Half pedalling is something I’ve kind of steered away from.
Always seemed a bit inaccurate, a bit risky, a bit of a fudge.
But steel players can’t get enough changes. The more changes, the more options.
And each single change that’s added can potentially add a new note to every position you play in.
The half pedal on A you get for free: it’s already there (no expensive modifications, no drilling into yoru pride and joy, no extra weight to the behemoth that we carry around).
All is takes is a bit of practice.
So in this post I’m going to talk about the options that half pedalling offers.
First thing I did was (as I normally do when learning new technique) get the metronome out.
I watched a few of Joe Wright’s videos and he puts a great emphasis on the benefits of just practising actions.
Nothing musical, just the physical action.
So to the beat of my metronome I went A up , A half down, A down, A half down etc.
Trying to be as fluid in the movement as I could be. i.e. not just goign straight for the halfway postion, but easing into it fairly slowly and trying to locate the right note by ear.
I found it pretty difficult but the exercise helped.
So what good does this do us?!
In the open position the A pedal moves the 5th note to a 6th.
The half pedal gives us a #5 and the chord is a useful augmented chord.
The change from 5th to #5 to 6 is useful movement in a lot of situations.
A & B Pedals Down
With the B pedal down and the A pedal half down, where we had a major chord, we now have a minor chord.
This is a particularly nice minor position, cos you get a natural 6th on the top string (and 7th). And if you release the B pedal you get a maj 7.
So a kind of melodic minor sound.
A Pedal and Raised Es
In this position where the A pedal is down already, raising it to the halfway position gives us a maj7 chord.
Raising it all the way makes it a 7th chord. This again is very useful harmonic movement to emphasise chord changes.
Lowered Es and B pedal as 7th chord
In this position, we have a 7th chord rooted on the B strings. Raising the A pedal a half gives us a 7b9 chord.
This is a nice altered chord that can be used in jazzy situations or as the 5chord in minor keys.
Again going A pedal all the way down to half pedal to up gives us 9th, 7b9, 7th which is more nice movement.
Lowered Es as Minor Chord
If you lower your E strings then you get a minor chord shape rooted on the G# strings (3 and 6).
Half pedalling the A pedal give us a major chord, and in this position strings 1 and 7 are a flat 7th.
Playing off the Ds
If you lower your second string to D and play off your 9th and 2nd as root, this position gives an interesting maj7 position (with a #11).
In this position, the B strings give us a 6th. Fully pressing the A pedal gives us the maj7, and half pedalling gives another 7th chord.