Pedal Steel Copedents

and Non-Pedal Tunings

In the language of pedal steel guitarists, the combination of string tuning and pedal/knee arrangement is called a copedent (pronounced ko-PEE-dent). There are nearly as many pedal steel copedents as there are steel guitarists. Most of them are minor variations of the "standard" E9th or C6th, but some are radically different. Just adding a knee lever with an unusual change on it can open a wide range of new musical possibilities to the adventurous player.

Of the many copedents listed below, I recommend Bob Shilling's 10-string E9th as a good starting point for the beginner. It includes the most standard pedal and knee changes, and can serve as a baseline reference for studying the others. I've written an article on E9th theory to help get you started.

Also, I've written an overview of the Sacred Steel E7th copedent. Thanks to recording artists like The Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph, variations of the Sacred Steel copedent are gaining popularity among rock and blues players.


"Nashville" E9th

The E9th is the most common of all pedal steel copedents. It is used on almost all single neck 10 string (S-10) instruments and is the front neck of most double necks (D-10). The basic string tuning doesn't vary much, but most people have personal preferences when it comes to extra pedals and knee levers. Some players use the E9th on a 12 string (S-12 or D-12) pedal steel to extend its range into the low notes of the standard lead guitar. The 12-string E9th copedent, with low G# and E strings, is called "Extended E9th".

Earnest Bovine (12) John Hughey
Jimmy Day Johan Jansen
Michael Douchette Mike Jones
Carl Dvorcek (12) Bobby Lee (12)
Buddy Emmons Jim Lindsey
Paul Franklin John McClung (12)
Mike Fried Bob Shilling
Jerry Gleason Jack Stoner
Lloyd Green Tommy White



"Texas" C6th

The C6th copedent in commonly applied to the back neck of a double neck (D-10) pedal steel. It evolved from the popular western swing steel guitar tunings of yesteryear, when players would switch necks in mid phrase to get different kinds of chords. The design philosophy behind the C6th copedent provides all of those chords easily on a single neck.

Jimmy Day Mike Jones
Carl Dvorcek (12 string) Jim Lindsey
Buddy Emmons Bobby Lee (12 string) (8 string)
Paul Franklin Jack Stoner
Mike Fried Earnest Bovine (12 string)
Jerry Gleason Joaquin Murphey (9 string)
John Hughey  



"Universal" E9/B6

As the mechanisms of pedal steels evolved, some players devised ways to combine all of the changes of the E9th and C6th into a single 12-string neck. Called the Universal or U-12, this group of copedents typically uses a knee lever to change the string tuning from E9th to B6th (similar to C6th), and includes most of the pedals and knee levers from both necks of a D-10.

Reece Anderson's 12-string universal Joe "Mac" McHam's 12-string universal
Lee Baucum's push-pull universal Danny Naccarato's 12-string universal
Carl Dixon's ultimate universal Michael Perlowin's 12-string universal
Thijs Kappen's 10-string universal Sierra Instruments for 12 or 14 strings



Unusual Copedents

Reece Anderson's 12-string Bb6th Joe Murray's universal B6th
Ed Bierly's 12-string D13th Ed Packard's 14-string "13 Series"
Raybob Bowman's 12-string A6/D9 Herb Remington's 10-string A6th
Billy Jones' 12-string A6th Alvino Rey's big band E6th
Sneaky Pete Kleinow's 8-string B6th Roy Thomson's 10-string E Diatonic
Bobby Lee's F Diatonic 10-string, 12-string Sacred Steel E7th (8 to 14 strings)
Bobby Lee's 8-string D6/G David Wright's 12-string Bb6th



Tunings for Steel Guitars Without Pedals

Brad's Page of Steel non-pedal tunings. Bobby Lee's double 8
Reece Anderson's 12 string lap steel Andy Volk's favorite tunings
Jeff Mead's Fender triple 8 Mike Fried's double 8 and dobro tunings


Copyright ©2001-2011 by Bobby Lee