If your guitar has all the parts that came with it from the factory you will notice that the lowering rods have metal spacers both at the changer and next to some of the bellcranks. At the changer they provide a support interface for the lowering rod so that it will be able to push the lowering finger.
On an Emmons push pull guitar the bellcranks have a raise arm and a lower arm. When the bellcrank is correctly set the lower arm will extend past the center of the crossrod. In practice this means that when you go to set the collars on a lower they will end up at some point directly below the crossrod making them extremely difficult to get at. By adding spacers you can place the collars in space between the crossrods for easy access.
When approaching the setup of any pedal steel guitar there is wide variety of opinion as to what the pedals should feel like. Some people like really short pedal travel for playing fast on and off raises while others prefer long smooth pedals for accurately playing half pedal notes. With an Emmons push pull guitar the range of adjustment is immense. So where do you start?
If you sit at any guitar fresh from the factory the pedals are typically set up so that each pedal on a D-10, from one to eight feel almost the same. There will be some variance in pedal travel but overall they feel very similar. This would probably be a good starting point for setting up the push pull.
Now if you look at the gauges of the strings being pulled on these pedals the range is usually from 011 to 70 again using the example of a D-10. This obviously presents quite a challenge. With an Emmons push pull guitar shock springs provide the answer.
First off shock springs do four basic things. First they smooth out multiple pulls on pedals. Each push or pull on a pedal has a different distance to travel before it reaches its final raise or lower. Without shock springs each push or pull is not only felt but heard when it is engaged. Shock springs correct this so that the pedals travel in one smooth noiseless motion.
Shock springs also can change the length of pedal travel. The shorter the springs the shorter the travel and vise versa.
On the E9 neck the string gauges are much thinner than on the C6 neck. So the pedals will have to travel farther to reach the raise or lower note position. On the strings with the farthest distance to pull (typically the C pedal raise of the 4th string to F# and the B pedal 3rd string to A) no springs or just the slightest bit of spring are used. Some players prefer to have a slight bit of spring on these pulls for two reasons. The spring will relieve the stress on the hook and pull finger and it will compensate for temperature changes. With the no spring setup, on cold days, the rod shortens and adds the stress mentioned, and on hotter days, the rod lengthens, which can cause the finger to pull slightly short of the stop. The slight compression compensates both problems. We are only talking a millimeter or so of travel beyond the stop, which some players feel is worth the benefits.
With raises(only) you have the further option of connecting the raise rod to three different holes on the changer raise finger. For this example we can number them 1,2 &3, one being the hole closest to the changer axle and three being the one farthest from this axle. Hole 1 will give you the shortest travel but will give the stiffest feel. Hole 3 will give you nice smooth feel but the travel will be a lot longer. So using the above example you would typically connect the C pedal raise of the 4th string to hole 1, and the B pedal raise of the 3rd string to hole 2. From here you can experiment with the other pulls on these pedals. As a rule install shorter springs on pulls of thinner gauge strings. To get the final balance on all the pedals none of the springs on E9 pedals are typically more than ½ inch long.
When you get to the C6 neck you have to reverse your thinking somewhat. Due to the much larger string gauges you actually try to increase pedal travel to get the final balance. To do this again you use shock springs but in longer lengths. Usually the springs are from 1/2 to 11/2 inches in length. If you dont have springs this long and you want to add travel you can leave a space between the spring and the bellcrank . The spring will smooth this out when the pull is engaged. Also be careful that collars are not set so that the spring is compressed in any way when pedal is at rest. This can cause various problems.
This process involves a lot of trial and error. However it should provide you with a good understanding of the ways you can adjust the feel of the pedals and achieve an overall balance in your guitar.
John Lacey 403-473-7450
[In Buddy Emmon's Words] [In Bobby Bowman's Words] [Evolution Of The Tailpieces]
[A Wilderness Guide To The Basic Setup Of An Emmons Push Pull Steel Guitar]
[Some Additional Notes on Spacers and Shock Springs]
[Interesting Emmons Guitars]
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Last update May 7, 2013