Learn what kind of steel you should look for in a pedal steel guitar in this Howcast video.
What kind of steel should you look for, if you’re looking to buy one? Don’t buy a beginner model. Don’t buy anything that’s a student, or a starter, or anything of that nature. These are really not good quality instruments, and they will prove to be more frustrating in the long run. It’s just not a good investment.
You should avoid anything that was made before probably, 1964 or ’65, because the technology then was simply not as good as it is now. Emmons made very good guitars in the ’60’s, and those are worth getting. Showboat is an old brand that’s also good, but whatever guitar you get, you should be sure that it has at least three pedals and four knee levers.
There are probably half a dozen or more, good quality brands. Zahn, Derby, Emmons, Franklin, Rains; these are serious instruments. These were more boutique shops. Avoid anything by the big labels, you don’t want to buy a Fender pedal steel guitar. You definitely don’t want to a Gibson pedal steel guitar. These are museum pieces. They predate any more serious technology improvements, and they are just going to give you a hard time.
Fender did make very good regular lap steels, or table steels, that have no pedals at all. Those are fine, and if you are really, really interested in getting that Fender sound, only a couple of people, Ralph Mooney comes to mind, played a Fender and got a good sound out of it. It’s a challenge. If you’re going to have enough problems with the instrument as it is, get something modern. I would say definitely, if I had to say, don’t even go near the ’60’s or 70’s. Get something from the ’90’s, or the 2000’s, and you’ll be in better shape.
So, that’s it for what kind of steel to get.