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Post new topic How Did You Get Started On The Pedal Steel?
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Author Topic:  How Did You Get Started On The Pedal Steel?
Matthew Begay

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 5:16 pm     Reply with quote

I'm just a kid from Albuquerque, NM & I fell in love with the sound of the steel guitar with George Strait's music. I liked it so much, I decided to learn it. The first thing I found out about steel guitars in general is that they are all expensive (and because I live in Albuquerque, there's definitely a lack of steel guitar shops). I'm paying my way through college and I have bills just like everyone else. After a year and a thousand visits to craigslist, I was finally able to purchase a BMI steel guitar secondhand for a little under $1000. I just got a new hilton pedal and a boss rv3 after saving for another 5 months. I just want to know how you guys started out.

Did you take out a loan?
Was the steel guitar that you own given to you?
Did you save up your money?

Thank you for your time.
BMI S-10 3 X 3, ZB Custom 4 X 8, MSA SuperSustain II, Peavey Nashville 1000, Hilton Pro VP, Boss RV-3
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George McLellan

Duluth, MN/Mesa, AZ USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 5:31 pm     Reply with quote

I started on a flat top six string guitar with a warped neck and a metal fret nut riser. That was 65 years ago. It was 1984 before I could buy my first pedal steel.

Don't be discouraged, a lot of us have been there too.

Last edited by George McLellan on 30 Dec 2016 6:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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gary pierce

Rossville TN
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 5:47 pm     Reply with quote

My keyboard player told me he'd had enough of my banjo playing.
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David Weisenthal

Arizona, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 7:14 pm     Reply with quote

I saw a country music special on tv that had Loretta Lynn on it a year-and-a-half ago, and bought one or two of her used albums at my favorite used record store. After hearing Hal Ruggs steel (who I'd never heard of) I was powerless to keep from buying one. I bought used from this forum. People here tend to sell good quality used stuff.
Derby SD10, Rukavina 8 string lap, Peavey session 400, Carvin xv-212

Last edited by David Weisenthal on 29 Dec 2016 7:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Greg Lambert

Illinois, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 7:20 pm     Reply with quote

About 40 years ago I was playing lead & Rythmn for a Gospel group. They wanted and needed a steel guitar so I bought a brand new Fender double neck for $700. Had to finance it back then.

I put the group through a lot of torture but finally learned enough as not to embarrass myself. lol Been Playing ever since.
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Dan Robinson

Colorado, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 9:33 pm     Reply with quote

I played guitar in a two-guitar band during my college years. The other guitar player and I shared an apartment and appreciation of the Allman Brothers Band, thus discovered the joy of moving harmonies. We took a lot of study breaks.

Country music and pedal steel followed naturally with the growth of the country-rock genre.

Gigs were plentiful and fun for nearly two decades. It was an incredibly fortuitous time to play live music.
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Pat Chong

New Mexico, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 9:49 pm     Reply with quote

I had an interest in playing steel for a long time (about 25 years). I tried lap steels, at first, but what I tried never had THAT sound. Recently, I have been writing music that had parts for pedal steel, and filled it in with the keyboard equivalent. It is not the same. So 3 years ago, I decided to save up/buy and play the real thing................

Learn on, my friend, it is quite a trip! Your 3 x 3 will keep you busy, and may have room for future expansion.
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Dan Robinson

Colorado, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 10:11 pm     Re: How Did You Get Started On The Pedal Steel? Reply with quote

Matthew Begay wrote:

Was the steel guitar that you own given to you?

My Dad gave me a new Sho-Bud S10 with 3 pedals and 2 knee levers for my 21st birthday. It brought me a lot of adventure. It was my only pedal steel until a couple of months ago. Love the one you're with, make your BMI sing, don't apologize, and don't wait until you are "READY." Take every opportunity, and learn to laugh when you screw up, there's no avoiding it.
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Bobby D. Jones

West Virginia, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 10:46 pm     How did you get started on Pedal Steel Reply with quote

About 1955 dad bought me a 6 string Arch top Harmony Guitar. He taught me to play Rhythm on it. He and 6 of his brothers that played music. Mostly Bluegrass. They had no bass player, When some of them got together to play they only wanted me to play Rhythm and sing harmony. Would not show me anything about fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo.
I went to the Army I heard George Jones, Ray Price, and others. The steel guitar music grabbed me. Then when I heard Conway Twitty and Mr. Huey that done it. A wife and 2 kids money was scarce. About 1968 I got some of the parts. Key Heads, End plates, pedal bar and peddles straight out of the mold. Met a guy who made pickups he made me 2 pickups. Started and built a steel, Got 3 pedals on the E9th neck, A steel playing friend and I got it tuned up. He showed me G, Use the A & B pedals to get C at the 3rd fret. Down to 5th A&B to get D. and C at 8th and D at 10 Fret. THE ADVENTURE BEGAN. In 1982 a Divorce and it laid under bed. In 1989 my job transferred back to where my Steel playing friend lived. A MSA S10, Then MSA D10 and 1 year ago a GFI S12. From 2000 to 2005 I was with 4 bands. Every Tuesday night a group gets together and play. Just play for the fun of it anymore after I retired.
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Tony Prior

Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 2:25 am     Reply with quote

Matthew, many of us had the bug just as you have. Mine struck in the early 70's. Back then a new Sho Bud student Maverick model was around $350 , 3 pedals 1 knee lever. Sure maybe a lot of money at the time bu not unreachable. I had been playing guitar in bands for maybe 10 years by then so understanding simple chord structures and minimal theory was not an issue. I spent the better part of a year on that first Steel , sold it and bought a brand new Double Ten Sho Bud for $1300 in NYC. It was the only one in the store. A Black Pro III , 8+4. I played that Steel for the next 25 years, sold it like a fool or I would still be playing it today.

I took off about 8 years in the 90's after I sold my Sho Bud, then around 2000 the desire came back. I bought a Carter D10 Steel, (used) another amp, seat etc...then within a year or so I was back playing gigs locally and have not stopped since. I ran thru 3 different Carter Steels, a few different Sho Buds etc...and now own and play a couple of Emmons Steels. I gig 4 to 6 times a month, sometimes more. Even though I had sold my Sho Bud back in the early 90's, in my mind I never stopped playing. I was still playing guitars and such thru that 8 year period , I didn't stop playing music all together.

Just realize that playing is not going to happen overnight, there is way too much physical activity that needs to be conquered while learning where the music is and how to get it out smoothly.

Let us know how you are doing ! Smile

Send me a PM with your EMAIL address, I'll send you a couple of TAB learning packages.
<b>Steel Guitar music here >>></b>

Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
Pro Tools 8 and Pro Tools 12
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Frank Freniere

Chicago, IL
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 5:29 am     Reply with quote

Matthew Begay wrote:

Did you take out a loan?
Was the steel guitar that you own given to you?
Did you save up your money?

I used a loan to buy a Sho-Bud D-10 and paid it back over time.

Last edited by Frank Freniere on 30 Dec 2016 8:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Paul Wade

Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 6:33 am     How Did You Get Started On The Pedal Steel? Reply with quote

been a six string player for 40 years. always wanted
to played steel. got to know T.C furlong and he set me up with shobud maverick in late 70's. took lessons from don kates in the 80's. been at it still learning

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Ed Boyd

Illinois, USA
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 6:48 am     Reply with quote

I recently just started playing. I've put it off for a long time. .... Too long.

I've played some C6 and open G and D lap steel and played guitar for 40 years. I'm an educated piano player by trade so theory is not an issue. Physical skills and muscle memory are an issue though. I thought pedals would be easy because the pedals do the things that had to be done with slants on lap steel but with lap steel everything sits in your field of vision. On pedal steel you need 3 sets of eyes. One to watch the bar, one to watch the right hand and one to watch the pedals. But more reps you put in the more the body learns where everything is.

A friend who is a strong steel player had an MSA in storage. He disassembled it and was going to refurbish it after he got his Emmons but never got around to finishing it. He was playing through a Profex rack and amp and two cabinets and he wanted something smaller. He offered to give me the guitar in exchange for a Nashville 400 so I made the trade then paid someone knowledgable to finish the guitar. I found my tech by searching this forum before I was a member. If it wasn't for this forum I may not have ever got off the ground. In the end including my cost on the Nashville 400 I have about $825 in the guitar. I replaced my Ernie Ball volume pedal with a Goodrich L120 I found on the forum and I play through an old Twin I already owned. Now I would like a smaller steel and a different amp. I hope then I should be set. My guitar is really heavy.
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Larry Behm

Mt Angel, Or 97362
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 7:32 am     Reply with quote

I was playing in a bluegrass band at Paul's Saloon in SF, the band wanted to play country on the off nights so I bought a steel to do that. They moved to Nashville before we ever got that going. I moved back to Oregon in '73 and have been playing clubs ever since. Been a long run.
'70 D10 Black fatback PP, Telonics 409 pickups, Hilton volume pedal, BJS, Walker SS, Boss VF-1, Boss Ge-7 for Dobro effect, Seymour Duncan Twin Tube, Zoom MS50G.

See Facebook for "Painless Steel Productions": instructional videos
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Brian Robinson

Austin, Texas
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 8:04 am     Reply with quote

Got lucky. I inherited a MSA SD12 from a great-uncle. He was quite the musician, playing many instruments around East Texas back in the day. After looking at that guitar for awhile, I decided to learn to play it. Its been a year and a half, and thanks to a great teacher and some very patient musician friends, I am beginning to feel I can play, and contribute to a band. I even got a Mullen so I can learn the C6 neck.

On a related note, this community is special. You guys on the forum post invaluable knowledge. In addition, going out to see other steel players helps me improve. All of you, even you touring guys, seem to enjoy taking time to talk shop, and discuss practice tips. Thanks a bunch.

Mullen RP D10
MSA S/D 12 Classic
Nashville 112
Nashville 400

Twitter: @rtechnologies
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Roger Rettig

An Englishman in Naples, FL
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 8:39 am     Reply with quote

The long slippery slope started for me after I'd heard Ray Charles' 'Wichita Lineman' - that's what demonstrated to me how cool steel guitar was when played over great chord-changes - and I set about finding one.

This was early-1970s England and I was lucky to find Eric Snowball's music shop in Maidstone, Kent where I bought a red ZB Student for £420.00. A lot of money then but I was hooked, so....
Emmons LG3 D-10, JCH SD-10, Zum Encore

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Bill Groner

Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 9:33 am     How I got started Reply with quote

I always loved the sound of steel guitars. I never played a guitar until March of '16. I built myself a Cigar Box guitar. I then built 2 more and have sold 2 of the 3. I tried to play with a glass slide and had trouble with occasionally hitting the frets. I thought I would build a lapsteel. I bought a piece of curly maple, and about November it was ready to play. I LOVE IT! It has an awesome sound. I am teaching myself to play and enjoying the ride. I have another piece of wood coming any day now. My first one I built to resemble a National New Yorker and my next one I plan to make it look similar to a Fender FS52. Happy to be a member of this forum. Very Happy
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Brett Day

Pickens, SC
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 9:50 am     Reply with quote

There's quite a story to this, mainly because of my cerebral palsy in my left hand. I'd been a keyboard player for five years and I loved it, but I felt like something wasn't right-I felt like I wasn't getting the country music sound on keyboards. So, five years later, after playing keyboards by ear with just my right hand, I did a little thinkin' about what instrument to play. I'd thought about guitar, mandolin, and several others, but realized I couldn't handle the frets because of my left hand not working, so I started thinkin' about how I love country music, and the pedal steel. I decided to play the pedal steel, so in 1999, I rented a Sierra Artist S-10. I didn't have a steel bar just yet-I had picks and pedals, so I kinda fiddled around with the Sierra and loved it! So, then for Christmas in 1999, I got my first steel, an Emmons GS-10, and have been playing ever since then-I'm now at seventeen years on steel. As far as influences go, I listened to players like Bruce Bouton, Paul Franklin, John Hughey, Dan Dugmore, Sonny Garrish, Steve Hinson, and Teddy Carr-former steel player with the band Ricochet, and Mike Daily with George Strait.

Last edited by Brett Day on 11 Jan 2017 11:14 am; edited 2 times in total
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Alan Bidmade

Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 12:20 pm     Reply with quote

The sound of Red Rhodes' steel bubbling under James Taylor's 'Sweet Baby James'.
It took another 40 years before I took the plunge, buying a Sho-Bud from John Davis - who is one of the stalwarts of pedal steel guitar in the UK - and after 5 years of pedal stomping, I'm now the proud owner of a Ben-Rom pedal steel, which is more guitar than I can master in the rest of this lifetime. I can't be a great player, but every time I tune up and hit the pedals, I'm playing the same instrument as my musical heroes - and that makes me very happy!
Ben-Rom #017 'Lorelei', Guild D25, Epiphone 'Joe Pass', Roland 40XL, Goodrich VP

First name Alan, but known as Nick
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Karl Paulsen

Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 1:31 pm     Reply with quote

I fell in love with the sound of the PSG while learning music to play bass in a country band that ironically didn't have a Steel player. I figured I'd have to wait a long time til having the $ to invest in acquiring an instrument since I didn't have $2k lying around.

However, last year my grandmother died and my little brother (a member of the Jesuit order which includes a vow of poverty) used a big chunk of his inheritance to buy me a Zum Encore, Milkman half-n-half, Hilton, seat and the rest of the necessary gear as well as an enveope of cash to get me started on lessons. Been taking lessons every other week for about a year now and I'm loving it.

Thanks Bro!

The whole story is here:

Matthew, I feel your pain about being far from anything steel related. There's not much call for steel around here and I don't recall seeing a PSG in an instrument store here in Chicago or the burbs in the last 20 years. Luckily my teacher Brian Wilke is in the city and will come to my home. Otherwise I'd be driving over an hour into the suburbs every other week to get lessons.
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Bud Angelotti

Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 2:38 pm     Reply with quote

Matthew -
Back in the early 1970's, back when telephones were attached to walls, there was a hit song called "take me home country roads". It was on the radio quite a bit & I had the steel parts memorized in my head. Didn't know what the instrument was except it was some kinda slide.
Then girls entered the picture, then gitars. Then slide gitars. Then a roommate in the flop house had an actual MSA pedal steel which I promptly commandeered. Pissed him off 'cause I got on it pretty quick & he just liked to leave it set up and look at it. Took some lessons from Jerry. Hippie noise you know! Hippie country!
Fast forward to the late 90's was in a band in S.Colorado called the Rocky Mt. Playboys. Now those fellas knew and breathed real country music. Learned more from them in a few short months then, well you get the picture. They where pretty amped up if you get my drift so enough of that. Keep peckin' at it!
Just 'cause I look stupid, don't mean I'm not.
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Chris Schlotzhauer

Colleyville, Tx. USA
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 3:56 pm     Reply with quote

I bought one
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Bill C. Buntin

Cleburne, TX
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 4:14 pm     Reply with quote

1970, Grandmother gave me a six string silver tone with matching mother of toilet seat amplifier.

My silver tone had a three position changer. It was cool.

I started listening to Cecil Johnson, Howard Gregory, Tom Morrell, Reece Anderson live all around the Dallas ft worth area. But got hooked from watching and listening to Cecil at the stagecoach ballroom on belknap st in ft worth.

I picked up a sho bud maverick at a garage sale.

Steve Lamb sold me a GFI

Took lessons from Reece

In addition to Reece, I Became good friends with Steve Lamb, Gary Carpenter, Bud Carter, Bob Rains. They have all been mentors more or less.
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Jim Robbins

Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 4:48 pm     Reply with quote

Around 1979 I was driving cab and gigging intermittently on 6 string when I had 2 fingers of my left hand broken in a hit and run. I got Workers' Compensation money, a local music store had an MSA Sidekick for about the amount of the workers' comp money I got, I wasn't going to play much 6 string for a while anyway, so steel it was. (I had previously tried one out in a jam session and it didn't seem too hard ... fools rush in.)

However, I don't recommend that as a means of acquiring your first pedal steel guitar.
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Joachim Kettner

Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 9:45 pm     Reply with quote

In 1989 I had saved about thirteen-hundred Deutsche Mark and someone offered me a 60's Gibson J-200 for that amount. It was ridiculously cheap for such a guitar.
At the same time I got a call from a friend who owned a music store, he had an ABM steel for the same price. I decided in favour of the steel.
Fender Kingman, Sierra Crown D-10, Evans Amplifier, Soup Cube.
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