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Author Topic:  Pedal Steels Will Soon Be A Dime A Dozen
Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 8:09 am    
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I find it doubtful that there are more bagpipe players than steel guitar players! Whoa!
I have a Scottish friend and he says that bagpipes are the missing link between noise and music! Very Happy
Erv
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Dennis Montgomery


From:
Western Washington
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 8:37 am    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:

I have a Scottish friend and he says that bagpipes are the missing link between noise and music! Very Happy
Erv


Good one Erv Laughing


Q: What's the definition of a gentleman?

A: Someone who knows how to play the bagpipes but chooses not to Winking
_________________
Check out a couple of songs on youtube featuring my Mullen G2 SD12 played without fingerpicks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-rEGK1dN7U&t=189s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dM-3F6NPXQ

Check out my prog rock band Mutiny in Jonestown's music at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/

Check out the Mutiny in Jonestown progressive rock album that has Fender 400 pedal steel on every song at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/album/the-daemons-mock-me-while-i-sleep
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Ross Shafer


From:
Petaluma, California
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 9:03 am    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:
I find it doubtful that there are more bagpipe players than steel guitar players! Whoa!
I have a Scottish friend and he says that bagpipes are the missing link between noise and music! Very Happy
Erv


I like your pal's analogy Erv.

I can assure you there's more bagpipe players than steelers. Just search google for bagpipe repair and supplies....or google "bagpipe bands". The real evidence is this....ask 100 non-musicians if they know what bagpipes are, then ask the same 100n people what a pedal steel is.
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 12:57 pm    
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17 million views, nearly a half million subscribers and 264,000 likes is pretty good evidence. Find any pedal steel player living or dead that has done that. David Hartley is the closest with 2 or 3 million views. These girls are good. There's another one with 23 million views. It's the song Amazing Grace.
I think the reason people are not going nuts over a steel player is because most look like they are playing chess. It's about that interesting to watch and also the majority are old men. They simply don't put on a show for the young record buyers and concert goers.
Robert Randolph puts on a show but he's more the standard blues slide player than a pedal steel guitarist. I thought Sarah Jory would be the one to put steel guitars in the limelight but for whatever reason it never really happened. I'm not talking about the Grand Ole Opry. I'm talking about Sarah herself packing 80,000 fans into the Superdome. One of these days I keep thinking.


https://youtu.be/HXm8JdC4k4c
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Ben Michaels


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 4:24 pm    
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Guys there is hope. I am young (30s) and picked it up this year. God willing and creek don't rise got me into it when I couldn't figure out how to play those parts on guitar.

Now that I play I am shocked how many of my favorite songs/records have pedal steel on them.

One barrier that hasn't been mentioned is the complexity of playing in E9 or C6 on 10+ strings with pedals/levers. Was PSG the first instrument that you learned? I honestly couldn't have picked my way around my S10 E9 neck 5 years ago with my knowledge of music theory then.

Final thought.....feel free to send all your PSG equipment to me when you're done with it. I'll pay shipping. Very Happy
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Sean Borton

 

From:
Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 5:01 pm    
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Ben Michaels wrote:
Guys there is hope. I am young (30s) and picked it up this year. God willing and creek don't rise got me into it when I couldn't figure out how to play those parts on guitar.


Thank you!

Here in Winnipeg MB I am meeting new young steel players every month. I got into steel 10 - 12 years ago because players were scarce, now they are everywhere... and darn good! The majority of these players are in their 20's... some in their 30's.

If pedal steel is dying, I'm sure not seeing it around here. If anything else, it's enjoying a resurgence... and it's the young players bringing it to life.
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 5:10 pm    
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Ben Michaels wrote:
Guys there is hope. I am young (30s) and picked it up this year. God willing and creek don't rise got me into it when I couldn't figure out how to play those parts on guitar.

Now that I play I am shocked how many of my favorite songs/records have pedal steel on them.

One barrier that hasn't been mentioned is the complexity of playing in E9 or C6 on 10+ strings with pedals/levers. Was PSG the first instrument that you learned? I honestly couldn't have picked my way around my S10 E9 neck 5 years ago with my knowledge of music theory then.

Final thought.....feel free to send all your PSG equipment to me when you're done with it. I'll pay shipping. Very Happy


Ben knock em' out! I hope you go to the top with that thing. Yes the pedal steel is complex. There is a way to make a pedal steel that works standing up but no one has done it yet. You could even leave your 6 string guitar around your neck and play it standing up. It would have to be tall enough to be able to work the knee levers with your thighs. Knee levers and pedals would both have to jut out of the back of the guitars body. It would be built entirely different than current steels but still retain the same undercarriage and top.
I'm a builder so I have gave this much thought. That way a rock guitarist that can play both can move freely around the stage. Junior Brown created an instrument similar to what I have in mind.

Here's Juniors stand up pedal steel.
https://youtu.be/S_Hx6GbvMSM
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Dennis Montgomery


From:
Western Washington
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 9:05 pm    
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David Mitchell wrote:
There is a way to make a pedal steel that works standing up but no one has done it yet.


Steve Howe of Yes was played his ShoBud standing up with his 6 string hanging around his neck back on their 1975 and 1976 tours Winking





The short pedal steel solo begins at the 3:28 mark in this live '76 video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MRetcp22uc
_________________
Check out a couple of songs on youtube featuring my Mullen G2 SD12 played without fingerpicks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-rEGK1dN7U&t=189s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dM-3F6NPXQ

Check out my prog rock band Mutiny in Jonestown's music at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/

Check out the Mutiny in Jonestown progressive rock album that has Fender 400 pedal steel on every song at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/album/the-daemons-mock-me-while-i-sleep
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 27 Feb 2020 11:23 pm    
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That's cool Dennis! I listen to that kind of music too. I listen to everything but got stereotyped as a country steel player.
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Gabriel Edell


From:
Hamilton, Ontario
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2020 5:20 am    
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Q: How do you get two bagpipers to play in tune?

A: Shoot one.
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 28 Feb 2020 5:21 am    
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Gabriel Edell wrote:
Q: How do you get two bagpipers to play in tune?

A: Shoot one.


Heeheehe!😜
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James Holland


From:
Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 7:47 am    
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Nah, there are many more bagpipers than pedal steelers. I can actually hire a half dozen pipers for a funeral. I only know three pedal steelers in the quad county area, and one of them is me (albeit not a proficient one).

I watch instrument sales. Pedal steel has to be the most obscure, and least available of all instruments. I see one for sale locally maybe every six months.

I love the instrument. Its popularity has really dropped off, just like live country music. I haven't seen a straight up local country band in decades. I only know one venue that supports a country band in a 50 mile radius, and they aren't paying much at all. I agree with the OP.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 8:42 am    
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I think one of the problems with the pedal steel is
people are too ready to classify it as strictly a cry in your beer, country instrument.
If we want the instrument to gain in popularity we need to expand its horizons.
Some churches don't want it played in their church because they associate it with bar music.
The pedal steel is a very versatile instrument and applicable to a great variety of music. Very Happy
Erv
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Geoff Noble


From:
Scotland
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 10:07 am    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:
I find it doubtful that there are more bagpipe players than steel guitar players! Whoa!
I have a Scottish friend and he says that bagpipes are the missing link between noise and music! Very Happy
Erv


Living in Scotland I can say without fear of contradiction that there are exponentially more bagpipe players than pedal steel players here. I awoke one morning to the sound of 100 pipe bands tuning up for the World Pipe Band competition, I initially thought that the apocalypse had finally arrived Laughing

I agree with Erv that the key to survival is for the instrument to be used for other types of music along with it's traditional use in country or americana.

Has anyone mentioned what an audience wants to listen to? If there is no, or a dwindling, audience who actually want to listen to a particular style of music then that style of music will diminish to a rump of enthusiasts.

I got talking to a young couple at a wedding event and they were enquiring about what instruments I played, I mentioned pedal steel guitar and they hadn't a clue what I was talking about, I showed them a picture and they got very excited and told me that they had been to a show at the Edinburgh festival where one was being played. They had never heard one before this and they raved about what a heavenly sound it had, it wasn't country music being played.

This told me that people generally love the sound of a pedal steel when they have the opportunity to hear it being used in a style of music they can relate to.
_________________
"If it sounds good, it is good"

YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFqsA-Ahlgr2Z2sw71WJHGg/videos

Soundcloud - http://soundcloud.com/just-jef/tracks


Last edited by Geoff Noble on 29 Feb 2020 11:12 am; edited 2 times in total
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Mike Beley

 

From:
Alberta, Canada
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 10:36 am    
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At 4:10 of that Yes video above, watch his bar.
All PSG players who also play guitar at the same time should be required to wear steel-toed boots for safety reasons.
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Ken Pippus


From:
Lake Oswego, OR
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 11:03 am    
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Sitting down makes for a short drop distance, or we'd all have to wear protective cups, like hockey players.

Canadian reference for you there, Mike, eh?
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 1:18 pm    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:
I think one of the problems with the pedal steel is
people are too ready to classify it as strictly a cry in your beer, country instrument.
If we want the instrument to gain in popularity we need to expand its horizons.
Some churches don't want it played in their church because they associate it with bar music.
The pedal steel is a very versatile instrument and applicable to a great variety of music. Very Happy
Erv


That's true Erv and totally agree. I play all kinds of music although I'm stereotyped as a whiner.
With that said whining is what a pedal steel does best. It can do that and no other instrument in the world can whine like a pedal steel. I majored in music in college, made straight A's and piano was my instrument. I can play huge chords on it containing 10 notes all attacked at once. Can't be done on a pedal steel without raking the chord. The piano specializes in jazz and pop. Elton John made it work for him as well as Van Cliburn. I can take my electric guitar and do about anything on it including rock all while standing up.
What none of those other instruments can do is moan and cry like a pedal steel. Sure anything can be played on one but it excels and exceeds all others in the crying department.
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Dennis Montgomery


From:
Western Washington
Post  Posted 29 Feb 2020 2:43 pm    
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Mike Beley wrote:
At 4:10 of that Yes video above, watch his bar.
All PSG players who also play guitar at the same time should be required to wear steel-toed boots for safety reasons.


Laughing

And it must be nice to have a roadie who's only job is to find your bar for you when it rolls off your ShoBud Winking
_________________
Check out a couple of songs on youtube featuring my Mullen G2 SD12 played without fingerpicks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-rEGK1dN7U&t=189s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dM-3F6NPXQ

Check out my prog rock band Mutiny in Jonestown's music at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/

Check out the Mutiny in Jonestown progressive rock album that has Fender 400 pedal steel on every song at: https://mutinyinjonestown.bandcamp.com/album/the-daemons-mock-me-while-i-sleep
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 1 Mar 2020 6:48 am    
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Talk about different venues for the steel guitar.
My guitar slinging buddy and myself played a couple of songs at my church and after services a little gal came up and said: "I know some other place you can play".
I said: "Where"?
She said: "At my wedding".
Sure enough, we played at her wedding and WE were it, no other music but my buddy and myself.
We did everything from "The Wedding March" to the "Bridal Chorus".
It was great fun! Very Happy
Erv
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Paul Pearson

 

From:
Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 3 Mar 2020 5:21 pm     Pedal steel a dime dozen
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Era church and gospel is only place and music I play I played on week ends 3 to 4 services a week end never was told I couldn't play I was questioned a few times and I did play in bars for a long time but when my life change I have never played in a bar again I've been in gospel for around 25 years and loving ever minnet of it in my area of about 75 square mile their probably 30 to 40 steel players and about half of us are gospel some young players too I really don't pedal steel is dying out we've had a bump in music some of the contemporary has hurt us some in the bigger churches but we're still playing 1 or 2 nights a week end and our home church I have a double 10 Mullen at home all ways carry a Mullen s10 discovery on the road custom made of course nothing like a Mullen
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Drew Howard


From:
48854
Post  Posted 4 Mar 2020 5:31 am    
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Ross Shafer wrote:
Except that banjo players ... outnumber steelers by a very, very wide margin!


Agreed.

Ukuleles have made a huge comeback, with a big push from retail. So, an instrument can indeed come back from the dead.

As was expressed earlier, it helps to have a star or a radio hit on the instrument to motivate new players. This is happening in the uke community.
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Gabriel Edell


From:
Hamilton, Ontario
Post  Posted 4 Mar 2020 7:04 am    
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Drew Howard wrote:
Ross Shafer wrote:
Except that banjo players ... outnumber steelers by a very, very wide margin!


Agreed.

Ukuleles have made a huge comeback, with a big push from retail. So, an instrument can indeed come back from the dead.

As was expressed earlier, it helps to have a star or a radio hit on the instrument to motivate new players. This is happening in the uke community.


The barrier to entry for ukelele is extremely low. You can get them new for $50. Or free used. Most people can become proficient enough to hack their way through a pop song on one in a couple of days. And portable of course. Compare that to the pedal steel. . .
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 4 Mar 2020 8:46 am    
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Quote:
The barrier to entry for ukelele is extremely low. You can get them new for $50. Or free used.

Yes, because that's what they're worth. But there are lots more expensive ukes out there.

Quote:
Most people can become proficient enough to hack their way through a pop song on one in a couple of days. And portable of course. Compare that to the pedal steel. . .

Yeah, and the same can be said of guitar. So what?

Quote:
The Return of the $2000 Push-Pull is kinda nice for the buyer.

I think that one was a fluke. Very occasionally, people still unearth old Strats and Teles out of closets and sell them reasonable. The occasional exception does not negate the rule.

Yes, there are lots more banjo, uke, and especially guitar players out there. Yawn.

But I disagree with the basic premise of this thread. Pedal Steel has always been a niche instrument. It has been type-cast - I think more by others than the actual players themselves. But the barrier to entry is less expensive in constant dollars than ever - do the math. And they are more accessible than ever in terms of simply finding one to play. And I'm sure there are lots more pedal steel players than ever. But it is still, basically, a niche instrument. I personally am fine with that, and most of the steel players I know feel the same way.

Of course, nobody knows the future for certain. But I think the future looks good.

BTW - people have been saying the same things - "the sky is falling" - about vintage guitars for the last 30 years. Tell ya' what - when you want to sell your '50s or '60s original Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, and '30s to '50s Martin and Gibson dreadnaughts for a mere thousand or two, y'all call me, hear?! I'd love to be able to get into a few nice vintage pieces without having to mortgage my house.
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Barry Blackwood


Post  Posted 4 Mar 2020 10:23 am    
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Quote:
I have a Scottish friend and he says that bagpipes are the missing link between noise and music!


Is this him?


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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 4 Mar 2020 10:25 am    
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Yes!
That's him! Whoa!

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