STEELONIOUS now available!

STEELONIOUS.indd

Mike Neer’s new CD, STEELONIOUS, is available now.   Order your copy here!
Also available at CD Baby (digital download or CD): Steelonious on CD Baby

Featuring the talents of Matt King (piano/organ), Andrew Hall (bass), Diego Voglino (drums), Tom Beckham (vibraphone) and Mike Neer playing the music of Thelonious Monk in ways you’ve never heard before. It’s fun for the whole family!

Produced and arranged by Mike Neer and engineered and mixed by Paul Wickliffe.

 

  1. Epistrophy
  2. Bemsha Swing
  3. ‘Round Midnight
  4. In Walked Bud
  5. Bye-Ya
  6. I Mean You
  7. Off Minor
  8. Ugly Beauty
  9. Ask Me Now
  10. Straight, No Chaser
  11. Reflections
  12. Blue Monk

#steelonious

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sol Hoopii and “Hula Blues”

Here is a little video which demonstrates how I believe Sol Hoopii played this tune, specifically on his earlier acoustic recordings in the A Major tuning.
One of the devices that Sol used most frequently is open strings–in this case, in bars 3 and 4 of the head, Sol utilizes a slide to G# on string 4, followed by open string 3 (A), for a nice bluesy lick. Have a look for yourself.

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Share-A-Lick for C6

In the spirit of Share-A-Lick, here are a few little things to spice up your playing.

Minor 3rds on adjacent pairs (D

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Announcement of new blog, 21st Century Steel Guitar

I’d like to announce that I have started a new blog called 21st Century Steel Guitar, which I feel is more in line with the direction I am traveling musically. Because I generally post things on a whim or when I’ve been wrapping my mind around things, I will probably be posting more and starting new discussions on the new blog. I will occasionally post things here, as well, as I am very much fascinated with the history of steel guitar. But for musical discussions and ideas, 21st Century Steel Guitar will get most of my attention.

Please take a look and see if the premise interests you at all. Thanks for the support all these years!

21st Century Steel Guitar

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, News | Leave a comment

Turn your tablet or iPad into a tab writing notebook

My one caveat with using tab and notation programs is that they are too cumbersome and klunky for capturing ideas as they happen, or when you absolutely need to remember something you just discovered on your instrument. I’ve kept notebooks, but they aren’t always around when I need them, and I’m not always near my computer. My iPad, however, is almost always with me.

I recently purchased a cool notation program, called NotateMe, which allows me to write notes in the staff and it plays it back with MIDI. You are actually writing with your stylus directly onto the staff. There is a staff above which turns your scribblings into actual note values. It is very cool, indeed.

However, I was sitting at my guitar and playing some cool stuff that I wanted to remember and I thought about how none of the apps, including TEFpad, can give me instant satisfaction. Then, I remembered an app that I had downloaded a free version of, GoodNotes, and I wondered how I could use that app for jotting down quick tabs. (Note: I actually had GoodNotes Free edition, and the app asked if I wanted to upgrade for free, as of Nov. 22, 2014.)

I discovered that I could upload my own templates via pdf, so I actually created a template from some blank tab sheets I downloaded here: http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=181603, courtesy of Nic Du Toit. PSA: the Steel Guitar Forum is one of the best sites on the internet, period!

Once I added the template to GoodNotes via iTunes, when the app opened I simply selected to add a new template and then selected the pdf I had uploaded.

This got me thinking–I could create any kind of template for any guitar, any tuning. Once I had finished jotting down my ideas with the best tool for the job, the Adonit Jot (about $27), I could save and export in a number of ways. Here are some samples of the templates I created:

At this point, I should add that GoodNotes is simply the app that I chose to use; however, there are a lot of handwriting apps available that enable you to import templates. Do a Google search and you will find a good number of them.

This has been a great discovery for me because it uses the latest technology in concert with the simplicity of keeping handwritten notes, In my long life of experience, I can honestly say that writing things by hand helps me to remember them, which is one area where modern technology has gotten in the way. This method is the best of both worlds.

I have experimented with other templates and it all works beautifully. You can create your own templates, or else I may make a number of templates available for download here.

I hope this tip helps you in documenting important ideas as they come to mind. It certainly has for me.

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shaping Fingerpicks to Suit Your Playing Style

It is often a topic of conversation among newer players of the difficulties in getting used to wearing fingerpicks. For some players, it is nearly impossible to get comfortable with these new appendages. For me, it was a little different.

When I started becoming serious about playing, I was playing a National tricone. It was a matter of necessity for me to use picks, and because I was playing in an acoustic group with the instruments mic’d, I preferred a stiffer pick (.025 mm). When I switched over to playing electric steel, I no longer felt comfortable with that heavy gauge pick, and experimented with the lighter .013, .015 and .018 gauges. The .013 appealed to me, so I shaped the picks to follow the natural shape of my finger tips. This resulted in some very nice tone–very rich. The problem, I discovered much later, was that in order for me to pick the strings, I needed to get my fingers down deeper to the strings. This hindered my ability to play fast, clean lines, and my fingers would mistakenly hit the wrong strings often. I couldn’t live with this, because regardless of how hard I worked at it, I couldn’t overcome the sloppiness.

Recently, in continuing my lifelong quest of improving my picking hand, I have discovered some things that have proven significant towards this end. I have begun using slightly heavier picks (.018) and I have shaped them so that they extend approximately 1/4″ from the tips of my fingers, and this extension is decidedly straighter than the previous “curled with the finger” shape.

What this has allowed me to do is to execute rolls and other intricate picking patterns with greater ease, and to allow me to use a technique of locking my hands in a way that everything above the metacarpal bones is firmly locked in place, allowing greater control of the fingers. This is something that I have experimented with and concluded that it really does work.

There is no one way to wear picks, but it is advisable to always consider where you are in your playing path and how simple changes in things like picks can have a significant impact on your playing and sound. I will admit, I thought my tone suffered a bit when I made the change, but I have learned to compensate by using thicker gauge picks and by picking with a little more velocity.

There are some things about playing steel guitar that, unless you have the privilege of being near seasoned players and getting their insights, you are on your own to discover. For me, it always seemed as if achieving great right hand technique was an uphill battle. The inconsistency is frustrating and, while continual practice will yield positive results, I always seemed to hit a wall. In trying to create longer lines, I realized that I would need to refine my technique and, surprisingly, one of the greatest sources for inspiration appeared in a piano book. I will make no bones about saying that I think of my steel as a “lap piano” at times–this term is attributed to George Van Eps–and I want my passages to have the same clarity, lightness and dexterity as a pianist. George Kochevitsky’s book, The Art of Piano Playing, just really opened my mind to taking control of the situation. As he illustrates, for a century or more after the arrival of the piano forte, players still did not have the technique necessary to get the most from it–they were still relying on the finger technique from the days of harpsichord.

I have to say, I do enjoy playing without picks, but I can’t execute much of what I play without them. I will also add that I have ordered a set of Alaska Piks and I’m looking forward to giving those a try. Will report back on that….

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged | 1 Comment

Old Steel Guitar Chord Charts (in various tunings)

While cleaning out my studio/library, I came across these cool chord charts that were published back in the 1940s. A friend of mine had given me these photocopies years ago, and I thought I would share them with the world before they are lost forever.

These charts can be very useful for each of these tunings, which are F#9, C# Minor, E7 and B11. The charts cover chords created with a straight bar, as well as with slants and in combination with open strings. Very good tools to get you inside the tunings. Once you are in, you will discover you own chords.

The first chord folio is for F#9 tuning (used by Dick McIntire and Bernie Kaai, who lent his name and image to this booklet). F#9 tuning is essentially C# Minor tuning, but with strings 5 and 6 tuned differently (E C# G# E A# F#, from treble to bass).
(Click on each image to enlarge).

The next set of chord charts comes from an unknown source, but note that each page has the Fator’s name on it–Fator is a name affiliated with Dickerson steel guitars, as the owner of the company was Gaston Fator.

Note that the C# Minor tuning actually resembles E13–essentially, the E7 tuning with the second string raised to C#. The C# Minor tuning (Sol Hoopii) is spelled: E C# G# E B E

I hope you find these charts useful.

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Mother-of-all-Slants, Slantzilla! for C13

Spending time lately investigating and memorizing the myriad slants available in C6-based tunings, especially C13, and I stumbled upon this beautiful piece of musical geometry.

Slantzilla

Slantzilla

There are many other hidden secrets in this tuning and I aim to find and use all of them!

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Harmonic Mechanisms for Steel Guitar

Back in the late 1980s, I was lucky enough to have a guitar lesson with Mike Stern. I would also see him play fairly regularly and have a talk over a cup of coffee (Sheridan Square Diner (r.i.p.) ). Mike recommended a book to me by a guitarist whose name I had only seen in Guitar Player magazine, but had never heard. The book was called the George Van Eps Method for Guitar and it was published way back in the 1930s. I bought the book and did the first few pages of exercises. In reading George’s words in the forward, I understood that the book was not only a way of learning triad shapes in all inversions on all string sets, but also as a way of developing an independence in the digits to enable single note playing over sustained chords. This was a hallmark of George’s style, which was developed as a young tenor banjo player (his father, Fred, was one of the instrument’s great virtuosos).

I revisited the Van Eps method pretty heavily around 2000, as I was playing a lot of acoustic archtop guitar. Now I had heard George and was profoundly inspired by his playing. I can hear where Mike Stern utilizes some of the concepts he learned from the book, particularly when he is playing a pedal note and moving the chords around underneath. Anyway, years later it occurred to me that working through inversions of the triads in a Van Eps-ian manner might be a fruitful exercise. I continue to utilize it daily.

If you have a lap steel tuned to C6, you can find the triads within. This would also work for any other tuning, as well. You will have to make your own adjustments to the tab that I’ve laid out. I highly recommend mastering exercises #1 and 2 in every key before moving on to the triad inversions. There are other techniques involved in the inversions that will need to be addressed.

This page of exercises was written quickly by hand while the idea was fresh. Please pardon the sloppiness of it.

Harm. Mech. for Steel Guitar #1-p1

Here is a quick video demonstration of the concept. Note that I do not lift the bar off the strings, but simply block, using either method (palm or pick). Pick blocking is particularly useful in arpeggiating the triads. Practice these slowly and cleanly.

I’ve also created a little clip showing how to utilized the triads on strings 1-3 in A6 tuning. This works so well that I’m almost tempted to switch to A6!

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A Speedy West classic arranged for C6

This is a classic tune by Speedy West called Skiddle-Dee-Boo. This particular arrangement was one of the first of Speedy’s tunes that I transcribed–I may have started with a few easier ones. But this particular tune had some real meat to it in the way of nice chords and interesting moving harmonies–a very good steel guitar tune.

Speedy actually recorded this on his E13 neck of his T-8 Bigsby, which had a pedal which the changed the B string to A# (or vice versa, I’ll have to check), which turned the tuning into F#9. What I’ve done here is to take a typical C6 tuning with the 3rd on the top string (E) and proceed to lower all G to F#. This gives me a D9 tuning. Since there are no open strings, we are simply playing the tune in a different position that we would in F#9 tuning. This is a sacrifice in the timbre of the strings in a sense that it loses a little zing being slightly heavy strings, but for me that’s actually a positive change.

Here is a recording of my arrangement. This was done quite a few years ago, quite primitively in my studio, but the recording is clean. You want to lower any G strings to F#, so the tuning is: E C A F# E C for 6 string lap steel.

Listen to the audio: Skiddle-Dee-Boo

What follows is the tab for the tune. I realize it is not particularly web-friendly in a sense that it is 6 pages and not condensed, but you can click on each individual page to see a full screen image.

Skiddle-Dee-Boo_Page_1

Skiddle-Dee-Boo_Page_2

Skiddle-Dee-Boo_Page_3

Skiddle-Dee-Boo_Page_4

Skiddle-Dee-Boo_Page_5

Skiddle-Dee-Boo_Page_6

Hope you enjoy picking this one. A lot of attention is needed for the right hand picking, so be patient.

Posted in Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Joaquin Murphey’s solo on Yearnin’ transcribed

Hi everyone! With all this excitement over the Joaquin Murphey solos book by John McGann and Andy Volk, which is sold here, I’ve got the itch to dive back in and do some more transcribing. I think there’s enough great Murph stuff to make another book or two, so, to test the waters, I decided to transcribe Joaquin’s solo on Yearnin’, one which I feel is up there with his finest.

I will continue to add commentary to this post as I uncover significant points with regards to the execution and thinking in this solo. The solo begins at 0:40 (don’t mind the Tae-Bo, although it is rather entertaining and a reminder of another failed American trend).

What I like right off the bat is the subtle introduction of the V7+ in the first measure–that is Joaquin’s bread and butter (V7aug).

Another thing you will want to take into consideration is to find a very comfortable and stable, consistent way of playing across strings, such as in measures 1 and 2. I have tried many different ways, but I always end up coming back to what feels right to me. I think it is important to pick rather lightly and in a very controlled manner to get that fluidness in your lines. It is the same for saxophone players–the guys who blew a bit lighter could usually play faster and cleaner, but maybe lacked the tone slightly. Until John Coltrane came along and did the opposite. Maybe Joaquin is like Coltrane in that way, but I still think he picked lightly, but firmly and very controlled. I think looking at Jeremy Wakefield picking hand might be a good place to see how this is done. There are plenty of YouTube videos of him playing.


Posted in Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing the Part: transcribing music from other instruments on the steel — Raphael McGregor




This month, I am very pleased to present a contribution from friend and fellow steel guitarist, Raphael McGregor, of NYC. Raphael has been busy cutting new trails with his steel guitar for years, and his first CD as leader, Fretless, is an excellent introduction to what is sure to be productive and creative career. Raphael has also played with some excellent bands, including Brazilian-infused Nation Beat, who toured the world and played at Farm Aid.

To learn more about Raphael and hear some of his music, visit Raphael’s website.

Playing the Part: transcribing music from other instruments on the steel

Certain things lie perfectly on the steel; mostly the songs written by steel guitarists that are intended to be played on the steel guitar. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to inject some new ideas into your playing and expand your repertoire, try transcribing music from other instruments and putting them on the steel. Doing this really pushes you to develop other aspects of your technique that you might otherwise not have had a reason to. Music written for piano, for example, is going to require you to do some things that might be quite simple on the keyboard but that require you to be extremely creative in terms of how you play them on the steel. Then you can take the techniques you learned from your transcriptions and apply them to your own improvisations, compositions, and interpretations of melodies.

To that end, here are two transcriptions of trumpet solos: first, Louis Armstrong’s melody chorus on his 1926 recording of “Big Butter and Egg Man,” a traditional jazz staple, and second, Bix Beiderbecke’s solo chorus on “Singin’ the Blues,” from 1927, another important recording in jazz history. Both are moderately difficult, and there are a few riffs in the Beiderbecke that are quite challenging. The Louis Armstrong is definitely the simpler of the two so I would recommend starting with that.

You might be thinking, “I never have any intention of playing either of these two songs, so why is this useful to me?” Well first of all, both performers transcribed here are acknowledged as two of the greatest instrumentalists of all time, so even if you don’t enjoy or intend to play the music, there are numerous lessons to be learned by listening to and performing these pieces, both in terms of lap steel technique and general musicianship. Second, you can play these pieces using my tablature and when you get to spots you find technically challenging, focus on those. You can even develop exercises that are based off of specific phrases in the music. For instance, measure 20 in the Bix is scalar motion using two strings only. Why not take that idea and see if you can effectively play a major scale on only two strings? Or, take that idea and write a sequence of it through the Eb major scale, using only two strings, then take that sequence and play it in all keys, still on two strings. Doing this type of thing gives you more possibilities when you improvise, compose, or make embellishments to melodies and makes it less likely that you will be stuck playing the same thing over and over. (E.G: Well, I’m in Eb, guess I’ll play on the 15th fret for a while).

Also, even if you don’t play these, there is still a lot to learn just by looking at the transcriptions. In Bix’s solo, for example, he cleverly develops an idea over a few bars, never repeating it exactly but always making reference to the original idea. Notice also that he frequently uses the upper extensions of the triads–such as bars 10-11 he plays a B-7b5 arpeggio over the G7 and then lands on the D natural, the 9th of the C7 chord. So maybe you want to practice playing the chords that start from the 3rd or 5th of the chord you are on instead of the root. (So, in this case: G7=G B D F, and Bix is using B D F A, which is just extending the pattern of the chord one tone further) Or notice the broken Eb-7 arpeggio in bar 32 of Armstrong’s that ends on an A natural over a Gb major chord, adding a sense of drama and tension that pulls you into the next chorus. Maybe this will lead you to practice arpeggios in different inversions and arrangements. And with both players, listen closely and try to emulate the bends, swoops, and various articulations that they use to approach notes, particularly in bar 10 of the Bix and beat four of bar 24 of the Armstrong. Both solos are filled with musical moments that should help you generate ideas when you are in similar playing circumstances.

Lastly, a note on feel–being that this is jazz music, many of the written rhythms do not correspond exactly to the way you will hear them played in the recordings. This is not to say it is inaccurately written; it just means there are subtleties for which written music cannot account. Listen closely to the performances and make an exercise out of trying to capture their swing and their rhythmic placement. Sometimes they will be behind or ahead of the beat; try and hear where they are and do your best to replicate it.

Thanks very much, hope you find this helpful! Please feel free to contact me via my website with any questions!

–Raphael McGregor

http://www.raphaelmcgregor.com

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five: Big Butter and Egg Man


Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra featuring Bix Beiderbecke: Singin the Blues



Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

For Your Listening Pleasure….


I’ve gathered up a few of my Soundcloud links of recordings of jazzier tunes, including my arrangements of a few Pop tunes. There may be a few more floating around out there that I’ve forgotten about. Anyway, I’ve pretty dedicated myself to playing steel in Jazz contexts and hopefully one day will feel confident enough to call myself a “jazz musician.” The beautiful thing is that Jazz covers an extremely wide range of sounds–I have been working my way forward from the great American Songbook to contemporary sounds. I still have a long way to go! Thanks for listening….

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dick McIntire’s arrangement of “Fascinating Rhythm” (prev. unpublished)


Years ago, I purchased from one of Dick McIntire’s students from way back in the 1940s in Long Beach, CA an arrangement of Fascinating Rhythm handwritten in tablature. I loved looking at Dick’s handwriting and I thought it was a really ingenious way of writing out tab: the rhythms appeared above the staff, while the staff was reserved for the tab itself.

Somewhere along the way, John Tipka offered to convert this tab to Tabledit files for me (at that time I didn’t know how to use Tabledit–I’ve since become extremely proficient with it) and, while cleaning my studio today, I stumbled upon the files he sent. I have not seen them in the 5 years since he did them.

So, I opened up Fascinating Rhythm, took a look at it and listened to the MIDI file and then it dawned on me: Dick had never recorded this tune! His arrangement is excellent, very Sol Hoopii-like, but quite different at the same time. I cleaned up the chart and set it up for this blog, so I am publishing for the first time Dick McIntire’s arrangement of Fascinating Rhythm!

The tab was originally written with the tuning called F#9, but strings 5 and 6 are never used, so, in essence C#m7 tuning (Sol’s tuning) works just perfectly here.

E C# G# E B E = C#m7 (high to low)
E C# G# E A# F# = F#9

Have a look at the first page of Dick’s tab (nevermind the misspellings in the title):

I am going to make a recording of this when time allows and hopefully capture some of Dick McIntire’s magic. Missing from the tab are the little stylistic embellishments, but having listened to Dick McIntire for so long now, I feel I might be able to hear what he was thinking, or at least pretty close to it.




Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Mike Stern’s “Upside Downside” for C6


This is a great tune from Mike Stern’s Upside Downside LP (yes, I still have the vinyl) from about ’87. Mike has been a big influence on me and even on lap steel guitar I find his compositions very fruitful.

This tune uses Major 6th intervals throughout the head, giving it a real diminished sound. It almost reminds me a little of a Fats Navarro tune I used to hear on the jukebox while at the 55 Bar waiting to see Mike (on a side note, I had some guitar lessons with Mike around this time–I got my butt seriously kicked in the most gracious way by Mike).

Playing this tune on C6 will help you develop blocking skills as well as intonation. It is quite difficult to play this perfectly in tune. Keep working at it, playing it slowly until you have it memorized. I did not include the chord changes to the tune in the tab, but I may post a chord chart for those who may want to explore it a little deeper. I’m also including a link to a play-along track (done with MIDI instruments, yuck).



Play-along track: http://www.mikeneer.com/upside downside.mp3

Posted in Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Playing with intervals: fourths and fifths (Freedom Jazz Dance)


One of the most famous modern jazz compositions was written and recorded by Eddie Harris in 1965 and is called Freedom Jazz Dance. Freedom Jazz Dance has been recorded and performed by many other artists since then, most famously by Miles Davis on his “Miles Smiles” LP. The song is famous for its use of the interval of a perfect fourth and fifths and its chromaticism.

Here is what a version I recorded using these same positions as in the tab sounds like, except I added a few measures between each phrase a la Miles Davis. Eddie Harris originally just recorded the tune straight through as I have written. I am using C13 tuning in this versions, and that is exactly what the tab shows. There are other ways of playing this, but I found this to be one of the most comfortable. The only real difficulty for me occurs in the beginning of the 8th measure (bottom line, 1st bar), where I incorporate the open C string. Just took me a little while to get used to that one.

I’ll be back with some pointers at some point, but just have some fun with this for now, as it’s sure to give you some cool ideas using intervallic playing.

Posted in Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super-Charged Picking with Octave Displacement


WARNING: This post may contain material that makes you want to bang your head against the wall!

You may or may not be familiar with Pat Martino’s 12 Chromatic Forms for Guitar, a series of octave displacement patterns famously adapted by Buddy Emmons and known as the “Monster Licks”. It is a cool lick that Buddy plays, for sure. A jaw-dropper? Yes, indeed. Musical? That’s up to you.

Anyway, in exploring C6 tuning lately to find hidden treasures and trying to incorporate some of what I am learning about 12-tone music, I came up with a very simple exercise that is deceptively challenging to play, but very rewarding (I will demonstrate that later). The exercise involves playing a chromatic scale on 2 strings tuned an octave apart–in essence, we are alternating octaves. The most important consideration to remember is to move the bar up one fret after each note is picked. We also want to use pick blocking here–as soon as you are ready to sound the next note, let the pick that sounded the previous note come down onto that string to stop its ringing and prepare for its next attack. Another thing to remember: Do NOT move the bar across the strings to accommodate the octave jumps–just keep it in a straight line.

The tuning is C6: E C A G E C, high to low.

Play the following exercise slowly until you get the hang of it. This one uses our E strings only:

Here is the same exercise for our C strings:

Now, we combine the C and E string pairs:

Finally, let’s play a C Major scale using octave displacement:

Now, I know right about now you are asking yourself, “What is the point of all this?” I can’t really answer for you, specifically, but I will tell you that in the spirit of improvisation and exploration, playing with intervals can be very rewarding. Using octave displacement can present a melody, even a well known melody, in a whole new light. A perfect example is Bruce Hornsby’s recording of Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” on his Camp Meeting CD. Here is a clip of the recording where you can hear how Bruce has playfully and effectively employed O.D.:

Here are a few more exercises that are more similar to real world examples of how one might use octave displacement. These examples are designed to get you thinking in the hopes that you’ll discover your own.

If nothing else, think of the picking facility that you will develop with these exercises. It just may come in handy some day….

That’s all for now.

Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sonny Rollins’ “Valse Hot” using Tetrachord System


Last night I transcribed the head for Sonny Rollins’ “Valse Hot”, a nice jazz waltz with an almost Viennese feel, as I thought it would be a perfect example to show the power of the tetrachord system as outlined in my Steelin’ Scales & Modes book. One of the things that this system does is open up the fretboard in a way that it becomes possible to play scale-wise passages cleanly. If there is one thing that the great players can do (and they almost all have this in common), it is to play scalar patterns very fluidly.

This is a pretty simple example, as you can see. Remember, the tetrachords are named after the modes of the major scale–this does not mean we are playing modally. We are simply playing tetrachords, or parts of the scales beginning on specific degrees. This is all outlined at length in the book. One thing I have figured out is that this system is good for any tuning: the principles remain the same. However, my book specifically focuses on C6 tuning.

I have offered an alternative to measures 16 and 17–this appears after the ending of the head and is marked with an asterisk. Try both and see which you like best.

This arrangement is specifically for 8 string C6 tuning: E C A G E C A G high to low. Using the low G string in this case gives me the ability to mirror the tetrachord patterns of string set 2, 3 and 4. Normally I would use a dominant variation of C6, such as C13 or C6/A7, but this particular tune doesn’t really need it as it is fairly diatonic.

If you’d like to download the pdf version for printing, click here. I’m experiencing a little difficulty getting the printed music to display properly on the blog, so clicking on the link above is the best bet.

In the space below the tab you will see “Bb Dorian” etc.–this pertains to the tetrachord shape played in that measure.
Have a listen to the original recording. I will record a steel guitar version when I can find some time.

Also, I wanted to point out that I don’t really use the slides indicated in the tab at all–I pretty much play most of the notes straight on. However, when I tabbed it out, I included them thinking I would use them, but they affect the articulation in a way that is not desirable for me.


Posted in Fresh baked thoughts, Lessons and Tips | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

New book: “Steelin’ Scales & Modes”

I finally finished what seemed to take forever just to conceptualize–and that is my latest book, “Steelin’ Scales & Modes” for C6 tuning. This is Volume 1 of what should a 2 volume set–there is no way I could have fit the 2 volumes into one. This book contains 90-something pages of text, neck diagrams, and exercises, introducing what I call the Tetrachord System. The goal of the book is to get you to be able to play any scale anywhere in the string sets I’ve laid out. It really is quite extensive and will require a lot of work, but it wioll change the way you see the neck.

The book was written using a 6 string version of C6, but it doesn’t matter, because the focus is on the heart of the tuning, or strings E, G, A, and C. Anywhere you have that combination of strings is where you will find the 2 string sets. 8 string, 10 string pedal steel, it doesn’t matter–you can use it the same way and then find ways of your own to extend across the entire range of the instrument.

You’ll learn all the scales and modes of the major keys and will also get a taste of the application of the modes. I put a lot of work into this book to make sure everything was as clear as it could be, and I’m proud of the way it turned out. If you are willing to put the work in (and there is a lot), you will benefit from it, without a doubt.

I’m accepting pre-orders on the book until March 10 at the discounted price of $25 plus shipping; after that date, the book will retail for $29.95.

http://www.steelinfromthemasters.com/all-products-3/pre-order-steelin-scales-and-modes-in-c6-tuning/

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Learn Buddy Charleton’s “Almost to Tulsa”


This is a tune that I had lots of fun with and sold many copies of at Steelin’ From the Masters. It’s also one you may have heard Junior Brown play. Buddy Charleton was true great. I have his hat and a jar of his picks right next to me as I type this.







Posted in Lessons and Tips | Leave a comment