D6th Hybrid S-10 4+4 Concept

For a decade now I’ve been playing all styles of music on a D6th pedal steel. My current and probably final copedent has 6 pedals and 6 knee levers (click here for details). That’s an unusual configuration, though – most 10-string pedal steels don’t have more than 4 pedals, and most players don’t need more than that. Here’s how the D6th Hybrid could be trimmed down to a more standard instrument, one with 4 pedals and 4 knee levers:

To start, we raise the C6th tuning to D6th. This brings the string gauges and timbre of the high strings closer to E9th while maintaining a substantial low end for rhythm comping and fat chords.

Pedals 1 and 2 give us the classic I to IV change of the E9th’s A and B pedals. LKL and RKL are similar to the E string raise and lower levers on E9th. The changes on LKR are also common on the modern E9th.

Pedals 3 and 4 are the home position of the C6th neck (typically P5 and P6). If you back out the tuning nut on RKL’s 7th string change, the lever becomes the standard 3rd string lower of C6th. Many C6th players also raise strings 3 and 7 from C to C#, similar to LKL here.

The E9th has a maj7 (D#) as its 2nd string, which is lowered on a lever to get the b7th and 6th notes. In this copedent, the 6th on string 4 is raised to get the b7 and maj7 notes, as it is on C6th. This is the part of the copedent that’s trickiest for E9th players. The notes are all there, but it’s backwards from what they’re used to.

The 8th and 9th string changes on P1 and RKR are my own inventions, handy but not really necessary. They aren’t really a part of E9th or C6th traditions.

If the target guitar also had a vertical lever, I’d use it to raise high D to E for E9th “C pedal” functionality, and maybe raise the middle D as well if it wasn’t too stiff. I have that LKV lever on my 6+6 Sierra guitar.

Lastly, I always point out that P2 by itself gives you the 6 notes of the standard dobro tuning. Start on string 9 and you have G B D G (skip A) B D. That can be very handy!

I hope this post has been enlightening food for thought. Do we really need 20 strings (or even 12) to play the full range of music that our listeners require? Guitarists do it with just 6 strings. Think about it.

3 Replies to “D6th Hybrid S-10 4+4 Concept”

  1. A side effect of the medication I have to take is neuropathy in my feet.
    I lost part of the feeling in my feet, so precise use of pedals is almost impossible.
    Luckily the use of knee levers is ok.
    So my D-10 had to go. I felt inspired by this tuning because I can handle two sets of two pedals if they are wider apart than my Mullen. Searching for a target guitar (single neck 4/5) I remembered my old Sierra S-12 I sold 10 years ago and succeeded in buying it back.
    It was a U-12 8/5 but my reasoning was that I could take off al that I did not need and if my feet got better I could always expand to your D6 6/6 tuning.
    It felt silly to take off 2 strings as well. I decided to add a second chromatic on top. So it became an S-11.
    Than I started to think about ways to keep C6-pedal 5&6 changes on the knees and I came up with this solution:
    A; vertical pedal as suggested.
    B; move your RKR to LKR. Now LKR and V together are C6 pedal 7. (or use string 1&2)
    C; Add a pull to LKR lowering string G to F#.
    D; The guitar is a S-12 so add string 12 as a bottom B. Now string 8/9/12 on LKR give all the notes of C6th pedal 8. The lowering sound is not there but the note is.
    E; Replace on RKL the bottom D to C# change by a F# to E change on my string 7 (your 8) I would hate to lose this change
    F; RKR gets a B/C lower on string 2 (the E9th change) and the top B string lower to Bb.
    Based on your S-10 4/4 I think I have a S-12 4/5 that can handle most of the C6th and E9th stuff. Key lever is the vertical that can join LKR or LKL or pedal 1&2
    Your expert opinion will be very much appreciated

  2. A) Yes, add the LKV (or a wrist lever) raising 4th string E to F#
    B) LKV + LKR is not easy to do. Were you thinking that V would be on the right knee?
    C) If I were lowering G to F#, I’d do it on LKL (similar to C6th pedal 8)
    D) 12th string B is a good idea, especially if you add the low F# on LKL
    E) I don’t understand. F# to E is already on LKR.
    F) It might make RKR pretty stiff. My thought about C# to C to B (half stop) is that the B is unnecessary because you already have a B note in the middle of the tuning.

    Thanks for the interesting feedback.

    1. Thank you for your fast reply.
      I sent an additional copedant to your facebook account, because this form refuses pictures or pdf’s

      B) I thought it would be difficult too, but the way the v lever is shaped on the Sierra Crown makes actually easy ( aim at an 45 degree angle and you hit both levers) But the use of pedal 7 (c6th) that you create this way is often split up and combined with c6th pedals 5 and 6. All this can be done with one foot and the left knee.
      C) and E) As you probably saw in my copedant; I mixed up LKR and LKL.
      F) Point taken

      Thanks again and It will be a D6 future for me too. It seems so obvious now.

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