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Pedal Steel Query?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by jazzguitar14, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. jazzguitar14

    jazzguitar14 Tele-Meister

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    Hey There,
    Im thinking about picking up a single neck 10 / E9 tuning.

    I have never played steel, or even slide on my guitar, but Im just looking for a new challnge, and/or something to keep the brain working... Im already a music "professional" and will have no problem w/ theory, but fear the new technique and skills required to sound decent... Also, I dont want to waste a grand on something I may never get to play well...

    So, whats the learning curve? any tips, comments, suggestions...
    Just tell me Im nuts and should stick to fiddle and gtr...

    Thanks,
     
  2. moonshiner

    moonshiner Friend of Leo's

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    I am easily a novice steeler as I got mine a little over a year ago...

    To play the steel is easy... to play the steel well and in tune is another matter... For a seasoned guitar player you have to play with both hands.. and sometimes your feet to switch pedals or sometimes your head to think about runs... For steel.. you have to play not only both hands independently, but both feet as well.. AND think about what you are going to play because you are a novice at the instument.. then you have to use both ears to make sure that the note is in the relative pitch because there are no frets...

    It is an extremely fun and exhausting instrument... There is always something new to learn and try... And if you don't want to spend a grand don't.. Get a student model.. You may not be pleased with it.. but you'll get the idea as to whether or not this is something you want to delve into with more time and money...

    Secondly, find a good steel teacher... and talk to them before you buy a steel.. they can give you a heads up at the kind of frustrations you will experience when learning the steel (either through their lessons or your own teachings). As well as discuss the differences between a student model and a pro model...

    It's one of those things.. that once you understand the mechanics of it.. you can move forward.
     
  3. Dave Hopping

    Dave Hopping Friend of Leo's

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    Definitely worth doing....easier than it looks to get recognizeable sounds out of E9,since(A)you're changing chords with your left foot and your knees,rather than your fingers,and(B) the string tuning and pedal/knee lever layout is pretty intuitive. Right hand technique isn't quite as intuitive,but if you do a lot of fingerpicking, you have much of that concept already.
    Also check out the Steel Guitar Forum.Lots of info and resouces there.
     
  4. crawdad

    crawdad Tele-Afflicted

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    If you are going to get a decent instrument, you will spend at least a grand these days. The only starter guitar I know of is the Carter Starter. Thats under a grand. Don't bother with a Sho Bud Maverick--you will outgrow it and be frustrated very soon.

    Learning steel is a trip. It never stops being fascinating. The more you dive in, the deeper it gets.
     
  5. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Ive been playing steel lap steel since 1970 and still dont feel comfortable enough to go to a Pedal steel.

    Before buying an expensive pedal try an inexpensive lap steel first.
     
  6. moonshiner

    moonshiner Friend of Leo's

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    Hrm.. I don't play lap steel at all.. Interesting idea...
     
  7. Poppatwang

    Poppatwang Friend of Leo's

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    Lots of fun with a lapsteel!
     
  8. swooda

    swooda Tele-Holic

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    Yeah I love the lap steel too. I have an old Rick panda that sounds great. When I used to play mostly blues I'd tune it open E and use all them Allman licks I stole. Now days I tune to C6. Owned a pedal for a few years but never got past the rookie level. One thing I couldn't get used to was finger picks. I play my lap with my bare fingers and it sounds fine.
     
  9. chickenpicker

    chickenpicker Friend of Leo's

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    Visit the steel guitar forum. Arby (who posts here) also posts there. As a first-class engineer, he knows an awful lot about starter steels (having never progressed beyond them...), and will hopefully give quality advice.
     
  10. Keifer

    Keifer Tele-Holic

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    If you're in for a challenge & something to keep your brain working, pedal steel will give you exactly that. You've already got a background in music theory so part of the battle is over. A mental excercise deluxe in that you'll be using both hands, both knees & both feet all at the same time. But there's nothing to be afraid of because these things become second nature rather quickly. With daily practice you realistically could be making presentable music on this instrument within a month or so. Just like everyday life...we crawl, we walk, we run & then we boogie.

    Bar movement with the left hand has to be exact and at first this will be a very visual thing, but in short order the exactness of bar placement will be more guided by your hearing than by sight. With a little time you'll learn not to cover more strings with the bar than needed....no need for the unused strings to sound Sometimes in sngle note picking, you'll fret only one string with the nose of the bar....doing hammer-ons & pull-offs.

    Right hand picking and blocking (muting) is what I feel is the most demanding technique of all because there are strings that will be covered by the bar that you do not want to sound, thus they should be muted.

    Left foot controls 3 pedal and both knees will control what ever knee levers you have on your instrument. Each pedal or knee lever in essence will change the open tuning on the neck when actuated. With each pedal/lever change a given chord will move to another position on the neck. Right foot is for using the volume pedal.

    Here's a link for a great pedal steel site that you can read the workings of the instrument in more detail and see some copedant charts to understand just what the pedals & knee levers do.
    http://www.b0b.com/

    Hopefully, there is someone in your area that can teach you, but if not there are books & videos that can aid in the learning process.

    For a beginner the Carter Starter is probably the best buy on the market. Even though this is a student model guitar, there is enough quality to be used professionally. E9th tuning....3 pedals & 4-5 knee levers for these babies. I've seen some used ones go on eBay for $500-600 plus another $40-50 for shipping. They hold resale value quite well, so not a lot would be lost should a change of mind occur.
     
  11. clearfish

    clearfish TDPRI Member

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    I think you will find that some things are really natural and if you can play guitar with feeling, you should be able to play easy steel parts in a matter of monthes. However, my steel teacher was of the opinion that lead guitar players NEVER "got" steel--and if you compare guys like Toy Caldwell or Jerry Garcia to Buddy Emmons or Al Perkins--well, he had a point.

    I found it was really hard to go from six string soloing to sitting and trying to do the blocking necessary for articulate fast steel solos. To play a scale on the steel you have terminate or "block" the last note. Otherwise, it's like trying to play piano with the sustain pedal pressed all the time. Most lead guitarists--self included--tend to pick block--that is pick the note then touch the string again with the pick to mute the note. Good steel players block with the palm or palm edge. The motion is pretty much alien to most lead guitarists. It took me a good 15-20 minutes to get to palm blocking without thinking. I always asked for the set list to be arranged so I could work up to speed, but I usually got screwed.
     
  12. Gary Lee

    Gary Lee TDPRI Member

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    Before you buy, be sure to network your area for folks that already play and may be able to help you with any mechanical issues that may crop up with a new or used steel. Lots of moving parts and adjustments on a steel, common sense may not be a good substitute for experience.
     
  13. eddiewagner

    eddiewagner Poster Extraordinaire

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    i tuned a 6-string lapsteel this way: d-e f#-g#-b-e. thats some kind of e and it sounds very, very much like a pedal-steelguitar imo. thats the closest i got. i tried pedalsteels with no results anywhere in sight. so i skipped the idea. if you want to hear it klick in "silent night" on my twang-link below.
    eddie
     
  14. Dave Hopping

    Dave Hopping Friend of Leo's

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    All the concerns folks have raised are real ones.....One that wasn't raised is that PSG isn't the best rhythm instrument.There's a couple of upsides,though.One is that right out of the box you can do triple and quadruple-stop bends that even the most accomplished 6 string and lapsteel guys will be very hard put to match( hint-use 3 fingerpicks instead of 2). Another is you can do that sort of thing all the way up to the equivalent of the 24th fret.Still another is you can do it in harmonics.A somewhat unrelated upside is that PSG is in big demand on the country and alt-country circuits and there's plenty of work available.
    I think the best way to find out how steel works for you without putting out big $$$ is to sit down behind one for an hour or so and scope it out.At worst you're out the cost of a lesson.
     
  15. Gary Lee

    Gary Lee TDPRI Member

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    "sit down behind one for an hour or so"

    Yeah, thats more than enough time
     
  16. guit145

    guit145 Tele-Meister

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    Carter, GFI, and Zum all make student models. Carter is the most widely available, and is decent for the money ($700 new) as long as you're not terribly tall. (I had problems with it at 6' tall). Stay away from the Maverick or any Fenders, they're mechanical nightmares. Decent resale on the "Carter Starter."

    If you get serious about it, you'll want to upgrade into the $1,500 range for a single neck 10 string ("S10" in PSG lingo) or pushing $2,000+ for a double neck 10 string "D10" or a 12 string universal tuning "S12". I play S12s. Always lots of guitars for sale on steelguitarforum.com.

    Right hand techinique (blocking) and volume pedal use will be the steepest learning curves. The coordination of feet and knees takes some time, but is not the biggest hurdle.

    Be forewarned, it can be extremely addictive and expensive (lots of accessories).

    steelguitarforum.com and b0b.com (that's "B" "ZERO" "B") are the best resources (both admistered by Bob Lee).
     
  17. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

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