Best Effects to Use with a Pedal Steel Guitar

Learn what are the best effects to use with a pedal steel guitar in this Howcast video.

You may want to know what kind of devices are commonly used with Pedal Steel, and what people have used traditionally. It’s really a matter of taste, but I’ll just show you a couple of the more common ones.

Easily, the most common one is reverb. Here is what it sounds like without reverb. [plays guitar] Which is all very well and good. But then, what happens when you put on a reverb? [plays guitar] It just adds a huge, huge landscape of sound, and it’s highly desirable, in my estimation. It encourages, it plays into the hovering, hanging quality of the instrument. There’s just a lonesomeness of the reverb sound. It also gets absorbed a lot by the track that you’re going to be on, or the band you’re playing with. So even though this sounds like a fairly indulgent reverb setting, when in context, it won’t necessarily sound that vast.

For a slightly more fun experiment thing, you can also look into duplicating some of the sounds that some famed players like Sneaky Pete Kleinow or Buddy Cage used in the ’70’s, when Pedal Steel was meeting Rock music, or at least slightly revved-up country music, for the first time and using a distortion unit.

Now, you’ve already got plenty of sustained bass on your tone bar, being as heavy as it is, and the nature of the instrument. But then if you add the distortion that you can get with The RAT, which is a common, very popular distortion pedal, you will have some pretty impressively gnarly sounds. [plays guitar] And so on, and so forth. You will drive your neighbors crazy, and you will have lots of fun. Don’t overuse it. It’s a device, it’s an effect, and really is best enjoyed in small doses. But it will give any guitar player around you a run for his money, in terms of just animal Rock power.

Those are probably the most common. Choruses, digital delays are also fairly common. A digital delay is really just an echo pedal. Used sparingly, but with good taste, it can be very effective in perpetuating that hovering kind of quality that the reverb already has. It’s a good way of getting it.

Pedal Steel, properly played, has a very chorus-y sound to begin with, and it’s not really an instrument that needs to be treated a lot. It has an inherent quality. Reverb is going to be the one thing you’re most likely to use and everything else is just sort of the gravy on top.