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 Other Techniques 
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Artisan Contributor
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Post Re: Other Techniques
As a working pedal steel player for 30+ years I can relate to your desire to bring a little of that to Stick. But even bending single strings with precision as I used to do on guitar has some limitations on Stick. It is possible however and I would refer you to Bob Culbertson's blues videos. He does it about as well and in tune as I can imagine it could be done.

One of the things that sets the pedal steel apart is the ability to pull one string a half step and another string a whole step while a third ringing string remains the same - all simultaneously and precisely in tune due to the tunable stops on the pedals and knee levers. The closest I've come to something like that is to work up a harmony line in thirds between the middle strings of the melody side and the high strings of the bass side and somewhere in the middle of the line use a dual bend - one with each hand, both towards the center of the neck. the melody side bend is a whole step and the bass side bend is a half step. The trick there is relentless practice to get them both in tune, release them smoothly, get on with the harmony line and get back to bass territory on the next downbeat smoothly with the left hand.

Another pedal steel-centric sound is to stagger the timing of the bends and releases in musically pleasing ways. Start with a major triad and while all three strings are ringing first raise the 3rd to a sus 4 then raise the 5th a whole step to a 6th while letting the tonic note ring. Now you have a 4 chord. That's the stereotypical pedal steel move and it doesn't have to be done with bends - it can also be done with smooth, clean hammer-ons. The limitations of string bending on Stick besides the fact that you can only excite the string once - and the fact that for me anyway, I can only get a decent whole tone bend out of the 2nd and 3rd string on the melody side and the 10th & 11th strings on the bass side of my grand with medium strings. Practical half step bends are possible on strings 1,4 and 5 on the melody side and 9 & 12 on the bass side.

Since I already play a real pedal steel with 30 + years of chops,I kinda realized a long time ago that when played with authority, nothing sounds remotely like a pedal steel so when I play guitar, mandolin or Stick I primarily go for the strengths each instrument has to offer. The Stick offers a tremendous range, piano-like 2 hand independence and a unique tone in a relatively small package. What you can do in spades on a Stick is polyphony, self-accompaniment, syncopation and counterpoint so I try to play to those strengths.


Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:53 am
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Post Re: Other Techniques
The really neat thing about the Stick is that everyone has something they may have stumbled upon that others haven't. It's still the wild west for this instrument in a lot of ways, and there's still so much uncharted territory so to speak, that I'd be surprised if most people here didn't have something you'd think was pretty interesting.

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Thu Jun 01, 2017 2:06 pm
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Post Re: Other Techniques
The_Afro_Circus wrote:
The really neat thing about the Stick is that everyone has something they may have stumbled upon that others haven't. It's still the wild west for this instrument in a lot of ways, and there's still so much uncharted territory so to speak, that I'd be surprised if most people here didn't have something you'd think was pretty interesting.


Pretty true, Josh. I know that when everyone did that "Collaboration" last Christmas that there were heaps of interesting things from everybody, every bit of music was so different. It was such a treat to jam with everyone...

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Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:26 pm
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Post Re: Other Techniques
Captain Strings wrote:
As a working pedal steel player for 30+ years I can relate to your desire to bring a little of that to Stick. But even bending single strings with precision as I used to do on guitar has some limitations on Stick. It is possible however and I would refer you to Bob Culbertson's blues videos. He does it about as well and in tune as I can imagine it could be done.

One of the things that sets the pedal steel apart is the ability to pull one string a half step and another string a whole step while a third ringing string remains the same - all simultaneously and precisely in tune due to the tunable stops on the pedals and knee levers. The closest I've come to something like that is to work up a harmony line in thirds between the middle strings of the melody side and the high strings of the bass side and somewhere in the middle of the line use a dual bend - one with each hand, both towards the center of the neck. the melody side bend is a whole step and the bass side bend is a half step. The trick there is relentless practice to get them both in tune, release them smoothly, get on with the harmony line and get back to bass territory on the next downbeat smoothly with the left hand.

Another pedal steel-centric sound is to stagger the timing of the bends and releases in musically pleasing ways. Start with a major triad and while all three strings are ringing first raise the 3rd to a sus 4 then raise the 5th a whole step to a 6th while letting the tonic note ring. Now you have a 4 chord. That's the stereotypical pedal steel move and it doesn't have to be done with bends - it can also be done with smooth, clean hammer-ons. The limitations of string bending on Stick besides the fact that you can only excite the string once - and the fact that for me anyway, I can only get a decent whole tone bend out of the 2nd and 3rd string on the melody side and the 10th & 11th strings on the bass side of my grand with medium strings. Practical half step bends are possible on strings 1,4 and 5 on the melody side and 9 & 12 on the bass side.

Since I already play a real pedal steel with 30 + years of chops,I kinda realized a long time ago that when played with authority, nothing sounds remotely like a pedal steel so when I play guitar, mandolin or Stick I primarily go for the strengths each instrument has to offer. The Stick offers a tremendous range, piano-like 2 hand independence and a unique tone in a relatively small package. What you can do in spades on a Stick is polyphony, self-accompaniment, syncopation and counterpoint so I try to play to those strengths.


Without a doubt, a pedal steel is a unique animal. I want one pretty badly, not so much to "master" but rather to add an unusual flavour to my tunes.

Anyways, an EHX Hog2 Pedal (With expression) is an unusual and cool effect pedal that can add a quasi "pedal/lap steel" effect to stick playing. Plus, it can do so much more. A lot of fun...

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Grand Stick #6667
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https://soundcloud.com/Jayesskerr Muh Soundcloud spot...
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdNmj2xi91qQWLymozzMudA Muh Youtube place


Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:49 pm
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