Pedal Steel Guitar - How to Play

The Basics of Bar Control

Effectively controlling the bar enables a steel player to make many unique sounds that otherwise couldn’t be made.  Below is more on the basics of bar control for steel guitar playing.

How to Hold the Bar

Holding the bar in the left hand, resting between the index and middle fingers when the palm is open, often initially controls the bar. When playing, a player has their palm facing down while holding the bar in the same manner, but with the support of the thumb.

Bar Control - Dampening Strings Behind Bar

Using the Bar

By exerting pressure on top of the bar with the index and middle finger (index mostly), downwards on the strings, a player essentially “frets” the notes. A player usually dampens, or mutes the strings behind the bar (between bar and roller nut) with their left hand’s ring and/or pinky fingers.

Moving The Bar

Moving the bar horizontally, to move between various fret positions, requires a player to move the bar rather quickly, and have it stop at the intended position.  This is one of the most challenging aspects of pedal steel bar control, and you can find out more about it here: Moving Between Positions

A Better Understanding of Bar Control

When practicing bar control, there are numerous aspects at play that a player should keep in mind. These different parts combine to make up how a player controls the bar, and what the resulting sound is.  You can find out more about these different parts here… The Five Essential Ingredients to Bar Control

For a Visual Tour of Bar Control, click below…

Bar Control Picture Gallery