This is Bob Hempker with today’s newsletter.
I’ve had several comments pertaining to the newsletter comparing the Emmons versus Day setups on the E9th neck. One individual had an injured left knee and using the left-left knee lever to flatten his fourth and eighth strings was less painful on his knee.
This could be a reason for changing your setup either way. Someone else may experience more comfort or less pain with the Emmons setup. It would just depend on the individual.
I started playing when I was twelve years old, then started using pedals when I was fourteen. The Jimmy Day setup was more common back then than it is today. As a result I learned to play that way.
I thought of changing down through the years to the Emmons setup, but I know I would pretty much have to start from scratch and learn to play all over again. As a result, I’ve stayed with my original setup, that being the Jimmy Day setup.
I do a couple of outside the box things. For starters, I raise my fourth and eighth with my right-left knee lever and lower my fourth and eighth strings with my right-right knee lever.
My reason for doing this like this is because I don’t like the knee lever with the second string half stop on my leg that is on the volume pedal. I have a hard time feeling the half stop that way so I put it on my left leg. I have it on my left-right knee lever.
I lower my sixth string a whole step with the split tuner bringing it back up a half step along with raising my second string a half step on my left-left knee lever. I don’t raise my first string like almost everyone does. The prominent lick that it’s used for, it in my opinion, has gotten extremely redundant.
I do use a half step raise on the first string but I pull it with my little finger behind the bar. If you’re a brand new player, you should practice pulling strings behind the bar because it really makes you use your ear.
It’s great for ear training because you actually have to listen for the string to go into pitch rather than just push the knee lever until it hits the stop. Bar slants and reverses are also an aide to making our ears listen to what we’re playing. Half pedaling on your “A” pedal is also beneficial.
I lower my fifth and tenth strings a whole step with my fourth floor pedal. I can half pedal it on slow ballads if need be for a half step lower. I can take my allen split tuning wrench if I think to, in time, and turn the tuning screw on the split tuner of the fifth string a half turn and that is real close in the ballpark to the Bb note.
That fourth pedal is hooked up to both necks. It pushes a little harder and does travel a little farther than I like but you can’t have everything and I want that change there.
Sometimes we have to choose the lesser of two evils in order to get something we want. I like this change and sometimes I use it with my left-left knee lever. I would rather have the change with the pedal traveling a little much and pushing a little harder than to do without the change. In case you haven’t noticed, the steel guitar is an instrument with a lot of compromises.
I also lower my tenth string with my “C” pedal. I lower it down to A. With my “B” and “C” pedals depressed and my ninth string lowered a half step, I have an A6th tuning on the tenth through the third string. There are also some neat things to play with the fourth, sixth and tenth strings.
The change is also completely out of the way when I play anything else. Again, the pedal travels a little bit farther with that string added. I set the pedal a little bit higher than the second pedal which is my “A” pedal. They bottom together pretty well that way.
I raise my seventh string a whole tone with an up lever on my left leg. I like the sound of the major seventh being in the middle of the chord with the “A” and “B” pedals down or the major thirteenth with the “B” and “C” pedals down.
I’ve heard it said that a guitar will have slightly more cabinet drop using the Jimmy Day setup because your “A” and “B” pedals are closer to the center of the guitar. First of all, I play an Emmons LeGrande III which has the counter-force so I can tune out the cabinet drop with that.
I’ve had numerous other guitars and have worked on many other guitars with the Day setup on them and I find that the statement of more cabinet drop with the Jimmy Day setup is completely erroneous.
In my opinion, someone just starting to play should consider the Emmons setup because it is so much more widely used and you can sit down to someone else’s guitar usually and be able to play it without a lot of problems.
Having said that, if you find a physical trait that makes it easier for you to play the Day setup, by all means go for it. We need to be as comfortable as possible when we’re playing our beautiful instrument.
Our instrument needs to be tailored around us and not the other way around. If I ever have another guitar specially built for me, I will definitely be there to sit behind it with my playing shoes on and with my pack-a-seat before any knee levers are mounted on it so they can be fit around me.
It is much like having a suit tailor made to fit you.
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