A fun post to read by Bill-- reprinted from the Steel Guitar Forum
Bill Lawrence
posted 27 April 2001 12:47 PM

I really enjoyed reading this thread. It shows me that more players today have a much better understanding about the instrument than just a few years ago.

The steel guitar forum is a good place to get some positive discussions going and to bring general problems to everyone's attention, but let's not forget that the forum is not a battlefield. I can give you some good reasons how a discussion can get out of control. The written word, especially when dealing with facts, can sound cold and aggressive while a spoken statement can have a totally different effect on the listener. It's not so much what you say, it's how you say it.

I personally saw nothing wrong with Bobbe's posting with the exception that he came right out of the blue like an elephant in a china store -- this without any warning! When I answer some of the e-mail that I get, I'm lucky that Becky takes the edges out of my writing. Here is a sample: "I just bought from a friend a steel guitar and want to learn how to play. I really want to sound like Buddy Emmons sounded thirty years ago. Could you wind me a pickup with about 1000 ohms more so I can get that sound?" Those that know me can imagine what I would write, but Becky translates it into a more civilized language.

Here Tony Harris is asking a simple question, but the answer to his question is not so simple. Every time someone asks me how a pickup sounds, I don't have an answer. I can put that pickup on my kitchen table and listen but I hear no sound.

Conclusion: a pickup by itself has no sound.

Let's face it, a pickup is one of many links in a chain, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This can be the player, the guitar, the strings, the bar, the pickup, the cable, the amp, the speaker and when worst comes to worst, all of them!

The differences in sound can be easily explained. Different instruments have a different harmonic spectrum or a flute would sound like a clarinet, a soprano saxophone or an oboe. We are lucky this is not the case or we would live in a boring world. A six string light weight lap steel is a different instrument that a pedal steel. If it's a good-sounding lap steel, there are all kinds of pickups available to enhance the sound of the instrument. If it's a mediocre guitar, I wouldn't waste a penny on it, and if someone promises you to make a pickup that you'll sound like Charly Super Picker on a thirty year old ShoBud, and you believe it, there ain't nobody here that can help you.

I agree with Bobbe. There is no microphone around to make Porter Wagoner sound like Dolly!



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