1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

how hard is playing a pedal steel?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by packingten, Jul 28, 2016.

  1. packingten

    packingten NEW MEMBER!

    Posts:
    2
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2014
    Location:
    Indianapolis Indiana
    hello Gents,I got my first p steel in 1980 I traded my dinette set (typical picker:).for a Fender I have owned about ten since then. Some things that are confusing only need some time knee levers scared me to death after you start learning some of these things will open up.The blocking for example,it is simply deadning a string to keep it from sounding in the next chord. Knee levers are a way to expand the fact that you only have 2 feet:). Example some chords need both pedals used and then a common chord is A&B pedal down then the 4&8 lowered with knee lever.after you learn a little...you will think gee...if that (whatever) string were raised or lowered) I could get xxxxxx chord you sort of learn this as you go. One bit of encouragement A pedal steel has a LOT of things in common 6 strings. Remember it is tuned in E so when the following strings are played you get E...you can play 10 8 6 5 4 3 Playing these combos are called grips the a pedal raises 5&10 B Raises 3&6 don't worry about c or third pedal at first.i t raises 4/5...you don't need it till later I will post more later
     
    jimash and P Thought like this.
  2. jmiles

    jmiles Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,632
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2003
    Location:
    ohio
    I started on an 8 string with no "harmonic" 1st and 2nd strings. When I got my Shobud, those strings threw my mind for a loop! I put it away for almost a year, thinking that I should have just driven down Brady Street tossing 20 dollar bills out the window. Found a teacher. He heard me fingerpicking Doc Watson stuff on 6-string and figured I
    d have no right hand problems. He sat me down and handed me a Tele with a capo on the 4th fret and told me to play a "cowboy" C chord, which is E at that fret. He told me to forget about those first two strings for awhile. That's the way a steel is tuned. He had me change my fingering as to what the pedals and levers do. Suddenly it made sense! He taught me for three lessons. At the third lesson he told me that I had a gig that night.
    Now,,,, ears! Very important that you have very good pitch because of parallax, you can't really see if you have the tone bar right over the fret marker. You have to use your ears to get it right.
    Wonderful instrument for accompaniment! Neil Zaza heard me playing simple string trio-like chords, and I recorded with him. Nothing fancy, but just what Neil was looking for, and I was a lot cheaper than a trio. My Kline 12 string Universal.
     
  3. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    5,568
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I have a 10-string, three pedal, one knee lever Sho-Bud. Over the 15 years or so that I've had it, I can get through it OK. But, to master the instrument, it just takes a lot of woodshedding. Mine is set-up for the common E9 Chromatic Nashville tuning and that's probably the most straight-forward set-up to learn on for a 10-string. The one thing that work on the steel will do for you, is improve your finger picking. And, that very conveniently transfers nicely to your six-string guitar skills. So, it is a very logical instrument to take-up for a guitar-player. It's the time thing that I've struggled with. Maybe I'll get a little better on it, after retirement. :) Remember, it is tuned to an open chord (of sorts) so it's all there right in front of you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
  4. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    91,721
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Location:
    Austin, Tx
    It's kinda hard.
    It's also worth it.
    You have to control both hands, both feet, both knees and both eyes.
    You have to temper tune the beast.
    You have to learn to use a thumb pick and two or three finger picks.
    There are a couple of "blocking" techniques to insure clean, precise note selection.
    Pick blocking is now considered the most efficient method, though palm blocking is sometimes used.
    You might have to master two necks/tunings.
    The E9th (crying country) neck is pretty "guitar logical"
    to understand.
    The back neck, C6th tuning, is the "swing/jazz" neck.
    Pedal steel is a precision instrument, IMO.
    It's a comparatively new creature, having become (largely) standardized in the early 1960s.
    It's a great, under-explored instrument!
     
    jimash and Alex W like this.
  5. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,648
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Location:
    Indiana
    what's the most economical way to get started? I've been eyeing those SX things for a while, only $119, thinking of learning C6
     
  6. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    16,860
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    My admiration for steel players knows no bounds. What really floats my boat is the fills they play. I have heard so many compositional gems that have more life, drama, and multiple stories and emotions in the span of two bars than the most intricately composed classical passages that I know. They play a lot of crazy, crazy stuff that sounds like they are laughing through their tears.

    Do steel players generally know which notes they are playing, or is some of what they do based more on higher dimension pattern routines?
     
  7. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    2,393
    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    Exeter, England
    I'd love a pedal steel, but sadly most are out of my financial reach. I have some experience with lap Dobro and Blues slide styles so my pitch accuracy is pretty good.
     
  8. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    2,393
    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    Exeter, England
    If only it was more accessible to those of us who are financially constrained-of course I understand that their cost is due to the mechanical complexity of the things being a corollary of the time spent building them. Never mind, I still have my Buddy Emmons with Danny Gatton CD to enjoy them vicariously. Also whoever the guy with Poco was impressed me-Rusty Young?



    I was 21, it was a beautiful London Summer, I was in love with a beautiful girl and she bought me that record.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
  9. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,273
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Location:
    atlanta
    from what I've seen, extremely difficult.

    I've been fooling around with lap steel in open G for a couple of years, and with a volume pedal, I can fake it enough to do a gig.. and a lot of people cant tell the difference.

    Of course anybody with a discerning ear can easily tell the difference but that doesnt describe most people in the average bar-party audience.

    I hope to move to C6 soon, but the idea that the G string isnt available for a major chord, is daunting.

    Couple that idea with pedals and lever and....

    let me put it this way.

    A really good pedal steel player once told me, "get started now, you'll only suck for 4 or 5 years"
     
    Alex W and AndrewG like this.
  10. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    4,428
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2015
    Location:
    Previously Chicago
    In other words, I'd love me a Shobud, but I ain't got the Do-bro.
     
    jimash, Blue Bill and AndrewG like this.
  11. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    2,393
    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    Exeter, England
    Nail meets head!
     
  12. cboutilier

    cboutilier Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    1,387
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2015
    Location:
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    A guy once told me: if you lock yourself in a room with one for a year, you might be able to tune it when you come out.
     
    jimash likes this.
  13. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,648
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Location:
    Indiana
    great question, I'd love to know the answer too

    trying to cop steel licks made my appreciation for the players skyrocket

    wish more steelers would comment at tdpri, as our brothers and sisters in twang
     
  14. Thin69

    Thin69 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,915
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Location:
    Galveston, TX
    Robert Randolph sure makes it look easy! I sure wish more folks played steel guitar!
     
  15. MDent77

    MDent77 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,271
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    Location:
    New England
    I also have a great deal of respect for pedal steel players.


     
    superbadj and Alex W like this.
  16. Dongotto

    Dongotto Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    131
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Location:
    Missouri
    You can get a really nice guitar for $1,000. They are called stage one and made in Branson Missouri. They were designed by Bruce Zumsteg. Bruce is the builder of Pro model Zum steels that have been played by most all the big boys over the last 30 years. I bought my son one for his 11th birthday and now 2 years later he has a pro model so he can play both necks. I've posted this before but here is a clip of him playing in May.
     
    MickM and teletimetx like this.
  17. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    4,428
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2015
    Location:
    Previously Chicago
    I keep posting this video, Buddy Emmons kills me as much as Danny Gatton:

     
    sosay and Dongotto like this.
  18. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    23,351
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    R.I.P. 2019
    The PSG player in my band has a Zum Stage One. It's a good instrument. He dreams of upgrading but with two small children in school, that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Go to You Tube and do a search for Colorado Green Band if you'd like to hear it and us.

    I'd say spend another $100 or so and get an old Oahu or Supro or something. They are much better instruments. Most modern cheap lap steels made today are, well, cheap lap steels. I was just at the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association convention and luau and one vendor had a table full of old lap steels in the $300- $1200 range. Most of them on the lower end of the scale.
     
  19. picknfool

    picknfool Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    556
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    Oakland, Ca.
    I've played with a number of real good steel players- seems like it takes two brains to do it well, and those brains often don't get along with each other!:confused:
     
  20. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,273
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Location:
    atlanta

    I disagree with this. I spent 100bucks on mine, a musiciansfriend special, Rogue, that came with legs so I could set it up as a "fake steel".

    You get what you pay for. The pickup wasnt great, that was easy to change, and the tone knob was iffy, so i just clipped the wire, end of problem. The tuners work, even with heavy strings, it stays in tune, and hey, its not like the frets are a problem.

    I've had a ton of fun learning on it, and played a bunch of gigs with it... and not ONCE did anybody sneer at my budget lap steel. One chick thought I was playing keyboards. LOL

    If you're just starting out, these cheap lap steels are fine.
     
    jimash likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.