Pedal steel guitar
- Tony Bacon
A development of the lap steel guitar ( see Hawaiian guitar ) in which the application of pedals enables the player to change instantaneously from one tuning to another. As performing technique developed, players of the Hawaiian guitar came to depend on using a variety of open tunings. In order to be able to move between these tunings at will, players began to use instruments with more than one neck. However, this meant that instruments became increasingly unwieldy as more necks were added. In the 1940s makers such as Bigsby in California and Epiphone in New York started to offer a solution by limiting the number of necks to two but adding pedals which, attached to a system of ‘changers’ and ‘fingers’ on the instrument, would enable the player to alter tunings as desired. At first players were happy to operate the systems as designed, using the pedals to move to new tunings as if they had changed necks. But gradually guitarists adapted the system to provide some novel musical effects, and used the pedals to change the pitch of one string while another was sounding. One of the first recorded examples of this ‘slurring’ effect, which is now considered to be the pedal steel guitar’s most characteristic sound, is featured in a solo played by Bud Isaacs on Webb Pierce’s ...