James Ah See &
Barney Isaacs Jr.
Beyond the Reef Intro
by David J. Stewart
Here's a really beautiful intro by Jules Ah See (1924-1960) from the album Hawaiian Shores with Barney Isaacs Jr. (1924-1996). Jules used the A13 tuning to record this intro (from high to low: E - B - A - G - E - C - G - C). The intro sounds better if you keep it flowing. Let the notes ring. This intro is famous in Oahu, Hawaii today, played at every commercial break on am940hawaii.com radio in Honolulu. I recorded a version using only six strings, by simply dropping my C6th 2nd string from a C note to a B. If you want to play it exactly like Jules Ah See, then you need all 8-strings. Those extra two bass notes on the bottom are necessary to play it just like Jules Ah See so wonderfully did. That beautiful intro is played all over Oahu today on AM940Hawaii.com radio every day between commercials and songs... then you hear the words... THIS LAND ALOHA!
I also recorded an 8 string version. I am using a G on the seventh string and a low C on the 8th string. Of course, I lowered the second string from a C to a B note. This is the A13th tuning (not a standard tuning, but a useful variation of the C6th on certain songs or as an intro like in this song). I recorded the intro twice, this one doesn't hold the end note quite as long. I like the first piece better. I love those big bassy notes. It is common for seasoned steel guitar players to play bass parts behind a singer during live concerts if there's no bass player (just follow the chords). When asked if I like the 6 or 8 string better, it's hard to say, because each has it's own unique place in music (just like different tools). I like the simplicity of a 6 string, but
I confirmed with my friend Alan Akaka in February of 2011 in Honolulu that Jules Ah See did this intro (not Barney Isaacs Jr.) and lowered the 2nd string from a C to a B note to do it. Most C6th pedal steels have a knee lever that lowers this C note to a B. Alan Akaka plays the same intro on his awesome rendition of the song, Unforgettable (but Alan uses the tuning (from high to low: E - B - A - G - E - Bb - C - C).
*Back rake the strings with your finger pick
** harmonics. It sounds like Barney used palm harmonics, but I prefer finger harmonics here.
Barney& Jules - Hawaiian Shores
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