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I hear a call for Pedal steel guitar...

Discussion in 'B-Bender Forum' started by EsquireBoy, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    For some time now, my interest and my taste for PSG is growing. I've been playing guitar for 30 years and have never learnt another instrument. Initially as a kid I wanted to play the piano, but it was too big and too expensive for my mom at the time. Somehow I see the PSG as a kind of hybrid of a guitar and an organ, which is one of the reasons it appeals to me so much I guess.

    I keep reading how hard it is as an instrument. I may be wrong, but after watching several online lessons, I feel the straight bar + pedals principle "speaks" to me more than the guitar neck.
    For instance I've watched some material about E9 tuning, and the fact the triad inversions rely on different string groups on the same position, rather than on different left hand grips on the same string group (like on a guitar) feels more logical.

    Living in France it's really difficult to find a teacher, so I'll have to go with online lessons. I was thinking about starting with ressources available, like this:
    https://www.lessonswithtroy.com/10-String-E9-Pedal-Steel-Guitar/
    Then eventually continue my journey with one-to-one skype lessons.

    As for the instrument itself, I would certainly have to buy overseas and sight unseen, which leads me to think I would be safer going with something like a new Stage One.
    Guitar wise, I like to play chord-melody in what I would call "jazzed up Americana music". So knowing that, plus the fact that the ressources will be far easier to find, I think a S10 in E9 tuning should be the way to go.

    What do you PSG players think about all that?
    Does it sound rational to you, or am I completely misleading here?

    I would strongly benefit from some experienced advice I think.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Sorry, not a player. But, it certainly sounds like you have the honest desire to learn a difficult instrument, and your head is in the right place for it. I can certainly respect that. Good luck on your endeavor, and don't forget to share pics when you get your new pedal steel guitar. :)
     
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  3. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm a PSG beginner - just bought a '74 ShoBud Pro 1 a few weeks ago; I'm also in Europe - a few tips:

    Join https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/index.php - lots of useful info and help, and occasionally you can find used PSGs located in Europe in the classifieds.

    While I don't have any personal experience, the StageOne model is usually recommended for beginners - promotamusic.com from the Netherlands sells those, if you want to avoid having to deal with shipping & customs.

    Rainbow Music in Northern Ireland also sells new pedal steels.

    wbssteelguitars.com in Germany makes an affordable beginner's model.

    This guy https://www.pedalsteel.fr/fr/ is in your country, and occasionally sells used PSGs, as well as accessories.

    There's also a "European Pedal Steelers Association" group on Facebook, where you can occasionally find used PSGs, and might get info about teachers near you!

    Good luck!
     
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  4. '64 Tele

    '64 Tele Tele-Holic

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    I'd been playing electric six string guitar about 15 years by the time I tried to learn pedal steel back in mid 80s (while playing in a working country band as lead guitar).
    I spent about six months working daily on it, and came to the conclusion that if I kept it up, it'd take me years to get mildly proficient and by then, my six string playing would be completely ruined (as it already had a detrimental effect). I managed to work up a couple songs (one was Ol' 55 by the Eagles....can't remember the other) and dragged it out to play live.
    After that six months period of time, I gave up on pedal steel and haven't attempted to learn it since then.
    Love the sound of one.......
     
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  5. Tsteleplayer

    Tsteleplayer TDPRI Member

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    Research the pedal steel guitar forum as that is the go to place for any help and knowledge. Steels have many different arrangements of pedal locations for which strings they change. This can be confusing at first but different players setup differently for their own reasons. Personally I like the Emmons setup which I believe is the basis of standard setup nowdays. Your right hand will learn to grasp different combinations but the hardest part for me was speed picking and making it sound clean with palm muting. They are a wonderful but hair pulling instrument at times. If you have a lot of time to wood shed and are determined you should do fine with the convience of utube,computers to learn from.Good luck and have fun.
     
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  6. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    I have a Stage One and it’s a solid guitar, even the more prickly folks on the steel guitar forum seem to like it. I do believe there’s quite a long waiting list though.

    I’m pretty much self-taught along with some help from YouTube videos. Once you learn the grips (what strings to play) and some basic pedaling, you will be able to make noises relatively pleasant to the ear. I’m still not very good, and there is a steep learning curve, but I’ve played in band settings and been able to keep up just doing basic stuff

    I especially like the Jonathan Gregg videos
    https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLALQuK1NDribkIrgrMGkZ-4QhMq4LKHo

    An E9 is the way to go, along with a Peterson tuner with the pedal steel presets.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  7. teletail

    teletail Friend of Leo's

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    I'm just starting to learn pedal steel at 63. The one thing you have backwards is NOT starting with one on one lessons. There are so many things you don't know, you should really get a good teacher to get you started out right and then move on to youtube videos and the like. It can be a very frustrating instrument and a good teacher can help keep you on track until you are ready to be on your own.
     
  8. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    If possible, you might also want to try playing one before you buy something. I put an ad on the local CL musicians section asking if someone had a steel I could check out. I was lucky enough to have someone nearby respond and have me come over to check out his rig and get a quick tutorial

    Conversely, I’ve had a few people try out my steel and give up within a few minutes thinking the whole thing was ridiculous
     
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  9. Modernelove

    Modernelove Tele-Meister

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    What do you mean jazzed up? I think traditionally the C6 neck is considered the jazz neck but it’s far more niche. I didn’t see the Paul Franklin method pop up here which is a very popular online teaching method. If you can get in person lessons those helped me the most. The steel guitar forum will probably be helpful too I see people from Europe post there so they might have some insight.
     
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  10. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    I just love the pedal steel thing.
    I got a Hipshot for the ersatz vibe.
    I bought a drum kit to muddle my noggin indefinitely.
    First world solutions.
     
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  11. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    I built myself a double lap steel last year, and I'm learning to play it. But I spend more time learning how to play pedal steel-like licks on a regular guitar.
     
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  12. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You may want to consider a cheap lap steel with legs to get your feet wet with different tunings, picking, and slide. If you find the LS difficult to pick up, the PS will not be easier! The PS is not very intuitive. As with many instruments, the older you are, the harder it is to learn new stuff. If you pick up the LS easily, then get that PS and go nuts!
     
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  13. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    As a PSG player for over 40 years I can tell you that the E9th tuning is a direct relationship to the electric guitar, in fact maybe easier in that as you mentioned at the very top, the string grips, triads , pedal and bar movement repeat up and down the fretboard regardless of KEY. Its not a mystery and its NOT void of comprehension if you have some minimum theory.

    A few misconceptions above.

    The issue with the Pedal Steel is NOT the music, its the physicals required to GET to the music. Eye's , Ears, feet. legs, knees and two hands. Then the ability to play LESS sloppy . IF someone understands the concept of I,4,5 or I,2 ,4,5, or I,6,2,5..etc..with a few 7ths thrown in for good measure, the standard E9th tuning with Peds has it all sitting right in front of you. Same with the C6th tuning. The issue is can we play without screeching , on pitch and in tune. And work a volume pedal at the same time and not make everything a "SWELL"

    The Stage One is a fine Instrument and over on the Steel Guitar Forum you can find many quality used Steels, be they single tens or double tens A S-10/ 3+4 or a D-10 / 8 +4 would be minimum to grow into. A lessor configured instrument will have you seeking another instrument in a year or so.

    So how long for an initial study? easily 6 months just to get the physicals down, there's a lot going on just to play clean, smooth and on pitch. But once you cross that hump, all bets are off !

    Go for it !
    tp
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  14. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    As somebody who has been playing lap steel for a loooong time, and who has tried learning pedal steel before, and does again now:

    NOPE!

    A lap steel is a completely different instrument, that requires very different thought processes, and starting with lap steel does not help with learning pedal steel AT ALL.

    Might as well recommend starting with the accordion...
     
  15. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    Knowing PSG players would be ideal for sure, but considering I do not hang out a lot with other guitar players already, and PSG being so rare here where I live, it's not going to happen. I'm a rather determined person though, so when I've got something new I want to learn, I usually commit to it can can even be pretty obsessive about it.

    By "jazzed up" I mean that I'm not a straight jazz player and never play bop or swing for instance, but I like to incorporate extended and altered chords to Americana tunes. I spent time trying to compare C6 and E9 through videos and forum discussions, and have also considered the so called universal tuning that comes with the 12 strings format, but for the style I play and for the sake of accessibility to learning ressources, I'm pretty sure E9 is the way to go.
    Thanks for the Paul Franklin reference, I'll try and find it!

    In my twenties I used to often play slide holding my guitar as a lapsteel, which I've always found quite natural (compared to playing slide in the "normal" position). I still do it from time to time, and I don't think I would have too much difficulty with the bar. The pedals and knee levers are something else for sure...

    I've watched a lot of videos of Weissenborn players and the way they angle the bar to be able to alter some notes is really impressive.
    I may be totally wrong, but in a way PSG appears to me somewhat "smoother" to play: your feet and knees take some of the work away from your hands, so you can split and spread the tasks a bit more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  16. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you for your experience, it's really encouraging! As a high school teacher, I'm lucky enough to be able to dedicate at least 10 hours a week to playing music. And the perspective of being a beginner again is quite refreshing: I'm mostly self taught on guitar, but because I was young and not very mature at the beginning, I feel I missed the basis.
    Knowing what I know now about music theory and guitar, I won't make the same mistake again trying to skip some steps: I will go slowly and take the time to build up on solid.
     
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  17. RowdyHoo

    RowdyHoo Tele-Meister

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    I love the PSG. I’ve been pondering learning to play it myself but have never made the jump. Good luck, I’m excited for you!
     
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  18. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    I'm sure you're right. But because I can get quite shy when I have to speak English with someone I don't know, I'm afraid the lessons would not be really productive.
     
  19. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The world needs more steel players. Good on ya!
     
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  20. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    Good, important perspective. People sometimes get an idea in their head -- a concept -- and chase it only to find that the reality is way different from their concept. Playing is action -- hearing, seeing, thinking, and moving. Being a really bizarre instrument mechanically (it reminds me of Ray Manzarek in the Doors playing organ leads while playing bass with foot pedals) the pedal steel seems like a wrong turn, to me, for someone who already thinks and moves musically in a really different way, but a great instrument to explore if you think you can "feel" it. Try one out. I'm always surprised that pedal steel is not more widely used. With a few small exceptions, it remains stuck in country, and often in a cliche role at that. We need a breakthrough. Hendrix's Strat moves and tones would carry over to pedal steel, I think.
     
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