• As a professional steel guitar player for over 50 years, it has always been my hope that the

    interest and enthusiasm for this great instrument would expand and attract more and more young

    players. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. You may not agree (and

    that’s OK) but, in my opinion, here are some reasons why:

    1. COST: parents are not able or willing to spend thousands of dollars on a steel guitar for

    their kid; especially if they aren’t convinced he/she will be committed to learning and

    playing that instrument.

    2. MUSIC LIMITATIONS: a great majority of people think of the steel guitar as an

    instrument only played with country music. Not everyone is into that form of music.

    3. DISCOURAGMENT: so many times I have seen and heard folks (especially us older

    ones) make discouraging remarks when a player wants to play music that is different

    from what is considered “traditional” steel guitar music. In other words, if you don’t play

    in the same style as Lloyd Green, Buddy Emmons, Jerry Byrd, or some of the other old

    time great players, then you are playing wrong. Where is it written that every player has

    to play like every other player?

    Here are a few simple solutions to these obstacles (I’m sure there are more):

    1. Instead of spending thousands, you can spend a few hundred dollars for a small, 6 string

    pedal steel guitar that young (as well as older) players can learn on. These smaller guitars are

    also lighter and easier to set up. Then, if it doesn’t work out, you’re not out so much

    money. Also, the Stage One guitar has been in production for over twenty years. About 1100 have been sold as of October, 2016. They were formerly produced by Mr. Bruce

    Zumsteg, the builder of the wonderful ZumSteel professional pedal steels. The Stage One are great pedal steel and sell for $1049. I have played both and you can't go wrong buying either of them.

    2. The steel guitar is not limited to country music. Whatever music a person likes, the steel

    guitar can be played in a manner that works with that style of music. Young people need

    to be made aware of this.

    3. Every musician should be able to play their music in the style they choose. The steel

    guitar is not a “one size fits all” instrument. If you don’t want it to die out, then be a little

    more open minded.

    Most young people are exposed to the pedal steel guitar through a family member or friend.

    They are not going to learn anything about it through their music programs at school. So, if you

    are truly interested in keeping the pedal steel guitar alive, when you have the opportunity,

    introduce it, and encourage the kids you come in contact with. They are the future of the pedal

    steel guitar.

    Written by Hank Ruf

     the Steel Guitar Network


1 comment