Tapping Your Foot To Keep Rhythm on Pedal Steel Guitar

Tapping Your Toes to Keep Rhythm


Ever wonder why guitar players are always tapping their foot when playing/practicing? They may not realize it, but their foot is serving as a physical, muscle memory link to the rhythm/sound they hear in their head. Drummers have to literally do this for their kick and hi-hat pedals, guitarists are almost imitating this by playing an imaginary pedal to lock in their rhythm. This is a good thing, and undoubtedly can help in keeping time on and off the bandstand.

As pedal steel players, we can’t tap our feet though, since we’re using all our limbs for other things on the instrument! How can we learn this rhythmic trick on pedal steel? By tapping our toes (or big toe) on our right foot, in our right shoe,  that is on the volume pedal! This is tricky because we still need to keep our volume pedal technique intact, as there should be no difference in volume swells or pedal use while tapping. If we tap our toes in our right feet along with the metronome while practicing, then over time our right foot’s toes will be as steady as a good drummer’s feet on their pedals.  Also, anytime we’re away from the instrument (car, concerts, etc.), we can tap our toes along with the music, to  solidify the muscle memory in our right foot.  Then next time we’re at our pedal steels, our right toes have already been practicing keeping the beat, and we now have more time/energy to practice other disciplines.

1978 Marlen Single Neck E9

Tapping your toes will help you on the bandstand, as you can keep time/pulse like a drummer does with the hi-hat, but you don’t need any additional support. Playing a gig without a drummer becomes easier too, if you are keeping time with your right foot’s toes. So will playing that chord-melody solo piece you’ve been working out on the C6 neck!

Thanks for reading!  Check out the practice section for more ideas and tips…