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Author Topic:  Need advice, first time steel buyer/player
Gerald Harman


From:
Arkansas, USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2019 3:40 pm    
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I have never played a pedal steel and I do not have a clue where to start. I absolutely love the sound of the pedal steel and want to learn to play one. I have been looking at a lot of used steels, but the choices are bewildering to someone like me. I see a lot of Sho-Bud and Emmons along with several other brands. Any suggestions for a first timer? Brand, type, model, etc. would be greatly appreciated. I would most likely purchase from someone on this forum as I would trust another steel player before a salesman so to speak.
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Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2019 4:01 pm    
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BMI Steel Guitars are in Scranton, AR.
https://beckmusicalinstruments.com/

This might be a good place to go check out a Pedal Steel in person and ask questions.
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Brian Hollands


From:
Franklin, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2019 5:17 pm    
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How far are you from Dallas? Biggest steel guitar show of the year is comming up shortly and might be worth the drive. They'll be plenty of folks there to show you the ropes...
If you can't get there, what's your budget and what type of music do you want to play?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2019 6:06 pm    
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There is a lot to know, even before you buy. Definitely best to talk to someone in person that knows LKV from SD10, but short of that...

Check out the Beginner’s Pages link on the Forum
https://dhdube.wixsite.com/psgbeginner

The Steel Guitar Resource Page has a buyer’s guide and lots of other great stuff:
https://www.steelguitar.com/

Try the Forum search engine for other questions you might have. Chances are the question has already been asked and answered many times.

Good luck & happy hunting.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2019 8:23 pm    
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You can’t beat a new Zum Stage one used by some pros simple light an hold there value I see them sell here on forum for more than the price of a new one. There is some wait time for a new one. Used Zum stage ones for sale on forum go fast.
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Dick Hitchcock


From:
Wayne, Nebraska
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 6:00 am    
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It doesn't get any better than Fred Justice, and his super steel guitars!!
http://www.justicesteelguitars.com/index.html
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 8:22 am    
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A few questions:

How old are you?
Do you play an instrument now?
How much time do you think you'll have to devote to the PSG?
Are you near a major big city?

Without knowing any of this..........

Going to the Dallas show is an excellent suggestion.

Forget about any one brand over another.
What I'd suggest is:
- Get a relatively new (10-15 years old) Pro model
- 3 pedal 4 knee lever 10 string E9 tuning
- All pull (as opposed to push pull or pull release)
- Get a used one in good shape if you can.
- Make sure that it has a case.
- If at all possible, buy it in person. Avoid shipping if possible. If you have it shipped, get a feel for if the sender knows how to pack/ship it properly.

This could potentially last you a lifetime.
It would give you all of the tuning changes that you need.
It would be simple to maintain.
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Greg Thompson


From:
Taumarunui, New Zealand
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 12:48 pm    
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Value for money Zum Stage One or an Encore.
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Mike Schwartzman


From:
Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 1:10 pm    
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Before the Zum Stage 1 and before Fred Justice had his own "Justice Models", I was interested in the same question that you are asking now. That is...what guitar should I get as a newbie? So in searching around on the forum I found that a lot of experienced folks recommended a pro model S10 or SD10 with 3X4 E9th. I guess the popular student model at that time was the Carter Starter which I checked out, and didn't care for. I took the advice offered here and wound up with an early 80's BMI 3X3 S10 (Pete mentioned this above). That guitar will outlive me and I would play it today if I hadn't switched to a D10. It is heavier than many modern guitars.

Now I see the choices mentioned above have really improved 1st PSG options since I bought my 1st PSG. Search the forum and have fun.
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Mike Schwartzman


From:
Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 1:11 pm    
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Before the Zum Stage 1 and before Fred Justice had his own "Justice Models", I was interested in the same question that you are asking now. That is...what guitar should I get as a newbie? So in searching around on the forum I found that a lot of experienced folks recommended a pro model S10 or SD10 with 3X4 E9th. I guess the popular student model at that time was the Carter Starter which I checked out, and didn't care for. I took the advice offered here and wound up with an early 80's BMI 3X3 S10 (Pete mentioned this above). That guitar will outlive me and I would play it today if I hadn't switched to a D10. It is heavier than many modern guitars.

Now I see the choices mentioned above have really improved 1st PSG options since I bought my 1st PSG. Search the forum and have fun.
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Emmons Push Pull, BMI, Session 400, Home of the Slimcaster Tele.
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Gerald Harman


From:
Arkansas, USA
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 4:46 pm    
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ajm wrote:
A few questions:

How old are you?
Do you play an instrument now?
How much time do you think you'll have to devote to the PSG?
Are you near a major big city?

Without knowing any of this..........

Going to the Dallas show is an excellent suggestion.

Forget about any one brand over another.
What I'd suggest is:
- Get a relatively new (10-15 years old) Pro model
- 3 pedal 4 knee lever 10 string E9 tuning
- All pull (as opposed to push pull or pull release)
- Get a used one in good shape if you can.
- Make sure that it has a case.
- If at all possible, buy it in person. Avoid shipping if possible. If you have it shipped, get a feel for if the sender knows how to pack/ship it properly.

This could potentially last you a lifetime.
It would give you all of the tuning changes that you need.
It would be simple to maintain.


Thanks for the replies. I am 59, I have never played any musical instrument. Some might say I'm crazy for starting out on a PSG, but I learn quick. I have my evenings free as I do not watch TV, so I can dedicate quite a bit of time to learning. It seems most of the used ones I see are from the 70's. I am seriously considering a new Justice, not sure which model.
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Larry Jamieson


From:
Walton, NY USA
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 5:03 pm    
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You would absolutely not go wrong to get a new Justice. You will have a guitar which is well built, works properly, and is ready to play. And, if it does not work out for you, it would be an easy re-sell.
I would recommend a single or single/double 10, E9 tuning with 3 pedal and 4 knee levers, standard Emmons set up. That guitar will keep you busy for a lifetime and last you a lifetime.
When you get started, don't be afraid to ask questions. Find a teacher if you can, you will move along much faster. Good luck!
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Craig Bailey


Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 5:08 pm    
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I would highly recommend a Mullen Discovery. They are absolute pro level affordable guitars that you can grow into and once you are gig ready, the Mullen will be too!

Best wishes
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Mullen G2, Mullen Discovery, GFI D10 Ultra,
'76 Rosewood Emmons PP, '79 Black Emmons PP
Telonics Amp, Stereo Steel, Fender Vibrasonic & many Telecasters (You can't have too many)
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Clark Doughty


From:
Missouri
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 7:08 pm     first time buyer
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Can't beat a brand new or used Mullen Discovery. A pro guitar at very reasonable prices and the very best service you will find today. they also hold their value for resale......clark
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Bill Miller


From:
Gaspe, Quebec, Canada
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 7:14 pm    
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Where you are right now brings back a lot of memories from about thirty years ago when I was in the same situation.
My first advice would be to learn as much about the instrument as you can BEFORE you buy. That was my first mistake. I knew nothing and ended up buying a very old guitar in terrible condition. It was an oddball Sho~Bud with six floor pedals and no knee levers. The copedant was all whacked out. I lost a lot of time over that purchase. With some help over the phone I did get it playable in a very rudimentary way, but none of the available learning material was written for a guitar with no knee levers and it was just hard to relate.
If possible get to know a few players and pick their brains. I disagree about 12 stringers being a good starting guitar. Not nearly as many people play them as ten stringers and less learning material is avaialble. Also, and this may rile some folks, but go with the Emmons copedant. It's more common than the Day setup and again there will be less confusion with learning material.
If you're buying a new guitar there aren't many bad ones being made now. There are lots of great older guitars but that's where you'll need someone's experience to guide you.
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2019 9:04 pm    
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Gerald, you're planning to embark on a tough journey, rewarding in the end, but my advice is to spend a little time learning some basics on a 6-string guitar. Nylon string classical style would be easiest to play. You'll learn about chords, chord shapes, interacting with strings, learning how to tune up, and more. Sure makes the PSG path easier, in my view, and I've been teaching for 25 years. Very few who came to me with zero experience got very far in their studies, but occasionally it does work. Odds are slim, just saying! Confused

If you're stubborn and just have to do it, the Zumsteel Encore is your best bang for the buck IMHO.

All best,
John McClung
Pedal Steel Lessons, Casuals, Sessions
Olympia, WA 98512
Email & PayPal fees – steelguitarlessons@earthlink.net
Easy PayPal link: paypal.me/JohnMcClung
Website – http://steelguitarlessons.com
Skype name: professortwang
Cell & text: 310-480-0717
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Ron Hogan


From:
Nashville, TN, usa
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 5:35 am    
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Here is a good steel at a very good price. Not mine, but a good deal and a guitar you'll use for many years.

GFI STEEL. page down the link

CLICK
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 9:48 am    
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Now that we have some info on you, we can provide some better answers.

You have no musical instrument experience.
IMO Bill Miller and John McClung spoke words of wisdom.
Get a six string nylon string guitar, and plan on spending a couple of years with it.
Find a teacher or a local player who can give you some tips/lessons.

I know that you want to dive into the PSG, but this thing is not easy.
Some musical background and training will make things much easier should you still want to do the PSG later on.

And by all means, keep cruising this site for knowledge and entertainment.
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Butch Mullen


From:
North Carolina, USA 28681
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 10:27 am    
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A lot of people disagree but I would start with a lap steel tuned to open E. No need to learn the chords of a regular guitar. A lot of good instruction books and videos out there or might find a teacher. If later on you go to pedals you will know why. Or as some have said "I don't need no stinkin' pedals". Best of luck on your journey. Butch in NC
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 10:29 am    
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Just maybe an alternate perspective on psg as a first instrument.

You might learn some things about music if you take up nylon string guitar, but the fretting hand physical skills needed to play it are difficult and not necessary for pedal steel.

I think it would be easier and less frustrating to learn about music on an inexpensive keyboard. You don’t really have to learn how to play the piano to use it as a reference tool. You will learn basic theory and get an understanding of intonation. And just go ahead and start on pedal steel, developing techniques you will actually need to play it, with the musical understandings you are learning on the keyboard.
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Asa Brosius


Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 10:59 am    
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Personally, were I starting out at this point, I would use the Paul Franklin Method as a primary learning tool, and a zum encore as a first instrument- if it's the pedal steel sound that moves you, get a pedal steel. You'll have an excellent teacher with a strong foundational approach you can believe in, and a light affordable mechanically sound instrument (that holds it's resale value very well), then it's all effort, time, frustration, patience, repeat.
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Chris Reesor


From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 11:48 am    
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Many good suggestions here, about first instruments.

More to the point, is the learning process itself. As John McClung says, it is a long, hard road. Some quality instruction is essential.
The journey will be much easier if you lay a solid foundation of basic musical knowledge; scales, chord construction,music reading, ear training, and so on.
For that purpose, a keyboard is a better learning tool than a guitar; the goal, as Fred notes, is not to become a piano player, but to learn how music works.
If you do order a new instrument from Justice. Mullen, Doug Earnest, or whoever, use the build time to start getting up to speed on musical fundamentals. Perhaps your local community college has something to offer, or a local music teacher can help.
The time and effort spent on this prep work will pay huge dividends for you.
Good luck, and enjoy the process.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Oakdale, California
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 2:04 pm    
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I also don't subscribe to the learn and play a 6 string guitar for a couple of years first. At your age, that is 2 years that you don't have to learn the instrument you REALLY want to learn. It will be tough, no doubt.

What are your aspirations? Do you plan to gig? Play at home for your enjoyment?

I started 49 years ago when there was hardly any learning materials. Now there is so much. I was a drummer when I switched to steel. I still don't play guitar. I did absorb some theory from my brother, and that helped. I don't think it is absolutely necessary to learn guitar first. The time you spend learning chords and voicings on 6 string could just as well be spent learning those same chords, voicings, etc on a steel guitar. I see no real advantage.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 4:03 pm    
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Zum stage One 4 knees 3 pedals brand new played by some pros priced around $1100 dollars an has crazy resale value.
I had a gentleman here Monday has only playing 5 years I wish I could play half as good as him an I’ve been playing 50 years. No matter if you get hooked on pedal steel you will enjoy the challenge. I found some days I think I got this I’m doing good next day I’m thinking why do I wast my time on this thing.
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Jeremy Reeves


From:
Batavia, IL, USA
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2019 4:08 pm    
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I'm new to steel though I've been a musician for 30 years and teaching music for half that time. I'd say play what you want to play so you'll actually play it! There has never been a better time to learn an instrument. The tools and technology available are amazing.
I always consider resale when buying a musical instrument so if you're like me you'll want to see which steels sell and which ones don't, and also be watching prices on eBay, reverb, and craigslist.
Good luck!
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