User Recommended Pedal Steel Guitar Tuners
Strobe Tuning a Pedal Steel Guitar
Central to the pedal steel guitar is its ability to change tunings mid song with the help of foot pedals and knee levers which change the tension on the open strings thereby altering the tuning. Setting up and tuning a pedal steel can be a daunting task without a special tuner designed for pedal steel guitar tuning. Many seasoned professional steel players “tweak” their tuning to improve their sound; we call this “Sweetened Tuning”.
Because the steel guitar is a fretless instrument, it does not need to conform to the same compromises as regular fretted guitar is subjected to. The flaws of Equal temperament reveal themselves primarilly when major or minor thirds are played, and the long sustained tones produced by the pedal steel guitar show up these flaws more than pretty much any other instrument, many players aim and strive to eliminate these flaws by tuning their steels using special cent offsets for each string. Some players tune “straight up” meaning that the major thirds are sharp and the minor thirds are flat, but most prefer not to forego the sweetness of these intervals and tune them so that they are totally beat-less and consonant.
No matter what method you use, an accurate tuner is a necessity. Peterson Tuners have been used for many decades to tune the open strings, pedals and levers on pedal steel guitars, they are programmable and already feature several preset tuning settings for steel guitars using accepted systems like those originally devised by Jeff Newman and Emmons for E9, C6 and Universal tuning. There is no need to note any settings or use any charts.
Begin with E9 tuning. The first string, if you’re right-handed, is located furthest away from you when sitting behind the steel in the normal playing position, plug your tuner into the steel and select the S-E9 preset.
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