Re: Fender 400, 8 string, 3 and 1/2 pedal !!

Posted by Jim on Sat, 06/03/06 - 13:54:56.

Old topic, but maybe worth adding to:

Fender 400's came with 4-8 pedals. Up to 10 could be installed as options. there are two versions - the 50's/early 60's 400 had a longer scale, bar bridge and nut, flat Jazzmaster-style pickups and chrome pedals. In mid '63, Fender changed to a shorter-scale sunburst, with integrated changer/bridge (the "fingers" rock to alter the pitch), roller nut, Jaguar-style pickup and black pedals. Both have the same cable-pull changer that is really dated, but on the other hand is the easiest one to make tuning changes on, ever. It's also a very stable guitar - stays in tune and doesn't "twist" (called cabinet drop) like modern steels.

Both are great instruments. Fender's standard tuning was A6, and the manual can be downloaded at the long-scale ones are known affectionately as "string breakers", as when the E9 tuning with two top chromatic strings came into style the mechanism/scale length combination cased a lot of 3rd string breakage at the string attachment point. "Hog Rings" - small metal rings - were added to attach the ball ends to the changerand reduce the problem, but theyreally aren't made to be used in that tuning. they work GREAT tuned to the inside-8 strings of a C6 10-string tuning, and setting the pedals up as the 5, 6, 7 and 8 pedals of a two-neck steel's C6 neck.

But what's lacking are knee levers, so it's a bit of a compromise. I play a '63 burst with 9 pedals, 2 added knee levers, an extra pickup, and I use a B6 tuning that is set up to use the first couple pedals for E9 country-style changes, and the others for minors, 7th's and the C6-type "swing" changes. It's the tuning Sneaky Pete Kleinow used with the Flying Buritto Brothers.

These are really IMO the best sounding steels ever - but they are NOT for the faint-hearted or good as a country-steel beginner instrument. There are almost no tab, CD o video lessons covering them, and no teachers. You're on your own. So for MOST people, a Carter Starter as mentioned is a better beginner guitar - it has everything you need to play pedal steel for years, and is amazing for the price. It has limitations as it can't b changed around to different pedal setups, but for "normal" use it's fine.

But if you want to blaze your own trail, Fenders are fun. There is a small group of Fender players on the Steel Guitar Forum that trades parts, tips, and can give all kinds of advice.

FWIW, the Fender pedal steel models:

400 - 8 strings, 4-8 pedals
1000 - two 8-string necks, 8-10 pedals
800 - 10 strings, ? number of pedals
2000 - two 10-string necks, normally 8-10 pedals.
PS210 - 10 string, more modern mechanism (but very unique), no knee levers like the others, only about a dozen or so made.

: :The Fender 400 PSG was available with up to either 8 or 10 pedals I,m not sure of the exact number, although most of them were sold with just 4. Back in the late 50s the E9th tuning was just coming into its own and most of the players I knew were stll using a C6th or A6th tuning. The sound of these old Fenders is fantastic, especially when played through a Twin Reverb.

: However, if you want to seriously learn to play a PSG, I would highly recommend buying a newer model as they are better built and the changer mechanism is light years ahead ogf the old Fenders.

: Carter Steel Guitars down near Dallas TX manufactures a great student instrument with 3 pedals and 4 knee levers. Go look at musicians friend website, they sell them for around $799 complete with picks, volume pedal, tone bar etc. And they sound good.

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