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Author Topic:   Anyone use the C6/A7 tuning?
Todd Weger

From: Safety Harbor, FLAUSA

posted 27 July 2000 08:52 AM     profile   send email     edit
I'm a long-time guitarist who's only been playing the lap steel for a month or so now, and the tuning I've been using is the Jerry Byrd C6/A7 tuning mentioned on Brad's Page of Steel. According to the description, "The advantage to this tuning is you have almost every type of chord interval under the bar without having to slant the bar." I couldn't agree more!

I have been having a blast playing with this tuning, and my band members like it, too. I played a gig when I first got it using a basic E7 tuning, and it was OK, but not quite "there." After spending some more time shedding and researching, I started using the C6/A7, and it's made all the difference, for me anyway.

I hope to graduate to a D-8 Stringmaster at some point, and intend to learn one of the standard E9 or E13 tunings, but for now, this one's "gettin' it" for me. Any of you other non-peddlers out there use the C6/A7 tuning? Any places to go to learn more (tab, recordings, etc.)? Thanks for anything you can tell me!

A steel convert, and having a blast learning the lap steel in Madison, Wisconsin!

TJ Weger

C Dixon

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 27 July 2000 11:47 AM     profile   send email     edit

Jerry Byrd invented this tuning back in the 40's. He used it on many recordings. But he also would reach down and drop that 6th string from a C# to a C for the next tune and then back up to C#. Sometimes in the middle of a song. and he made many recordings with that 6th string as a C rather than a C#.

Billy Robinson tunes it to a C and will use the ring finger of his left hand to pull
it to a C# as needed behind the bar.

Later, JB went to a 7 string and tuned it this way:


This way he had the best of both worlds. One thing though, none of these tunings prevented him from slanting the bar. He is the "slant king" of all time. No one on earth can do it as good. He does it effortlessly and as a second nature movememt. And he has many slants that he uses constantly.

He can slant from backward to forward (and vice versa) so quickly that it boggles my mind.

Here is one of his classics:

1. Backward slant strings 1 and 3 on frets 12 and 13.

2. Pick strings 1 and 3.

3. As they sustain, slide into a forward slant on the same 2 strings only reverse the frets. That is, frets 13 and 12 respectively.

What it looks like is a figure X movement. Not easy to do. Takes you from a V7 chord to a I chord and very nice sound.

JB is, as I say, the world's master at this movement along with a myriad of slants and different tunings.

Call Scotty's and he has quite a selection of JB and other courses that will be of great help to you in your quest on the lap steel guitar.

God bless you with what ever you do,


[This message was edited by C Dixon on 27 July 2000 at 11:53 AM.]

Mark Davis

From: Bakersfield, Ca

posted 27 July 2000 12:16 PM     profile   send email     edit
Hi TJ steel is fun isnt it!!! Hard to learn compared to guitar but that makes it even more fun. I love to hand one of my lap steels tuned to C6th to a really good guitar player and watch them TRY to get it to sound good and intune then I play a simple little lick and they are all impressed! LOL.

You cant do any better than learning anything from Jerry Byrd that man is just magic. His touch and tone is perfecto and he is so smooth I cant even hear the bar just pure clean beautiful music.

You can also tune that C6/A7 to B11 pretty easy so you might try that one also see what happens.

Actually what your gonna find out is you need about 4-5 different steels or a couple different double necks all tuned differently to be able to experiment around alot. Or maybe just get a quad neck Stringmaster and tune all 4 necks differently.

Michael Johnstone

From: Sylmar,Ca. USA

posted 27 July 2000 12:23 PM     profile   send email     edit
Joaquin Murphy took it a step further and tuned it like this high to low: G,E,C,A,G,E,C#,B He used a .020 plain for the B,making it sort of "out of place" like the chromatic strings on pedal E9 - except on the other end of the tuning.It would be the 4th string if laid out in order of pitch-although that would disrupt the layout of the standard C6 tuning.By putting it where he did tho,he could access it w/his thumb,enabling him to do beautiful cascading maj7th runs as well as a lot of altered chords and very melodic be-bop lines.Very clever tuning. -MJ-
Bill Leff

From: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

posted 27 July 2000 03:18 PM     profile   send email     edit
I've been playing a couple of years and still consider myself pretty much a beginner, but I can play in a number of tunings. However, I gotta say that I have the hardest time with the C6/A7 tuning (on my 8 string) of any tuning because of that C# sitting there next to the C natural!

Just my .02, your mileage may vary,


Todd Weger

From: Safety Harbor, FLAUSA

posted 28 July 2000 02:25 PM     profile   send email     edit
Hey all -- thanks for your advice. Carl, I did try that lick, and it's pretty cool. I also have been working on that classic contrary motion slant lick (V-I in the key of C).

Start with one note on the 12th fret G (4th string); then 11th fret@4th string, with 12th fret@3rd string; then 10th fret@4th string with 11th fret@2nd string; and finally 12th fret@2nd string with 12th fret@5th string.

Yeah, the possibilities with this instrument are amazing. I sure can't wait until I get my D8 next week. I may have to tune in that Joaquin Murphy tuning. That sounds really cool!

Thanks again to all of you for your help.

Bob Kagy

From: Lafayette, CO USA

posted 29 July 2000 03:06 PM     profile   send email     edit
Todd, I use this tuning a lot. I often (usually) tune the C# up a halfstep to a D, giving me a C major pentatonic tuning.

The man himself (Jerry Byrd) has produced a lot of tab, much of it uses the C6/A7 tuning. You can get a list of it by mailing him a stamped, self-addressed 8 1/2 x 11 envelope with $1.10 worth of return postage on it. Here's the address:

Jerry Byrd
P.O. Box 15026
Honolulu, Hawaii 96830

In your request, ask him to send you The Complete List.

His Instruction Course also has material on the C6/A7. It's expensive (fair warning), and available through the above address or through Scotty's Music in St Louis (see b0b's Links page).

It's a cool tuning.

Jack Byrd

From: Kalamazoo, Michigan

posted 06 March 2001 08:39 AM     profile   send email     edit
I noticed in Carl's posting he stated Jerry invented the C6th tuning in the 40s. A slight correction is needed for this date. Jerry pioneered several things in the history of steel guitar one being the C6th tuning. He was recorded playing in this tuning at Ron dearth's studio in our home town of Lima, Ohio on February 19, 1939. Jerry has this recording in his possession as proof of his developing this tuning at this time. This indicates Jerry was playing in this tuning as early as 1938 or earlier as a young person in his teens. Some steel players claim they used C6th long before they ever heard of Jerry. When queried as to when they started using the tuning they connot verifiably show they were using it before 1939. Most were not yet born or were only 5-10 years old at that time. Jerry can verify his claim, he has that original recording in his possession.
Bob Kagy

From: Lafayette, CO USA

posted 06 March 2001 10:32 AM     profile   send email     edit
Jack, are you a relative of Jerry's by any chance?
C Dixon

From: Duluth, GA USA

posted 06 March 2001 10:52 AM     profile   send email     edit
Jack, are you talking about Jerry's C6th tuning or his later C6/A7? The only difference between the two is whether the 6th string is a C or a C#. I am almost positive Jerry told me he invented the C6/A7 tuning in the 40's. If I am wrong, I stand corrected respectfully to you and JB.

I am aware that Jerry used C6 in the 30's. But not aware that he used the modified C6/A7 tuning until later.

Thanks for pointing it out in any case

God bless JB, you and all the rest of you,


Marc Muller

From: Neptune,NJ USA

posted 06 March 2001 03:19 PM     profile   send email     edit
I posted this in bar chatter a couple of weeks ago. It's a song I recorded using my Ric frypan and I'm using that tuning. Take a listen if you like. If nothing else, it shows how many different chords the tuning gives you.
Mark van Allen

From: loganville, Ga. USA

posted 06 March 2001 04:10 PM     profile   send email     edit
If you're exploring any variant of this tuning, I can HIGHLY recommend the big Byrd Course (around $100 from Scotty's) and worth every penny. Jerry runs through quite a few different tunings to show their strengths and limitations and ends up with the C6/A7 for 6 and 8 strings. Most of the tab doesn't really involve the C# string so can be used by anyone on C6 (lots to learn even for pedal players) The whole last section of the book is devoted to learning to read music on this tuning, and there's a whole lot more in between the lines as it were. Just a great course. I wish other players would take the time to put out more of this kind of deeper level instruction.

Mark van Allen-"Blueground Undergrass" Pedal, Non-Pedal, Lap, and Dobro

Andy Volk

From: Boston, MA

posted 06 March 2001 06:21 PM     profile   send email     edit
I use C-6th as my main tuning with C on the bottom for 6-string and C-13th with Bb & low C on the bottom for 8-sting. I've found this to be more versitile. I like having the root on the bottom. But hey - that's just me.

I agree that the Byrd book is a wise investment. It's worth it for the chord charts and arrangements alone.

Mike Ihde

From: Boston, MA

posted 06 March 2001 06:52 PM     profile   send email     edit
I haven't seen it mentioned much lately so...How about the Leavitt Tuning?
The big difference is you take the A up to Bb and the high E down to end up with (low to high) C#, E, G, Bb, C and D. You get all the hip jazz chords and you don't even have to slant the bar... EVER!
I have tons of Tabs using this tuning from Standards to Hawaiian. Let me know or go to...
to hear me play "Tenderly" using this tuning.
Doug Beaumier

From: Northampton, MA

posted 06 March 2001 07:23 PM     profile   send email     edit
I've recently been experimenting with the C6/A7 tuning on 8 string lap steel, and it seems like a great tuning. My preference for 6 string lap steel is C6, for all round playing... pop, country, etc. For beefier chords I like the Leavitt tuning.

To see my arrangement of Someone To Watch Over Me on the Leavitt tuning (from SGW magazine about 6 years ago)click here.


[This message was edited by Doug Beaumier on 06 March 2001 at 07:25 PM.]


From: Hawaii, Big Island

posted 06 March 2001 08:47 PM     profile   send email     edit
I used to use C13 w/ Bb and low C...but I find more versatility w/ C13, Bb on bottom High G on top....but it took me a LOOONG time to get used to not having E on top!!!
Michael Johnstone

From: Sylmar,Ca. USA

posted 06 March 2001 10:28 PM     profile   send email     edit
I've stumbled onto a tuning that seems to be close to the Leavitt tuning and that is: hi to low - G,E,C,A,G,E,C#,Bb There's a full diminished chord on strings 5,6,7,8 which subs for a bunch of chords plus a regular C6,C7,an A7,an A7b9,and so on. It's kind of a restless tuning but I think if I play it a while I might get something going.On my 10 string lap I have coming soon,I'll probably add a D and a B as a chromatic 1st and 2nd string.Which will give me CMaj7,A9th,C9th,Gm,Em and C#m7b5 chords as well-not to mention myriads of fragments.And all while maintaining a core C6 tuning. -MJ-

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