Imitating lap steel on guitar by understanding the strengths and limitations of the instrument.

The lap steel guitar is a staple of old school country and western swing. To properly imitate a lap steel guitar, we must first understand its limitations and strengths. Remember, a lap steel player can only really grab what notes are underneath the slide bar. The classic lap steel guitar tuning is C6 (low-to-high: C - E - G - A - C - E). Lets break it apart. On the bottom three strings you have a root position major triad (C - E - G). On the top three string we have a root position minor triad (A - C - E). Both of these triads are up for grabs on the guitar.

Here's an example of mixing root position major and minor triads. We will also slide into the chords as much as possible to get that steel sound. Download Audio Example...

If we look at the C6 tuning we have the G and A right next to each other. This major second rub between the fifth and sixth degrees of the scale is very identifiable with the C6 tuning. This alone is not always the most pleasant sound.

In most cases a steel player will either include the C string above or the E underneath. This creates a really pretty tone cluster built by combining a major second and a minor third (G–A–C or E–G–A). Download Audio Example...

Now let's step back and keep in mind the tuning is just a major 6th chord. No big deal right? Here are the major 6th chord inversions on the top four strings. Download Audio Example...

Now by walking any one of these inversions down a whole step chromatically we can turn them into ninth chords. Download Audio Example...

Since a steel play primarily uses three fingers to grab chords and doesn't really strum, getting four notes at a time can be cumbersome. Here's a solo over a simple progression that puts it altogether. Download Audio Example...

Really try to be creative and comfortable within the rules we have set up. Then, don't fret and let anything be up for grabs.

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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