How to Tune the B & C Pedals on a Steel Guitar

Learn how to tune the B & C pedals in this Howcast video about how to tune a pedal steel guitar.

Okay, what’s next? The G sharp strings. Okay, there was the third and the sixth so let’s have a look. Okay. This is in tune. And what we want is for it to be at just about 441. So smack dab between the first and second lines, between 440 and 442. There’s no line for 441 but you just look and you figure out which it is.

As I’ve said before harmonics are a good way to zero in on exactly what you’re getting. It’s a slightly less volatile thing and this is now telling me that it’s ever so slightly sharp. These are pretty subtle increments you know. This would happen from normal playing. You’re not going to be way out of tune with the stuff that we’re fixing here. But this is what you are aiming for ideally. And it’s ever so slightly sharp. Again, I’m lowering it to reduce the amount of whatever it is that is being done.

The third pedal affects the fifth and fourth strings and raises them each a whole step. And in that case we have, see pedal chart. So the F sharp is on 439 and a half. So you started with an E note that’s at 442 and a half but when you’re hitting the C pedal you actually are looking for an F sharp note that’s 439 and a half.

Now I’m looking at this and you can see that it’s actually not budging at all from 442. So that is not desireable. We want to lower it a little bit so we want the pedal to do less of that. We’re going to give it a little more of a twist. And now we’re getting there. Still a little less.

Now this is interesting to note, for example, that this F sharp is at 439 and a half. The first string is an F sharp and it’s at 441 and a half. So again, it’s just a matter of in context it was determined by Jeff Newman that this sounded better than ever so slightly sharper F sharp at the very top which in its role sounds better ever so slightly sharp.

I mean you’re pretty close. Here we go. We’re still just a tiny bit sharp. But you have these together. Well, if you can hear the difference, it’s pretty subtle. So again, it’s just these little subtle increments that are really based on the context of where you’re using this particular move.

Okay now we have the B string is on 442. We’re going to hit the pedal and we want this to be at 438 and a half. Okay, again significantly lower than where it is right now so we’re going to, be careful, make sure you look which of these is moving. There’s two side-by-side and they’re moving so don’t do the wrong one. Otherwise you’ll just drive yourself crazy by tuning the wrong thing.

Okay, again, there’s too much tension going on, too much tightening. So I’m going to loosen it up a bit. Okay, here we go. Okay, that’s a nice minor chord you get with the B and C together. That’s how you tune, according to the Jeff Newman system that’s how you tune your pedals.