The last couple of posts have been a bit dry, this one’s about learning one’s way around the pedal steel guitar.
The V – I chord progression is a mainstay of western music and if you can play round it there’s a lot you can do.
One of the things that has helped me learn the fretboard, and also be able to busk along in the songs I dont know very well (did I mention I’m in a band? well I am and I have my first gig this Saturday!) is being able to play dominant 7 chords all the way up the fretboard, and resolve to the root.
Here are the positions I know for E7 (the V chord in A), and then A, the root.
E7: 1 F# _________________________________________ 2 D# ____________________________12D__________ 3 G# _______3____5B___7B___9B____12___________ 4 E _______3F___5E___7____9F____12___________ 5 B _______3____5____7A___9_____12___________ 6 G# _______3____5B___7B___9B____12___________ 7 F# ____________5____________________________ 8 E _______3F___5E___7____9F____12___________ 9 D ____________________________12___________ 10 B _______3____5___7A____9_____12___________ Amaj: 1 F# ____________________10________________ 2 D# ______________________________________ 3 G# _______5______8___________12B_________ 4 E _______5______8F____10E____12_________ 5 B _______5______8A____10____12A_________ 6 G# _______5______8___________12B_________ 7 F# ____________________10________________ 8 E _______5______8F____10E____12_________ 9 D ______________________________________ 10 B _______5______8A____10____12A_________
One of the hard things with the pedal steel guitar is voicing chords to make the top notes melodic.
This is partly because of the chromatic strings (the D# and F# strings 1 and 2).
If you want to play an E7 chord with a D on top in the 12th fret position above, the D is on the second string. This D resolves nicely to a C# which, while only a semitone away from the D, is on the 12th fret A position is on the 5th string. A jump of three strings away. Not easy technically or conceptually.
Learning where the melodic notes are in chords on the PSG seems a big part of learning the instrument.
For piano players it’s all there right in front of them – there is only 1 place to play the D or C# in a given register, but for PSG players there is a lot of work to be done learning chord voicings and being able get to them quickly.
p.s. F = raise Es, E = lower Es, D = lower D.
The E7 chord on the 9th fret has got a 9th note in it, but that’s a good sound in most contexts. Certainly if you’re resolving to Amaj.
(If, in the E7 on the 9th fret with the 9th, you want to accentuate the resolution you can take your foot off the B pedal just before the Amaj chord to go from an E9 to an E7b9, but jazzy moves like that could get you thrown out of a country gig:!:)