Strictly speaking, a steel guitar is any guitar made out of metal, which means it can be a resonator guitar used for the blues and Americana music, a lap steel guitar popular with those who play Hawaiian music, or a venerable pedal steel, which is what gives country-western music and Texas swing their distinctive sounds.
While the first resonator guitars made in the 1920s only featured an aluminum amplifying cone where the guitar's sound hole would be, subsequent resonators had all-aluminum bodies. Resonators grew out of the popularity of the acoustic guitar in the 1920s—the amplification helped them be heard over louder instruments such as banjos.
The invention of the resonator is widely credited to John Dopyera who, in the mid-1920s, developed an amplifying system for ukuleles. He founded the National String Instrument Corporation in August 1926 with his brothers Rudy, Robert, Louis, and Emil, and their company would use John’s system to produce “ampliphonic” or “self-amplifying” guitars, known today as resonators. But Dopyera was frustrated with the sound his uke-sized resonator produced when fitted on guitars so, in 1929, he left National and founded Dobro Manufacturing...
Lap-played steel guitars produced by Gibson, Epiphone, and National were produced in the 1930s to cash in on the craze at the time for Hawaiian music. Fender and Gretsch also produced lap-steel guitars (some of which were misnomers since they had stands), but not until the 1940s. Because these guitars lacked sound holes for natural amplification, even the earliest models were electric—Gibsons like the E-150 and Roy Smeck Special, both of which had Charlie Christian pickups, are especially prized by collectors today.
Finally there are pedal steel guitars, single neck or double, which are mounted on stands and fitted with anywhere from four to 10 pedals, each of which can change the pitch of selected strings. Vintage Fender steel guitars, with or without pedals, are favorites of players and collectors alike, as are Sho-Bud instruments—the fingerboards of Sho-Buds are known for their inlay of diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs.
Regardless of the type of steel guitar played, one thing they all have in common is that the player needs to be adept at finger picking—these instruments are not meant to be strumed. In addition, instead of using the non-picking hand to push down the strings to produce chords, the player holds a tube—sometimes made of steel, sometimes glass—lightly against the strings. The tube is slid up and down the fingerboard, which is why the technique is also known as slide guitar.
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I started playing guitar when I was pretty young and bought my first guitar when I was 10 or 11. Like a lot of people of my genera… [more]
I grew up in upstate New York in Rochester, and started playing guitar when I was about 10 years old. We had this place in Rochest… [more]
I started out primarily as a collector and the business aspect of it evolved over time, almost by accident. I didn’t start out wit… [more]
I first started coming across Howe-Orme instruments when I was an apprentice guitar repairman in Boston in 1963. Their guitars hav… [more]
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Grantham drummer in Pink Floyd tribute band for Sleaford gigGrantham Journal, June 18th
Time Is Money comprises of two keyboard players, a drummer, bass player, saxophonist, one rhythm guitarist, one lead guitarist and a second lead guitarist who also plays lap steel and pedal steel guitars as well as further keyboards. The band boasts a ...Read more
Bluesy Americana star David Jacobs-Strain on new LP 'Geneseo'Times-Standard, June 18th
The end result is a new 10-song LP featuring Scott Seiver (Pete Yorn) on drums, Jon Flaughers (Ryan Adams) on bass and David Immergluck (Counting Crows/Camper Van Beethoven) on pedal steel guitar. The LP also features Whiskeytown violinist Caitlin ...Read more
Track By Track: SejaMess+Noise, June 17th
I wanted this song to have a bit of a dreamy feel to it, which was ultimately created by synthesizers and Mellotron sounds mixed with the acoustic sounds of the drums and guitar. All instruments by Seja and Mirko except lap steel by Tim Curnick...Read more
Scott Jordan talks to the Louisiana band before its tour with Robert Plantbestofneworleans.com, June 17th
The band's musical prowess, including the formidable Adcock/Egan/Riley frontline, harnesses Sonny Landreth's bassist Dave Ranson, pedal steel virtuoso Richard Comeaux, ace blues guitarist Lil' Buck Sinegal, guest vocalist and swamp pop royalty Tommy ...Read more
Dancin' in the Streets Kicks Off Summer and Music's 5th Year with Matt Costa ...Long Beach Post, June 17th
Summer and Music veteran Sam Outlaw took the stage next, fronting a full band that included steel pedal guitar, keys and a stand-up bass. “I don't claim to be a country guy,” Outlaw justified. “I was born in South Dakota. Quite frankly, growing up...Read more
For 'Voice' finalists, lessons learnedUSA TODAY, June 16th
Voice host Carson Daly says Chamuel "is not going to be a guitar-wielding singer-songwriter," but she's "just infectious onstage." The coaches regularly "Country" stars like Taylor Swift rarely use "a banjo and pedal steel," says Gallo. Instead...Read more
Springsteen: what it's really like to work for The BossTelegraph.co.uk, June 14th
Concerts are so unpredictable that Lofgren keeps 30 guitars by the side of the stage, including banjos, lap steel and pedal steel guitars so he's ready for any contingency. “I have emergency guitars so if I can't get the right instrument, at least I...Read more
Personal moments are key for 'Man of Steel' composerUSA TODAY, June 14th
Zimmer's Man of Steel score for director Zack Snyder is powerful and dynamic, like Mahler with a synthesizer and the occasional pedal steel guitar, yet also modest in key musical sequences — to underscore the iconic superhero being an alien raised in...Read more