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 Hawaiian Steel Guitar
 Beginner chooses to go electric. I think.
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Cyberglen
Aloha

USA
31 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2009 :  08:07:13 AM  Show Profile
Thanks to everyone who contributes to this forum. I have the impression that most contributors play acoustical steel guitar. I would like to learn to play steel guitar, but based on what I have read, the sound I want could come from an electric laptop or console steel guitar. I want that instantly recognizable sweet, swoony (nahenahe), slightly cheesy luau sound, probably with a C6 tuning. To that end, I have found some really, really cheap, brand new laptops on Ebay --$100 range. Can these possibly be any good? My uke cost more than that. Or is the mechanism so simple that it can be produced at that cost?

Would it be better to get a console. Why are those rarer I wonder?

Anyway, any ideas on an electronic laptop or console in the lower price ranges would be good.

Slow down! It's Molokai.

Konabob
`Olu`olu

USA
928 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2009 :  5:38:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit Konabob's Homepage  Send Konabob an AOL message
Glen, go ahead and buy the cheap steel. You will have a lot of fun, and then you can upgrade if you really find you love it. You might enjoy G6th tuning. It has the sweet Waikiki feel to it, but it is easier to wrap your head around. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Z0rTFy7Ms an example). The console steels are more expensive in general.
Aloha,
-Konabob

Konabob's Walkingbass - http://www.konawalkingbass.com
Taropatch Steel - http://www.konaweb.com/konabob/
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=Konabob2+Walkingbass
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Cyberglen
Aloha

USA
31 Posts

Posted - 03/09/2009 :  5:59:45 PM  Show Profile
Somehow I knew you'd come through, Konabob! Great job on Haole Hula and Grass Shack. I especially love the neat litte finish on "Hula". You are so good -- managing to be there when you are needed and to fade into the background at other times. Are there two different instruments at use here? I really like them both. Grass shack appears to be more old timey somehow -- I am surprised at the "steel" that appears to come out of the guitar. Can you tell me what instruments I am listening to in these two different songs.

Slow down! It's Molokai.
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thumbstruck
Ahonui

USA
2085 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2009 :  06:07:34 AM  Show Profile
Eh, Cyberglen, check with Slipry1. He got a Merrill single neck, 8-string among others. With his kind assistance I put my Dobrointo C6. I was used to Bluegrass G, so this has been a stretch for me. Still having a blast with the new tuning. Warning: steel is addictive.
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1501 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2009 :  06:24:20 AM  Show Profile
Although I have a couple of resonator guitars, and I like to play them (thumbs says he likes the sound), I mostly gig on one of my electrics. From talking to locals and from my reading, Hawaiians went electric as soon as they were available, starting with the Rickenbacher Fry Pan, in 1933. Such greats as Sol Ho'opi'i switched at the time. As far as electrics go, I have looked at, and had students who use, the Rogue 6 string models. They are very good for a startup instument, and they sell for around $100, including tax. I also have a Morrell (not Merrill, thumbs) 8 string which sounds very good for the $$. I use it for knocking around. The key to a good sound, imho, is a quality amplifier. I have a Peavy Classic 30, a tube amp which yields a great sound, which I use most of the time. You can get them for around $650. I also have a Fender Champ DSP, which sells for around $250 and is passable for starters. An amp with reverb is a must, because, when you set the reverb at 4 out of 10, it gives the instrument "presence", in that it boosts the midrange. Cheap solid state amps tend to be WAAAAY too trebley. I turn the treble control down to 1, and it's still too trebley. I am an adoring fan of Fender Stringmasters and Rickenbackers with the horseshoe pickup - they sound Hawaiian. btw, I also play pedal steel, which I do not recommend for Hawaiian music, although Tom Thoma, a fine Japanese player, uses a pedal steel. I use a Peavy Session 400 with the pedal steel, but it weighs 50# - way too heavy fo' me.

keaka
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1501 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2009 :  06:35:48 AM  Show Profile
I forgot to add comments about tunings. I (and Booy Ingano and Alan Akaka, among others) use a C13 - from the bottom, Bb E G A C E, for a 6 string, and Bb C E G A C E G for and 8 string. Jerry Byrd, in his book, introduces other tunings first, but he switches to C13 for the advanced lessons. All of the 6th tunings have the same sound - they're just pitched different. The 13th (the Bb on the bottom) tunings contain major shords, minor chords, 6th chords, 7th chords and diminished chords (Bb E G), so they are very versatille. I have my double 8 Stringmaster with the C13 on the bottom neck and a B11 tuning (Sand, How'd Ya Do and an outrageous LOW B on the bottom) on the upper neck. I'm thinking getting about a Weisenborn-like instrument so I can play the oldies in Taro Patch tuning, which, as near as I can figure, and it makes sense, to, was the earliest steel tuning. I'm going to play Alekoki for a radio show coming up, and it just doesn't sound the same on the Stringmaster as it does on an acoustic steel.

keaka
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1501 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2009 :  06:40:21 AM  Show Profile
Corrected for typos:

I forgot to add comments about tunings. I (and Bobby Ingano and Alan Akaka, among others) use a C13 - from the bottom, Bb E G A C E, for a 6 string, and Bb C E G A C E G for and 8 string. Jerry Byrd, in his instruction book, introduces other tunings first, but he switches to C13 for the advanced lessons. All of the 6th tunings have the same sound - they're just pitched different. The 13th (the Bb on the bottom) tunings contain major shords, minor chords, 6th chords, 7th chords and diminished chords (Bb E G), so they are very versatille. I have my double 8 Stringmaster with the C13 on the bottom neck and a B11 tuning (Sand, How'd Ya Do and an outrageous LOW B on the bottom) on the upper neck. I'm thinking getting about a Weisenborn-like instrument so I can play the oldies in Taro Patch tuning, which, as near as I can figure, and it makes sense, too, was the earliest steel tuning. I'm going to play Alekoki for a radio show coming up, and it just doesn't sound the same on the Stringmaster as it does on an acoustic steel.
I hope I got them all - dyslectics of the world, untie!

keaka
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Konabob
`Olu`olu

USA
928 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2009 :  07:24:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit Konabob's Homepage  Send Konabob an AOL message
quote:
Originally posted by Cyberglen

... Can you tell me what instruments I am listening to in these two different songs.



Sure Glen,
Haole Hula is being played on a really short electric steel that I made. It fits in a baritone 'ukulele case and is tuned (low to high) G-D-E-G-B-D The strings are really tight, so it has incredible sustain, and plays like butter...

Grass Shack is played on a really short aucoustic steel with an electric pickup. Again, it is modeled on a Martin baritone 'ukulele body. I have it tuned E-G-D-G-B-D. It is a reentrant tuning, in that the E is actually higher than the middle D. Being a hollow body, it does not have the same sustain or string tension. But it is a perky little thing!

Aloha,
-Konabob
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Cyberglen
Aloha

USA
31 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2009 :  5:59:57 PM  Show Profile
Okay, the responses are overwhelming. The tunings have me head spinning. So, has anyone heard of a Chandler lap steel? I've seen a couple and they are really cool---very retro looking, but new, I guess. And made in America.

Slow down! It's Molokai.
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Retro
Ahonui

USA
2368 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2009 :  7:00:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit Retro's Homepage
quote:
Originally posted by Cyberglen

---very retro looking

Well...that's gotta be good, right?
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1501 Posts

Posted - 03/12/2009 :  12:16:11 PM  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by Cyberglen

Okay, the responses are overwhelming. The tunings have me head spinning. So, has anyone heard of a Chandler lap steel? I've seen a couple and they are really cool---very retro looking, but new, I guess. And made in America.


They ARE definitely retro looking, but that's about it. They are supposed to look like Weisenborns, but they are solid body, I believe. They look somewhat nicer than the Morrells, which sell for $200 or so, as opposed to the ~$375 of the Chandler, but they don't play better, imho.

keaka
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hapakid
Luna Ho`omalu

USA
1533 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2009 :  04:54:02 AM  Show Profile  Visit hapakid's Homepage
I am enjoying my super-cheap steel I bought from musicians friend recently. I got the Rogue six-string, which comes with legs (wobbly, but workable) and a fitted case for $80. I bought a steel bar for $20, and the total was $100, which made the shipping free. It is what you expect it to be: cheap and cheap looking, but works okay. String response from string to string is uneven and the strings that come with it are lousy, so I went and bought heavier strings. I'll post pics later but you can see it here:
http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Rogue-EA3-Lap-Steel-Guitar-with-Stand-and-Gig-Bag?sku=513453

Jesse
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1501 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2009 :  07:07:57 AM  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by hapakid

I am enjoying my super-cheap steel I bought from musicians friend recently. I got the Rogue six-string, which comes with legs (wobbly, but workable) and a fitted case for $80. I bought a steel bar for $20, and the total was $100, which made the shipping free. It is what you expect it to be: cheap and cheap looking, but works okay. String response from string to string is uneven and the strings that come with it are lousy, so I went and bought heavier strings.
Jesse


I have had several students who stared on Rogues - you are right, Jesse, they are spotty. Auntie Neej has a good one - I've played it. I recommend Morrell steels for beginners. They are more consistant. They don't have legs though, but the pickups are good, and the sound is even across all the strings. I have and 8 string as my travel guitar. I just got an Anvil case for my double 8 stringmaster so I can take it to Honolulu next week for the HSGA convention and to further probe the mysteries of the B11 tuning with Alan Akaka.

keaka
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