size isn’t everything : volume matters

I’ve been recording myself recently. A painful step to take but a great way to hear what you’re doing wrong.

My Volume Pedal use was glaringly horrible in a number of ways:

Overuse – everything was a fade in

Consistency – the volume of the psg relative to everything else varied

Timing – because everything faded in I was always behind the beat

I practised loads to improve this but wasn’t getting anywhere so I scoured the Steel Guitar Forum for inspiration.

Quite a few different opinions on there, some even saying that the use of a volume pedal on a steel guitar is a bit of a cheesy cliche and that relying on right hand articulation was your best bet. I’m gonna keep my volume pedal and follow these tips that other SGF users had to offer:

  • Keep the normal operating level of the VP at about 30 – 50%.
  • Use the VP for sustain rather than swell.
  • Do this by increasing the volume on longer notes/chords as they fade.
  • Practise keeping the volume consistent by returning the same place on the VP each time you hit a note. This is hard.
  • Practise moves that use your right knee while keeping volume even

don’t use it!

One guy said that the main job with the volume pedal was not using it. Which I think, err, speaks volumes. 😳 . sorry.

Some players said they almost never had the VP full on.

Unplug it

One thing that a number of player recommended was playing with the VP unplugged. Not just not using it for while, but having it under your right foot, just unplugged.

Your foot still plays the pedal and you kind of think that your doing something with it. Then when you actually plug it back in what you’re doing with the pedal sounds so exaggerated you back off.

I think it’s easy to become immune to bad voluming when you practise and this stops that happening.

Limit it

Another thing that’s been suggested is limiting the range of your VP. Some have adjustment pots for this, restricting the movement of the pedal was also suggested.

I used my first VP with a limited range, my new Goodrich one doesn’t have the pot and I prefer it without.

Get one designed for seated use

Lastly, getting a VP that is suited to pedal steel playing is important. It has to be comfortable in the all the way off position, and ones designed for guitars require you to lift your foot up too far.

Get one designed for steel

Very last thing that b0b from the SGF pointed out: a PSG VP should have a 500k pot. Apparently this is because the VP being in the 30 – 50% position most of the time, a lot of treble is lost from the signal to ground. hmm :-/

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