lap steel the same in that respect?

Also, what are some of your favorite tunings?


 
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Haole Kat
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 02, 2004
Posts: 271
From: St Petersburg, FL
Posted: 2005-08-15 4:17 pm   Permalink

Kanekila will probably chime in with some info....all I know is that for the Hawaiian sound, you'll want a tuning like C6 or B11.

JG
http://www.whollycatsband.com

edit -- As far as string tension goes, each set of strings will have the proper tension for 1 tuning, specified on the packaging...however, you might be able to find a set that's "in between" 2 tunings...I believe TJ has a set on his resonator that will handle C6 & B11.

[ This Message was edited by: Haole Kat 2005-08-15 16:20 ]


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Tiki_Bong
Deleted

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 0
Posted: 2005-08-15 7:02 pm   Permalink

Freak-B,

While C6 may sound more Hawaiian, other good tunings are E7 and straight G major.

Just because a company doesn't offer pre-packaged sets of strings in certain tunings, doesn't mean you can build your own set of strings for a particular tuning. Many guitar stores sell individual strings in most gauges.

Check out the site Brad's Page of Steel (or something similar). They have a page that gives a listing of string gauges for different tunings.

Check out
http://www.juststrings.com for your strings.

I get my steel strings on this site. They have them under guitar -> Hawaiian lap steel guitar and non-pedal lap steel guitar.

Good luck, and practice hard!

[ This Message was edited by: Tiki_Bong 2005-08-15 19:04 ]


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FreakBear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 361
From: Springfield, Ohio
Posted: 2005-08-15 10:12 pm   Permalink

Thanks Guys!

 
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Haole Kat
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 02, 2004
Posts: 271
From: St Petersburg, FL
Posted: 2005-08-15 10:27 pm   Permalink

Tiki Bong is right about juststrings...they're a great resource. Also try Big City Strings...I get some stuff through them that I can't find elsewhere.

J


 
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FreakBear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 361
From: Springfield, Ohio
Posted: 2005-08-16 10:33 am   Permalink

...Oh yeah, what about amplification?

 
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Haole Kat
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 02, 2004
Posts: 271
From: St Petersburg, FL
Posted: 2005-08-16 11:12 am   Permalink

Now amps are a BIG can of worms. It really depends on what type of tone you want. The tonal quality of any given amp is very subjective, possibly even moreso than instruments.

Overall, I prefer vintage Fender tube amps for my own purposes. I also tend to prefer the tone of other players who use tube amps rather than solid state amps.

That said, in the hands of the right player, the crappiest rig can sound heavenly. No kidding. Sooooo much more is in the hands than the equipment. I have also heard pricey boutique gear sound like ass in the hands of the wrong player.

If it sounds good to you, go with it. Your taste will likely change over time, so you can just move on to the next thing...it gets addictive! We call it G.A.S - or Gear Aquisition Syndrome...YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!!

For a clean sound, I really like the sound of TJ's steels through my Princeton Reverb. They are usually available on e-bay for a wide range of prices...you'll likely want Blackface electronics, not Silverface. '72-'74 models have Silverface cosmetics, but Blackface electronics. They can often be found a bit cheaper than "real" BF models from pre-'71 or so.

For a slightly grittier tone, like on alot of classic Hawaiian recordings...a smaller wattage amp sounds even better. 5 watt amps can be pushed without becoming too loud, so you can get the natural tube compression without Pete Townsend volume...Fender Champs, Supro Amps...TJ has a 5 watt Crate(!) that sounds great in that context.

Feel free to contact me with any questions...I'm a total gear geek!

Josh
www.whollycatsband.com




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FreakBear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 361
From: Springfield, Ohio
Posted: 2005-08-16 9:06 pm   Permalink

Thanks Josh! That'll give me a good start.

 
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Kanekila
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 07, 2004
Posts: 185
From: Safety Harbor, FL
Posted: 2005-08-17 12:03 pm   Permalink

Hey FreakBear --

Welcome to the wonderful and infuriating world of lapsteel guitar! You know what the wonderful part is -- the infuriating parts are just the things you mentioned, but even more than that are learning the techniques for playing it.

Bong is right about
http://www.juststrings.com You can find six-string sets there in a variety of of tunings for lap or Hawaiian guitar.

I use C6 and B11 tunings mostly, and sometimes A6, if needed. You and retune certain strings to get new and interesting tunings from these. If you're going to play a lot of Hawaiian and/or western-swing, particularly from the later 30's onward, I'd recommend learning C6. It will let you play most tunes from this era. If you're wanting more of that 20's-early 30's era style resonator Hawaiian sound, open tunings like E and G are more apropos. For certain tunes, like "Sand," for example, you'll need to learn B11. It's a very lush and cool tuning, but not easy to negotiate.

On a shortscale (22.5") lap, I use the John Pearse Hawaiian Lap Steel Guitar Six String Nickel Wound (Am6) set, .016 - .046 (JPS_7310) from Juststrings.com With this set on my six-string lap, I can get C6, A6 and B11 without too much difficulty.

Regarding amps, I'm with Josh regarding small wattage Fender tube amps. The Princeton Reverb I'm selling him is about as good an amp tone as I've heard anywhere. Yeah, I know... why am I selling it!? I keep asking myself this question daily!

For that really old-fashioned tone, I have a small Crate VC-508, which is one pre-amp tube, one EL84 power tube, and all class-A power putting out 5-watts. It has an 8" speaker, and really nails that old-time sound. A lot of guys on the Steel Guitar Forum like those new little battery powered Roland MicroCubes. You can get 'em new for $125, and you can take them anywhere, since they're battery powered.

I also recommend joining the SGF at http://www.steelguitarforum.com/ When you get in there, just go to the "No Peddlers" section for all things lap steel. I've learned a TON since joining five years ago.

If you have any other questions, give me a holler at my kanekila@hotmail.com address.

Oh yes -- if you're goin to play Hawaiian, I recommend learning to use the bullet bar, or roundbar. It will make slants much easier. For economy, ease of use, and just a good all-around bar, I recommend the Dunlop "Jerry Byrd" model. It's 2-3/4" long, and 3/4" wide.

Good luck and welcome to the lap steel club!
_________________
Kanekila


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FreakBear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 361
From: Springfield, Ohio
Posted: 2005-08-17 8:55 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the info Kanekila. What are some good learning resources?

Also, I located this amp online. Is something like this worth looking into?
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=guitar/search/detail/base_pid/480260/

It looks like I'll actually be getting a little 10w solid state Marshall. Hopefully a decent start.

[ This Message was edited by: freakbear 2005-08-18 10:28 ]


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HelloTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 23, 2005
Posts: 440
From: Kailua, Hawaii
Posted: 2005-08-21 10:09 am   Permalink

Jerry byrd (he was my teacher) put out the ultimate steel guitar instruction book about 15 years ago. Covers all the tunings plus tons of great arrangements and songs. Its expensive, but its the only book you'll ever need. I'll see if Harry's Music in Honolulu still knows where to find a copy. But try online.
I made the companion video for him, but I don't know if any copies exist anymore. Look for the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association online(---if they still exist).


 
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FreakBear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 15, 2004
Posts: 361
From: Springfield, Ohio
Posted: 2005-08-22 09:22 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2005-08-21 10:09, HelloTiki wrote:
Jerry byrd (he was my teacher) put out the ultimate steel guitar instruction book about 15 years ago. Covers all the tunings plus tons of great arrangements and songs. Its expensive, but its the only book you'll ever need. I'll see if Harry's Music in Honolulu still knows where to find a copy. But try online.
I made the companion video for him, but I don't know if any copies exist anymore. Look for the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association online(---if they still exist).



Sweet! there it is!

http://www.hsga.org/

Looks like they have an upcoming event somewhat close to me!

Thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to look into either of these resources.

[ This Message was edited by: FreakBear 2005-08-22 09:26 ]


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