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Question Regarding 8 String Lap Steel

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Jan 24, 2020 - 11:03:47 AM
3 posts since 12/30/2019

I have a Gold Tone LS-8 and it came tuned in F6. I never heard of an instrument tuned F6 and was wondering if I can use the strings and tune to G like my dobro. Thanks

The lap steel is currently tuned lowest to highest

D F A C D F A C

Can I tune it to G like this

D G B D D G B D

or do I have to go to G6

E G B D E G B D

Thank you for your input.

Jan 24, 2020 - 3:07 PM

3092 posts since 7/27/2008

Need more information, like scale length and string gauges - but that's okay - I did a quick google and found it. I'm assuming you bought this guitar as new.

If you did buy as new and these are the factory strings, then it's a real curiosity as to why they ship it in F6 tuning. Not an unheard of lap steel tuning, but pretty uncommon. One has to wonder how these decisions are made.  

Here are the specs:

  • Neck: Maple
  • Top: Mahogany
  • Back & Sides: Mahogany
  • Finish: Two Tone Tobacco
  • Fingerboard: Select Wood
  • Tuners: Kluson-Style
  • Inlay: Dot
  • Binding: White Celluloid
  • Buttons: White
  • Hardware: Chrome Plated
  • Pickups: Soapbar
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Nut Width: 2-3/8"Bone
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs.
  • Tuning: DFACDFAC
  • Strings: .070w, .052w, .042w, .035w, .030w, .024w, .016, .012
  • Hard Case: HDLS (Optional)
  • Bag: HBLS (Opt
  • Left-Handed Available: Yes                                                                                                                            

So it's a 25" scale guitar, and the factory strings are .012 - .070

You can likely do either of the tunings you posted above. In fact, even in the original F6 the top 3 strings seem pretty wimpy - too light for my taste. 

The only question mark I see could be the heavy 8th string on the G6 tuning in cranking it up to E. I've never had that heavy a string on either a lap steel or a dobro so I don't have the answer off the top of my head, maybe someone else knows?

I would say at least start with the Open G tuning with the D on the bottom and see how it sounds and feels. Though I'm not sure of the value of having the two D's in the middle next to each other.  After some playing time I think it will hit you that you need to change out some gauges on your next set of strings. 

I guess one thing that's good - if you want to do the occasional string pull to get a semi pedal steel effect on the .016 2nd, it should be easier on the fingers than a heavier gauge string. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 01/24/2020 15:12:26

Jan 24, 2020 - 4:58:51 PM

cb56

USA

276 posts since 3/26/2013

Welcome to the alphabet soup that is Lap steel guitar.
I have one 6 string lap steel that I tune dobro tuning GBDGBD.
Cindy Cashdollar's page has suggested string gauges for different tunings. Maybe not exactly what you are looking for tuning wise but maybe poke around there for ideas.
cindycashdollar.com/tunings/
My lap steel is also 25 inch scale and the string gauges she recommends for GBDGBD work perfect for me.
You can do whatever you like as long as you find the correct string gauges. I had an 8 string and ended up selling it. Life is too short IMO for all that. At least at my age.

Jan 26, 2020 - 1:24:04 AM

293 posts since 9/9/2016

Lap Steel tunings are nearly infinite , subject to personal preference, and even more so for an 8 string .

That said , I'm also scratching my head about two D's in the middle . For a generic open G major , having a G on top ( skinniest ) seems much more intuitive to me .

Jan 26, 2020 - 9:59:03 AM

960 posts since 1/10/2009

There are three standard 8 string tunings, C6, A6 and E6. The latter being what you hear Don Helms playing on most Hank Williams and some Patsy Cline records like Walking After Midnight. It has the 3rd of the chord on top (G#), A6 has the 5th on top. C6 can be strung either way, C6 high with a G (5th) on top or low with a G on the bottom. The intervals are the same in all: 5 6 1 3 5 6 1 3 (5). I have been using Don Helms tuning lately getting ready for a production of Always, Patsy Cline.

Jan 29, 2020 - 1:44:45 PM

chipmunk

Canada

84 posts since 8/12/2008

Like CB56 Says...welcome to the alphabet soup called the lap steel guitar. I play both dobro and lap steel tuned to GBDGBD. I just received my 8 String and like you, I am playing around trying to figure out what tuning I want to end up with. I asked a friend of mine, who is one of the top Pedal Steel players here in Canada, for some recommendations based around my current tuning and preferably with a 6th in it. Along with the most common C6 and A6 tunings, he recommended I try GBDEGBDG. It was a toss up as to whether I wanted the extra 6th somewhere else in the lineup or try something different. For my string gauges, I always use John Ely's String Gauge chart at hawaiiansteel.com/learning/gauges.php The gauges are fine for both 22-22.5 to 24-24.5 inch scale instruments. My 8 string scale length is 25" so I have been able to get away with using the middle gauge he recommends for each string. Don't be afraid to try out numerous different tunings, one will eventually click for you. I haven't found mine yet but am having great fun trying.

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