Pedal Steel Guitar Breaks.

Add The 'Steel' To Your Sound...

Greetings friends once again -- so nice to be here and in following up with my last music hub on using the banjo to maybe spice up your sound, I've got another one for you!

Intro, the pedal steel guitar. Now, don't get thinking that this would corner you into a pure country market, although we all know the role of the pedal steel within the sounds of country. Simply put, country wouldn't be country without it, as it almost TOTALLY defines that sound.

First, we all can picture some person sitting down and pickin' away at this thing. But upon closer inspection, just take a look at the work that has to be done with this instrument in order to make it sound the way it does. One hand does the picking of the strings, the other hand slides the bar across, there are foot pedals (hence, the name...) to raise and lower the notes in a forward fashion and I believe you can also tip the foot pedals sideways as well. In addition, you have under-the-board knee pedals as well. Whew! -- actually, ALL your extremities are involved in playing this instrument, and I have nothing but respect for those players who have mastered the art of playing this monster. It's just incredible to synchronize all those movements into that sound.

That said, let's take a quick look at some past pop monster hits that have incorporated this instrument into mainstream play and 'listenability':

1. Crosby, Stills, and Nash with "Teach Your Children", circa 1970's, I believe. The steel here was played by none other than the late Jerry Garcia of "The Grateful Dead" fame. The breaks here are absolutely incredible -- so tasty, so well-played, intricate yet bearing of simplicity...the steel here is just wonderful, and look how that song went on to become a monster classic!

2. Ray Stevens with "Misty", circa 1971. The pedal steel break here is phenomenal -- just phenomenal. It bursts out in the middle of the piece right at you, as there is a second or so of delay and the break just floors you! So well-played with a hint of old-tyme country and a perfect fit for the 'funny man' of radio. That song got MAJOR play time back then.

3. Linda Ronstadt with "Blue Bayou", circa 1977. This piece featured a mournful yet eloquent break, almost pure country in sound yet matches perfectly with Lindas' beautiful voice. This break gave me the shivers...

4. hehe -- Lastly and in the vein of all country, we have ol' Hank Williams Junior with "Family Tradition", late 1970's I believe. I just LOVE this song, although not a pure country fan. What's neat about this song is that Hank is singin' about HIS style of music as compared to his famous daddys' but what is most incredible about this piece, is the steel guitar, which was played to-the-note in classice 'old time' country style, like the early days of the music. The drums are basic but the steel is ever-present with that 'twangy' style, although the song is recent. Just a great song for you country lovers!

So my friends in music, once again don't ignore an instrument just because it might be associated with another style of music. The pedal steel guitar is a very capable instrument that can be adapted to almost anything and just might give YOUR sound that extra edge. It certainly gave the above examples Top 40 ratings and if considered, might catapault your work into something similar.

Think about it when all seems the same these days. Thanks for listening to the vent and see you soon again!

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