2017 Sierra prototype by Ross Shafer, S-10 Hybrid D6th
In a quest for a single neck copedent that could handle almost anything, I’ve settled on this 10-string with 6 pedals and 6 knee levers. D is midway between C and E, so D6th is midway between E9th and C6th. The string order is like C6th, but all of the high intervals of the E9th are still there. The trick is that notes from the E9th string 2 are on string 4 instead.
P1 and P2 are the E9th A+B changes. LKL and RKL are like raising and lowering the E’s on E9th. RKR provides the “chromatic” notes of the E9th 2nd string, which are now on the 4th string. Pedal 5 has the bounce of the E9th “C pedal” on the 3rd string, while LKV provides a more “squeezable” raise. LKR is like the old “G lever” on the first string, and it also lowers the 6th string a full step like a lot of modern E9th players do. The main things missing from the E9th are the 7th and 10th strings, because they would get in the way of standard C6th-style playing.
Everything from the standard C6th is there (raised a step to D6th) on P3, P4, P5, P6, LKL, LKV2, RKL and RKR. I use the first LKV when I’m playing E9th-like stuff, and LKV2 when I’m deep into C6th mode. The vertical lever that I’m not using is swung out of the way.
The 7th string RKL change in parenthesis is rodded for country/folk/rock (E9th 8th string lower). The tuning nut gets backed out when the music is more oriented towards swing/standards/jazz and extended chords.
Desert Rose S-10 D9th (sort of)
Part of the E9th’s versatility stems from having 5 strings per octave. My Hybrid D6th Sierra doesn’t have that middle 9th note (F# on E9th). Sometimes I miss that. I also miss the see-saw fingering motion of scales on the high strings. The mellow timbre of D tunings is always my preference, so this is what I came up with:
If you just take the standard E9th and lower it a step, it would be real close to this copedent. The differences lie in habits and muscle memories I’ve formed over many years of playing E9th:
- LKV takes the place of the “C” pedal on the 4th string, a change I’ve used for decades.
- Instead of a half-stop on the 2nd string, the full step lower is on P4 along with a lower to G on the 10th string. This allows me to play pentatonic runs more easily with and without RKL.
- The 9th string is a 6th tone (B) instead of a b7th (C) because that’s what I’m used to on the D6th guitar. So it’s not technically a D9th, more like D69th.
- My “X” lever is on a pedal instead of LKV where most people have it. I didn’t have that change at all until Jeff Newman public “shamed” me in a seminar (which was quite enjoyable, actually). Not wanting to give up my LKV, I added it on a pedal.
This Desert Rose Vintage Pro guitar has a beautiful country sound. It has a George L’s EON pickup, Tom Bradshaw’s MSA replacement fretboard, and Russler foot pedals. I use it mostly for jam sessions with country singers.
I previously used a Carter D-10 for teaching. This instrument was built with 8 pedals and 5 knee levers (I added the LKL2). It was one of the last Carters produced. The beautiful sunburst body was finished by Mark Giles, and the guitar was built in Canada by Al Brisco. It has the 4 raise, 2 lower changer that was typical of late model Carters. I no longer own this guitar – the notes below the chart were written in 2016.
I don’t use a half-stop knee lever – I lower the 2nd string D# to C# on the 1st pedal instead. This also allows me to use it with the E lowers (RKL) for pentatonic blues riffs. To me, having the standard A B C pedals on P2, P3 and P4 is more comfortable ergonomically.
This guitar has tunable splits, which means that I can combine LKR and P3 to get a tunable G note on the middle G#, or combine LKV with P2 or P4 for a tunable C note on the middle B string. Tunable splits are a feature that you don’t find on older steel guitars.
The back neck is tuned to D6th, a step higher than the standard C6th, to match my Sierra S-10. The standard back neck P4 changes are missing – the pedal would have been too stiff with the addition of the E9th changes. Instead, I added a single half-step raise in the middle F#. This gives me the open strings of the Dobro G tuning for bluegrass hammer-ons and pull-offs.