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Author Topic:  Lap steel demostrations always bluesy
David Famularo


From:
New Zealand
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 12:39 am     Reply with quote

Kia Ora

It seems to me that when I see any contemporary lap steel models being demonstrated (eg reviews etc) that the musician is nearly always playing in a blues style which gives me no idea whether that lap steel would be suitable for a country sound. Is that my prejudiced imagination or true? And if such a demonstration IS being played in a blues style, is it just as easy for the same instrument to be played in a country style and how can one figure that out when the instrument isn't being played in a country style.
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Frank Welsh


From:
Upstate New York, USA
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 10:03 am     Reply with quote

David, I have noticed the same annoying trend. The viewer comes away with absolutely no idea of what the guitar actually sounds like since distortion is so often used in these demos and the sound of cleanly played chords on the steel are not even hinted at.

I also notice that so many demos by either manufacturers or individuals for standard electric guitar use heavy distortion for most of or all of the demo. This usually includes guitars that are known for their distinctive CLEAN sound like Teles, Gretsches, and some expensive hollowbody jazz boxes. The guy doing the demo says "And here's what it sounds like" and you get five minutes of heavy distortion played with the edge of the thumb and all the guitars sound alike and you have no idea what these often beautiful instruments actually sound like.

A shame that this approach has spread to so many demos of otherwise potentially interesting steel guitar videos.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 11:12 am     Reply with quote

Agree. There are so many players whose idea of a lap steel is to tune to open E, plug in a pedal and play the same tired licks. When you hear a really good player do this, it's refreshing.
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Last edited by Andy Volk on 20 Mar 2017 4:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 11:56 am     Reply with quote

Well the economic truth is that for every person wanting to buy a lap steel for country or Hawaiian music, there are 100+ looking to buy one for distorted Blues. But you knew that...
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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 12:35 pm     Reply with quote

But life is a journey... And music is a river.... and who knows what will happen when you get your feet wet?

(spoken as one who started in full overdrive)
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 3:54 pm     Reply with quote

How about some non distorted blues on a Lap King?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VINxhtqyX_Q
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Ron Ellison


From:
D.C.
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 4:21 pm     Reply with quote

remember this thread?
What an insanely beautiful guitar...
All I wanted to hear was a couple of straight moments.
http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=296502&highlight=
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David Famularo


From:
New Zealand
Post Posted 20 Mar 2017 12:40 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for your replies. It's good to be different to all the rest! It has passed my mind that theoretically since this is a "steel guitar" forum there should be lots of blues steel players on it (in the style of Ben Harper etc) but in fact it is very much oriented to country and Hawaiian. Not that I mind in the least. I think they are worlds apart as genres.
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James Phillips


From:
Michigan, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2017 3:41 am     Reply with quote

Guy Cundell wrote:
But life is a journey... And music is a river.... and who knows what will happen when you get your feet wet?

(spoken as one who started in full overdrive)

I started out that way ,as well. Then I discovered A6th and "Cowboy Jazz".
Now where are my swim trunks?
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George Piburn


From:
The Oklahoma Hills, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2017 4:49 am     Always Bluesey ? I Don't Think So. Reply with quote

Here is a clip a Client sent to us at GeorgeBoards of one of my Deluxe Lap Steels he purchased this year.

Sounds pretty Country to me.

MP3 Audio File <<CLICK<<

His Band's LP

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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2017 7:20 am     Reply with quote

Jim Cohen wrote:
Well the economic truth is that for every person wanting to buy a lap steel for country or Hawaiian music, there are 100+ looking to buy one for distorted Blues. But you knew that...


Is that true?

It may well be, but that sad if it is.

It's often just another "guitar" to the rock/blues players, sort of a slide guitar you sit down with. I can't recall seeing anything like slane bar stuff when I see those videos.

Heck, I've used my steels with overdrive, echo, etc. when playing prog rock, but generally I want to play it like a steel guitar.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2017 7:32 am     Reply with quote

David M Brown wrote:
...generally I want to play it like a steel guitar.


And that's why you hang out here, with like-minded folk. But I'll bet the great majority of lap steel owners don't ever show up here and are just happy playin' the blues on a few tunes in their bands...
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Terry VunCannon


From:
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2017 12:17 pm     Reply with quote

Here is my short demo of my Innovative Guitars IG-6 lap...does it pass inspection?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQdmWHIVcJY
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Rob Anderlik


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 4:10 am     Reply with quote

At the risk of being the "lone ranger" on this thread, I'd like to think there's room for all styles under the big umbrella of non-pedal steel guitar. I can certainly understand if someone doesn't care for a certain style or approach, but I'm not sure it'd be accurate to characterize the non-pedal steel guitar world as being taken over or somehow polluted by blues wannabes. One of the things that I love and respect about this forum and the players here is the diversity. In my experience good musicianship trumps stylistic choices and good musicians tend to respect each other, regardless of whatever style of music they might play.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 4:32 am     Reply with quote

Very well said, Rob. I relinquish my curmudgeon membership card.
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Bill Brunt


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 4:44 am     Reply with quote

Andy Volk wrote:
Very well said, Rob. I relinquish my curmudgeon membership card.


No risk there, Andy.
That card is more easily renewed than an AARP membership Smile
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 5:50 am     Reply with quote

Rob Anderlik wrote:
At the risk of being the "lone ranger" on this thread, I'd like to think there's room for all styles under the big umbrella of non-pedal steel guitar. I can certainly understand if someone doesn't care for a certain style or approach, but I'm not sure it'd be accurate to characterize the non-pedal steel guitar world as being taken over or somehow polluted by blues wannabes. One of the things that I love and respect about this forum and the players here is the diversity. In my experience good musicianship trumps stylistic choices and good musicians tend to respect each other, regardless of whatever style of music they might play.


Well, what you say is very logical and makes a lot of sense.

But it does sometimes seem that many modern steel players have a limited concept of what the instrument can really do.

If you only tune to simple open chords and don't use slant bar techniques, there is a limit what you can play on the lap steel.

That's why we have SO many tunings and bar techniques to get more musical content out of the instrument without resorting to pedals.

I started out that way in the early 70's when I got my first lap steel - tuned to open G or E and played rock and blues. I recall playing "One Way Out" and "Running on Empty" back then, but I also came across the Bluegrass Dobro, Western Swing, and Hawaiian music and I had to learn a lot of new tunings and techniques.

As an analogy, as a mandolin player, I am aware of a certain similarity with something in the mandolin world.

The most popular style of mandolin playing is Bluegrass and related Americana.

And yes, there are some great players in that style.

But there is also a movement to recall the even greater technical and musical skill set that was used by the classical mandolinists of the turn of the 20th Century.

In the same way that Bluegrass players can make wonderful music, so can the blues/rock steel players.

However the classical mandolin tradition includes many musical devices and techniques that are way beyond what most mandolinists even know is possible.
Pieces using the entire range of the instrument, full chords, passages in octaves, duet style where you make the mandolin sound like 2 players, etc.

There is a new movement to make modern mandolinists aware of the historical technical skill set that has been lost, Prof. August Watters book is exemplary about this.

So in the same way, I just would like all lap steel players to know how much potential is in the instrument, and that you do not have to re-invent the wheel since so many musical ideas have already been worked out by past masters.
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Terry VunCannon


From:
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 6:43 am     Reply with quote

Thank you Rob Anderlik for your words, you have turned the hurt feelings & frustration of this entire thread around for this lap steel player. I must admit that I love playing lap steel, and spend a lot of my time trying to spread the lap steel to new ears, both at gigs, & by taking the instrument into schools for elementary aged children. I act as an admin on another lap steel site, and have even started to make my own line of lap steels.
One thing I believe about lap that we need to remember, is that some are brought to the instrument by Santo & Johnny, some Jerry Byrd, and some by David Lindley. All are correct. I realize that my style of playing does not fit with the majority of players on this site, and I am fine with that. My first feeling at the start of this thread, was to quit coming to the SGF, that maybe I am really not welcome here.
But you Rob, you give me hope that maybe there is room for all type players here.
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 7:11 am     Reply with quote

Terry VunCannon wrote:

But you Rob, you give me hope that maybe there is room for all type players here.


They let me in, so I'm sure you are welcome!

BTW, what is your other forum, please? I'd like to check it out.
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Terry VunCannon


From:
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 7:16 am     Reply with quote

It is the Lap Steel Lunatics on facebook...very open to any style of players, and over 4800 members worldwide.
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Hal Braun


From:
Eustis, Florida, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 7:22 am     Reply with quote

Rob.. not the lonest Ranger. At least you got a Tonto here.. I am an old hippie.. and love the lap steel for what it can do with the genre I grew up with..

My dad played pedal steel his whole life, and the big transition for us personally is when the Beatles hit.. I went that way, he stayed with his..

Personally, I have never been able to appreciate Hawaiian music. It just doesn't work for me. Nor do I like show tunes, or that much of country swing. I like they "soundtrack of my life" and I like hearing it done on a lap steel.

That said, not all "blues" iterations are done with tons of distortion and reverb.. check Mike Neer's great work with this Chicago blues number

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGp9zzj3egA

He also has a nifty cover of Hendrix's Wind Cries Mary that while having some effects is very cool (and a great singing voice too.. who knew?)

Terry V. does some really great rock and blues stuff.. Listen to Larry Hutcherson and some of his work.. outstanding!

No particular point to all this other than as long as we all enjoy the instrument who really cares? If you don't like a particular sound, move on to one you do. It certainly cannot hurt to have more people buying instruments, fostering innovation, etc.

Cheers!
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Rob Anderlik


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 7:55 am     Reply with quote

Just to go back to part of David's original question, I don't think it's so much the style but the signal chain that affects our perceptions about the capabilities of a given instrument. Not that style is insignificant, but there may be a huge difference depending on what the lap steel is plugged into. A stack of Marshall amps cranked to 10 vs a Fender Princeton set to clean will result in two completely diffferent outcomes for any lap steel plugged into it. That's the nature of playing an electric instrument
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Ron Ellison


From:
D.C.
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 7:56 am     Reply with quote

Steiner released an excellent Hendrix album.
I don't understand the "Lone Ranger" or hurt feelings..?
I thought the threads subject was about builders selling/demo-ing a lap guitar..
Not any particular like or dislike of a specific style.
Maybe I'm alone, but I'd like to hear an instrument's voice without any effects before I would buy it.
Sure, also with whatever stuff one wants to add is fine. But how do you trust the spectrum of tone when it's clouded with distortions?
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Peter Jacobs


From:
Northern Virginia
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 8:36 am     Reply with quote

I have to agree with Ron - his question wasn't really about "what style is appropriate for lap steel," it was about "how can I tell what the thing sounds like?"

There are a whole bunch of demo videos for all kinds of instruments that don't really let you hear the instrument by itself, and overdrive can cover a lot of sins.

Having said that, I'm not a country or Hawaiian-style player -- those styles are just not my thing, although I can appreciate the skill and musicianship needed to play them well.

As a banjo player, I've run into some serious attitude about what is and isn't the "correct" way to play, and I pretty much don't play that, either. It's music, friends - it isn't right or wrong, it just is.
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 21 Mar 2017 9:42 am     Reply with quote

Terry VunCannon wrote:
It is the Lap Steel Lunatics on facebook...very open to any style of players, and over 4800 members worldwide.


Thanks - whenever I decide to join Facebook, I'll have to check it out.
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