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Similarities between Pedal Steel Guitar and Standard Six-String Guitar

Pedal steel guitar is like an electric six-string guitar, but it ate all its vegetables and drank a lot of milk when it was growing up. Pedal steel is the same as standard six-string electric guitar besides:

-It has ten strings.  (Sometimes more!)

-The neck rests on a cabinet or table-like body.

-It has legs – it’s like an electric guitar looking spaceship, ready for lift-off!

-It is played with finger picks and a thumbpick, instead of the fingers or a regular guitar pick.

-Its pickups have a strong output, which means its signal is hotter and louder than the guitar’s when it hits the amp.

Pedal Steel Guitar for Electric Guitar Players

-It has pedals and knee levers which raise and lower pitches: this is just like a guitar player bending a string upwards to raise a pitch, except the pedals and knee levers on a pedal steel do it for you.

-Pedal steels are heavier. But they have much more sustain of notes in part because of this.

-They require a bar for “fretting” the notes with the left hand, instead of doing it with the fingers of the left hand like a six-string guitar player does.

-They require the use of a volume pedal consistently in technique.

-Less people know about them; and they love the sound of them because of this. It is unique in timbre.

Pedal Steel Guitar - Carter Starter for Beginners

I hope this helps six-string guitar players, and others better understand what a pedal steel guitar is, and how it works.  It is actually very similar to standard electric six-string guitar in many ways.


For more on electric six-string guitars and pedal steel, and how they relate, click below…

Switching from Electric Six-String Guitar to Pedal Steel Guitar

A Look at Pedal Steel Picking (or Right Hand Blocking) for Standard Six-String Guitar Players