Practice Benchmarks

My personal triumphs from the practice room!  Although they may not actually mean much, these practice benchmarks are my visual trophies of thousands of hours spent in the woodshed (practice room).

A broken thumbpick from overuse - Dunlop Zookies brand

Everyone always says you’ve got to pick pretty dang hard to get good sustain & tone  on pedal steel.  I’ve tried to take heed over the years: now here’s how my thumb picks end up after a month or two of playing one.  They snap in half when I pick a note.

Practice Benchmark - A closeup of a breaking plastic thumbpick for pedal steel     Oh snap!

I started picking with more “Oomph!,” when I heard Buddy Emmons mention something in an article about how he’d try to make his notes sound like they were gonna punch you in the face like a boxing glove, or something to that effect.  He sometimes practiced without amplification, and would have plenty of acoustic volume to work with.

Practice Benchmark - Broken knobs on a Peavey Nashville 112 - overuse will result in caps falling off.

If you play your Peavey Nashville 112 long enough, the knob caps will fall off.  Or as I like to think of it, maybe those notes coming out of the speakers melted them right off!?!

Practice Benchmarks - Master Reverb and Master Gain knobs on Peavey Nashville 112

I ordered my BJS custom birthstone (Scorpio) bar years ago, and one day (years later) at band practice I was playing a solo and the stone came flying out.  I like to think of it as a metaphorical rebirth/resurrection as a steel player, or an epic solo.  It’s gotta mean something when your birthstone flies out during a solo!

Keeping the Bar Straight - Pedal Steel Guitar Fretboard and Bar Hand


Check out the practice section for tips, ideas, and instructional material!