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I'm fairly new to the various tunings one can use for playing slide guitar.  I'm also new to the concept of more than 6-strings!  Bearing that in mind I just received a Fender Stringmaster D8 which has two necks and each has 8-strings.  I currently have the one neck tuned to C6 (A-C-E-G-A-C-E-G) and plan on tuning the second to A6 which I can only guess at what the notes are.  I think A6 tuning would be F#-A-C#-E-F#-A-C#-E.  Can someone confirm?

I also have a standard 6-string guitar that I've tuned to E (E-B-E-G#-B-E) and have been having fun with that.  What I am finding out with this guitar (an electric) is playing it lap style with a tone bar (a Shubb-Pearse in this case) is it seems the bar is too heavy and you have to be more careful of adding any extra pressure which usually results in a bad sound.  I've played it as a normal guitar with a finger slide with more success.   I am working on getting a straight bass going at the same time as some slide work.  This takes a little more concentration to get the damping behind the finger slide right and still have a clear bass going.  In time...

Meanwhile, I have a Weissenborn guitar on the way that is supposed to be delivered on Monday.  This is a lap steel guitar (Hawaiian style) and I can't wait to hear the sounds it produces.

I'm not sure of the tuning a Weissenborn guitar is normally tuned to.  I do know the Weissenborn I'm getting has Daddario Strings in these sizes: .014, .018, .026w, .034w, .044w, .056w.  Looking around the 'net my best guess is this would accommodate a D tuning. 


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Hey John, I need the gauges for open "D" tuning too...I found a chart that has a bunch but not that one.
I understand that open"D" tuning will require a little heavier gauge than open "E". Thanks, Edward
I got this from the site you suggested...
There are many options for string gauges and tunings depending on the type of music that you enjoy playing. I suggest the basic open E tuning as a beginning point of departure, especially if you intend to concentrate on playing rock or blues. Many fine players of the electric 6 string lap steel use open E almost exclusively, so it would seem to be an ideal first tuning. As far as string gauges go, it’s OK to put a standard set of electric guitar strings on your instrument initially. Open E is tuned to the same standard pitch as a regular guitar and the third, fourth, and fifth strings are raised to the open E chord. The string gauges of a standard set are not ideal but they will certainly be acceptable. Ideally heavier gauges will be used due to the shorter scale of the lap steel vs. standard guitar scale length. The following tunings and recommended gauges are shown below to enable experimentation after your initial introduction to the lap steel. GHS strings produces a “standard” guitar set that is suitable for several of the tunings listed below. The set is labeled “DYM” and includes .013, .017, .026w, .036, .044, and .056 strings.

NOTE: All tunings displayed lowest on left (6th string) to highest on right (1st string)

E / .056w ____ B / .044w ____ E / .036w ____ G#/.026w ____ B / .017 ____ E / .013

E / .054w ____ B / .038w ____ E / .030w ____ G / .024w ____ B / .020 ____ E / .015

C6 / Am7:
C / .036w ____ E / .030w ____ G / .024w ____ A / .020w ____ C / .017 ____ E / .015

G / .052w ____ B / .042w ____ D / .032w ____ G / .024w ____ B / .017 ____ D / .015

G / .052w ____ B / .042w ____ E / .032w ____ G / .024w ____ B / .017 ____ D / .015

C# /.036w ____ E / .030w ____ F# /.026w ____ A / .020w ____ C# /.017 ____ E / .014
The Weissborn has gauges .014, .018, .026w, .034w, .044w, .056w on it. The first in the list above is the closest, which is an open E tuning. I'll likely stick to that for now. I'll check the tuning it's currently in before changing it. Likely it'll be tuned down and be near what it was tuned to.

I just updated the tunings on the Stringmaster. I had the front neck neck tuned to C6. I was a little wary of this tuning because the strings seemed tight. I was worried the high string was going to snap as I approached G. Luckily, it didn't.

I came across this page showing C6 and A6 tunings. After comparing the two, the A6 tuning was lower and it seemed more natural to have A6 on the front neck. I tried to do a check of the string gauges between the two necks and the back neck seemed to have thinner plain strings. I tuned the back to C6 and it worked well. Both the front and back neck string tensions feel "right" - not very tight or loose and they sound pretty good too.

I'll record some of my doodling and post it. Nothing spectacular, just some really simple riffs.

Try D or G ( dgdgbd-Low to high ).
I am thinking of going with Open E tuning for my first foray into lap steel! My first lap steel is almost built and I seem to think it will be easier to learn in a tuning that is in relatively the same pitch as standard tuning...any thoughts on this?!?!? Edward

I think the question is not so much what tuning to start with but what kind of music are you intending to play on the lap steel? Different kinds of music tend to lean toward one kind of tuning vs. another. The tuning will also influence the gauge strings to use as well.

What gauge strings will you be using? A heavier gauge is usually preferred on steels. After a little searching I found this String Gauge Chart PDF at John Ely's site that might be helpful.

Open E (E-B-E-G#-B-E) will work using standard gauge strings and fine for blues.

Open G (D-G-D-G-B-D) and open D (D-A-D-F#-A-D) tunings are a couple of options for blues that should work well with standard gauge strings as well.

C6 (C-E-G-A-C-E) would be a good tuning choice for country and western swing but would need a different gauge set of strings. C-A-C-G-C-E is another C6 tuning but friendlier to a standard gauge string set.

There are a couple resources on the 'net that help players acquaint themselves to new tunings and scale layouts on the fretboard. I like using this online Guitar Scales generator. You tell it what the tuning of the strings are and the scale and it'll give you the layout for the scale. It's a good quick reference but if you want to print you are out of luck. A better option would be to use this Scale Generator which can print the fretboard diagrams.

Thanks John...all this will be helpful! My idol is (was) Ben Keith who played on most of Neil Young's "stuff." I want to emulate his sound on the songs Heart of Gold and Old Man. And also the slide part on CSN's song Teach Your Children...that's my goal! Now, I do know that Ben Keith used a lap steel but most of those songs were done on a true pedal steel, so I am not expecting to be able to sound just like he did, I just want to be as close as possible! So, knowing that, any further tuning advice? What about a volume pedal? I did place my volume knob right next to the bridge where my hand will lie, but I figure it must be harder to do volume swells with the volume knob then with a volume pedal...right? Thanks, Edward
I'm not sure about the tunings Ben Keith used. I'd like to know myself. I did a little searching and E9 (E-G#-B-D-F#-G#-B-E) popped up as a generic tuning but is used mostly on 8- and 10-string instruments. Usually you'd drop the highest and lowest strings which would make it G#-B-D-F#-G#-B for 6-strings. You could try the B-D-F#-G#-B-E configuration. Either way I think would require a custom gauge string set.

I'm certain Heart of Gold was played on a pedal steel as well as Teach Your Children. Not sure about Old Man.

There are ways to emulate pedal steel double stops on a lap that involves angling the slide and then making the slide straight to get that pedal effect on the one note. The key is keeping the other note the same pitch while the other is raised in pitch. Takes some practice and definitely can be done.

As for volume. I prefer using a volume pedal over trying to manipulate the volume pot on the guitar. It can be done and many have done it. IMO you have better control with a pedal. I use an Ernie Ball VP Jr. model 6180. Make sure the model number is correct because the 6180 uses a 250k pot and will give you smoother swells, especially with the switch in the up position. The other model - the 6181 - uses a 25k pot which doesn't work very well for swells - not enough resolution.

Oh, I'm not sure of the type slide you have or plan on using but I've found the Shubb-Pearse SP3, SP1 (longer and good for 8-string steels) and Dunlop 920 (this is a long one list the SP1) slides to be excellent. The heavier the better. The Shubb-Pearses are more ergonomic in that your fingers fit nicely into them. The SP3 and Dunlop have what is call a bullet-nose. This allows you to lift the tonebar slightly to allow you to play open strings at the same time you are doing single note or double-stop slides. The Dunlop is a tonebar and weighs 7.5 ozs. It sits nicely on the strings you little added pressure is needed to get good tone. The flat end of the Dunlop has a nice space dug out of it for your thumb to grab hold.

Thanks, so much, John, for all of your insight and suggestions. I have just installed the bridge and pickup in my lap steel and the electronics are in the process of final wiring! Next I will install the tuners (I have a set of Gibson plastic tipped "Keystone" tuners that came from a 1968 Gibson SG) and then I just have to make the nut...and then I am ready for strings! Now if I could just be HOME enough to get it done!!! I will post a new pic soon! Edward
Awesome! It's like your dangling the carrot in front!
Here's that latest pics...Thanks for your enthusiasm!!! Edward

I have a wessenborn and tune it open G---- D G D G B D that way I can play my banjo and skack key guitar the same way and music
Hmm, I think my Weissenborn is currently in open E tuning. I have used open D as well on it. Open G is a great prospect. I do have an inklin to dig it out and play so I just might!


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