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Post new topic I need a crash course! Please help :)
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Author Topic:  I need a crash course! Please help :)
Mark McCay-Moran

Lake Tahoe
Post Posted 23 Apr 2017 2:08 pm     Reply with quote

Hey fellow Steelers! In full disclosure I am a rank amateur at the PSG, but I've already begun developing a loving relationship with this Beautiful, haunting, complex contraption we call the steel guitar.

My predicament: after finally acquiring a pedal steel six weeks ago(seems like eons, seems like days), i've managed to land myself in a pro country outfit looking to gig shortly. I play pro level mandolin, guitar, dobro and I've spent a fair amount of time on the lap steel. I hold my own on those, but I need a way to jump in there on some tunes in a semi-competent manner on the psg.

I've scoured the archives and Google searched YouTube videos of a lot of material and have been absorbing it so fast that I'm losing material if I can't reinforce a lick or phrase shortly after learning. Based on this amazing resource (steel guitar forum) and reading previous posts of forum members, I'm hoping I can relay my strategy here and get some support on learning material etc.

So please, feel free to post or describe any suggestions! Greatly appreciated Smile

Strategy at this point…

I'm feeling that to work through set coursework, like a Jeff Newman program, might be better taken on a year from now, and instead develop a fundamental backbone of licks phrases, intros, outros , etc. that have a legitimate feel while I can delve deeper into the instrument.

I've got decent pick, and palm blocking technique from work on the lap steel, but I tend to lean towards Bluegrass-like rolls with right hand technique, and I sorely miss the open strings of my dobro. Not a lotta folks calling the key of F sharp Wink i'm feeling pretty dang comfortable with the A and B pedals, and also some with the BC pedals, and love those 1 to 4 and 5 to 1 turnarounds Smile need to work on clean single string technique. Among other things…

Unfortunately until I can do a bit of upgrading I'll be limited to 3+1 on my e9 10 string. My d lever drops 2nd from Db to D and 9th from D to C#. Running Day config on pedals, if that matters. I'd consider changing my lever (LKR) to raise e's (or drop e's maybe) if more flexible in learning material. Not getting much mileage on the 2nd and 9th strings right now.

I apologize for the length of the post, if you got this far, more power to you, and thank you!

Humbly willing to except the title of pedal steel guitar player, if you'll have me… Now I've got to get cracking!


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Dan Kimpel

Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Post Posted 24 Apr 2017 2:01 am     Reply with quote

I would certainly change the knee lever. I'd probably do the E lower to Eb change, but E to F is useful too. I would try and either add a lever or get a guitar that has both E raise and lower as soon as you can, especially if you're going to be making some money with the thing. What kind of guitar do you have now?
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Mark McCay-Moran

Lake Tahoe
Post Posted 24 Apr 2017 9:09 am     Reply with quote

Hi Dan,
Yep, plan is to add 2 knee levers to guitar (both e raise and e lower). Leaning towards the e to f on LKR since I'm using Day pedals and most of the tabbed changes i've seen use in conjunction with A pedal.

My guitar is a mid 70's Rus-Ler (thanks Fred Justice!). Student model, tho built like a tank. I've been pleased with it though don't have anything to compare it to. May do some work on it and trade up in the future.
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George Duncan Sypert

Colo Spgs, Co, USA
Post Posted 24 Apr 2017 1:48 pm     Pedal Set up Reply with quote

I would suggest a change to the knee lever you have since you only have one. I would lower string 8 and string 2 a half. You can play a lot of steel guitar licks using that set up. Use lowering 8 with your A&B pedals. Use string two with A&B pedals-no knee lever. Lower two a half for some nice licks. Lower 9 when needed with the bar. Lower 4 when needed with the bar. Raise 4 and 8 with a bar slant, etc.

A lot of us started out learning on a lot less than you have on that guitar. Try it you might like it.

Good luck.

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Jim Kennedy

Brentwood California, USA
Post Posted 24 Apr 2017 2:00 pm     Reply with quote

Being an accomplished musician, you should not have problems doing basic fills and simple leads.Eiht 40 years of six string playing whe I started, I didn't and I didn't let a lack of experience keep me off the babdstand either. I would reccommend 3 souces that I have found quite helpful.

The Jeff Newman Up From The Top A and B pedals. I have a Shobud 3&2 Emmons setup, levers raise and lower E's. I guarantee you will get a lot of mileage out of mastering the use of just the A&B pedals.

Joe Wright has some pretty good beginning stuff on his web site that is free. The two things that helped me the most are his explanation of scales on the E9 neck, and some of his approaches to comping.

Tom Bradshaw's Chord Construction Book, a free download from his web site. A very concise explanation on chord construction for E9.

IMHO, these will get you sounding ok pretty quickly. Mastery is another thing, so don't beat yourself up to much. Also, I would reccommend looking at everything you can find about right hand technique. That will make or break any player. Good lcuk
ShoBud Pro 1, 75 Tele, 85 Yamaha SA 2000, Fender Cybertwin,
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Jim Cohen

Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 24 Apr 2017 2:35 pm     Reply with quote

Here's my suggestion: since you need to be gig-ready as quickly as possible, you don't have time for a course in PSG 'from the ground up'. You need to prep the specific tunes for your sets that you'll be playing PSG on. I suggest you get with a pro player, bring your tunes and keys, recordings of the band (and your predecessor, if there was one) playing on them, and get coaching on how to play these tunes decently now (including any technique issues that you'll need to address in order to execute them cleanly). Have him/her help you write a solo, if you need to take one on a given tune, and then woodshed the heck out of playing that solo. You'll need the fundamentals to make up your own solos, but that's a ways down the road. In the meantime you'll be 'painting by numbers' but you'll just need to 'fake it till you make it'.

After you've gotten your tunes together for the gig, then you can worry about remedial education for all the steps you skipped over in your basic training. But hey, you got the gig, and you need to sound good now!
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Mark McCay-Moran

Lake Tahoe
Post Posted 24 Apr 2017 6:54 pm     Reply with quote

Super, thanks for the input guys!

I'm going to play with the 8th string lower rather than 9th and see how I like it. Possible I just move right onto the e string lowers or e string raises, may have to just try them... not sure what to expect since I'm a newbie.

Right now I'm not being asked to copy a franklin solo etc, just provide color, fills, backup work. I feel like I could pull off the handful of tunes I'm playing PSG on if I was gigging this weekend. However, I'm pretty self-critical and want my "fake job" to sound good. Luckily there's a fair amount of "tastefully laying out"-- at least that's how I'm viewing it Wink

The band is new and 1st booked gig is beginning of June, so there's time... don't need to rehearse my other parts, just PSG and vocals.

I'm currently looking for some pro help, tho that may be tricky... you know, beating off all the steel players that congregate on the street corners around here Wink I thinks its gonna be of the "fake it til you make it" variety.

If any of you can suggest "go to" licks that you use that could set me on the right path that would be awesome. I'm gonna keep pushing forward and focus on phrases that work with the songs I'm playing as a starting point for my vocabulary.

Thanks again! Peace, Mark
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Alan Judson

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 25 Apr 2017 7:07 am     Skype Reply with quote

You could ask John McClung about Skype Lessons.
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Bill Moore

Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 1 May 2017 3:56 pm     Reply with quote

If you wait to get proper instruction, you will probably develop some bad habits that, in the long term, will make it harder for you. I'd say, first get the Newman course "Pedal Steel Techniques". That will give you a good start. As far as playing gigs now, the simplest thing would be to learn some scales, single note and 2 note harmonized, and learn to transition between chords using those scales. it's a good foundation for learning pedal steel and you will be able to add the flavor of the steel to most songs. I'd also suggest that you also learn to be patient. The fact is, you won't be able to play well in a few weeks. Maybe not in a few years, maybe never. It depends on how much you really want to do it. Learn some basics, some proper technique and put in the practice time, that's what it takes.
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Mark McCay-Moran

Lake Tahoe
Post Posted 3 May 2017 3:51 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Bill! Duly noted and good advice. I had thought aboutbad "bad habits" piece, but am throwing caution to the wind due to the reality of my timeline.

It's interesting u mention scales,chords, AND transitions since it's the transition part that's giving me the most trouble. Mostly thru memorizing positions, I'm getting better at chordal padding and single line stuff but putting them together artfully is alluding me: my fills within chordal vamps are "static" and sound like sus 4ths or 2nds (if u follow) and scale runs seem to sound "interrupted" by held notes. Of course at this point I'm trying to improvise with a super small vocabulary. Any input appreciated.

I can't seems to get through most instructional material all the way to the end: but honestly I do the same thing is I sit with a piece on other instruments as well. Not that it isn't useful. The opposite: I've already seen huge improvement but taking material and branching off with my own licks and phrases. Just seeing and hearing ideas for left hand, right hand, pickblicking, mapping the neck etc etc will send me in a new direction for hours.

Patience? Haven't got time for that! Joking, yes understood that things take time Wink

If I were just trying to get up and running quickly as opposed to getting up and running quickly with commitments and booked gigs, I think I'd be doing things a bit differently.

Thanks again for the suggestions, peace
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