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Pedal Steel


huskyfan

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After years of playing top 40/rock etc- I'm now playing keys in a "new" country band. Most of the keys work is piano/organ but also pedal steel. I have a Korg M50/61 key and Yamaha S90. Any patches out there that can mimic a good pedal steel? the M50 actually has a better one than the Yamaha but wondering if there is anything better out there overall- thanks
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getting a decent pedal steel sound is more about technique- you gotta be great with the pitch bender.

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getting a decent pedal steel sound is more about technique- you gotta be great with the pitch bender.

 

Word. I think it would be hard to get an acceptable Pedal Guitar sound on a keyboard.

 

And a good pedal steel (Mullen, etc.) is pricey...over $2000USD... Used.

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I have done it, even back to the old days on my Chroma. I used an analog clav sound, always fading in the attacks with a volume pedal.

 

Pitch bending while fading in is a signature trick. Also, a real pedal steel bends some notes and not others - bending the 2nd up to the 3rd or the 7th up to the octave while the 5th stays constant, for example.

 

I have seen some synths that allow pitch bend to be applied selectively, such as to latched notes, or you could split the keyboard and transpose to make the halfs the same pitch, and set up a pedal to bend one side a half step.

Moe

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Well, IF you had A VST box the WaveLore VST is the best sounding software out there , but there was a Roland Country Expansion Card that had some passable steel guitars on them, including some phrases.

 

velocity switching on the sample start, reverb, selective use of pitch bends Moe mentioned and using ur 2nd or 3rd finger to "bend up" 1/2 step a key in a chord.

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I used to play a lot of synthesized pedal steel, and as has been mentioned, it's all about technique - volume, pitch bend and weird fingering. The sound of the actual patch is almost an also ran. I designed a MIDI device that would allow selective bending of notes within a chord, but never built it. I tried to gauge the level of interest in something like this here and on other keyboard oriented forums and evinced ZERO interest - other than a couple of snarky douche insults. By the time I decided to go ahead and build it for myself anyway I was too busy building other stuff and it never got done. Someone told me that Kurzweil had a keyboard controller that would allow pitch bending of only those notes which were "held" by the sostenuto pedal, but I never actually saw one.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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... Someone told me that Kurzweil had a keyboard controller that would allow pitch bending of only those notes which were "held" by the sostenuto pedal, but I never actually saw one.

All Kurzweils will do it, but I believe you've got it backwards (it's been awhile since I demonstrated this trick on a PC2x, so Dave Weiser step in and correct me if I'm the one who has it backwards). The pitch wheel will bend the pitches you sustain with your finger(s) but won't bend the ones that you sustain with the pedal. So clever combinations of fingers, sustain pedal, pitch wheel, and expression pedal can produce very pedal steel-like effects.

 

Larry.

 

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Larry,

 

You're probably right. It would be more intuitive the way you describe it. Playing {root fifth +8ve root}, hold with the pedal, then hit the third and bend it down a whole step and back for example.

 

The way I was going to do it was to have a MIDI box that would keep track of MIDI key on and key off events. Then, depending on the algorithm you selected, bend the desired inner notes in the voicing in response to pedals or push buttons while holding the other notes unaltered. I had a rudimentary version working on my bench with a microcontroller evaluation board I had lying around, but never actually produced a finished article. Now I'm too friggin' busy.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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What about using Polyphonic Aftertouch (if your keyboard supports it) to bend specific notes? Just throwing it out there, as I've never played pedal steel on keys before. I HAVE used aftertouch to bend notes - but mono aftertouch, and not selective notes - it would have to be poly to be selective. I HAVE layered patches with different pitch bend ranges assigned to create similar effects.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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You're probably right. It would be more intuitive the way you describe it. Playing {root fifth +8ve root}, hold with the pedal, then hit the third and bend it down a whole step and back for example.

The way I would do the particular turn you describe would be slightly different (again assuming I've got it straight as to the pitch wheel only bending finger-held notes):

 

- Play the full chord (using the expression pedal to get the proper pedal steel attack);

- Hold the full chord with the sustain pedal while keeping your finger(s) down on (only) whatever note(s) you're going to want to bend;

- Bend the notes you're holding with your fingers using the pitch wheel.

 

The last exchange I had with Dave Weiser on this technique was to question the possible use of a sustain pedal-style CC controller pedal (such as are used for half-damper effects on suitable pianos) so as to move the bending function down to a pedal (it's a pedal steel after all!) allowing both hands to stay on the keyboard. Dave was encouraging, but I've been too busy with other things to give it a try.

 

Larry.

 

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What about using Polyphonic Aftertouch (if your keyboard supports it) to bend specific notes?

 

I used to do it that way on my old ASR-10, with the Rubber Chicken pedal steel samples. The samples also included a bunch of one-shot samples of pedal steel licks -- transitions and chord resolves, etc.

 

 

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Might be easier to take up pedal steel. ;)

Speak to Steve LeBlanc.

 

I wouldn't recommend taking up the pedal steel unless you like crying like a baby and throwing things....there is a HELL of a learning curve on that instrument.

 

However, you can fake a lot of pedal steel licks on a lapsteel with a bit of practice.

 

Others in this thread have given better advice than I can regarding playing pedal steel licks on a synth.

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Lord have mercy for this blasphemous thread.

 

They don't mean it Moon.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Whoa there, CEB. One of my earliest Nashville stories is watching a pedal steel player lay down "violin" parts one at a time to create a (very credible) string section (and then watching a guitar player throw a piece of cloth over the strings to lay down a "banjo" part). If Moon were still with us maybe he wouldn't mind too much if we keyboard players tried to cop a little pedal steel vibe.

 

Larry.

 

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Blasphemous huh? Paul Franklin in Nashville makes about 1/2 mil a year on one of those blasphemous things and can play jazz with anyone in the country. One of the best pedal steel sounds going now is on the Tyros 2,3,4 or PSR-910. You can bend the bottom note you play without bending the entire chord or other patches which bend it all. You just have to be selective about what you play to make it believable. Practicing whether to bend up or down on single notes can sound pretty good in a mix. They haven't come up with a large scale slide sound in a rompler keyboard yet.

iLaw one of the Nashville steel players who used to do that was Bobbe Seymour. He owns a steel guitar store and can be found on the web. 30+years ago 3 steel players would line up and do string sections on the Grand Ole Opry. It was pretty amazing. It sounded great in the old building.

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Whoa there, CEB. One of my earliest Nashville stories is watching a pedal steel player lay down "violin" parts one at a time to create a (very credible) string section (and then watching a guitar player throw a piece of cloth over the strings to lay down a "banjo" part). If Moon were still with us maybe he wouldn't mind too much if we keyboard players tried to cop a little pedal steel vibe.

 

Larry.

I was just being silly. The Session 500 had a built in string effect. Sho Bud also built it into a few of their guitars. Emmons also marketed something to do violins. Most I think were just a distortion unit.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Blasphemous huh? Paul Franklin in Nashville makes about 1/2 mil a year on one of those blasphemous things and can play jazz with anyone in the country. One of the best pedal steel sounds going now is on the Tyros 2,3,4 or PSR-910. You can bend the bottom note you play without bending the entire chord or other patches which bend it all. You just have to be selective about what you play to make it believable. Practicing whether to bend up or down on single notes can sound pretty good in a mix. They haven't come up with a large scale slide sound in a rompler keyboard yet.

iLaw one of the Nashville steel players who used to do that was Bobbe Seymour. He owns a steel guitar store and can be found on the web. 30+years ago 3 steel players would line up and do string sections on the Grand Ole Opry. It was pretty amazing. It sounded great in the old building.

 

I know Bobbe. He sold me my D10.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Might be easier to take up pedal steel. ;)

Speak to Steve LeBlanc.

 

I wouldn't recommend taking up the pedal steel unless you like crying like a baby and throwing things....there is a HELL of a learning curve on that instrument.

 

However, you can fake a lot of pedal steel licks on a lapsteel with a bit of practice.

 

Others in this thread have given better advice than I can regarding playing pedal steel licks on a synth.

A lot of classic licks people think were pedal licks didn't use pedals. You can do quite a bit with slants. The biggest thing I found I had to do starting out was study, study study the grips. It was a lot harder than I expected. I still suck.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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getting a decent pedal steel sound is more about technique- you gotta be great with the pitch bender.

 

Word. I think it would be hard to get an acceptable Pedal Guitar sound on a keyboard.

 

Word. It's hard to get an acceptable pedal steel sound on a pedal steel!!!!

 

(it is for me, anyway!!!)

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Might be easier to take up pedal steel. ;)

Speak to Steve LeBlanc.

 

I wouldn't recommend taking up the pedal steel unless you like crying like a baby and throwing things....there is a HELL of a learning curve on that instrument.

 

However, you can fake a lot of pedal steel licks on a lapsteel with a bit of practice.

 

Others in this thread have given better advice than I can regarding playing pedal steel licks on a synth.

A lot of classic licks people think were pedal licks didn't use pedals. You can do quite a bit with slants. The biggest thing I found I had to do starting out was study, study study the grips. It was a lot harder than I expected. I still suck.

 

I have a lap steel, and what you say is true...you can get some pedal steel sounds on that, especially if you play with a volume pedal.

 

It took me 7-8 hours to do record a on a lap steel. What a challenge that was. People really like the solo, though, but it would have taken a real lap steel player just a few minutes to record what I did, not 7-8 hours.

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Lord have mercy for this blasphemous thread.

 

They don't mean it Moon.

 

People imitate just about everything else on keyboards now, so maybe it's all blasphemous...or maybe none of it is! :D

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If you can find things on this forum using some form of Google search, you'll find an in-depth discussion of this topic, but it probably can't be found using the forum's time-limited built-in search.

 

The Wavelore library is excellent; highly recommended, and often on 50% off sale. ALL of their libraries are well-programmed.

 

Having said that, you need to know a bit about the instrument to emulate it properly. See if you can find a pedal steel somewhere to try out, after first reading up a bit on basic technique (you could visit the pedal steel guitar player's forum), and maybe try a lap steel if you can't find a pedal steel.

 

It's nothing like a regular guitar, but a little like a resonator/dobro guitar. You don't fret the notes or apply much pressure to the strings, and the picking technique is unrelated to guitar picking. There's also muting involved.

 

If you start to get to know how pedal and lap steels are played, you might find a way to emulate that with keyboard playing styles. You might even want to reassign sustain pedal to do the opposite, for instance, for more control over phrasing.

 

There's an excellent enclyclopedia on the lap steel and lap steel players, which also goes a bit into the pedal steel and some steel guitars that are "between" those two categories. I found it on Amazon.com fairly easily.

 

I owned a lap steel for about a year and a half, but it was that cheap $79 one from Rogue. It was enough to get me familiar with the basics (along with the aforementioned book and a separate technique book), and to also decide I didn't want to bother upgrading (I sold it instead). But now I feel I have a handle on how to "play" a sample library (the one from Wavelore) and to think like a steel guitar player. It's worth giving it a try.

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As close as we are to capturing the essence the real thing, we all know it's not even close when we sit at a real piano. Around here we think they've nailed drums, but few real drummers agree. I sometime get to feeling like I've got a pretty convincing substitute for strings. Then I step into a room with real violins and violas.

As close as all of these are, imitation Pedal Steel is about as convincing as the piano sound on an Ensonic Mirage. It is an incredibly nuanced instrument, with a level of player infused complexity that is nearly unparalleled.

I know we often have no choice but to attempt these sounds. I've even had to try a few time myself. I feel very sorry for anyone in this predicament.

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Play the full chord (using the expression pedal to get the proper pedal steel attack);

- Hold the full chord with the sustain pedal

As a guitarist with some relevant experience, I'd suggest not playing full but, as in the case of jazz, partial chords of 2~4 notes.

There's less "clutter" & the notes one wants to accent stand out more.

d=halfnote
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The Wavelore library is excellent; highly recommended,

 

The performance of their web site is anything but excellent. Not recommended. I have visited daily since this thread began. Every attempt to download the demo has failed. Excruciatingly slow download speed for 3 minutes was the best it could manage before just stopping as every other try.

Hard to feel confident in a technology product whn the manufacturer can't even manage a decent site visitor experience.

 

Update: They answered email within 12 hours (on a Sunday) and explained they are having "server" problems. He made genuine offers to find a way around the issue for me. I feel I must retract my earlier complaint.

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Steve, your frustration is understandable, but I'm glad your download issue is being resolved. I have found Wavelore to be one of the more responsive dealers.

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A couple other synths that allow for selective pitch bending:

 

- Akai Miniak (which presumably means Alesis Micron as well)-- will bend fingered notes only, sustain-pedaled notes won't bend

 

- some old Yamaha FM synths (dx100 will bend highest only, lowest only, fingered notes only -- I THINK dx7II is the same)

 

Either of those options would get you a suitably metallic twangy sound in a pinch.

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Hmm, I think the old Casio synths might have supported this feature as well, given that some of the models were oriented towards satisfying the needs of guitarists and/or wind players (the VZ series comes to mind).

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  • 4 weeks later...
I have found Wavelore to be one of the more responsive dealers.

 

They are back on my sh*t list.

I purchased this product 2 weeks ago, and still can't get it to work properly. Their user forum is 404, and since my purchase, he take 3-4 days every time to answer support email. He did a decent job sampling the instrument, but if it won't work and he can't be bothered to pay attention to customers, I will be disputing the charge with my CC company and asking for my money back.

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