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Re: SteepleChase Lane by Keener

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:11 am
by jsully
Great picking Bruce,I really have a hard time with alternate tunings, any suggestion's?I have a list of chet alternate tunings, they list Steeplechase Lane as DGDEBD , I didn't have any luck with that tuning either.One other question, I assume that is a Godin your playing, i'm considering one ,what model are you plaYING, NYLON STRINGS ? Thanks Again Bruce , Keep up the great picking , I enjoy listening and learning.

Joe Sully

Re: SteepleChase Lane by Keener

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:00 am
by keener
Hi Joe,

The DGDEBD tuning you mentioned is only a half-tone down from the one I used ... put the capo on the third fret instead of the second, and it's the same. I used the tuning I mentioned because (a) I trust John McClellan to follow through on this sort of thing with Chet (he used to visit Chet pretty regularly) and (b) going the DGDEBD makes the third string even harder to keep in tune. It's hard enough to keep it tune using the a-flat 6 tuning. I had noticed in playing some in the "Tommy Jones tuning" (sixth in D, third in F#) that running the third string down even a half-tone makes it hard to keep it tune.

But, other people can worry about what key Chet Really played in: G6 or a-flat 6. To me the important thing is to go ahead and tune it whichever way and then experiment, to see what it takes to get the familiar chords, and to see what you can do that you couldn't do in regular tuning. To me, there is no trick involved in learning how to use alternate tunings: it's just a matter of enough fooling with it until you get comfortable with it.

The only alternate tunings I've fooled with in the past few years are Drop D and what I call the Tommy Jones tuning. When I was younger (like 35 and 40 years ago), I used to play in G tuning a lot, Drop D alot, and probably a couple of e-based tunings (it's hard to remember). I also liked to occasionally string one acoustic in "the Nashville Tuning" (Google it for all sorts of descriptions), which is basically just a substitution of tenor strings for the four bass strings. Using alternate tunings in that was really cool. Bottom line: I did so much of it that it became second nature to me. Now, even though it's years later, I find it pretty easy to learn how to piddle in a new tuning. But that's because I put in so many, many hours tinkering with it in the past.

As to the Godin, it's a Multiac SA with Nylon strings. It was signed by Buster a few months before he passed away, and I'm told by his girlfriend at the time that it was the last thing he ever signed. You can read a tad more about it here: ... r-b-jones/

Hope that helps.


Re: SteepleChase Lane by Keener

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:27 pm
by keener
By the way, just out of curiosity, I used the chromatic tuners on my iPhone (GuitarToolKit and ClearTune) to see what key Chet played SteepleChase Lane in when doing the tune on the Jimmy Dean show. Sure enough, he used the a-flat 6 tuning and with the capo on the second fret, that translated into b-flat 6.

I also used my chromatic tuners to see what key Jerry played it in when he did the Finger Dancing album, and he did it one half tone lower (DGDEBD).

I suspect he and Chet both played it both ways over the years. I imagine Jerry went with the slightly lower tuning for his Finger Dancing recording, because he wanted some extra "thumpiness" (which he most certainly achieved). [I don't know whether my favorite recording of the tune is his, from Finger Dancing, or Chet's Essential Chet Atkins recording of it. I love both, a bunch.]

Re: SteepleChase Lane by Keener

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:52 pm
by keener
Hi Jack,

Thanks for the link to your page: great resource.

Yes, I'm sure all the tunings were invented hundreds of years ago. I do associate certain tunings with people, though, even when I know they didn't come up with anything that hadn't already been thought of.

Take care