Back to a new version of E9

Fender Steels 1969

Fender Steel advertisement, circa 1969. The Sunburst pedal steels depicted here were obsolete. (This didn’t stop Sneaky Pete or Red Rhodes.)

e9th-modified

Pedal steel guitar tuning chart, or copedent. Open strings on left, pedal tuning changes on the top row, pedals go from left-to-right, and are played with the left foot, most of the time.

I changed over one of my two 8 string, four pedal Fenders to–yet another–version of E9th. I can’t replicate the standard four foot pedal, 3 knee lever tuning because the guitar lacks all the knee levers and two of the strings (given the standard set-up requires a ten string pedal steel.

Many standard, if not hoary by now, country licks are built on the A & B pedals, and the lower to (E to) D, and raise to F#, and the B to C#, on the no. four string. I’m looking to redeploy some of those augmented/suspended licks in (my decidedly) non-country context.

E9th deconstructed

However, I made some departures from what is termed the standard tuning. I switched the A with B pedal and made these the inside pedals. Then I turned the right-most pedal–no. 4 or the ‘D’ pedal–in a minor chord grip.

My main Fender 400 remains in a B6th; a tuning with more than a hint of the E9th in it anyway, but also keyed to a much lower voiced B6 chord. Whereas the modified E9 loses its lowest pitched stringsand so is a very mid-to-treble kind of tuning.

fender-underside Fender underside, showing the cables connected to the changer flanges. The guitar can be completely set to a new tuning in 15 to 30 minutes, if there are no string changes to also be made. Although its mechanical changer’s design is nowadays obsolete going on fifty years, that it can be set, at once, to a new tuning and to a new set of strings within an hour is the Fender pedal steel guitar’s only world beating feature. Although, in noting as much, these old contraptions stay in tune too.


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