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Single neck pedal steel guitars will sometimes have an armrest built into or added to them. This can sometimes make playing easier and more efficient for the body and arms.
If a pedal steel has an armrest built into it, it is sometimes referred to as an SD-10 pedal steel. This denotes that it is a single neck pedal steel with a double neck body, and that the neck that would be closest to the player has an armrest on it instead of a second neck.
Sometimes a pedal steel builder or technician will convert a double neck pedal steel into a single neck with an armrest. Let’s learn more about armrests for pedal steel guitars…
Why Use an Armrest?
Because the instrument is so challenging, playing techniques for pedal steel guitar can be very important to players. An armrest usually shouldn’t be used for your actual technique development, but can be a nice way to rest the arms as you play (taking into account that you’re still practicing good technique as you play in this position).
Oftentimes as you play, it can be most beneficial to have the lower part of your arms parallel to the ground. If you can consistently do this as you play, and feel comfortable with your technique development, then using the armrest can be conveniently comfortable.
In essence, an armrest can be convenient to have, but usually shouldn’t be relied upon for playing. Many times, you’ll come across single neck pedal steels that don’t have armrests, so it can be a good idea to get comfortable playing a steel guitar that doesn’t have an armrest position.
Also, if you play a double neck pedal steel and you’re playing the C6 neck that is closest to you, then you won’t have an armrest either. This is why it is a good idea to develop your technique without relying on an armrest. If you do play a double neck pedal steel, you always have the option to use the C6 neck as an armrest as you play the E9 neck.
Armrest Types and Details
Most armrests are padded, or have foam/cushion inside of them, and are covered with some type of material. This material is sometimes leather or something similar.
Many armrests are black in color, which goes well aesthetically with most pedal steel body colors. Sometimes you’ll see armrests that are a specific color to match or accessorize other colors of the pedal steel.
Usually a pedal steel guitar has the armrest secured or built into the cabinet of the instrument, however you can buy some armrests that attach to the legs of the pedal steel.
Where to Buy an Armrest?
If you’re interested in buying an armrest for your pedal steel guitar, it may be worthwhile to first determine whether you really want an armrest that clamps onto the instrument. Instead of this, you always have the option of buying a new or used pedal steel with an armrest already built into the guitar.
Most manufacturers nowadays will build and sell single neck pedal steels that have an option of an armrest being built into the guitar. Make sure to specify this to the builder or manufacturer when you order your pedal steel.
If you decide to clamp or mount an armrest to a pedal steel that currently doesn’t have one, you can sometimes find these assemblies online. Check out this website, which sometimes offers armrests for pedal steel.
There’s also an option of buying a used SD-10 pedal steel with an armrest already built in. When looking for these online, take a look at pictures to determine if the single neck has an armrest, or look for SD-10 in the title/description.
The Choice of Using an Armrest
If you’re used to using an armrest for playing pedal steel, it may feel uncomfortable or awkward at first if you choose not to use one. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of players who don’t use armrests that play well with great technique.
You’ll notice that some players, even if they have an armrest on their pedal steel, won’t actually rest their arms on it as they play. If you have a good playing posture, then often your arms can comfortably hang from your shoulders and relax as you play without resting on anything.
Also, if you must have an armrest for your playing, then this will limit the amount of pedal steels that are available for you to purchase (there are many pedal steels built without armrests).
I highly recommend, from a technique standpoint, learning how to play pedal steel without an armrest. This way you can develop your technique so that it is effective without relying on an armrest, then you always have the option of using an armrest later on in your playing development.
Check out the LDG models of Sho Bud pedal steel guitars, which are beautiful examples of pedal steels that have armrests nicely built into them. Most pedal steel guitar brands have at some point developed, built, and manufactured SD-10 pedal steels.
Keep in mind that an SD-10 may feel different to play than an S-10 pedal steel, because there will likely be a difference in how far away the strings and foot pedals are from your body. Also, your knee lever and volume pedal usage may feel different too.
You can definitely develop good playing techniques, feel comfortable as you play, and be efficient in your physical movements whether you do or don’t use an armrest on your pedal steel. If anything, they can be nice to rest your arms on between songs on the bandstand.
Thanks for checking out this post, hope it is helpful and makes playing more enjoyable! If you’re interested in diving deeper into playing chords and scales on E9 pedal steel, check out these guides…
The Chord Guide for E9 Pedal Steel (E-Book, Digital Download)
Learn the chords on the E9 neck in a way that makes playing simple and enjoyable…
- Almost Every Chord You’ll Ever Need for E9
- Intuitive and Easy to Use
- Make Use of Pedal and Lever Combinations
- Example Tabs of Chord Movements
- Easily Utilize the Nashville Number System
- Great For Any Key and Style of Music
Includes a bonus section of over a hundred pages of extra chord charts, key references, and more!
More Digital Downloads for Pedal Steel…
The Elixir of E9 Pedal Steel: Harmonized 6ths