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LEARNING TO PLAY THE PEDAL STEEL GUITAR
BY A, PROFESSIONAL STEEL GUITARIST
EPAN


LEARNING TO PLAY THE PEDAL STEEL GUITAR



I am Larry Sutphin  retired professional steel guitarist after  35+years in the business.
I grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia and came from a musical family where the music was predominately country, bluegrass and gospel.
I started playing acoustic guitar at an early age, playing rhythm for my brother Raymond who played the 5 string banjo.
We used to have regular picking sessions at our old farm house that is still standing today, which attracted the neighbors from miles around when they heard the news of the entertainment
At that point in my life the closest thing to a steel guitar was a dobro which was used in bluegrass music.
MY FIRST EXPOSURE:

I first heard a pedal steel guitar on the country hit records of that time by artists like Merle Haggard, George
Jones, Connie Smith, and Tammy Wynette.

 


MY FIRST GUITAR
That guitar was a Shobud single neck with 10 strings, 3 foot pedals, and 1 knee bar.
I searched for books on learning to play the steel guitar and found them very helpful in learning how to tune
and play the guitar
MY FIRST AMP

It was a 50watt  Fender Super reverb amp and as the tubes got old they started to pop and crack, usually right in the middle of a lead I was playing

that one  soon went in the dump in favor of one of the best steel guitar  amps on the market today

 


PRACTICE
I listened to country records and tried to copy the steel sounds I heard .
I was obsessed with playing the pedal steel and intent on becoming a good player.
DEDICATION
There were other steelers in my area that had been playing for years and were recognized as the best and
most sought after for bands and recording studios.
DON'T LET  AGE HOLD YOU BACK
I realized that because of my age of 35, I had to practice every day in order to get good enough to be
considered by any band.
I found several good books on learning to play pedal steel which were a great help to me since I knew
very little on the subject.
As time went on eventually I go a little better and then very good was hired by a local band.

At That point I had been playing an practicing for a year. The band  leader that hired me never asked "how long have you been playing".. only what do you play? When I answered "Pedal steel". I immediately got the job and played continuously in bands and recording studios over the next 35 years
Landing that band job gave me on the job learning experience and helped me develop my style as shown in
my YouTube video.

 

Not long after  I had been playing in a band,  a guitarist showed me a  Echoplex unit he was using.
It used  a analog tape that added a slap back echo similar to a reverb but had a much better sound than the reverb on my amp
I immediately was hooked and went right out to the music store and bought one.
Today they make digital delays that give that tape echo sound.

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