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#2912889 - 03/03/18 01:52 PM Planning on getting into lap steel
KenMac Offline
Member

Registered: 03/02/18
Posts: 3
Loc: FL
Hi guys....i am normally a cajon player but have always been interested in playing guitar. Now unfortunately due to a sports accident as a kid i broke a few fingers on my left hand. So I dont really have the dexterity for fretting the board with my fingers and holding the guitar the opposite way is uncomfortable. I became interested in lap steel when I saw a video of john paul jones with his sick bass lap steel. I have a few questions id appreciate some answers to. Is there a way to avoid the Hawaiian twangy sound while playing so it sounds more like a regular electric guitar? I was told that an overdrive pedal would help with that as im not really into country music that much. More into rock, pop, alternative. Second question is that I know the lap steel usually uses open tunings, but would it work with a standard guitar tuning too?. Sorry for sounding like a noob but once again im a drummer and im just getting into this.
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#2912892 - 03/03/18 02:09 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: KenMac]
d Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 6936
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
A few questions for you...
how old were you when you injured yer hand & how old are ya now ?
What level of musical appreciation (both as a listener & a player) would you place yerself at ?
Please note that these are simply to help me know what to suggest to you & how to communicate. They have absolutely no evaluative agenda.

One thing I will suggest right off the bat is that you will actually be able to achieve more musically if you concentrate on standard tuning. There's a historical & sometimes artistic value to idiosyncratic, open tunings but in actuality their use is limited to recreating an imitative version of "dead" styles or in imitating the work of those such as Joni Mitchell who favor them for particular compositions, which can easily be bypassed if you work with other players rather than as a solo performer.
Standard tuning evolved because it is the most effective way to play the standard gtr. It will allow you a greater choice of voicings, available chord types & every other thing you might want to do creatively on gtr.
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#2912899 - 03/03/18 02:42 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: d]
KenMac Offline
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Registered: 03/02/18
Posts: 3
Loc: FL
I injured my hand when i was 19 and im 32 now i cant move my fingers on my left as fast as on my right. Also keep in mind that everything I read states that lap steel works best with open tunings. Im not too worried about the tunings as much as I am about the whiney sound when using the bar on the lap steel. Only thing i have heard is that overdrive/distortion can drown it out a bit. Thats really what I want to verify.
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#2912901 - 03/03/18 02:53 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: KenMac]
d Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 6936
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Open tunings, as I mentioned, are mostly a way to imitate what someone else did previously.
Those same things can be imitated in a number of ways that most listeners will never hear as different from the original.

Consider what yer goals are as a musician.
Maybe you can state those for us here or maybe you haven't decided entirely but that should be the ultimate deciding factor in whatever you decide to do or how you evaluate the advice you hear.
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#2912906 - 03/03/18 03:43 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: d]
picker Offline
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The idea is to make music, and the tuning is only important in terms of what sort of music you want to make. Open tunings make it easier to apply chordal combinations with what amounts to a large movable fret. Dobro, lap and pedal steel players have become extremely fluent in open tunings, enough so that they can go note for note with people who play regular style guitar. Anyone who doesn't believe that needs to listen to Jerry "Flux" Douglas play his dobro. In open tunings.

In any event, Yes, a nice, crunchy overdrive or distortion pedal will make a steel guitar sound more like a standard electric guitar. Right now, there are a nearly unbelievable number of them that are unbelievably good for pretty cheap. I use a EHX Soul Food pedal, and I like it a lot. But, you might want something with a little more hair to the tone, like a distortion pedal, which is different from an OD. Like I said, there are a ton of them out there, ranging from scooped mid death metal pedals to pedals that claim to recreate the tone of a raging hot-rodded Marshal stack, and everything between. The particular flavor is pretty much a matter of choice, which is up to you. But half the fun of pedal shopping is trying them out and finding one you like. You might try a Boss DS-1, and see what you think, if an OD pedal isn't getting what you want.

You might also want to try a compression pedal WITH the dirt pedal. A lot of slide players use them to kind of level out the strings. I highly recommend getting a compressor with a blend knob, like a VFE White Horse or Pigtronix Philosophers Tone. I tried several well-thought of compressor pedals but couldn't make any of them work the way I thought it should till I got one with a blend knob.

Whichever pedals you want to try, I do recommend using your guitar and amp when you try them out with the deliberate intention of buying a pedal that day. There is no better way to be sure it's gonna sound the way you want it to with your gear.

In any event, good luck in your new musical pursuit. Hang around here some, there is a lot of good info to be gleaned, even if you don't play standard guitar.

Many blessings!
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#2912921 - 03/03/18 05:48 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: picker]
KenMac Offline
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Registered: 03/02/18
Posts: 3
Loc: FL
Thank you very much I appreciate it
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#2912938 - 03/03/18 07:04 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: KenMac]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11345
Loc: Northern California
Welcome aboard KenMac! Being able to play in standard tuning is a great way to go but don't back away from altered tunings. Especially when starting out as it's much easier as all of the notes will sound good. I have arthritis and plan on taking up playing slide on my dobro when I can't use the fingers on my fretting hand anymore! Good luck with it! Having some dirt will sound good but playing some clean will work for you too...I like clean better but that's just a matter of taste. I say, Play both in both cases LOL! thu
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#2912962 - 03/04/18 03:55 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: Larryz]
whitefang Offline
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Sure, welcome to these boards, KenMac.

And remember, whichever way YOU choose to go is fine. And anyway, do YOUR best to make it YOURS.

Please keep us apprised of your progress. wink
Whitefang


Edited by whitefang (03/04/18 03:55 AM)
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#2912987 - 03/04/18 07:20 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: whitefang]
Scott Fraser Offline
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Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 5195
Loc: Los Angeles
I'm guessing it's the glissandos, sliding pitches by playing legato, that you're hearing as whiney & Hawaiian. That's mostly a stylistic element generic to Hawaiian music, but also common in Country as well as Blues lap steel playing. You don't have to allow the strings to sustain when changing position, but it's a large part of what makes the instrument what it is. It's a playing choice, & not something effects are going to minimize. Check out the playing of David Lindley, a master of the lap steel who transcends genres.
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#2912994 - 03/04/18 08:12 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: Scott Fraser]
skipclone 1 Offline
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Loc: Japan
Second that vote for David Lindley-every video is a master class.
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#2913042 - 03/04/18 02:46 PM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: skipclone 1]
d Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 6936
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Who do you like as a player of the type you hope to sound like ?
I wonder what exactly you mean as "whiney" sound. Could you give an example of that also ?
What I imagine is that's just poor technique that, perhaps could be avoided by damping w/either hand.

Regarding tunings, contrary to what many think tuning to an open chord actually limits yer options harmonically.
In standard tuning one can easily hit major, minor, 7th chords in full form & any relevant partial chord forms & as easily as any chord available in open tunings, i.e., all within a single fret wherever the tonic is.
One can also play partial forms of any extended chord.
Using techniques such as bar slants one can also get pedal steel effects & other tricks that are almost impossible w/open tuning.
The advantages are that one needn't reunt or continually rethink the fretboard note locations.
In effect it's actually easier.

If you have familiarity w/the structure of chords these things can be found w/ a little thought or if you'd like I can post some
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#2913117 - 03/05/18 05:14 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: d]
CEB Offline
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Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 12972
I'm a steel player.

You play slants with open tunings all the time. I started with lap and console steels before moving to pedals. Open G is good to know that is the most common Dobro/Resonator tuning for Country and Bluegrass. My favorite lapsteel tuning is C6 (C-E-G-A-C-E) without using a bar it gives you both Major and minor grips.

Whatever tones you can imagine on a electric guitar you can cop on a lap steel.... or even a pedal steel if you want to approach it like a lapsteel.

Robert plays a lot of lap steel also.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt5BVuIv4t8

If you would somehow find any interest in Country pedal steel with a little work you can find gigs. There is a shortage of young guys taking up the instrument. Pedal Steel is cost prohibitive. Lap steel is a good introduction C6 pedal steel is basically a C6 lap steel tuning with some extention notes.

For rock and blues stuff you want a Dobro style bar with the grip so it is easier to lift the bar off the neck and pick open string and hammer on licks. In Country use a bullet style bar. It is easier for slants and sliding cross strings. You don't lift the bar near as much in Country and Hawaiian music.

He is Country but Randy Kohrs is one of my favorite lapsteel players. You can get lap steels with benders. Robert Randolph's Jackson has benders as well as Randy's Dusenbergs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOiD2v6qvhI


You'll want something cheaper to start out on ..... Maybe a Peavey Powerslide. You can play it like a steel or like a guitar. They are around $200 I think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2EAy7bLosY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXuNbxXbVy8



Edited by CEB (03/05/18 08:47 AM)
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#2913134 - 03/05/18 08:37 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: CEB]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11345
Loc: Northern California
+1 on G tuning for Dobro and C6 for lap steel CEB! Great advice and a great post with lots of good info coming from an actual steel player! I hope KenMac reads it! thu
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#2913294 - 03/06/18 04:29 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: Larryz]
whitefang Offline
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Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 10960
Loc: Lincoln Park, MI, UNITED STATE...
I imagine the "whiney" sound he's referring to is that typical cliche'd sound you hear the steel make on many formula country tunes in the last decade or so. That should be easy to avoid by just delving into the many recordings of steel guitar done by many different people out there who do wonderful things on the instrument outside of the "tears in my ears" country paradigm the lap steel is overused in.
Whitefang
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#2913444 - 03/07/18 03:52 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: skipclone 1]
Eric Iverson Offline
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Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 5277
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
I remember one time I saw a lap steel for sale for $100 - now of course I would snap it up in a heartbeat - but at the time I was making minimum wage and had to give priority to FOOD AND SHELTER, LOL.
Seriously, I always loved Lindley's playing with Jackson Browne, and would love to add something similar to my repertoire.

Best of luck, KenMac.

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#2913737 - 03/08/18 11:46 AM Re: Planning on getting into lap steel [Re: Eric Iverson]
d Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 6936
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Originally Posted By: Eric Iverson
I remember one time I saw a lap steel for sale for $100 - now of course I would snap it up in a heartbeat - but at the time I was making minimum wage and had to give priority to FOOD AND SHELTER, LOL.
Seriously, I always loved Lindley's playing with Jackson Browne, and would love to add something similar to my repertoire.

Best of luck, KenMac.


FWIW, a great way to , uh, rehabilitate a derelict instr would be to make it into a lap steel since factors such as fret alignment, intonation, etc would be cancelled.
As long as the frets or markers are even close to the right place they'll serve to get you in a spot where yer ear, ultimately, has to make the call anywhat.

BTW & FWIW, consider this...

as well as this (Johnny Lennon on lap steel)

& this
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