Posted by Administrator on 4/29/2016 to Steel Guitars
What are the basic phases a beginner goes through in learning either neck E9 or C6 on the pedal steel?
It seems that eye, hand coordination of getting used to picking the right string at the right time might be first. Your fingers just don't go where you want them to go until you have set behind the steel for hours upon hours. Even when you can find the right string with each and every finger of the right hand, there are other things that get in your way. Your left hand is not controlling the bar as it should. You then have to work on the bar and keep it straight and press down with the right pressure, holding it perpendicular to the strings and right over the proper fret.
After you have that going, you then have to work on your left and right feet to find the right pedals when you need them and have the right volume at the right time with your right foot. Do all this while not missing a string or messing up on the bar. It seems at this point that you have semi-control over this instrument and then you come to the conclusion that your tone is not what you expect, so you blame the amplifier settings, the steel you are playing or your pickup or your chords or your picks. You are looking everywhere except at you where it all begins. Then it comes upon you that you can hold the bar a little different or put your picks on differently or block differently and further refine any and all of these or you just might have to trade this steel for a different brand or get new pickups, or maybe a different amp.
All the while you have only mastered finding a C chord, F chord and G chord. You can't back anyone up, so you have to find some different places to pick on the steel and try to copy in your mind Lloyd's lick or Buddy's lick he did on this song or whatever.
You are clambering to find melody and backup areas on the steel. Meanwhile you have to develop some taste and appropriateness in what you do while you are backing up a singer. A 3 note chord just won't do it.
This is where my course on learning the E9 neck is so valuable to a beginning person. It lets you perfect where you are and gives you the ability to go forward and be able to back up a singer, and then eventually venture out and do a melody solo on this instrument.
It sometimes takes months, but with most of us, it takes years to progress to where we can comfortable do appropriate proper sounding backup while the singer is breathing between song phrases.
You can be here for years and then venture out to attempt to play solos with the band and you be the melody on this song.
I have also come to the conclusion that in backing up there are some go-to licks that you will eventually find and perfect them so that you can insert them in the song and voila, you sound like you know what you are doing in trying to make the singer sound even better.
Call me and we can further discuss this progression of learning on the pedal steel. It is a fascinating struggle that makes you question your inner ability and makes you think I should be playing another instrument. Only the strong survive and it might take 40, 50 years or more to be acceptable. We all went into this knowing it was not a short walk around the block!
Gary Sill 217 433 7455