Developing vibrato is a never ending quest on the pedal steel. I find I keep going back to it to work out what I’m doing wrong. It’s a frustrating process.
What I’ve been concentrating on recently is how I hold the bar – I’ve known for years that I haven’t been holding it right but couldn’t work out what was wrong.
Recently after I’d stopped playing I’d found my bar hand thumb had got sore, and that had me thinking.
What I’ve been trying out now is just using the the ends of my first and second fingers to control the round end of the bar. Keeping it straight then requires minimal force from either your hand or your thumb depending on if you’re going up or down the neck.
This feels right:
- The focus of the bar control is right on the end of the bar. The is producing a more natural vibrato.
- My hand is much freer, less tense. This again helps with the vibrato.
- My thumb is not constantly pinching the bar so not having to do so much work. I think this also helps as my thumb is relieved of vibrato duty.