NOTE: When using the Jeff Newman (or most other) Pedal Steel Tuning Charts, it is recommended that you use a Chromatic Tuner with a needle meter that has the Hz &/or Cents scales.
…the Ultimate!!! The Peterson StroboPlus HD Strobe Tuner, which have the E9th & C6th Sweetened ‘Compensated’ Settings built-in,…plus many other Pedal Steel, Lap Steel & Resonator ‘Sweetened’ tunings, as well as the capability to tune most other instruments!
The Peterson StroboPlus HD is very simple to operate….Simply turn it on, select the desired instrument tuning, [i.e. SE9 (open E9th strings) & SP9 (Pedals & KL’s engaged), SC6 (open C6th strings) & SP6 (Pedals & KL’s engaged) , etc.], plug in your instrument, & pick any string checking to make sure it is the correct note you wish to tune, & then adjust your tuning sharp or flat until the strobe bars stop moving. Use it to tune all your open strings as well as your pedal & knee lever changes!
An optional Peterson Pitch Holder (attachment bracket) is available that clips onto your pedal steel leg (or a mic stand, etc.) to facilitate the operation of the StroboPlus HD tuner.
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Al Brisco’s Ear Tuning Method
Using a tuning reference such as a chromatic tuner, tuning fork, etc…get your E9th Pedal Steel strings stretched & in approximate tune.
1 a) Method A:-Using an ‘A-440’ note Tuning Fork:
After getting the guitar strings closely tuned, I use an A-440 Tuning Fork & after tapping it on a solid object to activate the fork, I hold it over the pickup (with the amp on & volume pedal engaged). Then using the tuning key of the 3rd string with the A & B foot pedals engaged, match up the identical ‘A’ note with the ringing note from the Tuning Fork. Turn the tuning key (with both notes ringing) until you eliminate all the beats & the notes are identical.
1 b) Method B:-Using a Chromatic Tuner:
Utilize the chromatic tuner to achieve your “A” note, & proceed similarly to Method A.
NOTE: The closer you bring the notes together, the slower the beats become until they disappear….this is when the note is in tune.
2) While keeping the A&B pedals engaged, tune the 4th string ‘E’ to the 3rd string ‘A’, until the beats disappear, then tune the 8th string to the 4th.
3) Release the A & B pedals….then tune all the main ‘E triad ‘ strings, 3, 5, 8 & 10 to the ‘E’s (4th & 8th).
Re-tune the 3rd string G# (open) to the 4th string ‘E’. Re-check all the ‘E triad’ strings in chord groups, taking out all the beats.
4) Tune the 1st & 2nd strings (F# & Eb) to the 5th string ‘B’ open. Picking strings 1,2 & 5 together gives you an open ‘B’ Major chord.
5) Pressing the A & B pedals, tune up strings 3, 5, 6 & 10 to the 4th & 8th strings using the nylon tuners on the end plate.
6) Keeping the A&B pedals engaged, tune up string 9 to the 6th string ‘A’ note, & the 7th string F# to the 5th string ‘C#’. Picking strings 6, 7, & 9 together gives you a D Major chord.
7) Engaging the B & C pedals, tune up string 4 raised to F# to the 7th string F#; & tune up the 5th string to the 3rd string ‘A’ raised. Pick strings 4, 5 & 6 together to give a F# Minor chord, until all the beats are removed.
Knee Lever Lowering the 4th & 8th Strings:
8) Engaging the knee lever which lowers the 4th & 8th strings E’s to Eb’s, match the 4th string with the 2nd string, (unison), then tune the 8th string with the 4th string (octaves).
Knee Lever Raising the 4th & 8th Strings:
9) Engaging the A foot pedal & the knee lever raising the 4th & 8th strings, E’s to F’s, eliminate the beats & then double check by picking strings 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 & 10 making a C# Major chord.
Knee Lever Lowering the 2nd (& 9th) Strings:
10) With the A & B foot pedals engaged:
-Tuning the 2nd string a Full Tone Lower….tune the open 2nd string with knee lever fully engaged to the 5th string raised (unison C# notes);
–Tuning the 9th string a Half-Tone Lower….tune the 9th string with knee lever fully engaged to the 10th string raised (unison C# notes);
With the B foot pedal engaged:
-Tuning the 2nd string a Half-Tone Lower….tune the open 2nd string to a ‘D’ note with reference to the 6th string raised ‘A’ note.
NOTE: If your guitar has a half-tone lower tuning adjustment, use it to tune this half-tone note.
Also, if your guitar’s rod puller on the 9th string has enough adjustment holes, one should try to have the half-tone note engage at the point where the 9th string starts pulling its return spring.
If your guitar has a half-tone tuner, try to have it & the 9th string spring engage at precisely the same time, as this will give you a more definite solid feel for your half-stop.
Experiment by placing the pull rod for the 9th string in different holes (slots) of the rod puller (bell crank/pull bar), until you get it close.
Knee Lever Raising the 1st & 7th Strings
11 a)-Tuning 1st & 7th a Full Tone Raise:
-Engage the knee lever raising the 1st string until it matches the 3rd string open, & do the same with the 7th string until it matches the 6th string.
11 b) -Tuning 1st & 7th a Half-Tone Raise:
With the A & B foot pedals engaged, & picking strings 6, 5, & 4 for the ‘A’ chord, then pick string 1 & engage the knee lever which raises the 1st & 7th strings & use your discretion for tuning the 1st string to a dominate 7th. (Your standard A7th chord)
Match up the 7th string (an octave lower, of course) to the first string.
This is the way I’ve been tuning for many years, & seems to work for me.
– Al Brisco
Steel Guitars of Canada (SGC)