** As featured in issue 35 **
Objective: To learn how to emulate a pedal steel guitar. To learn a country guitar solo that demonstrates the pedal steel guitar techniques.
Emulating a pedal steel guitar is one of the most popular guitar techniques for Country players.
In a nutshell, the concept for this technique is simple. You’re going to bend one or more notes against a fretted fixed note.
The granddaddy of all pedal steel bends is played by bending the third string against a fretted fixed note on the first string. If for instance you are in the key of G in the open position you would fret the G on the first string with your pinky. At the same time bend the third string from A to B with your second finger. Using hybrid picking, play the third string with your pick and pluck the first string with your middle finger simultaneously. Let both strings ring. Best to watch the video for more details on which notes to bend.
The solo is a I, IV, I, V7, I medium Country shuffle in the key of G.
The first lick is in the 15th position. The double stops are played using hybrid picking. For the second lick move to the 12th position. Notice the pre bend on the third string. Support your bending finger with at least one other finger. This will help to ensure in tune bends. Then move down to the 8th position. This lick requires a third string bend. Bend with your third finger and support the bend with your second. A variation of this lick in the 8th position is the next move.
The last part of the solo is a series of diatonic sixth intervals played on string 3 and 1. Use hybrid picking for this section with your pick playing the third string and your middle finger plucking the first simultaneously. I add a third note to the last double stop. I’m playing a D, F# and B on strings 3, 2 and 1 respectively using a barre with my first finger. From there I hammer-on to E on the third string and C on the first string. I allow the F# on the second string to continue to ring. This gives me a classic pedal steel chord. It’s called a D9. Walk the sixths back down to the third position and be sure to keep them diatonic to the G scale.
The last lick is very cool but tricky. It’s in the 7th position. It’s important to use the tip of your finger to bend. You’ll need all of the callous you can get for this one. Put your first finger on a D at the 7th fret of the third string. Now with your index finger you’re going to bend the third string up a whole step in pitch by pulling it down towards the floor. At the same, time gather the second string under your first finger. Now you are actually fretting two notes. Next, bend the note on the second string up a half step keeping the second string gathered under your finger. The resulting sound should be contrary motion with the second string lowering in pitch and the third string rising in pitch. It takes practice but is well worth the effort.