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String gauges for PBR-CA round neck in GBDGBD tuning

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Feb 12, 2020 - 7:28:40 AM

MC5C

Canada

249 posts since 4/22/2015

I've posted before that I have somewhat significant nerve damage in my left hand - can't play any of my fretted instruments anymore. In a bid to make my Gold Tone PBR-CA more relevant, I though of converting it to suit lap-style play. I thought I would tune it to high G tuning - I have a song I want to learn in that tuning.

Mindful of the round neck, minimally invasive modifications, and high string tension from the raised tuning, I have this plan... I have a raised nut adaptor thing that came with my 1935 Dobro to raise the strings off the fretboard at that end (it's currently setup for jazz playing, very low action). I will make some saddles to raise the strings by 1/8th inch at the bridge, and make the saddle flat. I have on hand a set of .010 - .047 extra light bronze and a set of .012 - .053 light bronze strings. My though was to use the .047 and the .039 sixth and fifth strings to accommodate the raised tuning on those strings, and use the .012 - .032 from the light gauge set for one through four. Is this a good plan, to get started? Or just use the light gauge set and trust the truss rod?

Edited by - MC5C on 02/12/2020 07:30:34

Feb 12, 2020 - 9:56:44 AM

2BUCKS

USA

191 posts since 4/27/2015

Brian, It sounds like you're not planning to go back to bottle neck any time soon so why not take the risk and put on the twelves or even a standard set. From there you can occasionally check for any issues that might come up and make adjustments as needed. Besides, judging from the list of instruments on your Home page, you can probably afford to risk the PBR since you have some back up guitars to fall back on.

Feb 12, 2020 - 10:03:09 AM

2035 posts since 8/3/2008

"From there you can occasionally check for any issues that might come up and make adjustments as needed"

Because some issues cannot be fixed with an adjustment once they occur.

h

Feb 12, 2020 - 10:51:37 AM

3298 posts since 7/27/2008

Brian, I recall some of the original post regarding your unfortunate injury, but I don't remember the extent of the damage and if it will ever be something that can be at least somewhat healed be it through surgery or a form of therapy. You did write above  that you can't play fretted instruments anymore - and if that's the bottom line for the rest of your life and you want go lap style full time, then I can't imagine why you would want to hang onto the roundneck Gold Tone/Beard? Are you still able to play "upright" bottleneck at all - or is that out of the question as well? If bottleneck isn't happening either - then you need a squareneck guitar.

Using the old "right tool for the job" analogy - one can certainly loosen a stubborn nut with a pair of pliers, but it's generally a whole lost easier to use the exact size wrench. It's just more enjoyable to play a squareneck  reso across your lap because it's designed for the job. You don't have to sweat the string gauges and if you go too heavy that it could permanently damage the neck, etc. Or having to resort to "skinny" strings that won't "load" the cone like a true dobro set does for GBDGBD tuning. 

I'd sell the roundneck Gold Tone and get a squareneck. If you can't justify upping the buying budget to a higher price category, keep your eyes peeled - the Gold Tone/Beard PBS laminate mahogany models come up for sale on a regular basis.  

One in the link below went quickly on the Steel Guitar Forum in December and no wonder - @ $575 with all the extras it was a steal! I thought about it when I first saw the post and damn near bought it because it was such a good deal and I almost couldn't help myself! 

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=352146&highlight=gold+tone+beard

Maybe not as killer a deal as that one was, but we have some very good buys on these guitars. Apparently in this case, the guy was throwing in the towel on playing dobro - those are the sellers you want if you're in the market for a used guitar. 

I do realize that being in Canada there is the exchange rate and jumping through some flaming hoops in getting guitars across the border - and if it's just too big a hassle then I get it. 

If you are adamant about keeping the PBR-CA and it were me in the same situation, I would probably just order some regular dobro strings, a 16/17-56 set, and tune the guitar to low bass G like anyone who frets or plays bottleneck: DGDGBD

There is no shortage of stories of roundneck resonator guitars tuned to GBDGBD and nothing bad ever happens to the neck. But there's no way of knowing - there's no science behind it. Being on the safe side and using something like a .012 for the 1st string tuned to D and now you are going to press down on it a bit with a solid steel bar - it's just not a good idea. For that matter a .12 ist string which is considered "light" in the acoustic guitar world isn't even a good gauge for bottleneck, let alone a solid steel bar. 

Another thing you can do, and this is a Jimmy Heffernan suggestion for a roundneck flattop converted to lap style and tuned to GBDGBD - go heavy on the top 3 strings using those from a dobro set: 16/17 - 18 - 26w/28w. And stick with lighter strings on 4,5, and 6. 

But if it were me, I'd be joining the world of squareneck resonator players.

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 02/12/2020 11:03:33

Feb 13, 2020 - 12:15:43 PM
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MC5C

Canada

249 posts since 4/22/2015

I did the changes yesterday, ande am really pleased with the result. At the nut I installed the original Dobro nut extender from my 1935 Dobro, which is wider in string spacing than either instrument. It works great, though, and fits very well after a little modification to clear the truss rod cover. I made new bridge saddle inserts from hard maple. I used a combo of strings from my two sets, ending up with 14 and 16 for the plains, the G and D from the light set, and the B and G from the extra light set, Feel is good, very similar to my other Dobro and my lap steel, and I am getting good note clarity on the bass strings. Sound is amazing, now I know why you guys like playing modern instruments facing up at your face - loud! I suspect that if I like this, I'll make up a squareneck resonator, buy the hardware from Beard, and I have all the rest in stock in hand. I made archtops before my accident, and my doctor thinks there is no reason why I can't start up again, so I'll make a squareneck resonator. That would probably work better than an archtop Wiessenborn, which was my other idea... :) Or a round neck designed for the high G tuning, I have sketched an elevated fingerboard and adjustable neck joint that I could make so that I could convert from fretted/bottleneck to lap/tone bar in a few minutes.

Edited by - MC5C on 02/13/2020 12:16:55

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