Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

It is a new year and time to recap where I am learning the pedal steel guitar and what is planned for the new year. I have spent the last six months learning the Jimmy Day arrangement of Coconut Grove. While I have learned the basics of the song, I am still a long way off from being ready to perform it before an audience. Needless to say I am tired of going over and over the song. It is time to mix things up a bit and continue to learn. One of the frustrating things for me is I can't remember more than three songs at a time. Over the last four years I have learned the following songs:

Steel guitar Rag (E)
Blue Hawaii
Amazing Grace
The Old Rugged Cross
We Could
The Last Date
Together Again

Kansas City
Walking After Midnight
How D'Ya Do
Coconut Grove

Now my instructor has told me I need 15 songs for a set. I needed to come up with 3 more songs for my first set. Then we would start with the E9 neck and review each song from the start. So I came up with three additional songs. So my first play list looks like this:

Steel guitar Rag (E)
Blue Hawaii
Amazing Grace
The Old Rugged Cross
We Could
The Last Date
Together Again
By The Time I Get To Phoenix

Kansas City
Walking After Midnight
How D'Ya Do
Coconut Grove
I'll Remember You
Beyond the Reef

The plan is to start with Steel Guitar Rag and jog the memory and polish it up a little and move on down the list while I also keep playing Coconut Grove so I do not forget it. The first lesson where we started this process, I told my instructor I do not remember the song. He told me that I do remember, I just forgot where I stored it. As we progressed through our lesson, I started remembering the song. We then moved on to Blue Hawaii and my instructor left me with the first couple of measures. Finally, we went back to Walking After Midnight and went through a couple of measures. My practice between now and the next lesson was to practice all of this.

As I sat down the next day to practice, I started with Coconut Grove and went through the entire song. I then went to Steel Guitar Rag and something surprising happened. As I played what my instructor showed me, I started remembering how he taught me the song. It did not take me long and I was playing the song as I was originally taught. I then moved on to Blue Hawaii and played what my instructor showed me. After practicing for a while the next section of the song came back. I then moved on to Walking After Midnight without any revelations I experienced with the other songs.

I am looking forward to my next lesson as I will get more of songs back.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our family to you and yours we wish you a Merry Christmas. Especially during this time of year it is important to be thankful for the blessings we have been given. I am thankful for my girl friend, family and friends. I want to extend our appreciation to all members of the armed forces for they keep us free. I hope the season brings you all your wishes and desires.

If you received steel guitar related presents, congrats to you! To all of my steel guitar brothers and sisters keep picking as you don't know what lives you will touch by your music.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Stann and Andrea

Saturday, September 7, 2013

C6 Journey continued -- Jerry Byrd

I have been continuing my practice with Jerry Byrd's How D'ya Do. It is slow going as this is a hard song. I have been struggling with the picking patterns. It may be in part I am still learning the C6 neck.

Music Theory Part III -- Chord Construction

In my first two posts on Music Theory I focused on Major and Minor scales and how to build them using the circle of fifths as a visual guide. In this post we will tackle building chords for major and minor scales.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Changing Strings

I look forward to changing strings because it is a time to reflect on what progress I have made since the last time I changed strings. Also it is a time to clean and lubricate some parts on your guitar. I will detail how I change strings on my Mullen G2. The process is basically the same for other guitars but there may be some slight differences due to the different way guitars are manufactured. I also change both necks at the same time.

Supply List

Wire Cutters
E9 Strings Use your favorite strings. I use GHS Boomers)
C6 Strings
Oil ( I use sewing machine oil. DO NOT USE WD 40 AT ALL)
Chrome polish (if needed)
Finish Polish (lacquered vs formica) Choose your poison


1. Removing Old Strings -- It may be fun to just cut strings and watch them fly around the room but it can also be dangerous too. Imagine hitting your girlfriend or significant other with a flying string. You might be cooking and sleeping by yourself for a while. I loosen the strings a lot. I then cut the strings one by one. If you really want to be safe grab a string with the wire cutters and before you snip the string put a heavy rag around the string and wire cutters to keep the string from flying around and/or scratching your fret board.

2. Guitar Cleaning -- Time to clean according to your manufacturers specification.

a. Take a dry, clean rag and wipe down the fret board.

b. Wipe down levers, pedals, pedal bar, legs, end plates and so on with a clean dry rag. Be careful there is no grit or dirt that would scratch surfaces.

c.  Use your favorite cleaner recommended by your manufacturer to clean the formica or wood lacquered surfaces of your guitar.

d. If you have chrome surfaces, use a chrome polish and polish up those surfaces.

3. CLean the Nut -- No I do not mean the neighborhood nut. I mean the nut on the guitar. My roller nut comes off the guitar and I pull the rollers off and clean each one and the rod. I then put it back together and lubricate the entire assembly before placing back on the guitar.




4. Changer -- I place a drop of oil where the string connects to the changer.


5. New Strings --  I start with the E9 neck first string and work my way down. I was told when I first started to leave about 6 inches beyond the tuning head nut and cut the rest of the string away. Now my experience has not been good with that method. I was getting more slippage after I was done and my guitar would detune. Since then I leave a little more string. While it is a pain to wind on, I have stopped the slippage. I still get slippage for the first few days which is normal as the strings are stretching but I notice it is more stable quicker than before. Try it both ways and decide which you like.

Nine of the strings go one the same way and are not a problem.

The third string is a problem. I have broken third strings time and time again. This is the G# string and uses a 0.11 gauge string. If after you use the method I describe and still have difficulty then I would suggest going to a 0.12 gauge string.

Standing in front of the guitar, start with the first string and hook the one end into the changer and keep the string taut as you feed the other end through the hole in the first tuning peg. I keep about 2" of slack above the fretboard. Wind the loose end in toward you and around the string. Pull taught to the peg. Hold the slack taut and start winding pulling the string toward you to get the string to wind to the base of the peg. Continue winding until you get the string tight enough to lay across the changer and nut properly. Once you have it tight you can use the wire cutters and cut as close to the peg as you can. You do not want to leave slack that can scratch your finish.





Repeat this process for strings 2,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10. For the third string, the trick I learned was to wrap the string around itself the opposite way. Instead of wrapping the string in front of the guitar, wrap it behind the guitar and pull taut. The next thing to do with the third string is pull the string away from you and get the string to wrap toward the outer end of the peg. Don't worry you will not run out of room. Finish off the rest. The real test will be when you get ready to tune when done.

Complete this process for both necks. The third string problem is ONLY a problem for the E9 neck.

Once you are done, put away all of your supplies and discard old strings.

No you are ready to tune your guitar. If you need help tuning see Tuning A Pedal Steel Guitar

If you get it tuned without breaking the third string then your good to go.


  • After you are done playing always wipe your strings down with a dry cloth to keep grit, dirt, and salt off your strings.
  • After you are done playing wipe down your finger picks and slide.
  • When you change strings, write down your accomplishments since your last time changing strings. This helps you realize just exactly how much you have learned. This instrument takes a long time to learn and sometimes it feels like you are not getting anywhere. Hang in there before you know it your sounding good. You will impress yourself.

As always if you have questions ask me and I will find an answer if I don't know it. If you find an error or missing information let me know so I can correct it.

This is all for now. It is back to the steel and try to get down my lessons!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Reinforcing My Learning

Today I spent all day relearning Walking After Midnight. After I got done with How D'ya Do I forgot Walking After Midnight. With my instructors help, I learned it over again. I spent today polishing it up. At the same I was working on Kansas City also which I have regained about half of that song. I decided I do not want to relearn songs over and over again even though I know that is impossible. To assist me in my attempt I am going to change my practice sessions. After I get these songs polished, I am going to play each song I have learned at least once before going on to my current or new lesson. While I still remember Steel Guitar Rag, I will need to relearn Blue Hawaii, Sleep Walk and my other E9 songs. I am still trying to find a balance here. I am always learning new techniques and each little new technique I may be able to apply to what I have already learned. Just a little more polish. The one big thing I have learned is that when I am struggling, that is when I am breaking through ceilings. When I am not struggling is when I am starting to plateau. When I feel I am not struggling is when I pay attention to little details like precision.

Another thing I have noticed is the paring of songs my instructor has me learn. For example, pairing Walking After Midnight and Kansas City was a good way to introduce me to the C6 neck. Both songs have different picking patterns and teaches me how to switch between them naturally. With this observation, the songs I ask to learn should follow similar reasoning. I am starting to develop a song list which I will go over with my instructor to determine the best benefit increasing my skills. My interest is still learning hawaiian methods. I want  to be a well rounded steel guitarist.

I have not forgotten I promised a post on changing strings. I took some pics that were slightly out of focus and I am waiting on my gf to clean up my mess! I will post soon. I also remembered a couple of things to be considered when buying a steel guitar which I will post on as well.

Keep steelin and send me comments and please follow me as I am feeling lonely and unloved. LOL.