Be forwarned. This is going to be a very music-nerdy kind of post.

I’ve long had an affinity for the pedal steel guitar. You may have seen it if you’ve ever seen a traditional country band and there’s some dude you think is lazy because he’s sitting down, playing a guitar that’s kinda on a table.

Well, that’s the pedal steel. And he’s not lazy. Sure, it’s sweet being able to sit down and play an instrument, but from what I know about how a pedal steel operates, he’s not only playing the guitar with his hands but he’s controlling the volume with his feet and controlling the string tension with this knees…all in real time.

Here’s an example I shot when I visited the Grand Ole Opry a few years back. (link axed for copyright reasons)

Technical skill aside however, the pedal steel creates one of the most beautiful modern musical sounds I know. The only way I can describe it is it sounds like a warm desert wind. Especially when played as accompaniment to a slower ballad. My favorite band Mojave 3 are the masters of this. Unfortunately, pedal steels start at around $1000 and are difficult to learn(I’d imagine) and would be a tough addition footprint-wise for my home “studio”:

My point is for years I’ve been trying to approximate the sound of a pedal steel. I used to use a synthesized midi patch(I think it was Pad 6 (metallic)) to decent results which you can hear on thesecond verse of my song “The Fair’s in Town Tonight”. On my latest song “Thieves”(listen now) I tried a method which I think is the closest yet: using a slide on an electric guitar then tweaking the volume fades using software. And by “slide” I mean “empty wine bottle”. A quick note about the song. I think it’s a good song, not great. Musically, it’s pretty stock but I think its strength is more in the lyrics for a change. But it was a nice benchmark for my new quasi-pedal steel. “Benchmark”? “Quasi”? Wow, I wasn’t kidding when I said it’d be a nerd post.

Blue Blue Satellite

How could I write “My favorite band Mojave 3 are the masters of this.” without backing this claim up?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgdvf4Mzkg8

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