How to Position Fingers & Hands on a Pedal Steel Guitar

Learn how to position fingers and hands on a pedal steel guitar in this Howcast video.

Okay. So how do you place your fingers and hands on this instrument?

Well, the tone bar you should be holding in your left hand. Something along these lines. Sort of nestled between your first two fingers with your thumb supporting it.

I bend my finger a little bit here and sort of press down a little bit. You don’t want to be pushing down but you definitely need to keep good contact with the strings. You don’t want to be just sort of rattling around.

And a little, you know, thrown in a just a little bravado as the string as the note or chord is decaying. Just a little bit.

You also want these fingers to be at least partly laying against the strings so that you mute any rattling sound that’s coming from the other side of the bar.

So it’s sort of… this is the main sweet spot here. This is the action. Speaking of sweet spots you want to try to slide the bar along so that maybe around here is really where the, where you’re focusing on.

So, don’t just keep it locked in one position like this. Try to follow a little bit as you’re going along so that this part is of the tone bar is where you’re really working.

As far as this hand goes, well the further, the closer to the bridge you get the more, the more treble-y and sharp sound you’re going to get.

Where a more mellow sound happens when you play more in the middle. You want your hand to be slightly curved so that the fingers are not and you want the thumb and the fingers to sort of get out of each others way.

The thumb is sort of. The thumb forefront or closer to the left and the fingers behind it like that. The thumb goes forward. The fingers come back.

You want the picks, again, to be bent slightly so that you are striking the strings as much straight on as you possibly can. I keep my finger a little hooked over here and straightened out so that you block a little bit. You have no unwanted clutter from the strings.

That’s pretty much it. Again, you know, a brighter a janglier sound as you get near the bridge. A mellower, more sort of a chesty more crooning sound as you get in the middle of the neck.

That’s pretty much it as far as the position of the hands. Don’t hit hard. You know, it’s a light kind of feel. You don’t have to dig in too much and that’s pretty much it for what your hands do.