Learning Tabs

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

Learning Tabs

Postby Bobcat » Tue Aug 29, 2006 4:26 am

In learning lap slide is it worthwhile to learn tabs? I have a fair knowlege of blues in 8 & 12 bar progressions from playing base. Just wondering if it will speed things up or am I better off getting a good DVD tutor? Thanks. Bobcat
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Postby allanlummox » Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:01 am

I've been "messing" with Lap Slide for a couple of years now, and I'm just starting to get it to where I may bring it out in public soon.

I've been playing this ODD old Parlor sized guitar - Gold, silk screened Fluer De Lis type things and all, I have it set up with a tuning that goes "G B D E G B"

I've also finally set up a Magnatone Lap Steel - 6 strings, black and grey MOTS.

That's getting tuned to the same tuning in a higher key - "C E G A C E".

But I'm not playing from Tab or anything - I do keep a notebook with tunings and chord diagrams I make with a rubber stamp.

Mostly making it up as I go along. My challange with the lap guitar thing is getting down a 45 minute set playing it Solo - really make it worth bringing out on a performance. At this point, I have a couple of songs, including a version Santo and Johnny's "Sleepwalk". I've also written one song that uses this tuning.
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Postby grady » Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:09 am

onme of my local stores has a Fender Lap-Steel whatchamacallit with one Strat pickup in it.
I'll go in there and start wailing on the damn thing and think to myself "I wouldn't mind having this thing". Then, I look at the price tag.....LOL !!!

If I could find a good price on a nice one, I'd pick it up.
Do the "Robert Randolph -type" thing.
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Postby De Ferre » Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:22 am

Grady,
You can build one quite easily and for almost no money, just using old pieces hanging around.
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Postby ricochet » Tue Aug 29, 2006 1:07 pm

And if you don't have a bunch of old pieces lying around, you can buy an Artisan lap steel (which is quite a nice player) for less than you can buy the parts and build one.
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Postby Rythameen » Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:20 pm

I have a very old Regal parlor sized lap slide, and I fouond it best just to listen to songs I like, and go for it. I mostly keep it in open G or D.
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Postby Bobcat » Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:58 pm

Allan Portland is my hometown. I photographed a lot of bands for Positively Entertainment when I last lived there. Is that paper still going?
My ax is a fairly conventional archtop made by Slingerland in Chicago in 1933. Thats it in my avatar pic. I`ll put up a link to it here too.

http://northland.smugmug.com/photos/89259619-L-1.jpg
I`m just a little confused about learning tabs and figured since I was bound to barring with slide because of lap holding they may not help me. So before going to the tab forum I wanted to ask here . Bobcat
Last edited by Bobcat on Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby 5_iron » Tue Aug 29, 2006 6:49 pm

I play almost exclusively lap style now - Dobro for Acoustic, and my custom Fender "Redneck" Strat. Open D or Open E, mainly. Tab reading will definintely help you, if you don't already read standard music notation. The benefits are really the same as with with any guitar - in fact I use a lot of "traditional" bottleneck slide tab instruction for my lap style playing. (Try Pete Madsen's "Slide Guitar" instruction book with tab - great source for blues tabs). Obviously you won't be able to fret so you may have some limitations for certain songs - but you can often find substitions that work on the lap steel, like slants and alternate open string options, etc.

Bottom line - tab will help you, and you will be able access tab songs from a variety of sources to learn lap slide tunes.

BTW, I like that Slingerland. I have that on my GAS list.

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Postby allanlummox » Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:19 pm

Bobcat, I haven't seen that periodical - but I've been here for such a short time. i'll keep an eye peeled.

So far, Portland has been a pretty good idea.

Nice Archtop.


I haven't used Tabs much myself as an aid to playing Guitar - I've never been interested in learning anything "note for note", trying instead to come up with my own style and smell.


But there's a LOT of ways to approach music, and plenty of people who like learning from Tab.
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Postby Bobcat » Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:36 pm

5_iron I`m trying to find that book at Backbeat Books website now and will try to get it when I do.
I don`t read music but thought tabs might jump start this learning experience for me since I know absolutely nothing right now.
Allen you`re going to like Portland a lot. Its a great town for a lot of things. I may be partial since I was born and raised there though. Seattle is very good too musicly but for just the blues I think that you are in the right spot. My guitar came from that little hole in the wall shop down a little on the south side of lower Burnside. Been there forever but I can`t remember its name at the moment.
I had it strung as a bass for years now have converted back to six strings and have them raised way up. Sounds sooo good too.
I`ve been looking over John Hammond Jr discography and will try to get some of his older acoustic slide material to listen to. I think his work might be a more realistic dream than guys like Robert Johnson or Son House (my favorites). Thanks for the help guys. Bobcat
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Postby ricochet » Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:00 pm

Slingerland is one of the old trademarks that Gibson owns and uses now and then on bargain gear through their online MusicYo store to keep it active. I think they only use it on drum gear now.
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Postby Bobcat » Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:40 pm

Ricochet this is a very old instrument and I`m sure preceeds the Gibson ownweship probably going back to the time when Slingerland was undisputed leader in professional drum sets. Definately not a econoline. Though the photo does not show it there is an elaborate amount of inlay on the headboard. Perhaps I can get a close up of it soon to show details.
I did find th book 5_irom suggested. Amazon has it @ $17 so I`ll try to get it as a first step. Bobcat
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Postby 5_iron » Tue Aug 29, 2006 10:54 pm

Bobcat,
One other thing my lap slide intructor taught me early on, is to really get that bar hopping from string to string. In other words don't think of it as just a "barre chord" (all 6 string) type instrument. There is a time and a place for full barre chord slides, but the majority of your playing should be focused on individual string(s), instead of just automatically laying that thing flat. With full finger picking in place and solid damping techniques, you will find you can really rip it! Just look at some bluegrass guys like Jerry Douglas for inspiration. Anyhow, reason I pointed that out is because that's exactly where Tab will be applicable toward your slide playing - think of it just like you would for guitar fretting, but instead you are sliding the bar around to the various note positions, with the advantage of getting slide vibrato effect, etc.

BTW, I lived in Portland also in the late 90s. I spent much of my idle time in NW area in bookstores, pubs, and music shops. Fun memories.

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Postby Bobcat » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:05 pm

5_iron this is all very good info I am getting here. You are very specificlly answering my exact questions and seem to understand the reasons why I ask them.
Just got back from the plumbing shop with a piece of copper tubing about 1/2" in diameter and probably 7-8 " long/ Whats a good length to cut slides? It looks as if I can get about 2 & 1/2 of them. One end of the pipe is closed and kind of nipple like. I think it might be good in the palm of my hand or would it be better to use it out over the first string? I can enclose a photo if that makes it more clear. Thanks again. Bobcat
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Postby 5_iron » Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:44 am

No hard and fast rules, but generally you'd want either a Shubb type bar or a bullet bar for lap style. Here are a few examples.

http://elderly.com/accessories/items/S62.htm

http://elderly.com/also/accessories/items/BOPGS.htm

These are solid bars (not hollowed) and are held with the fingers and palm of the left hand. As a sweeping generalization, Shubb type bars tend to be more suited to hammer ons/pull offs and dobroists tend to prefer them. Bullet bars are traditionally used for electric steel. But many use them interchangably as well, and that works fine also.

Sure, you could make an actual hollow metal slide worn OVER the index finger (like Dave Hole does) but that's a bit unconventional for lap style. If you are intending to use your hollow metal slide held like a shubb or bullet bar, your sustain will suffer due to lower mass of the bar.

Like I said, no set rules, but I'd try Shubb or Bullets for starters. You can get those at a music store for less than $25.

You may also want to get a Homespun DVD (like the Kelly Joe Phelps lap slide DVD) - as that will help you understand the technique both for bar and finger picks.

Best of luck!

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