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Author Topic:  Anyone Given Up The Pedal Steel to Focus on Dobro??
Jim Fogarty


From:
Phila, Pa, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2019 7:33 pm    
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Have any of you given up the pedal steel to focus on the reso??

I'm a longtime pro guitarist, who's been trying to add pedal steel to the repertoire for as couple years now. It's just not happening for me. I've never had such a tough time with any other instrument (and I play a bunch).

Part of the issue is getting the motivation to haul it out and set it up on gigs and only play a couple songs........poorly! I gig so much that having something that's strictly basement level for me is pretty uninspiring.

Dobro, OTOH, seems to fall pretty easily under my fingers. Not that I'm very good at it......but I think i could possibly be, with work. PSG, I'm not so sure.

So, just looking to see if any of you have had similar issues??

Maybe I just need a break?
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Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2019 1:08 am    
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Greg Booth did just that, however Greg was a great pedal guy, in his interview he stated he just loved the sound of the Dobro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzaWakuNZow&t=435s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJd4vO8jkyE
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2019 10:08 am    
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Would putting the D-10 in the closet for most of two decades to concentrate on playing a 1929 tri-cone count? If so, count me in.

As for the hassle of hauling a pedal rig around and putting it up and tearing it down to play one or two tunes? Nah -- I wouldn't do it, at least not anymore. I'd carry a lap steel instead.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2019 1:35 pm     Re: Anyone Given Up The Pedal Steel to Focus on Dobro??
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Jim Fogarty wrote:
getting the motivation to haul it out and set it up on gigs and only play a couple songs........poorly!


I know it is a hard instrument. Mine is always setup and I go to it often.

Have not gone to Dobro but am looking to get into lap steel.

Franklin has released his lesson plan and there's a free Test Drive enroll ongoing. I signed up for the Test Drive.
Viewed a few and Paul has insight that I would not arrive at all of a sudden by myself.

Of course, he's PF...

Hoping to unlock the secrets of psg eventually. Didn't think it was going to be easy at all but willing to see what it is about.

Before I got a psg I took lessons from Blackie Taylor, Gene Fields' long time friend.

But as the saying goes; nothing ventured nothing gained.

As a guitarist I had to have a trem bar so psg is the next level.

Like you I play other instruments but was always enamored with steel. Can't learn it without one.
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Greg Gefell


From:
Farmington, NY
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2019 5:24 pm    
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I have given up the pedal steel for months at a time while focusing entirely on dobro, but I have found that it is in my musical best interests to use the instrument that best suits the song and arrangement. I have both set up and ready to go at a gig. It's a nice change up to switch back and forth as well as they must be played in a completely different manner.

I hated the setup and tear down of the pedal steel so I stopped doing it! I have a lightweight ZUM encore that I just lay down in the back of my hatchback. Pop it over one shoulder and carry it in/out of the gig. Just keep a towel in the car for a rainy day cover. Works for me.
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Daniel McKee


From:
Corinth Mississippi
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2019 6:54 pm    
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A bit off topic but for the last 7-8 months I've primarily went non pedal. No particular reason but I will say this, in these last few months I've learned a lot of stuff I just didn't see when playing pedal steel. Switching to dobro or lap steel may be a great experiment to try some new stuff and maybe even learn and see things you wouldn't have before. I recommend trying such a thing. I do have a dobro I may include in my non pedal ventures.
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gary pierce


From:
Rossville TN
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2019 6:59 pm    
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No, but I gave up banjo for dobro. lol
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2019 10:26 am    
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Yup.
Partially because I'd lost the drive to practice for hours every day, after a couple of thousand hours on the pedal steel, and wasn't where I wanted to be or progressing any more. And even with light steel (Williams) and amp (Milkman Half and Half) it was still a load to carry. Doing simple kinds of stuff actually is easier to master on a pedal steel - those pedals just take you to exactly the right place - once you get them internalized - but once you grok fretless, moving to a different kind is OK...
I'd also started using dobro (Beard Road-o-phonic, for no feedback in loud band) on some tunes, so was carrying both...it was a "Duh" moment to just stop carrying the pedal steel..and dobro isn't as limited any more to genre- I'm now playing my tricone in a gypsy jazz band!
And I suspect that GBDGBD has plenty of mystery for me to unlock (e.g., used to hate slants, but now both forward and reverse slants open a whole world), but that in my remaining years on the planet I might be able to, if not master it, at least understand it and be mostly competent. (And not every genre requires lightning-fast rolls)...Plus now I won't have a sore back from hoisting the steel into the car at the wrong angle..
And I now added a Weissenborn and Asher Ben Harper lap steel - same tuning on all - just different tone and slightly modified style. So I have plenty of options...with no learning barrier or weight to carry, just bring the one with the tone that the music calls for...
Oh yeah, I also ditched the banjos I'd been mostly using only for recording...simplify and focus is my new theme....
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Brian McGaughey


From:
Seattle, WA USA
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2019 8:04 am    
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My Franklin hasn’t been out is it’s case for a couple years. Several reasons I suppose. The main one is that the pleasure it used to bring me to set up and play is now “outweighed” (pun intended) by the weight and hassle of the equipment needed to properly play and amplify the thing. Also, at the risk of offending those who do play PSG, when I attend the local jam, everyone sounds the same! Generally.

The shortcomings of a squareneck dobro tuned open G is what keeps my interest up in the thing. Figuring work arounds for these shortcomings and arranging songs is what I love to do. I work to digest the styles of those I enjoy but also to play with my own voice.

The way I look at it, any time spent practicing on any other instrument is time taking away from getting better on dobro.

I figure I wouldn’t have got here without PSG.

I do spend a little time on lap steel, and the few times I’m called on to play it, I can do it well enough to keep my head held high.

Dobro is where it’s at! Slow and tender, rollin’ and raucous, single note melodies, slants or linear straight bar approach. It has a haunting vocal sound that I love. Five years ago I couldn’t imagine ever breaking up with PSG, but never say never and follow your muse I guess.
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Brad Davis


From:
Texas, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2019 8:23 am    
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I came from Dobro and Bluegrass initially and then got into lap steel or console steel, which I would think would be a good compromise when PSG is just too much. Although once I bought a couple of high end vintage console steels I found it harder to go back to ordinary lap steel (difference in tone and sustain), so I still basically need to leave a console setup most of the time or I wouldn't bother playing it much. And for gigging it's still quite heavy and quite the production, yadda yadda.

Anyway, the dobro is a beautiful instrument and presents its own challenges. Similar for Weissenborn. Playing gigs its a whole 'nother affair trying to amplify dobro though, but these days we finally have reasonable solutions to the problem.
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Paul Honeycutt


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jan 2019 4:38 pm    
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No. I gave up the Dobro to focus on the electric lap steel.
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Richard Alderson


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jan 2019 1:36 pm    
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I did the opposite, I started with dobro, then I got a lap steel, then I got an 8 string c6, then I got a guitar with 4 pedals, and finally for the last 8 years I have had a full 10 string rig. I think with any steel/slide instrument you HAVE to find an open tuning that works for you, whether its dobro, or lap steel or whatever. A tuning that just "clicks" somehow and is intrinsically attractive to your ears. I didn't like standard dobro tunings, and I preferred bottleneck tunings, those were the ones that worked for me. These days in my case the E9 set up simplifies everything and makes so many pleasurable open tunings available, so E9th is where I have come to rest. I find its much easier to play E9 with a bunch of pedals than it is to play the 8 string c6th lap steel straight up. 8 string no pedals is the hardest instrument that I ever tried.

However, I would not want to haul around my pedal steel and my effects, and cords and what not, just for a couple of solos. That's about 25 minutes of set up for 5 minutes of music. Prometheus only rolled the rock up the hill for all of eternity because he was condemned to do it, not because he wanted to.
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 19 Jan 2019 7:25 pm    
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In no uncertain order. I gave up trumpet in middle school to focus on guitar. Many years pass. Then I give up guitar (well, you never give up guitar once you've played for 50 years. You just give up practicing) for a national steel bottle neck. Then I gave up the National steel for dobro. Then I gave up the dobro for lap steel. Then I gave up the lop steel for pedal steel. At this point I gave up everything for the Uilleann Pipe.

I gave up the Uilleann Pipe for dobro again. Then in my 50's I gave up everything and went back to trumpet for 5 years, eventually playing flugelhorn in small combo in manhattan.

Then I went back to dobro. Then I gave up dobro for lap steel and finally I gave up lap steel for eharp.

I think I'm done now.
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Tony Palmer


From:
Big Pine Key, FL
Post  Posted 21 Jan 2019 5:33 am    
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Living in the Florida Keys I play exclusively dobro and never had so many gigs in my life!
Love my steel but it stays in the music room for jams and recording.
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Jim Pitman


From:
Waterbury Ctr. VT 05677 USA
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2019 2:16 pm    
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I'm gonna use Dobro and Resophonic interchangeably here. (I have a Dobro and non Dobro brand instruments)
I started on Dobro in 1973 but acquired a PSG 7 years later. But lately, after scoring a well toned Resophonic, I've fallen back in love with the simplicity and tone. It's been inspiring enough I've composed a few tunes and am thinking of making an instrumental album with it. I play both out though and will focus one one or the other depending on the band I'm with. Nuttin beats a Dobro in a purely acoustic band for me, but some of the performers I'm with are very electric and the PSG can be more versatile and less physical work in those situations.
IMO some of the beautiful Dobro overtones get masked by other instruments, basically drums and electric bass to be specific. I've never embraced electrifying the Dobro and probably never will.
If I can make it, I'll be playing Resophonic in the non-pedal ropom at the Dallas PSG. I think I have more to offer and stand out of the crowd more on the Dobro then the PSG in fact due to my early wood-sheding, playing three or four nights a week in the late 70s and early 80s.
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Stephen Cowell


From:
Round Rock, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2019 4:27 pm    
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Jim Pitman wrote:
...
If I can make it, I'll be playing Resophonic in the non-pedal ropom at the Dallas PSG. I think I have more to offer and stand out of the crowd more on the Dobro then the PSG in fact due to my early wood-sheding, playing three or four nights a week in the late 70s and early 80s.


Hope to see you there Jim!
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Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2019 6:59 am    
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As I remember, Jerry Douglas gave up on pedal steel explorations as he said he felt it was negatively affecting his Reso technique.
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Brian McGaughey


From:
Seattle, WA USA
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2019 7:45 am    
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Mark van Allen wrote:
As I remember, Jerry Douglas gave up on pedal steel explorations as he said he felt it was negatively affecting his Reso technique.


The only thing they have in common with regard to technique and approach is that they’re both played with a steel bar, and even that’s different. I can understand him saying that.
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 1 Feb 2019 7:50 am    
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specifically it was making his thumb weaker.
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Greg Booth


From:
Anchorage, AK, USA
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2019 6:47 pm    
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I see that I was mentioned in this discussion, so I'll add my 2 cents. I do play more dobro now than steel, but haven't given it up and still enjoy playing PSG and play the occasional gig too. I'm not alone in the feeling that after learning how to play dobro my steel playing has improved, and that my steel background has definitely informed my dobro playing. The point of this being that I believe that every instrument that you become proficient on yields benefits to all your playing, unlike the often cited comments by Jerry Douglas on his decision to stop playing pedal steel. Of course the mechanics and feel are very different and time is limited, but if the inspiration and drive is there I say play on.
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Jim Fogarty


From:
Phila, Pa, USA
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2019 7:04 pm    
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Greg Booth wrote:
I see that I was mentioned in this discussion, so I'll add my 2 cents. I do play more dobro now than steel, but haven't given it up and still enjoy playing PSG and play the occasional gig too. I'm not alone in the feeling that after learning how to play dobro my steel playing has improved, and that my steel background has definitely informed my dobro playing. The point of this being that I believe that every instrument that you become proficient on yields benefits to all your playing, unlike the often cited comments by Jerry Douglas on his decision to stop playing pedal steel. Of course the mechanics and feel are very different and time is limited, but if the inspiration and drive is there I say play on.


Thanks Greg........

I generally agree, and I don't plan on throwing away my PSG.

But for me, since I make my living on guitar, bass and mando, it's not dobro vs steel.........it's guitar/mando/bass/dobro vs guitar/mando/bass/pedal steel.

Right now, at least, the dobro is more doable.
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Jim Fogarty


From:
Phila, Pa, USA
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 9:50 pm    
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So, a month later........I'm more convinced of this than ever. In fact, I'm kind of feeling annoyed with myself for the last couple years I wasted ( I know, I know....none of it is a waste) on PSG, when I could've been MUCH further along on the dobro.

Getting ready to do a tour next month with Iain Matthews (Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort, etc) and he's asked me to play some dobro, so I'm shedding like crazy so I won't embarrass myself.

Here's where I got to, by last week. I'm already much further along now that I figured out wearing a strap and playing it on my lap is a lot more stable.

Wish me luck!

https://www.facebook.com/jimfog/videos/10217054633493452/
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Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 11:14 pm    
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Jim, I checked out your video and it looks to me like you might have the body of the guitar resting across both legs, so that the neck is moving up and down in somewhat of a “teeter totter” motion as you apply bar pressure with your left hand. You might want to have the neck of the guitar resting across your left leg, it gives you much better stability.

A tour next month with Iain Matthews - now that’s pretty cool!
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Jim Fogarty


From:
Phila, Pa, USA
Post  Posted 9 Mar 2019 11:19 pm    
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Mark Eaton wrote:
Jim, I checked out your video and it looks to me like you might have the body of the guitar resting across both legs, so that neck is moving up and down in sort of a “teeter totter “ motion as you apply bar pressure with your left hand. You might want to have the neck of the guitar resting across your left leg, it gives you much better stability.

A tour next month with Iain Matthews - now that’s pretty cool!


Thanks. That’s what I meant when I mentioned using a strap and having it on my lap. I’m doing that now. It’s on a stool in that video.

Yeah, I’ve worked with Iain on and off for @25 years now. I usually tour with him when he plays the east coast, and we’ve made a couple albums together. I usually play guitar and mando with him, so adding dobro should be an adventure!
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Skip Ellis


From:
Bradenton, Fl USA
Post  Posted 13 Mar 2019 2:45 pm    
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I'm in the process of doing that very thing. I recently sold my (probably last) pedal steel as there's just no work in my area and I'm not a 'bedroom' player - If I'm not gigging, I'm not playing. Plus, my 74 year old back is complaining about the weight so, after 40+ years, it's time to give it up. I've been getting more into acoustic music these days and playing with folks who like a lot of different stuff. I'm not a diehard 'grasser' but like some of it, even the more 'folky' things, plus Doc, Merle, Eddie Pennington, Moon Mullins, and some nice tunes like "Lonesome Moonlight Waltz", McHattie's Waltz, etc., so I'm gonna find me a reso and see what I can do with it. I have a friend who's been playing for 60+ years and he's offered to show me the ropes. Looking forward to something new.
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