Pedal steel emulation with slide using pinky finger on the volume knob

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Geetar_Will, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. Geetar_Will

    Geetar_Will Supporting Member

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    No volume pedal. Basically one handed pick/volume swell technique with slide. I'm used to doing some muting with both hands and the one handed swell thing is limiting my muting. Also, how do you get a full swell out of the pinky? Maybe I've got a shorter pinky than most of the guys I've seen do this. I've been doing swells for a long time but it's always been striking the strings and then turning up the volume after (basically devoting my whole hand to turning the volume up).

    Anyone have any tips on this? What do you use?
     
  2. Neer

    Neer Member

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    There is a misconception by guitar players of what a pedal steel player does with a volume pedal (which is totally cool, because it has developed into its own thing). I can tell you that as a former guitarist who was totally into that approach.

    A steel player (non-pedal, too) will mostly use the volume pedal to increase the sustain, or longevity of a note or notes--they usually don't swell from point zero up. Usually, the note is audibly picked and then the volume pedal is used to increase the volume as the notes fade. That is why steel players generally like amps with a ton of clean headroom.

    A lot of lap steel players, including myself, will swell up with a volume pedal because it is a habit carried over from guitar. I still love that effect, a la Frisell, Larry Carlton (listen to Heijira).

    It's important to know what kind of guitar you are using. Danny Gatton was a master with the volume and tone controls--in fact, I remember he had a little rubber toy with arms on it that he could easily reach for the tone control on his Tele, which is in a very inconvenient position.

    So, what is the guitar?
     
  3. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Great to get your input Neer cause as a faux steel player I can loose sight of what the real deal is about. I listened to a lot of Roy Buchanan. I suspect Danny did a lot of that in person.
     
  4. Geetar_Will

    Geetar_Will Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. Neer

    Neer Member

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    Nice guitar!

    I would recommend using your fingers, rather than a pick, for emulating steel. If you are in standard tuning, the harmonies that you will likely be seeking will not be on adjacent strings.

    For instance:

    ------------0----2---4---------
    --2----4----------------------
    ------------1----2---4---------
    --2----4----------------------
    ------------------------------
    ------------------------------

    Using bare fingers will give you much better control, which is essential to emulating steel. Most really good players have a flawlessness to them. You have to be able to use your right palm for blocking and transitioning from one chord or note to the next. And don't slide too lazily! Pedal steel usually has a quick, precise change from one note to the next.
     
  6. Geetar_Will

    Geetar_Will Supporting Member

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    Thanks. I have found the fingers seem to be the way to go. Also, keeping my right hand closer to the bridge for a brighter sound and a good placement near the volume seem to help. I'm still working on the motor functions and nailing that pedal steel fade in and vibrato.
     
  7. Neer

    Neer Member

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    Well, as far as the fade in, I would work on making the picking of the notes audible, so don't start with the pedal completely up, maybe somewhere around 20%. The notes will die much quicker on a Tele than a steel guitar, so you will need to spend some time listening and trying to achieve a balanced increase. BTW, using your vibrato and increasing the volume without picking is how you begin to achieve the crying sound.
     
  8. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    Has somebody been listening to Sturgill Simpson?

    The amp cranked so you have a lot of sustain will help. Some delay can also help. Volume also helps. As others have said, you don't need to start with the guitar volume on zero.

    It's something I've been working on forever, too...
     
  9. Geetar_Will

    Geetar_Will Supporting Member

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    Yesir.

     
  10. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    Haha.... can't see that video at work.

    I've noticed stomping on an OD pedal can also help because then the amp is really hot. Just make sure you can get back to an appropriate sound when you stop the swells.
     

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