Is There an Advantage?
I'm continually asked, “Are there advantages for a pedal-steel player to also play the non-pedal steel, and if so what are they?”.
I most sincerely hope the motive for my response to this frequently asked question is clearly expressed and accepted in the same positive spirit in which it is offered.
Playing a non-pedal guitar provides a different mental perspective of interval movement and requires increased bar manipulation from that of playing a pedal guitar. Most who have always played a pedal guitar have never visualized a mental picture of the interval movement that is actually taking place when the pedals and knee levers are engaged. Consequently it's only normal for pedal players to take for granted the intervals being altered by use of the pedals and knee levers.
The non-pedal guitar requires the mind to focus on the interval movement (patterns) necessary to form chords and create melodic lines. This can become a marvelous advantage for pedal-guitar players because it engages the mind in a different, yet an organized productive manner by viewing the steel guitar from another perspective than that of engaging pedals and knee levers. In addition, both speed and accuracy are noticeably enhanced by the increased dependency placed on the hands while forcing the mind to focus and engage the entire process of playing.
This is why most of my practicing is done on the non-pedal steel. I'm totally convinced my doing so improves all my musical skills and provides a better focus of melodic lines and chord interval locations when playing my pedal guitar.
The non-pedal steel is experiencing a renewed interest which can be attributed to its unique characteristics. These characteristics will continue to attract and refocus the attention of all steel players, both non-pedal and pedal, including many of the world’s greatest players.
Should anyone wish to see for themselves if a new perspective and mind set takes over when playing non-pedal, they might consider trying to play the melody to any song on their pedal steel using only single strings while staying in a close fret proximity and not using any pedals or knee levers. Most will find this very difficult, and will feel the mind disengaging from one mode to another, and that other mode will open new doors of musical ideas and more keenly hone the overall playing skills of a pedal player.
I'm sure there are those who believe playing their pedal guitar and trying to think non-pedal will achieve the same results as playing a non-pedal guitar. You can, of course, very easily see for yourself by playing a non-pedal steel. I believe when you do, you will experience a mental transformation which has the potential of enhancing every aspect of playing pedal-steel guitar.
Copyright (C) 2005 by Maurice "Reece" Anderson, all rights reserved.