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I was playing with steel picks on a steel guitar, and there was no amplification needed - Brownie McGhee

Author Topic: Capos, clamps, false nuts, cheaters  (Read 5014 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Capos, clamps, false nuts, cheaters
« on: November 17, 2008, 07:04:13 PM »
I found this recently and it reminded me of Alvin Y Hart's lap steel capo arrangement at Port T in 98. He played a real nice version of Patton's Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues with a lap steel capo. Basically it was a false nut capo made from a bone saddle with a fret-sized slot in the base slid over a fret and under the strings, and an elastic band capo behind it to tension the strings.

This gizmo seems to combine it all in one. See: http://www.berkeleymusic.com/Hawaiian08_03.html, scroll down to the bottom. Anyone tried it?

Here's a pic:
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 04:49:55 AM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 07:47:21 PM »
Yeah, but this gizmo is for a high nut or Hawaiian guitar. Alvin did it with a regular guitar (his Triolian when I saw him at the Freight). I think his "nut" was somewhat lower than this one, and I think one end had a point so you could slide it under the strings with the notches toward head, and then rotate the notches up to the strings when you have it all the way in. I was pretty far away, but that's what it looked like he did. I think he just had it behind the 2nd fret, not on top of it.

We'll find out this summer.-G-

I've seen dobro players use these and I don't think you could get it under the strings on a regular guitar set up for pickin'. Perhaps a little modification?

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline Richard

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2008, 04:44:42 AM »
Are there no bent tin or el-cheapo cast ali ones out there, the sort that just sit over the regular nut... or cheaper still just push a pencil under the strings by the nut and visualise the frets a wee bit down the neck  ;)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Pan

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2008, 06:53:25 AM »
I wonder if the Beard Dobro capo could do the trick? http://www.janetdavismusic.com/dobro2.html (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Another possible solution: here's blues musician Hawkeye Hermans' homemade "Dobro capo", made of a piece of leftover mahogany.



http://blindman.15.forumer.com/index.php?showtopic=18768&st=15

Radiused fretboards might be problematic.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2008, 07:12:47 AM »
Yeah, but this gizmo is for a high nut or Hawaiian guitar. Alvin did it with a regular guitar (his Triolian when I saw him at the Freight). I think his "nut" was somewhat lower than this one, and I think one end had a point so you could slide it under the strings with the notches toward head, and then rotate the notches up to the strings when you have it all the way in. I was pretty far away, but that's what it looked like he did. I think he just had it behind the 2nd fret, not on top of it.

You can see Alvin's setup in this Yo'Tube video from Jools Holland's show in the UK. The video has two songs, so you'll have to sit through Illinois Blues (poor you) to get to the 5:00 mark where the "nut" setup is clearly visible during the lapstyle solo to "Tallacatcha".


Offline waxwing

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2008, 09:46:11 AM »
The beauty of Alvin's simple rig is that he can put it on with the strings under full tension. As I said, the tip is pointed, which allows him to slide it under the strings while introducing the song. Clip on the capo for added down pressure, maybe touch up the tuning, and play. And effectively, it shortens the scale length to essential that of a normal lap steel, like in the 22" range.

When I saw him he was traveling with an old Stella and the Triolian, both have flat fretboards, so radius is not an issue.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Rivers

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2008, 07:00:21 PM »
Wax, I thought remember him saying at PT the base of the saddle was slotted to fit over the fret wire but I didn't get a close look. For sure you'd get better intonation that way, if you liked to eyeball the fretboard instead of sliding only with your ears.

Great Yo' Tube UB, I caught it on TV in NZ first time around, good to see it again. Alvin's great!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2008, 07:10:58 PM by Rivers »

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2008, 01:43:53 AM »
Great performances by Alvin. 

Whilst the electric guitar sounds great for the Western Swing slide number, I do wish he'd played an acoustic guitar for Illinois Blues.  The Stella would doubtless have done the job and I'm sure the BBC engineers are perfectly capable of miking up an acoustic guitar.  As it is, he might as well have brought along a cheap far eastern Telecaster to play the number, which would at least have been more honest.

I am not a fan of DI, pick-ups and the like, which I realise do sometimes come into their own for live performance, but I just like the sound of an acoustic guitar (and no electronic device is capable of producing that sound, as far as I know).  So many players of acoustic guitar delude themselves that they are "getting a good sound" from a certain pick-up, but I don't buy it.

Sorry to go off on a tangent.  Rant over.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2008, 05:11:13 PM »
PP, I know what you're saying.

Alvin has (or had, I haven't seen him for a while) pretty unusual ideas about live sound reinforcement. This is based on what I've seen at one indoor- and one outdoor festival, not much I agree.

Loads of bass (think "scary, ominous, bordering on thunderous"), works well with that amazing tenor voice. Sunrise (on Stella 6 & 12) & old DeArmond (on the Tricone) pickups. Tube Fender amp at one of the gigs, I think it was, may be wrong.

Definitely not an acoustic purist, our Alvin. But he knows what he wants and he sure doesn't sound like anyone else. Good for him, it really does work.

If you want to see him close up and personal unamped, dude, get on a plane to Seattle next August! I will personally buy you dinner at the Thai Restaurant in Port T
« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 05:12:57 PM by Rivers »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2008, 05:51:27 PM »
Quote
(and no electronic device is capable of producing that sound, as far as I know).

That, unfortunately, is also my conclusion. Just don't really like the sound compared to the complexity of acoustic guitars. Frankly I think amplification is used far more often than is necessary. What's wrong with playin' and singing sans mics & amp in a small venue? All electronics impose a sound signature and unfortunately it amounts to a degradation of the original sound.
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 05:55:49 PM »
Without checking, I'd say that Alvin's sound on Illinois Blues pretty much resembles what he did in studio with it for the Territory album, which is the time period of this performance. So my guess is it's deliberate as Rivers suggests. I quite like the sound, mainly because he makes it work. Normally I'd be more curmudgeonly about it.  ;D There are other examples of him using that sound I think. "Here I Am, Oh Lord, Send Me" from the John Hurt tribute album Avalon Blues, has a somewhat similar sound. Another fabulous tune from AYH, BTW...

« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 06:02:51 PM by uncle bud »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2008, 07:01:59 PM »
I talked to him at the Freight and he said it was one of the few places that had good enough sound (gear and people) that he didn't have to use the pups on either the Stella or the Triolian. So maybe he's an ultra purist?

I'm with you, Mr. O'M. I'm trying to get started playing out and I feel I could play a lot of small venues unamplified. I played a house concert recently with about 35 folks in a good sized livingroom and had no problem. But the again, if half of them had been talking the whole time it might have been different.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Rivers

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2008, 07:23:50 PM »
Ultrapurist, yes. Time for Alvin to record another album as strong as the first one (which is playing as I type).

Offline Slack

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2008, 08:28:02 PM »
I agree Alvin's sound is deliberate.  When he was performing at the Port Townsend festival(whatever year that was?) I recall he insisted that his wife run the sound.  I like the sound as well.  Big sound to match his big voice.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Interesting capo for lap steel
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2008, 07:36:07 AM »
 I think Alvin's cut sounds fine. He was obviously after a particular early electric sound. Its just that in general, acoustic instruments have a far more complex and involving sound than any amplified or electronically reproduced versions of themselves.
Even though Nathan Milstein's performances of the Bach unacompanied violin pieces may be considered THE greatest recorded versions, and even though I have great stereo speakers (Quad ESL63's), when my downstairs neighbor whips out his 17th century Landolfi and begins playing the chaconne from partita #2,  its really goosebump time. He's very, very good but he would freely admit that he's no Milstein, yet the sound of that violin in a relatively small space is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. Sound operates at the intersection of physics and consciousness in a profoundly affecting way. A really beautiful, or even distinctive sounding acoustic guitar makes me FEEL things that reproduced sound just doesn't, even though I feel plenty from records as well. The same holds true for voice.

 
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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