Pedal Steel Guitar Lessons and Teachers

By Paul Rogers on 12/14/2011

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Avid music lovers of country music, blues, jazz, and bluegrass share a common sound that is coveted in all these musical styles, the sound of the pedal steel guitar. For musicians, and specifically guitar players pursuing a career in country, jazz or blues, taking pedal steel guitar lessons will make a significant difference in the music you’ll be able to create and the success you will enjoy as a musician. Finding an experienced pedal steel guitar teacher who will teach you the secrets, tips and techniques you’ll need to play this unusual variation of the guitar is not as hard as it may seem. The key is in looking through available resources and music sites and/or music stores to find a qualified teacher. Going by word of mouth from other musicians or music students might lead you to the best source.

The pedal steel guitar, a variety of electric guitar, is played by using a steel bar that shortens or lengthens the strings, rather than using the fingers to pluck or strum the strings. In addition, a series of pedals and knee levers must be played that affects the pitch and sound of the pedal steel guitar. This instrument is not the easiest one to start off playing, since a new student has a lot to learn in coordinating the new movements as they’re taught. Learning to combine all of these movements smoothly and evenly at once, remembering all the intricacies involved, and not to mention the importance of knowing how tune one’s own instrument takes concentration, effort and practice. All of this makes it a high priority to find a pedal steel guitar teacher who carries a solid reputation. If they give lessons, add extras, and offer their own DVDs as an additional source of learning, then you will know you’re in good hands. In this case, even if they do end up charging a higher price, the extra cost can be well worth the while

Pedal Steel Guitar Teacher and Instruction

The pedal steel guitar is one of the most finely crafted musical instruments there is, but as any musician will tell you, an instrument can only come to life by the touch of human hands. Therefore, the student who is interested in playing should take pedal steel guitar lessons to train their hands with drills that focus specifically on the special movements needed for this instrument. Your pedal steel guitar teacher will guide and take you through a series of drills step-by-step from the beginning stages to mastering the movements simultaneously.

In the beginning it might seem difficult for most students, as they tend to feel overwhelmed at the complexity and combination of all the movements involved. A good teacher will start their students off with learning the thumb against index finger for picking using the right hand. The left hand will be sliding the metal bar against the frets, or fretting as it’s called. Gaining mastery over this is not easy, so beginners are often advised by their pedal steel guitar teacher to take it slowly and not try to combine all the movements at once. Students will often learn much quicker and easier when they slow down and gain mastery over each individual movement first, before picking up speed and adding the full combination of movements together. Learning this way helps to assure that the student achieves the right tone and execution which is then improved upon by hard work and practice.

Pedal Steel Guitar Hand Positioning

The right hand is where all the main action happens when it comes to playing pedal steel guitar; whether you’re playing scales or harmony. The trick in obtaining the unique sounding twang of the pedal steel guitar is in getting the string to vibrate, and then changing pitch by sliding the metal bar up or down the frets.

Your pedal steel guitar teacher will teach you about picking the strings with your thumb, index finger and middle finger. You will learn how to position your right hand in order for it to be the most effective; this aids you when playing to achieve the sound and pitch you are looking for. The strings can be attacked from the strength of the fingers alone, or from the wrist, or all the way up from the forearm, each will add its own distinctive sound. Different pedal steel guitar players have their own way of placing their right hand and playing, so study how other professionals hold their hands and learn by watching their techniques.

Changing strings on your guitar isn’t all that difficult, and changing strings regularly will help to keep the sound of your guitar fresh and alive. When your string sounds like its beginning to buzz or whine, that could be a sign it is time to change it before it breaks.

While changing the string, your pedal steel guitar teacher will show you how to hold the new string at the wind end with one hand, while sliding a clean cloth down along the entire length of the string with the other, as is recommended for cleaning it. This will help to get all the winds and twists out of the string. Once the new string is on, it will have more life and a stronger sound.
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