INSTRUCTION STRINGS ACCESSORIES MUSIC LINKS
 Visit Our Catalog at SteelGuitarShopper.com for Steel Guitars, Strings, Instruction, Music and Accessories 
Forum Index
where steel players meet online
The Steel Guitar Forum

Post new topic The difference between playing lap slide and lap steel?
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  The difference between playing lap slide and lap steel?
Theo Patterson


From:
Oregon, USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 12:26 pm     Reply with quote

Is it method or style? I feel like there is a difference between lap slide and lap steel. I have a friend in a band that plays lap slide. To me it's the same as playing slide guitar, only in a different position. He uses a narrow bar, plays in open E, and never uses slants. I play lap steel. I use a bullet bar, play in a 7th tuning and use slants often.

While we both have the guitar in the same proximity (he actually stands to play), I feel like my style is closer to steel guitar(as in pedal steel) and his is closer to slide guitar (as in dobro). I even told somebody once that I didn't play slide, I played lap steel. Am I wrong? Are we all the same bird with different feathers? Is there a catagorical difference? Am I alone in this quandary?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Ron Whitfield


From:
Kaaawa, Hawaii, USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 12:45 pm     I agree, big difference Reply with quote

If he's playing the Dobro lap style but ala bottle neck slide, then it's not steel guitar, no matter how much it resembles it.
Both are fine, musically, but not the same.

Steel playing should de-emphasize the overt sliding sound and make the slides a major part of the emotive feeling instead of simply whizzing around on the neck.
_________________
"There are a lot of players that can't play any better than you, Ron, but they think they can." Jerry Byrd, during one of my lessons.
State Trooper to the country boy he pulled over - 'got any ID'? The driver - 'about what'?
Coming to Hawaii? - http://hwnsge.5u.com - www.kualoaranch.com
For inspiration - www.rothoriginals.com - www.jerrybyrd-fanclub.com
How to get the most out of your steel, and yourself as you learn - http://scottysmusic.com/byrd.htm
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Edward Meisse


From:
Santa Rosa, California, USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 1:19 pm     I didn't think so before..... Reply with quote

But you talked me into it, Ron. You're quite correct.
_________________
Amor vincit omnia
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jim Konrad


From:
The Great Black Swamp USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 1:50 pm     Reply with quote

I think it's all "Hawaiian" style anyway, Do slants make ones playing a style? I don't think so....
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Edward Meisse


From:
Santa Rosa, California, USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 5:52 pm     Reply with quote

I don't think that Ron was talking about whether or not someone uses slants. Though I can tell the difference between the styles of Don Helms and Jerry Byrd by the fact that Byrd uses many and Helms almost none. Rather, I thought he was talking about the difference between the bottleneck style of play that emphasises the glissando effect of whatever type of slide one may be using in whatever position one may be playing as opposed to what he called the Hawaiian style that uses that effect much more judiciously. There is certainly a significant difference here, a whole different feeling and effect. Whether or not one wants to call the distinction a style is, I suppose, a matter of individual choice. But I don't think that the very real difference in approach can be denied.
_________________
Amor vincit omnia
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Theo Patterson


From:
Oregon, USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 8:24 pm     Reply with quote

So then, should one be termed "Slide Guitar" because of the emphatic use of glissando, regardless of using a steel bar or bottle neck type slide?

When people ask me about the instrument I'm playing, I tell them it's a lap steel guitar,I play it in my lap, I use a steelbar to play it, and it's a guitar. Then I get accused of playing Hawaiian music, so I tell them it's a Hawaiian guitar.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Edward Meisse


From:
Santa Rosa, California, USA
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 8:40 pm     Reply with quote

Oh, I get it, now. I think I may have been discussing the wrong question here. Yes, I would call it a steel guitar no matter what style I was playing. Because traditionally a guitar held flat on the lap and played with a slide has been called a steel guitar. The original slides were made of metal (not necessarily steel). It is just as legitimate to call it a slide guitar, however. These days tone bars (aka slides) are made of glass, plastic and who knows what all else.
All kinds of music has been made on these instruments. But they were invented in Hawaii by a Hawaiian boy. And the music originally played on them was Hawaiian music. In the early days they were known as Hawaiian steel guitars.
I'm in the habit of having prolonged discussions with anyone who expresses an interest in the instrument. They generally get everything that you just got and alot more to boot. Very Happy
_________________
Amor vincit omnia
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angels, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 8:53 pm     Reply with quote

For me, slide guitar means playing a guitar vertically with a finger slide. Steel guitar is playing horizontally with a steel, either a grooved bar or a bullet bar, with or without slants. Any tuning can be used for either method. It's possible to play horizontally with either kind of bar in a slide guitar style. The Black Ace played country blues on a square-neck National tricone with a round bar. To me he played steel guitar in a slide guitar style. Freddy Roulette plays lap steel blues and R&B. He has a very slide guitar style, but also uses a more complicated tuning and some slants. What would that be?

These terms are all very loose, and I don't think we can impose strict definitions on them. And if we could, it might not be such a good thing. I play an S12 E9/B6 universal pedal steel, sometimes with a bullet bar, and sometimes with a grooved bar. I play in a blues band and use a lot of slide guitar licks in the E9 tuning, and use pedals and levers. But in something like Stormy Monday, I will also slip into the B6 tuning and use some jazz chords. I am fighting against the mentality of thinking "slide guitar" or "steel guitar," because when you do that you tend to lock yourself into slavishly copying previous slide guitar and steel guitar players. I think it will be much more interesting, and gain more respect from other musicians and fans if we play whatever makes interesting music, using both slide and steel styles, and maybe something in between that is new. Our instrument is way too stereotyped in the public mind. Copying the styles of the past will keep it that way. Blending them in new styles will take the instrument into the future.
_________________
CD, Blues for Sale, with Philadelphia Blues Messengers, featuring blues-jazz on a uni with Seymour Duncan Twin Tube distortion; downloads available at digstation.com, CD available at CD Baby (click here), or email me for direct sell.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 6 Dec 2008 9:11 pm     Reply with quote

Slide/bottleneck guitar is usually played without a nut riser so that you can finger the bass strings. Most bottleneck work is done on the higher strings, high up the fingerboard, where the strings are less likely to rattle with low action.
Once you raise the strings above the fingerboard to the extent that the instrument cannot be played with the fingers it becomes a steel guitar no matter what technique you use.
I've always played a lot of blues, but I've never thought much of bottleneck playing. It's very restricted and gets very "samey" after a while, and the playing position is downright awkward. Shocked

David Doggett wrote:
For me, slide guitar means playing a guitar vertically with a finger slide. Steel guitar is playing horizontally with a steel, either a grooved bar or a bullet bar, with or without slants. Any tuning can be used for either method. It's possible to play horizontally with either kind of bar in a slide guitar style....

Everything Dave says always makes a lot of sense to me. I agree entirely. Cool
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Josh Cho


From:
New York, NY (orig. Honolulu, HI)
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 2:10 am     Reply with quote

Theo,

Your post is such a great question because IMO it would seem like a fairly obvious answer: either you sit down or you don't; the strings are either horizontal or not; you use a bar with a hole in it or a solid piece...

however, reading the other posts here one gets the impression that the answer is that what we do is both a method of playing and a style.

Some Nashville pickers out there can make their Telecasters sound just like pedal steels, they're playing the "style", not the method

And then there are those that play their lap steels like regular guitars, even using flatpicks and exclusively single note lines, like David Gilmour from Pink Floyd.

Then there's a guy like Junior Brown...well he invented a new instrument...but the lines can really get blurry when you think about this questions enuf.

owww, my brain hurts.....I think I'll get more coffee...thanks Theo, great food for thought and great discussion

Josh
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 7:49 am     Reply with quote

I think lap slide is sort of a "layman's term" that is applied to what we call lap steel.

I have played in groups with some veteran musicians who are not, or never have been steel players of any kind, and they use the term lap slide.

It's one of those things where they don't "speak the language" per se, and somewhere along the line they have gleaned on to that term.

As far as the device that you hold in your left hand, I have always called it either a steel or a bar, and to me a slide is something that you put on a finger to play bottleneck style. But i have seen internet store sites where the bar or steel is referred to as a slide.
_________________
Mark
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Bob Simons


From:
Kansas City, Mo, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 8:39 am     Reply with quote

As a former "bottleneck" style blues player- both acoustic and electric- let me say that when I took up both lap and pedal steeI I found them to be a very different thing all together. Even though I adapted some slide guitar arrangements, the physical and conceptual technique of steel guitar is really a different realm with some overlapping capabilities with the music of slide players.

What difference this distinction makes, however, is beyond me except as it is useful in advertising for a new gig. There is already too much compartmentalization in steel guitar with two necks supposedly segregated into different styles. (THat's why I play a U-12) Come to think of it, this whole conversation is a somewhat about segregation. (Can't say I've ever seen a sacred steel player in St. Louis, and I get the feeling people there sort of look askance at them for daring to use a steel guitar for something besides "Johnny Bush" songs.)
_________________
Zumsteel U12 8-5, MSA M3 U12 9-6, MSA SS 10-string, 1933 National Resonophonic, Webb 614e, Fender Steel King, Twin, Peavey 112, Mesa Boogie T-Verb.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Randy Reeves


From:
LaCrosse, Wisconsin, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 8:58 am     Reply with quote

while reading this interesting thread the middle child in me was speaking in the back of my mind.
it was telling me:
nylon strings on the guitar = not steel guitar.
steel (metal) strings on the guitar = steel guitar.
slide in one hand while playing = slide guitar.
metal strings and slide = steel slide guitar .
using pedals and levers, metal strings and slide = pedal steel guitar.
steel guitar, short scale, raised nut, played with slide, traditionally played while on the lap = lap steel guitar.

my typical style of blues on lap steel has me playing single notes up and down the fretboard. rarer are slants. more common are double stops.
when I switch genres I find comfort with chords and slants. lap steel lends itself to certain styles as does, lets say, a banjo, an accordian or bassoon.
if you slant and I single note are we not both lap steel players? yeah, we are.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Lynn Oliver


From:
Redmond, Washington USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 9:33 am     Reply with quote

I would just stick to the standard definitions. If it is played with a steel, it's steel guitar; with a slide, slide guitar. If neither, it's just a guitar.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Ray Langley


From:
Northern California, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 9:50 am     Reply with quote

Bob Brozman calls his 2-DVD set, "Slide Guitar for Blues: Lap Style". On the cover, he is playing a Weissenborn while using thumb and finger picks, and using a bullet nosed bar.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 12:25 pm     Can we clear this up? Reply with quote

Randy, don't listen to that child, man!
Steel strings on a guitar doesn't make it a "Steel Guitar".
That'll be a steel-strung guitar.

"Lap Slide Guitar" is basically a handy term that folks unfamiliar with the correct terminology may find easier to relate to, the concept of "Slide Guitar" being a lot more well-known.

If you say the words "Steel Guitar" to Joe Public he may think you mean a metal-bodied resonator guitar, whether it's played as a regular guitar, slide/bottleneck, or what would be called a "Dobro".
( "Dobro" has come to mean any brand of resonator played "Steel Guitar Style" predominantly for Bluegrass music. )

"Lap-Style" now more often refers to the "2-handed overhand tapping" method of playing, which doesn't involve a slide or steel/bar at all, though "Steel Guitar" is often called "Lap-Style Slide Guitar" for easy marketing purposes.

"Slide Guitar" is played using a tubular slide over a finger, with the guitar "regular-way-up", notes are still fretted.

In the term "Lap Steel Guitar" the word "Lap" is superfluous, unlike in the term "Lap Slide Guitar"

If it's played "overhand"/flat with a steel then surely it's Steel Guitar, irrespective of the genre of music or style of playing.
If I choose to take a flatpick and play some Death Metal on a Steel Guitar, it's still a Steel Guitar. ( No matter how much of an anathema this may be to the purists! )
If I play bluesy rags on a Weissenborn it's still a Steel Guitar.

It's also fine to call it a "Hawaiian Guitar" even if you're not playing Hawaiian Music, as the "flat guitar played with a bar" method was made popular by the Hawaiians.

Ron Whitfield wrote:
Steel playing should de-emphasize the overt sliding sound and make the slides a major part of the emotive feeling instead of simply whizzing around on the neck.


Ron, I love your playing & respect your opinion, but I find this scentence contradictory & derogative.
You're apparently saying that to "qualify" as Steel Guitar one must simultaneously de-emphasise the sliding and also make it a major part... (?)
You also seem to be dismissing any playing in a style or genre not to your liking as "simply whizzing around". Shocked
Why be so devisive about this?

I'd think that even it you're playing with a hollow tubular glass or metal bar, in any style, if it's flat/"overhand" with no fretting of the strings it's "Steel Guitar".
"Lap Slide Guitar" is, as Mark says, just a layman's term and doesn't imply any distinction of style or genre.

It's handy to have lables for things, but not at the expense of alienating fellow Steel Guitarists who don't sound a certain way, right? Cool


Last edited by Chris Drew on 7 Dec 2008 2:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jim Konrad


From:
The Great Black Swamp USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 12:25 pm     Reply with quote

I start the breakdown at "Spanish" or "Hawaiian" style and go from there, they are two different approaches.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Theo Patterson


From:
Oregon, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 1:57 pm     Reply with quote

I'm not trying to alienate anybody. We're all in this boat together. Many of us play the same type of instruments, using a bar (or slide) over raised steel strings. To most of my listeners/fans, I use the visual definition I referred to earlier (in my lap - using a steel - and it's a guitar - lap steel guitar) but to fellow musicians and some fans, I tend to want to be more precise with my defintion giving hints to my style.

The friend I was referring plays an old Mangatone lap steel that he calls 'slide'. On it, he plays mainly blues with a ton of glissando and rarely, if ever any single notes. He's pretty good at what he does. While watching him play one day, I mentioned to a fellow listener that I played lap steel, but not that way, meaning that I played the same kind of instrument, but in an entirely different manner, more like you would hear from a steel guitar. I could imagine him thinking of me playing country music, PSG style, but in reality I play stuff like the Beatles, Dylan,Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Muddy Waters, Sunny Boy Willaimson ,and Elvis Costello to mention a few. I didn't want to confuse or mislead the person but wanted him to know that there is a difference. That he should not expect to hear what he is hearing to come from me when I play. In reality, it probably made no difference to him. As far as I know everything I said went in one ear and out the other.

I like what Dave said about "playing steel guitar in slide guitar style". This makes sense to other musicians but to non-music folks it's like saying the same thing twice. I guess I could say I'm playing lap steel, steel guitar style (as opposed to slide style), but even that does not seem definitive enough. Maybe it's best to just smile and move on to the next song.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Chris Scruggs


From:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 2:04 pm     Reply with quote

If you play a guitar on your lap or on a stand with the strings facing up towards you, it is a steel guitar.

If you play a standard guitar with a tubular object on one of your fingers you are playing a slide guitar.

A steel guitar is NEVER a slide guitar. If I were in a situation where I was playing a blues song on my steel, I would probably end up playing some parts that sound like a slide guitar, but even if a were to play a Robert Johnson solo note for note, I am still playing it on a steel guitar.

For instance, when Kayton Roberts or Billy Robinson pull strings behind their bars to get a pedal sound, they aren't playing pedal steel. Or when Paul McCartney makes his electric bass sound like a Tuba on "When I'm Sixty-Four", he's still playing a bass guitar.

It goes beyond playing style. They are two separate instruments deserving of their own names no matter what style they are being used to play. The instrument stays the same, it is the player who makes the difference in style.

Very often people come up to me and say things like,"You're slide sounds great!" I always politely say,"Thank you very much, it's called a steel guitar". Many people just don't know. That's not their fault, but if steel guitarists don't tell them, who else will?

The only thing that annoys me more than somebody calling my steel a "slide" is when they call it a "keyboard"!

Chris
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 2:58 pm     Reply with quote

I enjoy playing "bottleneck" guitar. But I'm always foolin' around with different things. I do many slants, and fret in front of and behind my slide. It's fun to throw in an Hawaiian song in the middle of a bunch of blues tunes! I also play "Misty" in jazz chord melody style. I have a new student who called me strictly because I wasn't stuck in just a blues mode all the time. Bottleneck is a fun break from my Kline. I get to stand up and walk around a bit.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 4:32 pm     Reply with quote

Randy Reeves wrote:
...nylon strings on the guitar = not steel guitar...

So what would you call an Hawaiian guitar with nylon strings ? I have a classical guitar with a nut riser and raised bridge and the tuners turned inside out, and I use it quite a lot. It has a different sound, which doesn't work for everything. But you play it with a steel, and isn't the steel guitar named after the tone bar rather than the strings ? Otherwise if you put brass strings on it would become a brass guitar. Very Happy Shocked
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 5:03 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Konrad wrote:
I think it's all "Hawaiian" style anyway, Do slants make ones playing a style? I don't think so....

Don Helms rarely if ever used slants, for example.

A lap steel is a horizontal instrument. Slide guitar is not an instrument, it's a style of playing for standard guitar. You can emulate the slide guitar style on a lap steel. I guess you could call that "lap slide", but it's not a term that I've heard much.
_________________
Bobby Lee, a.k.a. -b0b- (SGF Admin) ♪ "Music is not so fragile that knowledge breaks it." -Gerbergler ♪
Rice & Bean on Sierra Laptop ♪ Wine Country Swing on Desert Rose S-8 ♪ Carter D-10 ♪ Stella
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ron Whitfield


From:
Kaaawa, Hawaii, USA
Post Posted 7 Dec 2008 5:27 pm     Re: Can we clear this up? Reply with quote

I was going to stay out of this after my initial post, as obviously eveyone has their own greatly varying opinions, and it'll probably never be settled.
But since I've been called out...

Chris Drew wrote:
Ron, I love your playing
Unless you've been to Waikiki this year and caught me playing at the beach, you've not heard my playing. Must be someone else.
Count yourself fortunate!

I find this scentence contradictory & derogative.
You're apparently saying that to "qualify" as Steel Guitar one must simultaneously de-emphasise the sliding and also make it a major part... (?)
Yes. It shouldn't be too hard to understand, but my explaining it may not suffice.
You also seem to be dismissing any playing in a style or genre not to your liking as "simply whizzing around". Shocked
Why be so devisive about this?
While my words weren't a direct quote, the overall is how it was explained and taught to me by Jerry Byrd, a steel guitar purist.
And it's good enuf for me.

As far as being dismissive and/or devisive, reread my post.
I have enuf room in my world for 'almost' any and all kinds of steel/music.
I love good slide guitar however it's played or played on. But we've all also heard a lot of immature steel/slide, these last few years especially. That is were I make the final divide.


Friday night, I was fortunate to catch some superb steel guitar in a Hawaiian context, backing up a slack key artist. Next came a full and mature 'rock' band, with which the steeler stayed on, and married steel with burning slide style.
The difference was drastic and even tho the lines between the two were blurred, there was still enuf difference between the styles to know when it was seperately applied, often within the same measure.

Bottom line, nice discussion, but it'll never be a happy ending that everyone can agree on.
_________________
"There are a lot of players that can't play any better than you, Ron, but they think they can." Jerry Byrd, during one of my lessons.
State Trooper to the country boy he pulled over - 'got any ID'? The driver - 'about what'?
Coming to Hawaii? - http://hwnsge.5u.com - www.kualoaranch.com
For inspiration - www.rothoriginals.com - www.jerrybyrd-fanclub.com
How to get the most out of your steel, and yourself as you learn - http://scottysmusic.com/byrd.htm
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Chris Drew


From:
Bristol, UK
Post Posted 8 Dec 2008 12:08 am     Reply with quote

Oops, sorry Ron!
I thought you'd posted some mp3s before... I was wrong & did indeed think you were someone else! Laughing
It's been a long weekend! Oh Well
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Randy Reeves


From:
LaCrosse, Wisconsin, USA
Post Posted 8 Dec 2008 4:44 am     Reply with quote

Alan Brookes wrote:
Randy Reeves wrote:
...nylon strings on the guitar = not steel guitar...

So what would you call an Hawaiian guitar with nylon strings ? I have a classical guitar with a nut riser and raised bridge and the tuners turned inside out, and I use it quite a lot. It has a different sound, which doesn't work for everything. But you play it with a steel, and isn't the steel guitar named after the tone bar rather than the strings ? Otherwise if you put brass strings on it would become a brass guitar. Very Happy Shocked


I call a raised nut acoustic guitar an acoustic slide guitar. brass is metal so it remains steel guitar.
terminology is for discussion. I prefer to play my guitar and keep my mouth closed, because my words can bite my backside too often. Smile
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  

Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction,
steel guitars & accessories

www.SteelGuitarShopper.com

Steel Guitar Music
Instrumental steel guitar CDs for your permanent collection
www.SteelGuitarMusic.com

Jewelry by Mom
beautiful one-of-a-kind
pieces handmade by
Mrs. Lee in California

JewelryByMom.com

Please review our Forum Rules and Policies

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 South Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Support This Forum


Batman 4 Sale
Batman & Robin collectibles
Toys, comics & cool stuff

www.batman4sale.biz
HTTP