Bill's Pedal Steel Guitar page

First, a little history.... I have been playing piano all my life (informally), some guitar (6-string and bass), and electronic keyboards. I've been in a number of bands since way back in high school. Nowadays I have a nice little MIDI and hard disk audio recording setup at home with which I write and record my own music in my free time. I have produced two original CDs (contemporary easy listening). My interest in country and related music had been growing over the last decade or so, and I've come to see the pedal steel guitar as a wonderful and very expressive instrument. My interest in actually learning to play one came after I wrote and tracked (MIDI) a country ballad which was just crying for pedal steel. I tried using a synthesizer to imitate the steel, but it just didn't have the soul. So after talking at a local music store with very accomplished pedal steel guitar player Dave Ristrim (since moved to Nashville) and getting advice from online members on the famed Steel Guitar Forum, I set out to buy one of these marvelous contraptions. On July 13, 1999, I got my first real chance to play a pedal steel at the home of local player. He was also kind enough to loan me a 1970s model ShoBud D10 (double neck, 10 strings each) for a couple months, which helped to cement my addiction to the guitar and helped me to learn a little about what it means to play one of these very challenging instruments. After more online and offline conversations with a number of very helpful steel players, I decided to buy a 1973 vintage MSA Classic universal 12 string, which arrived at my home Aug 31, 1999. The guitar has 7 pedals, four knee levers, one wrist lever, and humbucking SuperSustain pickup. The guitar has had just two prior owners, the first being Tom Bradshaw (it was his personal guitar for a number of years). Tom, a well known player and steel shop owner, restored the guitar for the second owner in 1993. 

I must admit that I don't expect to become a hot picker on PSG (though I'd love to) because of time constraints (work, family, home, etc), and probably talent constraints, too.... but I want to get to be good enough for my own home recordings and local band work, perhaps even as part of the music ensemble at church (pedal steel would sound just wonderful there). I've also been fortunate enough to become part of a loose-knit group of local steel guitar players who get together and jam every now and then. It's nice outlet for playing, good camaraderie, and a good place to learn from experienced players. (The seed of these gatherings happened kind of accidentally on 9/11/99 when I invited three local players to come by and see my new/old MSA guitar and they all showed up with their own pedal steel guitars and amplifiers!) I've taken a few lessons from the renowned player David Wright which have done me a lot of good. Once I get "up to speed" (whatever that means for my particular abilities), I hope to play in a "real" band, which I'd expect to do mostly as accompaniment, which is more my strength than playing a lead instrument. 

My steel setup

  • MSA Classic universal 12-string, 7 pedals, 4 knee levers, one wrist leverBill L
  • BJS 7/8" 10-string steel bar
  • Goodrich "Steel Driver II" booster and fuzztone
  • Goodrich "Model 120" volume pedal
  • Lexicon MPX-100 dual channel effects processor
  • Korg CA-20 chromatic tuner
  • My U-12's copedent (click here)

Online music