© 2012 Flying Monkey Productions Inc.
I love free stuff- this page is dedicated to free and cheap ideas to make our steelin' lives a little easier! Feel free to send along suggestions and Tips of your own!
Don't want your bars scratched and banged up when you're hauling them around? Head for the convienence store and grab some of the M&Ms "Minis" candy, comes in these plastic tubes just the right size for dobro and steel bars. And if you're like me and have a wife who likes chocolate- fringe benefit!
Here's the same idea for keeping those pesky 9 volt batteries from touching metal and draining in your pack seat or gear bag. Simple but effective- and saves the whales from being innundated with empty film cans!
Emmons Guitars, and others with pin attachments for the string ball-ends, can be frustrating to change strings on- you almost need three hands! And those ball-ends love to fall down into the changer when strings break. A simple fix is to keep a piece of soft foam in the end of the changer holding the strings in. On the left (C6) side, you see the foam pulled out and a small piece of stiffer foam wedged in to hold the string tight on the pin while putting on a new string with just two hands. If you keep these handy you can be back in tune and playing before the song's over!
Here's a handy trick- if you're pulling both the first string from F# to G#, and the second string from D# to E, you can run both of the pull rods from one bellcrank to save parts and space. This shows the setup on a Mullen, in the upper right hand corner you can see the bellcrank nearest the pedal rod with the two pull rods attached. On this guitar, that's the only four hole bell crank, but the pulls balance very nicely- in fact besides those two, this lever (Right Knee Left) also lowers the 6th string G# to F#, with a split tuning rod connected to the raise finger (see below), and also pulls 3rd string C to C# on the C6 neck. Even with all that going on, it still feels smooth and fast.
And speaking of the G# to F# lower on 6th string E9- On all-pull guitars, we can split the tuning, so we get one pitch "open", another pitch with the floor pedal down, a third pitch with the knee lever engaged, and a fourth pitch with the floor pedal and knee both engaged. Because of string gauges, etc., that fourth (split) pitch needs to be tunable.  Some guitars (such as Emmons LeGrange Models) have a row of split tuning screws. For guitars that don't, you can add another rod going back to an empty raise hole in the 6th string changer finger to fine tune the split (when you have pedal B pushed raising the 6th string to A, and also use the lever lowering the string to F#, you can tune the split to result in a G note for 7ths , minors, etc.) Heres the setup:
  • Tune Rod # 1 (typically a floor pedal)
  • Tune Rod # 2 to the split desired (typically on a knee       lever)
  • Tune Rod # 3 to the final lowered position ( also  typically a knee lever)
This is how it works for string 6 on the E9 tuning:
  • Tune Rod # 1 from G# to A with "B" Pedal down
  • Tune Rod # 2 from G# to G with Pedal down and knee lever
  • Tune Rod # 3 from G# to F# with knee lever only

Of course this will work on any string with an empty raise hole at the changer.
Many thanks to Mike Mantey from Mullen Guitar Co. for the diagram!
For some reason my Zumsteel ended up with shorter than normal legs, so I've added a lift kit to lengthen the front legs. The pedal rod extenders worked fine, but the leg spacers were just a tad too small.  Unable to find metal tubing in the right diameter, I just cut a bit of 3/4" P.V.C. to length, and covered it with some aluminum ducting tape. The king of the cheap fix!