I’ve been collaborating with singer/songwriter Ell Phillips, who asked me to put some pedal steel on her recordings. This has meant I’ve had to get a bit better at the home recording process. I’ve got a Zoom R16 which is quite handy, although I wish I had a decent laptop. I borrowed some mics of my mate Dave (cheers Dave I got you a bottle of wine!) and I’ve got Cubase LE on my PC which allows to cut the tracks up a bit and do some EQ and effects.
I was hoping to get one good take, but I found the structure of Ell’s song to be pretty hard to learn. So I had to do a few takes and cobble them together in Cubase. This took ages cos all the takes were at slightly different levels and had different timbral characteristics.
Anyhow after lots of EQing, cutting and pasting, compressing and adjusting volume levels, this is how it came out…
I’ve been collaborating with a singer/songwriter/guitarist Ell Phillips who asked me to put some pedal steel on her recordings.
I started off with my dobro as it’s just easier to sit at a computer and rewind over a song while you learn it with a dobro than it is to sit at a pedal steel.
In the end I just recorded the tune with my dobro, which I think goes pretty well with Ell’s lovely acoustic guitar arrangement and beautiful vocals.
I struggled with getting a good recorded sound, to begin with but I ended up using an SM57 microphone for one channel and the output from the dobro’s bridge resonator pickup on another. Between the two of them I reckon I got a nice sound.
Since getting my universal pedal steel one of the things I’ve had to struggle with is accurately getting my foot onto one or two of seven pedals, instead of three on my E9 guitar.
I knew this was going to be tricky from the start but my reckoning as always is ‘other people can learn to do it so hopefully I can’! Rarely proven true but I stick by it.
I knew it was going to be something I would have to develop in isolation, that it wouldn’t just happen automatically by using the pedals, so I diligently practised being in various useful pedal positions:
over the A and B pedals (E9 home)
over pedals 4 and pedal 5 (B6 home)
over pedals 3 and 4
and then moving between these positions.
Over time this started improving my ability to move between the pedals but it was still proving slow progress.
Then I started thinking I needed visual markers on the pedal steel neck to show me where I needed to get my feet. At this point it dawned on my that I had fret markers already, I just needed to figure out which frets the pedals were at! Simples!
Or not! I think it is helping but it’s still taking time to match up where it *feels* like my left foot is, and where the fret directly above the pedal I’m going for is..