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  1. #1

    Post What is a pedal steel lick?

    Can anyone give me a bit of a definition of what a pedal steel lick is. I've heard the term mentioned here and there but don't fully understand what it is. Just started watching the 2nd CD of the CAGED Cracked course and Brad Carlton mentioned it a few times and played some country sounding stuff but I don't quite get what it is.
    Sometimes life sucks, but God is always good!!!

  2. #2
    Bekaybe Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by tev77
    Can anyone give me a bit of a definition of what a pedal steel lick is. I've heard the term mentioned here and there but don't fully understand what it is. Just started watching the 2nd CD of the CAGED Cracked course and Brad Carlton mentioned it a few times and played some country sounding stuff but I don't quite get what it is.
    There is a type of guitar called a Pedal Steel guitar. It looks like this:



    And while I'm not sure how it's strung, the double stops and slides Brad is playing are "common sounds" heard in pedal steel playing. You play it with a slide, I should say.

    Jerry Garcia played pedal steel on Crosby Stills and Nash's "Teach your Children" for an example you may have heard.

    The pedal steel is very popular (I think) in country music, so I'm sure you can find plenty of it if you know the first thing about country performers (I do not)

  3. #3
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    The 'magic' of a pedal steel guitar is, the pedals. They are used to detune individual strings, kind of like the tremelo (actually a vibrato) on a stratocaster type guitar, except for each string. This yields a very distinctive, crying sort of sound.

    A pedal steel lick attempts to replicate this on a standard guitar. You fret 2 notes, but pre-bend one of them, play the two notes and bring the bent note back down. Some country players actually use special guitars to do this. They have string benders on them.

    This one is a G-bender, but Bs are also common. The mechanism is attached to the neck strap button, when you push down against the strap, the string detunes.

    <picture courtesy of Crook Guitars of a McVay stringbender>
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  4. #4

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    A pedal steel is very similar to a lap steel, but it has pedals and knee levers to bend individual strings. You play it using a steel (not a slide), a solid metal bar that can be had in various shapes - bullet bar, stevens bar, etc....there are dozens of tunings employed by different players - some guys have "Pet" tunings that allow them to achive different sounds. I beleive the most common configuration is 10 strings, but I'm no expert.

    It's mostly used in Country music, but there are guys that use them for other styles. Check out Buddy Emmons for some smokin' Jazz, and Robert Randolph is a Blues/Sacred Steel phenom!

    When you hear guitarists playing Steel licks, it usually involves oblique bends - bending one note while another note remains unchanged. Johnny Hiland is very adept at this - I'll bet Ladd Smith has some under his fingers, too.

    You gotta eat some fried chicken first, though. The grease really makes the licks sound better!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Gibson
    You gotta eat some fried chicken first, though. The grease really makes the licks sound better!

    LMAO :D

    Good answers, I was unsure of this myself and have never heard of B or G benders (really have not had a good bender since my time in the Navy actually).

    Robert Randolph is a phenom!

    This is a most excellent video with lots of closeups and you can really see the steel Josh mentioned:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK561...eature=related

    A couple of cuts from Letterman, good camera work:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5CAL...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4zpzEIdoPc
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  6. #6

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    10 strings per neck 2 necks is the standard, one being tuned to E9 and the other to C6. E9 giving a bluesy sound and C6 giving the Country sound that is originally derived from Hawaiian music. The Hawaiian music is where country double stops come from.

    Crying as a description of sound was exact!

    In the more basic double stop bends one string is bent while the other isn't, but in the more complex multiple stings are bent. I have one that bends one string a whole step and the other a half step, it takes practice to be able to get the different intervals.

    Pedal steel is in MHO the most beautiful sounding instrument on Country music.

    Different players do come up with various tunings for uniqueness, and also think in different intervals for uniqueness.

    Joe Dalton's Big Twang is a great Course that includes this stuff.
    I did some video with Joe recently with him doing steel bends over blues progressions, it was too much fun, I learned a few things and I hope TrueFire airs it soon!!!
    :D

  7. #7

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    Here's a video of Jimmy Page playing the string bender guitar that rjbasque described. It's called a B-Bender because when Jimmy pushes the guitar downward putting pressure on the upper straplock, it moves the strap lock lever which in turn tightens the B string, as if you were bending.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEmb14hCQGM
    (I'm sure there are better examples of B-Bender demonstrations but this is Jimmy Page!)

  8. #8
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    Check out Greg Koch in Truefire TVs Concert Hall for some B-bender action. You can also search for the 'Hellcasters"
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  9. #9

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    Hey guys, thanks for all your responses. I think I've learnt heaps about pedal steel guitars (which I didn't know existed until now).
    Sometimes life sucks, but God is always good!!!

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