Here are some audio clips of my playing, which I hope can help demonstrate certain pedal steel tips/technique audibly. There are no tabs at the moment, I was improvising most of this during a quick recording session. I laid these tracks down in a recording session at my home studio.
If you are interested in a riff or sound, let me know (contact page) and I’ll do my best to tell you how I played it. I’ll know the position(s) from the notes and string timbre.
E9 Neck of Pedal Steel
For Some E9 flavor, check out my B +C pedal work on these riffs. I am skipping around positions while keeping a constant bass root note going on the 8th, 9th, and 10th strings: to widen the voicing and make it speak a little more.
Classic Steel Sounds
The following E9 improv riffs demonstrate that classic steel sound, almost like a celestial-crying floating sound. These also demonstrate using the volume pedal, in a way that slightly lowers your attack on strings, and then sustains notes for as long as needed.
Let’s keep it smooth on the volume pedal with these next examples: here’s some sustain out the yin-yang. The pedal steel with its hot output, volume pedal, and bar vibrato can sustain notes better/longer than many instruments. Listen to these glissandos, and how many notes can be made from only one “pick” of the strings.
E9 Light Staccatto
Some more E9 action, this time in the 4th, 3rd, and 1st string pocket. Played slightly staccato for a ‘lil West Coast effect, with horizontal bar movement.
Get you get your fuzz pedals out, crank up your tube amp, we can get down and dirty on E9 for sure.
Let’s keep the distortion rolling, this time on the C6 neck– without reliance on pedals for playing notes. Almost sounds more like a rock guitar when no pedals are played.
Here are some improvised bluesy runs, played in a similar mindset to Buddy Emmons’ pocket approach. Played on C6 neck with thumb and middle finger only. On tracks w/ multiple phrases, you may hear me develop my lines based on call and response, like having a conversation, or developing on a motif.
C6 Diminished Runs
Here’s where the fun begins! These examples start with the drone tracks, to give the dissonant sounds a little more context.
C6 Diminished Runs (Improv)
Some minor runs (mostly minor pentatonic, and blues scale) on C6 neck. Also played with a similar mindset to Emmons’ pocket approach
Additional Pedal Steel Audio for Learning and Inspiration: