So learning Steel Guitar is an interesting challenge with a learning curve like any other instrument.
What’s interesting is you can tune it to a chord that has at least a major chord in it and crank out a blues 1-4-5 progression in less than 10 minutes from the very first stage.
This is where most players go WRONG. Then they get stuck in a rut so everything they play is blues and before they know it that is ALL they can play. They’re technique was never focused on so they lather on the effects pedals thick and crank up the distortion. Then after that they waste years buying and selling lap steel guitars with not much knowledge about the instrument and focus on how good the timbre of the distortion sounds against they’re sloppy playing.
How do I say this. Cause THIS WAS ME at one point.
Just a quick google/YouTube search and you’ll get the jist of what I’m saying. There are tons of blues players out there that don’t play the blues because they choose to but rather play it cause that’s all they can play on their instrument.
Now I believe there are many ways to learn an instrument but nothing beats learning the language of music.
Once you start your journey don’t look for shortcuts and distorted gains. Try and play clean , slow and know what you are playing.
“Over time it’ll pay off. ” I tell myself this all the time.
So embrace the journey enjoy the steep curve and maybe one day we will meet at the top of the mountain and if we play blues it’s because we want to and not have to.
WARNING this information doesn’t pander to famous/brand names or bullsh@t it is solely for lap steel enthusiasts to be aware before they buy.
It is often said buy non-lap steel players that a lap steel is a fairly simple instrument,
“just a plank and some strings, then slide away” – true some artists famous and not sound like this.
This couldn’t be further from the truth in its requirements, playability and skill level required plus music knowledge to SELF-teach.
- Hard wood body and NECK (doesn’t matter if its bolted on or one pice just needs to be strong
- scale length – 22.5 Best (easier for string pulls, slants and thicker string gauges)
- # of Strings – 12 best -all the way down to 6 worst (Yes I said it. Unless you feel like playing a lot of two note melody lines with a bassist playing the root notes add more strings)
- Tuning with relation to String tension (this can be easily changed but still must be considered)
- String spacing for slants and playability (How close or far do you want each string to be)
- String height off the fretboard closer to fretboard the more accurate the note will APPEAR. Perspective
- Legs – can this be setup as a console steel for stand up or seated playing
- Volume and tone pots near the right hand position toward the front near each other for easy access. (Although many people use a volume pedal its still a useful feature should you choose not to use one)
- Tuning machines – are they easily replaceable or designed with a specific machine and will be damn near impossible to get hold of replacements.
- Pickup – is it noisy and crackly or smooth and alternating cleanly from warm to clean tone when tone pot is adjusted and responsive and smooth when volume pot is adjusted.
Maybe just maybe this list will start the revolution, reach the right people and get rid of the useless 6 string rubbish on the market.