How to Play Pedal Steel Bends in Country Guitar

Learn how to play pedal steel bends in country guitar from musician Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.

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Wish you could play guitar like country greats Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, and Hank Williams? In these videos, country guitarist Boo Reiners teaches you how to do just that. It's as good as having a private guitar tutor at your beck and call.

 
 

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Let's talk about doing some bends on the guitar to mimic the sound of the pedal steel guitar. The pedal steel guitar has a lot of machinery going on underneath it, pedals and levers, cables, rods. It's kind of easier to do it on a pedal steel guitar, but with the guitar, regular guitar, we're going have to do it manually. Of course, we don't have to lug around quite so much stuff. Anyway, here's a real common bend that we do. I've got the top two strings of a basic A major bar chord here, okay? But I'm going to reduce this cord to just the top two strings, and I'm going to fret it with the pinky, okay? Then on the third string, I'm going to put my second scale degree note, which is a B, because I want to bend that note into this triad here. That A major triad is what I'm going to end up with after doing my manual bend, okay? So here I've got the top two notes of the triad, here's the suspension, the suspended note of the triad and I'm going to bend into just the basic major triad by doing this. And I've got a helper finger behind the finger I'm using to fret the note on the third string. And I might want to do that backwards. I could start out with the bend already in place, and then bend back up. I might even be able to let the root note on the fifth string ring out. But sometimes you'd end up bending so far up that you touch a ringing open string, so I might be able to get away with it easier moving up to the E major position here. Again, I'm using that hybrid picking, the flat pick and my middle and sometimes my ring finger. You also might want to go to just the rear pick up for a little bit more twang. And that's how you can get some pedal steel sounds on your regular old six string electric guitar.

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  • Boo Reiners

    In addition to leading The Demolition String Band with partner and co-founder Elena Skye, Boo has recorded and/or performed with Shooter Jennings, Phil Lesh, Charlie Louvin, Dispatch, Tony Trischka, Laura Cantrell, and many others. His multi-instrumental work with The Klezmatics helped the band win a Grammy award for their album "Wonder Wheel: Lryics By Woody Guthrie." He has done work for film, TV and theater with Kristen Wiig, Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler, Michael Moore, Steve Martin and others.