Excel Superb 12 String Keyless Pedal Steel Guitar

Here's some pictures, sound files and comments on my new (to me) Excel keyless 12 string pedal steel guitar. It has 8 floor pedals and 5 knee levers. Imagine having a 12 string tuning that gives you an extended E9th without losing the highly valued D string and a C6 tuning that includes the D string on top AND the original high G string AND an additional high F string. No compromises on either tuning and in fact several enhancements all on one neck. Extended tunings, small footprint and light weight.
  • The tuning is switchable from 12 string extended E9th to 12 string C6 with a quick action lock lever. See copedant below. The lock lever modifies the open tuning and switches knee levers RKL and RKR between two different cross shafts giving them custom capabilities for each tuning. This is not a full crossover model as, for the most part, the other knee levers and floor pedals do not change with the lock lever actuation. With a few days of practice I have been able to play most of my normal D-10 stuff all on 12 strings without sacrificing the E9th D string.
  • This guitar is TINY!!!! and light. See some pics below comparing the size of the guitar and case to my Williams keyless which itself is an extremely compact guitar. Some specifications:

    1. The scale is 24 1/4"
    2. The lock lever is very precise in switching back and forth between E9 and C6. I recorded all 21 samples below on both tunings without re-tuning any open strings, pedals or knees over a period of two days.
    3. String spacing is 3.37"
    4. Pickup resistance is 21.4 kohms
    5. The main body measures 27.5" by 8.25"
    6. Height from the floor to the strings is 29 3/8"
    7. Height from the floor to the back apron is 25 3/8"
    8. Height from the floor to the bottom of the vertical knee lever is 23 3/4"
    9. Guitar weight is 25.8 pounds (my 12 string Williams keyless weighs 26.9 pounds)
    10. Case weight is 12.1 pounds! (the Williams case weighed 31.1 pounds)
    11. The guitar and the case combined total weight is a minimal 37.9 pounds

  • After staring at the changer for a few hours and tracing things out I was able to modify the copedant to my liking with little effort. The pedals are extremely narrow in keeping with the low weight and small size theme, but they are easy to press and there's no hangup when sliding your feet between pedals.
  • There is a tool holder for the most used guitar adjustment tools built right into the top of the guitar. Very handy!
  • While the guitar is very light it stays put on the carpet. The pedal rack has a unique leg attachment feature in that no rack thumb screws or retainer plate is needed. The rack is held in place by screwing the bottom part of the front legs tight against it.
  • Pedal 4 is mostly used for C6 but the G to B change is pretty cool to use on E9. Similarly Pedal 5 provides a nice Eb to E change for the E9 tuning on the 2nd string.
  • I only use a 10 string bar on my 12 string steels. I've yet to find a need to cover all 12 strings at the same time. The 10 string bar is lighter, faster and has less drag and noise.

Some useful links:

Click here to listen to a complete shuffle beat song with the Excel steel guitar!

Click below to hear the steel only tracks from the above song (solo steel parts extracted from the complete song)

I'm Not Crazy Yet - Steel Solo Part 1

I'm Not Crazy Yet - Steel Solo Part 2

I'm Not Crazy Yet - Steel Solo Part 3

Copedant - subject to change!

Changer end view with functional description

The lock lever moves a bar that has adjustable screws to engage the bottom two rows of changer fingers. One row raises and one row lowers. Mine is setup to change from E9 to C6 open tunings but that is user programmable and within reason it would be possible to have the lock raise or lower any string as desired. The changer can be viewed as being a 7 raise and 4 lower unit with one raise and one lower dedicated to the lock lever function. Note that the lock lever changes only RKL, RKR and the open tuning. It is not a complete changeover mechanism. The tuning of the other knee levers and pedal is not user programmable. A few rows of changer raises/lowers are accessed by bell cranks that mount BELOW the cross rod. This is necessary because with 30 pull rods feeding the changer, it get pretty crowded on the top side of the pedal/knee lever cross shafts. In a few cases the lock lever changing moving the changer fingers does affect some of the knee lever/pedal functions. My complete tuning procedure is:

  1. With lock lever in E9 position, tune open strings using the allen screws at the keyless head side
  2. Tune each E9th knee lever and floor pedal change using the nylon tuners at the changer end plate
  3. Split tune certain chages as needed
  4. Flip the lock lever to C6 and tune the open C6 tuning using the bottow row of set screws at the changer end plate
  5. Tune each C6 floor pedal and knee lever RKL and RKR using the nylon tuners at the changer end plate

Sound Samples with Telonics TCA-500C amp and FP-100 foot volume using TC Electronics G Major 2 effects

Here's some sound samples mic'd with a Shure SM-57. All samples recorded onto a Zoom R24 then ported to Reaper to convert them to mp3 files at 320 kbps.

Sound sample 1 (E9th)
Sound sample 2 (E9th)
Sound sample 3 (E9th)
Sound sample 4 (E9th)
Sound sample 5 (E9th)
Sound sample 6 (E9th)
Sound sample 7 (E9th)
Sound sample 8 (E9th)
Sound sample 9 (E9th)
Sound sample 10 (E9th)
Sound sample 11 (C6), Steelin' The Blues
Sound sample 12 (C6), No One Will Ever Know
Sound sample 13 (C6), Night Life
Sound sample 14 (C6), B. Bowman Hop
Sound sample 15 (C6), King Of The Road
Sound sample 16 (C6), Neal Hefti's Cute
Sound sample 17 (C6), A Bit Of Chalker
Sound sample 18 (C6), My Mother's Eyes
Sound sample 19 (C6), Pete Drake Sounds
Sound sample 20 (C6), Misc. Riffs
Sound sample 21 (C6), I'm Not Crazy Yet Tag Ending

There are quite a few pictures below. Click on them to see them full size or at least sized to a browser window. Click on the picture again if needed to zoom in even more!

Comments? email webmaster Greg