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Most pedal steels that are built are sturdy in construction, highly functional, and are well-designed. Usually pedal steels are built to last. However with a high quality construction, the weight of most pedal steel guitars is quite heavy compared to many other instruments.
Pedal steel guitars can weigh well over 30 or 40 lbs, and usually older models weigh more because of their materials and construction style. Older pedal steels usually weigh more than modern pedal steels, and when you add in the case and other parts of the pedal steel, pedal steel rigs can become quite heavy.
Let’s take a look at the weight of pedal steels, and what makes them different in terms of how heavy they are…
Average Weight of Pedal Steel Guitars
Most pedal steels weigh somewhere between 35 and 40 lb, although a lot depends on the design, the brand, and how old the pedal steel is.
Some pedal steels weigh less than 20 lb, while others may weigh well over 50 lb. It is common for a pedal steel and its case to weigh over 50 lb combined.
Pedal steel cases often weigh around 20 lb, however each case is slightly different in weight and design. Some players use split cases to lighten each load when they’re carrying their gear.
The Weight of Modern Pedal Steels vs. Older Pedal Steels
Because of different materials, construction styles, and technology, many of the pedal steels that are built nowadays weigh less than many older pedal steels. Due to CNC machines, lighter materials, and different designs, many modern pedal steels are built with not only functionality in mind, but also in regards to their weight.
Many players use their pedal steels at gigs, rehearsals, and move them around in general, so it can be beneficial to have a lighter instrument to ease the physical load. Pedal steel seats, as well as other accessories that are needed for playing, can quickly make a pedal steel rig quite heavy.
Modern pedal steels are usually between 30 and 50 lb depending on the brand, the model, and whether the guitar is a single neck or a double neck. Older pedal steels often have bodies made out wood, and this oftentimes makes them weigh more than modern pedal steels.
If you were to take any modern pedal steel, that is essentially the same size as an older pedal steel, it is likely that the older pedal steel will weigh more. Out of the modern brands that manufacture pedal steels nowadays, GFI is one brand in particular that goes for a lightweight design, keeping its weight in mind for players.
Usually when a modern pedal steel is built with a lightweight functionality, the playability of it reflects this as far as the “feel”. Oftentimes, the foot pedals, knee levers, and their resistance, may feel lighter to the player compared to many older pedal steels.
It is common for older pedal steels to have foot pedals, knee levers, and overall pedal/lever action, that feels a little more heavyweight to the player (a little more resistance when utilizing). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a just different playing feel for the player.
A good way to understand this is to think about driving older vintage cars compared to driving more modern cars. Usually the modern cars will drive a little bit smoother and easier due to technology, power steering, etc., and pedal steels are very similar in regards to their playability.
Double Necks vs. Single Necks
Usually double neck pedal steel guitars, or pedal steels that have two necks built into a single body, will weigh more than a single neck pedal steel. A modern single neck pedal steel is likely to be one of the lighter pedal steels available, while older double neck, triple neck, and even quadruple neck pedal steel guitars can weigh significantly more than many pedal steels.
Double necks usually weigh about ten more pounds than a single neck of an equivalent or similar model. Oftentimes, players assemble their pedal steel in the case on top of a sturdy table to make lifting and setting up the pedal steel easier because of how heavy pedal steels are.
Most pedal steels are assembled upside down in the case (with the undercarriage facing up), then once the pedals and rods are attached, the guitar is usually flipped over to stand upright like when it is played.
Entry Level and Beginner Pedal Steels
Usually entry-level, or beginner pedal steels, are single neck models and use some different materials than professional models. Often these materials are cheaper (and lighter in general), which makes entry-level and beginner model pedal steels some of the lightest guitars available.
Out of all the pedal steels I’ve owned, the Carter Starter, which is a great beginner model pedal steel, has been by far the lightest guitar that I’ve owned.
Some players will use and bring beginner model pedal steels to their gigs just because of how light they are and easy to transport.
Considering the Weight of a Pedal Steel Before Buying
When buying a pedal steel, it is usually a good idea to keep in mind the sound, functionality, and playability of the guitar as a priority for the instrument that you’d like to get. Because most pedal steels weigh a lot in general, it isn’t usually recommended to buy a pedal steel just because of its weight.
However, as mentioned earlier, some players seek out pedal steels that are specifically lighter in weight because of its benefit when transporting the pedal steel.
Because some builders have designed pedal steels that are professional and high in quality, while still being lightweight, these can be a great option for a player that is looking specifically for a lighter pedal steel guitar (especially when they’re going to be transporting it for gigs, rehearsals, and practice).
Some brands, such as GFI mentioned earlier, will discuss their pedal steels as being lightweight. A player who is interested in having a professional pedal steel guitar that is light in weight, but will still last a lifetime and relatively hold its value, may want to look into buying a GFI pedal steel. These pedal steels can be a great option, as well as some other brands of pedal steels.
Alternatives to Heavy Pedal Steels
If the pedal steel guitars that you’re interested in playing are all too heavy for what you’re looking for, then a lap steel guitar can be a good alternative to this. Because lap steels usually have smaller bodies, less mechanical parts, rods, levers, and legs, they are usually much lighter in weight than pedal steels.
Moving a lap steel is like transporting a guitar because the lap steel is similar in shape to a guitar (usually smaller) and sits on the lap of the player as they play.
Another alternative is a console steel guitar, which won’t have a changer mechanism, pedals, rods, and levers to change the pitch of strings. Because of this, mechanically the guitar is likely going to be lighter than many pedal steel guitars.
Although the body of the guitar will be similar in size and weight, as well as the legs it sits on, not having pedals and knee levers (and the mechanisms associated with these) will significantly reduce the weight of the guitar.
Although many pedal steel guitars are heavier in weight than many other instruments, having a sturdy, reliable, and well-built instrument like the pedal steel can actually be a benefit…usually pedal steel guitars are harder to damage in specific areas or parts of the guitar, because of their materials and the solid-build of them.
However much your pedal steel weighs, or one you’re interested in buying, it will surely make for some enjoyable music and creative playing.
Check out the page below, which has more info on pedal steel brands…