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Pedal steel guitars are remarkably expressive in music, and they have a mechanical complexity and depth that often requires certain skills and knowledge for repairing them. Whether you’re interested in having a pedal steel restored, setup to play properly, or need to fix something on one, finding pedal steel repair can be a handy option.
However, since pedal steel is such a niche instrument where do you go to get a pedal steel properly repaired? There aren’t as many pedal steel repair specialists compared to other types of work, however there are some highly skilled repairmen that can usually restore, setup, and repair many types of pedal steel guitars.
Let’s take a look at pedal steel repairs, and learn more about getting your pedal steel worked on…
The Need for Repair
Because pedal steels have a lot of parts, mechanical functions, and can seem complex, it usually isn’t easy to repair a pedal steel without some experience or expertise. However, if your pedal steel isn’t working properly you’ll likely want to get it fixed in a way that lasts you in the long run and makes playing efficient and comfortable.
Whether it’s a broken part that happened accidentally at a gig, wear and tear that needs addressing, or you’re trying to diagnose a mechanical problem, you’ll likely want to have your pedal steel repaired professionally. To get things back in working order, oftentimes taking your pedal steel (or shipping it) to a repair specialist is the best option.
Many used pedal steels that are purchased from people who do not play the instrument will have some mechanical issues that need to be addressed to get it to play properly. Oftentimes, these pedal steels will need an overall setup to help it play in tune and be durable.
Also, some players may purchase older pedal steels with the intention of restoring it to a like new condition. Just like restoring an old car, this can be an enjoyable and neat way to see the pedal steel closer to its original condition and enjoy the perks that it provides.
Where To Get Pedal Steel Repairs
Most pedal steel repair specialists are also players of the instrument, who have learned a great amount of information through experience in playing and working on various types of pedal steels over the years. Many of these specialists work out of a shop located at their residence, however there are some pedal steel stores that do work out of their shop.
If you’re looking for repair work, here are some good options to check out…
- Steel Guitar East (Billy Knowles)
- Johnie King
- Damir Basic
- Buck Reid
- Jackson Steel Guitar
- Kelcey O’Neil
- Mike Cass
- Steel Guitars of North County (Jim Palenscar)
- Lynn Stafford
- Mickey Adams
- Ricky Davis
Many of these repair specialists can be contacted or found by searching on the Steel Guitar Forum, social media, or Google.
Some repair specialists have more experience with certain types of brands, such as Billy Knowles who does great work on Emmons pedal steels. However, most of these people have an expertise that is applicable to many brands and types of pedal steels.
If you’re looking for particular parts for your pedal steel, oftentimes a search on the Steel Guitar Forum will yield some results. Also, check out the online store called PSG Parts, which has a surprising amount of products for this niche instrument.
Furthermore, sometimes particular manufacturers will have extra parts on hand for their brand of guitars, and will sell them to customers if they’re available.
Because of how many metal parts there are on a pedal steel, many repair specialists will machine their own parts or hire someone to do so. If you know a skilled machinist and the part you are seeking, they may be able to provide some guidance on finding or making the part.
Tuning, Copedents, and Setups
Pedal steel guitars can often be setup to accommodate different tunings, or pedal and knee lever uses. The way the pedal steel is tuned, and configured with its pedals/levers, is often called a copedent.
You may choose to alter the tuning and copedent of your pedal steel guitar, but this often requires a lot of mechanical work and expertise. It can be a good idea to take your pedal steel to a repair shop if you’re looking to do this, as most pedal steels are built and designed to allow these types of customization.
It usually requires a skill set and knowledge that repair specialists have, and setups are often easy to accomplish for these specialists despite having to disassemble and rearrange parts of the guitar. It is usually a more labor and time intensive task for a repair specialist to do this, however many will charge between $300-$400. This is often a worthwhile investment to have your pedal steel playing properly with the copedent you prefer, if you plan on using the pedal steel for many years.
Most brand new pedal steels come properly setup, with the copedent you request or prefer, when they are bought by the player. Talk to your pedal steel manufacturer or builder about the copedent, tuning, and setup you’d like before they build or ship the guitar to avoid having to have it setup again away from the factory shop.
Tips and Advice
One of the best things you can do to avoid pedal steel repairs and their costs is to properly maintain and care for your instrument. Pedal steels usually need to be oiled (using a specific type of oil, not WD-40!) a few times a year depending on how often you play the instrument. This will help prevent unneeded wear and tear on all of its metal on metal parts.
Also, having a nice case to store and transport the pedal steel in can go a long way for maintaining and protecting it. It can also be beneficial to keep the pedal steel in a climate controlled environment to prevent moisture buildup and other factors.
When buying a used pedal steel keep in mind that unless it is setup and playing properly (which is often not the case), you’ll likely have to spend money to have the pedal steel worked on. This repair work can add an additional few hundred dollars or more to the buying cost, which can make the purchase not worthwhile from a buying standpoint.
In conclusion, finding a repair option that is convenient, affordable, and high-quality can be nice to have for any pedal steel player. The more you play the instrument, the deeper your knowledge of its mechanics, parts, and needed repairs will become.
Thanks for checking out this page, 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 Scale Book for E9 Pedal Steel
Over 1,000 Pages with Tabs and Diagrams!
- Easy to Use Reference for Practicing
- All Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales, Modes, Major Scales
- All Keys, and Covers the Fretboard
- Includes Pockets of Scales
The Art of Right Hand Technique
A detailed look at one of the most challenging and mysterious aspects of steel guitar playing: the right hand…
- An In-Depth Guide to Picking and Blocking
- How to Efficiently and Accurately Play Notes on Steel Guitar with Info, Advice, and Tips…
- Great for Pedal Steel, Lap Steel, and Console Steel Guitar
- Over 100 Pages with Graphics, Illustrations, & Practice Exercises
200 Country Riffs & Licks for E9 Pedal Steel
Add these country licks to your playing repertoire…
- Easy to Read Format
- Includes Rhythmic Notation
- Playing Over Chord Changes
- Great for Country, Alt-Country, & Honky-Tonk Styles
The Elixir of E9 Pedal Steel: Harmonized 6ths