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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?
Bill L. Wilson

Oklahoma, USA
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 10:53 pm     Reply with quote

I'd been playing guitar for 11yrs. When in 1970, I won a Fender Tele and a Twin Reverb amp in a Guitar Player Magazine contest. (June "1970" issue w/Taj Mahal) on the cover. After yrs. of playing Blues, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and Heavy Rock, the Tele bit me with the country bug, and pedalsteel licks on the Tele just didn't cut it anymore. In Jan. "1974", I went to McCord Music Co. in downtown Dallas and bought an MSA S-10 semi classic 3&1 for $550. I lived at home with my Mom, had no job, and my payments were only $35 a month. I brought it home, set it up, tuned it up, started making country sounds with my first two pedals. Asked my Mom how she thought it sounded? And these are her exact words "Sounds Like Starvation To Me". Well, I could've crawled under the bed, but I kept at it. In those days you could sell Coke bottles for 10cents a piece and make enough money to pay it off. But I ended up in construction rehabbing houses, painting, and sheetrock till I paid it off. After owning several brands of pedal steels over the yrs., I now play an Emmons LeGrande II D-10 8&5 bought for $2375 with insurance money from a severe truck crash, I had in '05. Now that I'm retired, I play almost every weekend, and that steel has made me over $50grand in the last 11yrs. Not bad for an Old Coot who really isn't that good. Stay with it Son, learn, jam, and pick stuff up from everyone you can. Every little bit helps, and a lifetime of learning awaits.
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Jerry Hedge

Norwood Ohio U.S.A.
Post Posted 31 Dec 2016 5:04 pm     Reply with quote

Ever since I can remember the only thing I ever wanted to do was play guitar. For Christmas in 1962 my parents bought my brother and myself a Harmony flat top and a Framus mandolin.Well, my brother was interested until baseball season started but I played both instruments and about 2 years later got a Gibson Melody Maker electric guitar. About that time some friends of my parents loaned me a Harmony lap steel. Then 2 years later the needed it back. I really didn't do anything with the lap steel, because I wanted a PEDAL STEEL!!! In 1969 I started working in a music store, and borrowed an old 6 string Multi-Chord with 4 pedals, messed around with it,but nothing serious. Then around 1987 ,still working at the same music store, I borrowed a MSA Red Baron. I thought,"no, not right now". Then about 1994 I had bought a Gretsch Anniversary that needed a neck reset. I thought "it's time I look at pedal steel one more time". I went to my first guitar show. George Gruhn was there. He traded me the Gretsch for a Fender Student 10. About that time I met the late Ed Naylor.Ed took my Fender and set it up with 4 knee levers! I got the Winnie Winston book started studying it. There was a a small restaurant near me where they had traditional country bands 3 nights a week playing for the "Split the Pot". I was playing guitar and working the store for a living and working on amps on the side. I would sub at the restaurant on guitar occasionally so I knew the bands well. Then one time I had just finished up an amp repair. I took the amp and my Fender up and asked if I could sit in.I sucked BIG TIME!!! But they offered to pay me for that night and I had a gig after that. And I've been playing steel on gigs ever since.Even on non country gigs people would request that I bring the steel and the guitar. I guess for the novelty factor.I bought a MSA D-10 that was in sad shape and traded the MSA and my Fender for a Sho-Bud Pro III Custom then I bought another one so I could have one set up at home to practice on and one to keep packed in the case to take to gigs.And I still have and play both of them.
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Ernie Pollock

Mt Savage, Md USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2017 12:59 pm     I Really 'Crossed Over' back in 1976! Reply with quote

That baby in the picture Is my nephew, he is now about 41 years old & plays rhythm guitar in my group.
This ol Crossover was a doozie, it would not 'crossover', there pedals worked the E9th & 3 worked the C6th. I only had it three months & sold it to a traveling preacher, Lord only knows where it is at now, I know I don't want it back. I bought New MSA D-10 with 8&4, & it worked a lot nicer for me!! But, none the less, it got me started on being totally hooked on steel guitar.

Ernie Oh Well [/url]
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Paul King

Gainesville, Texas, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2017 4:19 pm     Reply with quote

In the early 70's I started hearing that sound. I then found Jr. Knight every Saturday playing on television. In April 1979 after getting out of high school in 1978 I bought my first steel. A man had moved back to town and opened a music store. He knew I wanted one and offered to take me to Dallas to the MSA factory to see if they had any tradeins. I did not have enough money so he wrote a check and let me pay out the rest. Someone that really did not know me and he was willing to trust me like that. It has been a great ride all these years. My dad would not help me get one because he thought I would not like it and he knew they were costly. It feels great today to take him videos and let him watch them where I have played out somewhere. I hate to say it but it feels good to prove him wrong at least one time in my life. I would do it all over again if I had another chance to do so.
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Mike Schwartzman

Maryland, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2017 4:25 pm     Reply with quote

I was a gigging bass player when a car accident took me out of being able to stand for long periods of time, and one night a couple of guys asked me to sit in at a house jam. They were playing some Ernest Tubb tunes and some Merle Haggard tunes and I asked them, "Don't these songs usually have pedal steel parts?" When they said yes,I thought that the instrument is played in a sitting position, and that I had loved the sound since I heard it back in the late 60's. That was about 10-12 yrs. ago, and that's when I began reading this Forum.

After taking the advise from some of the senior members, here, I did the same thing as you, Matthew. Got a BMI S10 3x4 (around a grand) and started learning. Although I mostly play a push pull today, that BMI is a very fine all pull guitar and I'm glad I still have it. Those fellows who advised me to start with that BMI were spot on. That guitar will still play well when I'm long gone.
At 6 feet 2 inches I almost weigh 160...just call me Slim...all of my friends do.
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David Cubbedge

Toledo,Ohio, USA
Post Posted 9 Jan 2017 9:19 am     Reply with quote

I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964 at age 9 and pestered my parents for five years to get me guitar lessons. They did and ten years later when my brother and his room mate put together an duo, I wanted in. Having two acoustic guitars already, my brother told me the only way I could join would be to learn how to play this Fender Stringmaster! I took to it well enough to be included! A year later I bought an old Fender 400 and for the next 25 years I only dabbled with it. In 2000 I bought an Emmons S10 and in '13 I upgraded to a D10. I play steel now more than guitar, much to the detriment of my calluses!
Red Emmons D10 fatback #2246D with sweet Hugh Briley split cases, Black Emmons S10 #1466S, '73 Fender "Snakeskin" Twin Reverb, Peavey Nashville 400, Line 6 Pod XT, Fender 400, Fender Stringmaster Double-8, too many guitars, one bass!
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Herb Steiner

Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 9 Jan 2017 12:21 pm     Reply with quote

I got my first "pedal" steel in 1965, but it didn't take with me...

Mid-60s I was in college and playing bluegrass in Southern California. But it was in early 1968 when my friend Kenny Edwards recommended me to a girl he had been in a group with, Linda Ronstadt, who wanted a dobro player who doubled on mandolin for her new band. After a few weeks, she said she wanted me to play steel guitar, so I borrowed one from a friend until the Sho~Bud that I ordered came in.

That was the beginning of me seriously studying the instrument.
Herb's Steel Guitar Pages
Texas Steel Guitar Association
Allison String Instruments
My rig: Infinity and Telonics.

Son, we live in a world with walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with steel guitars. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg?
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Dennis Lee

Forest Grove, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 9 Jan 2017 2:24 pm     Reply with quote

I had always loved the sound of the pedal steel, but knew little or nothing about them. My deceased wife's favorite singer was Ann Murray, and her favorite song was "Could I Have This Dance" and mine was Ray Steven's "Misty" where the instrument was featured in both. When she passed, I made a quick decision to explore the pedal steel. I was magically put in contact with my dear friend, Larry Behm. The rest of the story is kind of a fairy tale. Larry invited me to ride along to the Northwest Pedal Steel Convention, held in Spokane, Washington. Who did I meet the afternoon that we arrived, but JayDee Maness, the player I had admired in both recordings. That has been quite a few years ago now, but it just shows how life has a way of surprising you. I must say that Larry is a very prominent influence in my life, both as a player and a great friend. Life is good!
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Jack Hanson

San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 9 Jan 2017 2:37 pm     Reply with quote

About 3/4 of the way through the last century, I met a man who could sell ice to Eskimos. But he wasn't selling ice; he was selling MSA Red Barons.
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Wesley Medlen

Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 4:52 am     Reply with quote

I always loved the sound of the steel. In 1950 when I was a freshman in high school I was playing rhythum guitar with a 4 person group. I bought a 6 string lap steel and amp from Spiegel in Chicago for $25. In 53 we broke up I sold it and never played with anyone until 1996. Played lead guitar and a BR9 Gibson until about 07 when I got a S-10 BMI for $300. There a lot better steelers than me but I love it. Wes
BMI SD10,MB200 Basehead,Steelers choice, Gretsch 6str. lap, Gibson Electra Guitar, Hilton VP, Boss TU12 tuner, Regal Dobro, 15" JBL speaker cab. DD3
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David Spires

Nashville, TN USA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 6:33 am     Reply with quote

My Dad played it most nights after getting done teaching, to just relax. I used to sit on the floor and be amazed by it, until one day he asked me if I wanted to learn to play it.

I had no idea how much that question would shape my life.

-David Spires
Steel Guitarist for Josh Turner: Carter D-10 8&7; Asher Electro-Hawaiian Junior Lap Steel; Gretsch G9231 Bobtail Resonator; Line 6 HD500X Amp & Effects Simulator
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Bud Angelotti

Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 6:40 am     Reply with quote

Stay with it Son, learn, jam, and pick stuff up from everyone you can. Every little bit helps, and a lifetime of learning awaits.

Great statement Bill!
Just 'cause I look stupid, don't mean I'm not.
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seattle wa
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 12:21 pm     Reply with quote

At the beginning of 8th grade I bought a flute and a pedal steel guitar with money from my paper route. The flute worked fine but the pedals on the psg did not (I won't mention the manufacturer). It took me THREE years to save up enough money to buy another (paper routes, illegal sales activities and my grandparents sharing a tiny portion of their inheritance). It took Fender either 6 or 9 months to deliver the guitar. Some of the longest months of my life!

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Dick Wood

Springtown Texas, USA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 12:34 pm     Reply with quote

In 1979 was playing bass in Dallas TX and one night a guy walked in and asked if he could play steel with us. The bandleader said sure go get it. I was so mesmerized by it that I went out,bought one from Steve Lamb and started taking lessons every Saturday.

My first was a MSA sidekick for $350.00,next was a ZB SD10 for $750.00,next was a Dekley D10 for $1800.00 and several Carters and for the last ten years a Williams. All purchased with money made from gigs.
Cops aren't paid much so I steel at night.
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Dustin Kleingartner

Saint Paul MN, USA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 12:44 pm     save that moo-la Reply with quote

I bought a cheap lap steel to learn technique on while I saved up for a pedal steel.
Just start saving, $20 at a time or so, and don't spend it until you have enough. That's what I did, took me about 6 months.
$20 bucks a week for a year could get you a stage one, and you can get a nut extender for a regular guitar and practice playing with a bar and picks while you save.
Proud parent of a good dog.
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Jim Cohen

Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 12:44 pm     Reply with quote

Rusty Young on Buffalo Springfield's "Kind Woman" was the explosive start of my long strange trip. Then, rather serendipitously, I ended up going to college in St. Louis and stumbled into Scotty, which led to my first PSG purchase and lessons, plus introductions to the playing of Chalker, Anderson, Emmons, and many other greats. After a 10-year hiatus (which I now less-than-affectionately call "the lost decade"), I returned to steel via Jeffran College and the opportunity to study with Jeff Newman, Buddy Emmons and Paul Franklin. Jeff and Reece really became mentors to me along the way; two of the best PSG teachers to have ever lived. All remaining errors, omissions, and intonation problems are my own fault. Wink
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Robert Rhea

Panama City, Florida, USA
Post Posted 11 Jan 2017 7:54 am     Reply with quote

I started out playing an electric 6-string. My music teacher taught me Chet Atkins and Merle Travis style picking and while I was still taking lessons, I got in a country band as a lead guitar player when I was 15 in 1973. I thought about learning banjo or fiddle as a second instrument. The band I was in was made up of all teenagers and our female singer's mother was our manager. She took us to the famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood for a talent contest and I sat right next to the bandstand on the end that the pedal steel player was on. That steel player was Jay Dee Maness! I heard him play a few songs and decided, that's what I want to play for a second instrument! So my dad took me to The Guitar Center in Hollywood and he bought me a Sho-Bud single neck. I started trying to play it, got a couple of lessons from Blacky Taylor, and I was off and running. I sold that Sho-Bud for $350 in the mid-80's. That was before the internet and before I knew any better. After a 30-some year layoff from playing, I bought a Carter SD-10 from a forum member in May of 2014 and now I rarely pick up a 6-string.

FYI, that female singer in our band went on to play Jan Brady in The Brady Variety Hour because Eve Plum didn't want to do it after The Brady Bunch went off the air.

Very Happy Smile Very Happy Smile
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Kyd Brenner

Washington, DC/Harman WV
Post Posted 12 Jan 2017 3:31 pm     Reply with quote

Great stories! My start was 6 string and then inheriting a nice Gibson mandolin from my grandfather in 1975. Took it to local music store and asked what I could do with it, reply was either learn it or put it in safe deposit box. So, started learning bluegrass (which I never liked) - this led me to dobro and just couldn't stop and moved on the PSG. Wasn't any particular tune that drove me to it although Sweethearts, Poco and just the realization of how much PSG I had been hearing in the late 60s and early 70s that I had never really identified helped. FF to 1984, I'm taking lessons from Buddy Charleton in the back of a Harley Davidson dealer in Oxon Hill MD where Whitt, the owner, was selling Emmons from a room behind the bike showroom. Whitt & Buddy conspired to convince me to buy a 10 x 12 one-of-a-kind LeGrande. After trading in 2 dobros and a Super Pro I was still short and I think I may have one of the few pedal steels ever financed through Household Finance Corporation. Making the last payment was like paying off your mortgage. 32 yrs later still have it and still don't know what to do with those 7 extra knee levers, but damn does it sound good. Unfortunately requires a crane to lift out of my basement, but a nice Carter D-10 purchased on the forum has restored my mobility. Was out of the steel for most of last 20 years, but now retired and have good fortune to be practicing with a local band who are all mature, no-ego and all better than me, what could be better!
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john buffington

Owasso OK - USA
Post Posted 12 Jan 2017 5:16 pm     Reply with quote

My Dad bought me 6 string Gretch blonde MOT, went from that to a Fender D8 stringmaster. After hearing Tom Brumley playing "Together Again" my Dad bought me a BeJay (Ben Jack) since I discovered all the bar slants in the world would not give "that sound". Thanks to Tom Brumley's sound that caught my ear and I'm still at it.
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Henry Matthews

Texarkana, Ark USA
Post Posted 13 Jan 2017 8:08 am     Reply with quote

Already being a fiddle player in early 80's, I was recruited to play in and help organize a country band fot GTE, which was the phone company I worked for. The band member had to be an employee of GTE and we were unable to find steel player that worked for GTE. We had another fiddler so I started learning steel and after about two months, was playing steel in the band. Had a single neck BMI which later I sold and my first good guitar was a Sho Bud Super Pro D-10. I had already been messing with a steel my best friend had but couldn't figure what them top two strings were for, lol. Guess the rest is history. My biggest regret is, even though I still play fiddle, I just absolutely quit practicing the fiddle and I lost quit a bit. Devoted too much time to steel I guess. It's been a great trip and music has taken me places and I have met people that other wise wouldn't have been possible. Our GTE band got to play at parties at two Super Bowls, 22 & 23, and 100's of other places all over USA and we cut 4 albums so was a nice ride. All made possible by steel guitar and country music.
Henry Matthews

D-10 1975 Emmons p/p Black Woodneck Bolt-on
LTD amp, Nashville 400 amp, Hilton pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings. No effects, doodads or stomp boxes.
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Mike Archer

church hill tn
Post Posted 14 Jan 2017 11:58 am     knox Reply with quote

as a tele player I was playing in Knoxville tn

for a singer and after a while he asked me if I could play steel guitar I said no but would love to learn
so he bought me a sho-bud maverick and away I went
that was 34 years ago and I'm still playing
he was a good friend to me

mullen RP d-10/peavey 112 amp/
goodrich vol pedals fender tele/line 6 amp/ digitech reverb effects
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Rich Upright

Florida, USA
Post Posted 15 Jan 2017 6:33 pm     Reply with quote

Back during the winter of '71-'72, I was in a rock band called "Bloodlust".We played a Battle of the Bands" at St. Andrews Catholic church in Flushing, NY with 8 other bands; 7 rock bands, every one of which, including us, started their 1 set with "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and a country band called "Sundown". They had a guy who was sitting at this strange, cheese slicer ironing board looking thing. They started THEIR set with "Glendale Train", & when the steel came in I was AWESTRUCK!! Asked him what it was & who did that song & he told me. Went out the next day & bought "NRPS" & fell in love with the sound of Jerry Garcia's steel. My mom loved the steel,too, & came home with "Suite Steel" for me one day.Years passed & in '79 I started my first country band, the Low Plains Drifters. Put an ad in a local music store for a steel player, & got a couple answers. We alternated between the 2, but they were always missing rehearsals, so I decided to try & learn it myself. One of the players had an old Maverick that he sold me for $10. Had to bend coat hangers to make pedal rods as his were missing. A few years later got my first pro steel, a GES D-10, and the rest, as they say, is history. Here is a pic of me in '86 with the GES, and me today.

Emmons LeGrande II D-10
Mullen HWP D-10
'72 Stratocaster
'89 Custom Shop Telecaster
'61 Gibson SG/Les Paul
'74 Precision bass
'77 Guild D-50
Gold Star GF85 5-string banjo
Peavey Renown 1-15"
'76 Fender Twin Reverb w/JBLs
Peavey Classic 50 1-15"
'65 Ampeg Gemini II
Fender Rumble 200
Fender Sidekick Switcher
Hartke amp
Various delays, reverbs,compressors,etc
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Fred Treece

California, USA
Post Posted 4 Mar 2017 9:56 am     Reply with quote

I blame it on Rusty Young's playing on a Poco song called "Bad Weather", in 1971. 46 years of playing guitar and lap steel later, I finally decided to spend some gig money on a Stage One PSG. Should have done it when I was your age.

You are going to be way ahead of the game when this instrument comes back into demand again, as it most certainly will. Pedal steel will always have a niche in country music, but as the past and current masters have proven time and again with their capable heads hands and feet, any style of music is fair game.
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Tony Prior

Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 1:43 am     Reply with quote

I had been playing guitar in R+R and Blues bands for a decade or more then started to identify with Country Rock, AKA Poco, became hooked on the whole scene, the music the singing the Steel,the Tele pickin', the whole deal.

I bought a Maverick and while studying Steel I also changed my entire approach to guitar playing , 2 for 1 !

This was maybe 1973, right around that time.

6 months after the Maverick I sold it and bought a D10 Pro III, started playing in country bands, never looked back.

But I will say that the years before I started playing Steel are equally important to the years following. Elvis, Beatles, Ventures, Stones , Clapton, Hendrix...etc..It all matters !
<b>Steel Guitar music here >>></b>

Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
Pro Tools 8 and Pro Tools 12
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Dave Grothusen

Scott City, Ks
Post Posted 5 Mar 2017 4:48 am     Reply with quote

In about 1965 found a MultiKord for $125. It came with a D'Armond pedal. I think I had an amp from Sears. That was the beginning. I have since owned two MSA guitars and three Mullen. Still have two Mullen.
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