Look Into The Future

The pedal steel guitar as we know it has been played in the “modern” manner ever since Bud Isaacs recorded his famous intro on Webb Pierce’s “Slowly” in 1953. That unique and familiar sound is still what most people reference when they think about the pedal steel guitar.


A NEW ERA IN PEDAL STEEL INSTRUCTION


65 years later, the guitar has gone through many changes and improvements in design, construction, tuning and techniques. In the early 1960’s the pedal steel guitar enjoyed its first Golden Age thanks to the great and innovative players like Buddy Emmons, Jimmy Day, Pete Drake, Lloyd Green, Weldon Myrick, Hal Rugg and John Hughey to name just a few. Country artists embraced the sound of the pedal steel and the early masters made their careers playing on countless Country sessions. A few of the more adventurous pursued a Jazz passion.

While the instrument and the genres into which it’s accepted have expanded, the available tuition has not. Based on my many conversations with players at gigs and appearances all over the world, there are wide gaps in the existing lesson materials that need to be addressed, filled in and connected.

The pedal steel guitar needs a complete Method that respects and encompasses everything that came before and dares to look into the future. A Method that is maintained with up-to-the-minute knowledge and info, available anywhere at any time – one where students can send in feedback and questions and get rapid responses from the teacher in return. Many instruments have had dedicated Methods for centuries (classical guitar and violin for example) and in the early days of steel guitar, teachers and schools also took that route.

The Early Years of Teaching Steel

Lap Steel/Hawaiian Guitar instruction was typically written in standard notation. Companies like Oahu and Smith’s took advantage of the Hawaiian music fad and sold them by mail order or even via door-to-door salesmen. At one point, Oahu had over 1,200 schools teaching the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. Many future Hall of Fame players (including Lloyd Green and Buddy Emmons) got their start learning steel with these type of mass-produced methods. Foundational knowledge like proper bar technique, picking and blocking, chord theory and other essential musicianship skills were taught.

     

The Last 40 Years of Teaching Steel

As the instrument evolved and pedal steel guitars gained in popularity, Country music replaced Hawaiian as the venue for steel guitar. Several of the big names of the day like Buddy Emmons and Neil Flans offered “Learn-To-Play” courses on LP in partnership with instrument manufacturers like Emmons and Sho-Bud  .

         

Winnie Winston wrote one of the first widely-available books on the instrument. His  “Pedal Steel Guitar” was published in 1975 and covered the basic grips, mechanics, an overview of the history of the pedal steel guitar and a look at the top players at the time. It is often cited as “The Beginner’s Bible” and many current players credit it as helping them get started. Being in a print format with limited space, it was necessarily a condensed version of a complete method and could not delve deep into the nuances.

Winston’s book originally shipped with a flexi-disc plastic record of the audio examples and eventually came with a CD. Mostly based on the Nashville Country sound, it touched upon the burgeoning Country Rock scene and players like Rusty Young, Lucky Oceans and Buddy Cage.  The C6 neck is briefly discussed in a chapter about “Other Tunings” . Techniques like Pick Blocking, bar slants, effects pedals, and Rock/Blues/Gospel styles were not covered in depth in the book; they simply did not exist then or had to be left out due to publishing constraints. The great Mel Bay company published several books on pedal steel by DeWitt Scott that many players cite as the first book they learned from.

Jeff Newman held many seminars and workshops at his Jeffran College, offered courses on LP and cassette, and pioneered the video/booklet lessons format on VHS and eventually DVD. I helped Jeff teach some of his week-long seminars, and while they allowed some extended teaching over several days, once the week was over you were on your own and could not easily get further instruction or clarification of the concepts taught. Time and technology limitations cased this approach to focus on smaller subsets of the bigger picture out of necessity, and a complete method was just not feasible.

              

The Next Level of Instruction

Perhaps due to the constant changes in strings, tunings, pedals and levers, there has never been a modern method for the pedal steel that covers ALL aspects of this amazing instrument. The earlier and still-useful material is out there, but the guitar itself has progressed and is now accepted in nearly every style of music all over the world, from Gospel to Metal, Blues to Pop.

Each generation of players learned from the best info available at the time and worked the rest out on their own. The traditional tutorial references to the great 50’s, 60’s and 70’s players (and the classic Country standards they played on) are not going to be as relevant to future generations of players as they used to be. For the next generation to discover what we pedal steelers have known for years – that this is one of the most expressive and versatile instruments ever devised for any style of music  – we will not only need to embrace the history, but keep moving the instrument and the music created on it into the future. It is my dream to teach everything that I know (and am still learning) about the guitar, and that includes all of the styles I am asked to play in.

My Perspective

I was fortunate to be taught solid fundamentals by a Hawaiian guitar master.  In my teens I was able to talk directly to the pedal steel legends in Nashville and helped teach seminars during the advent of a dedicated pedal steel college. Now I can use today’s technology to share my experience and perspective in a modern fashion.

In The Paul Franklin Method, I’ve made certain to include all of the relevant info that earlier instruction courses offered and filled in the gaps by updating and adding to it to cover the past 20 years of music… and I am adding new videos regularly. Included in the Course will be a complete method for the C6 neck, which has been under-served for many years.

Because I am treating the Method as an on-going project, I will continue to make videos, teach lessons and make the Course as comprehensive as I can. I’ll address every student request until there are searchable answers to every question…or until everyone is tired of me! I think it is important to get this info down permanently. We all wish we could have “downloaded” what was going on in the minds of the early masters of the pedal steel and saved it for posterity.

Full Stream Ahead

The music industry was changed forever when music could be sold online, and now music is increasingly being taught online. My Method is shot in HD video and recorded with top quality audio so you can hear and see everything clearly. I have the flexibility to quickly respond to changing styles, techniques student requests, gear innovations and more. I can respond to student demand immediately via the private Facebook Group, an invitation to which comes with enrollment. Students can form virtual Study Groups and help each other out unlike any other previous Courses.

It was the advent of streaming video and the ability to create online Courses that convinced me that the time had come to update the curriculum of pedal steel guitar beyond the 60’s-90’s timeframe. Online streaming courses are an effective blend of video instruction, printed materials and an up-close-and-in-person private lesson. The camera angles get you zoomed right in to the action, the ability to slow down and rewind the videos make each lesson as efficient as you need it to be, at whatever pace is best for you.

If I could some how juggle my touring and recording schedule to teach individual lessons, I could only reach a couple dozen students a month at my least busy time. There is no clock running once you are enrolled in the Method, you can (and should) take as long as you need on any lesson. You’re not tied down to whatever device may have a DVD player, and with new laptops no longer including them, the DVD era is coming to a close.

If you’re just getting started, have been playing for a while – even for decades – there’s something for you in The Paul Franklin Method. I invite you to join me and hundreds of other players on this journey to master this amazing instrument.

– Paul

Click To See The Paul Franklin Method Syllabus

The Paul Franklin Method
(complete syllabus as of October 17, 2018)

Getting Ready To Play

  • Overview From Paul
  • Open Strings: Intervals
  • The Four String Groups
  • Chord Names On The Fretboard
  • Fretboard By The Numbers
  • Fretboard And Pedals
  • How I Tune By Ear (The E9th Tuning)
  • More On Tuning By Ear (Levers With Pedals)
  • Other Ways Of Tuning The E9th
  • Changing Strings

The Pedals

  • History Behind The Standard E9th Floor Pedals
  • Basic E9th Pedals & Knee Levers
  • Rocking The Pedals
  • Using The Volume Pedal
  • PF4 And Pedal Placement
  • The Emotional Sound Of The Pedals
  • Knee Lever Placement

Tools: Picks and Bar

  • The Picks – Why The Choice Matters
  • Mastering The Bar (Tuning And Tone)
  • Bar Pressure

Pick Hand Techniques

  • Blocking
  • Chimes
  • Pick Blocking
  • Creative Speed Picking
  • Viewing Paul’s Right Hand Technique
  • Blocking the Picked Rake

Bar Techniques

  • Bar Precision And Playing In Tune
  • Bar Exercises
  • Controlling The Bar
  • Forward Bar Slants
  • Backward Bar Slants
  • Slant Exercises
  • Vibrato Concepts (w/Bar Precision)
  • A Deeper Look Into Vibrato Techniques
  • Hammer On Exercise
  • Exercises For Bar & Pedal Coordination
  • Viewing Paul’s Bar Technique

The String Groups

  • The Four String Groups (Major)
  • The Four String Groups (Minor)
  • Looking At The E9 Tuning In Intervals

Basic Chord Theory

  • Dominant Chords (No Pedals)
  • Dominant Chords – Sliding Into 7ths (Pedals)
  • The Major 6th
  • The ‘add9’ And ‘2’ Chord
  • The Minor Chord
  • Diminished Chords
  • Using The Flat 5
  • More Positions For Dominant 7ths, 9ths And 13ths
  • Augmented Chord (Basic Positions)
  • Augmented Chord (Progressions)
  • Chord Progressions
  • The Blues

Scales and Harmony

  • Major Scale Key Of C
  • Harmonies Found Inside The Major Scale
  • More On How To Harmonize The Major Scale
  • Using Harmonies Of The Major Scale – I
  • Using Harmonies Of The Major Scale – II
  • Two Note Harmonies Using The Fretboard
  • Putting It All Together
  • Extending Fretboard Knowledge
  • Modes Part 1
  • Modes Part 2 (Learn the Melody)
  • Applying Diatonic Harmony For Modal Arrangements

Gear

  • Setting the Amp for Tone

Musicianship

  • No Longer A Beginner
  • How To Practice
  • How To Practice Without A Guitar
  • Being Analytical
  • Buddy And “Absolutes”
  • Influences
  • Posture for Building Technique
  • How To Make Everything Your Own
  • Approach Notes
  • Expanding the E9 Neck

Licks

  • Lick: Resolving To G
  • Lick: G Major – Banjo Roll
  • Lick: Bakersfield Variations
  • Lick: G To G7
  • Bakersfield Hammer-On
  • A Nice Pull Off Ending
  • The Rake
  • Chordal Pull Offs
  • Cool Chord Lick
  • Ballad Lick: Great For Feet & Knee Practice
  • Pentatonic – 70’s Country Style
  • 60’s Country: 5-1 WalkDown
  • Memphis Groove
  • Western Swing Style
  • Beautiful Ballad Phrase: 1 – 1dom7
  • Rock Style With R&B Harmonies
  • Breakout Lick
  • Thinks He’s A Train

Intros

  • Bakersfield Style
  • Bakersfield Style 1511 Variation 1
  • Bakersfield Style 1511 Variation 2
  • Bakersfield Style 1511 Variation 3
  • 5511 Ballad
  • 5511 Ballad Variation 1
  • 5511 Ballad Variation 2
  • 5511 Ballad Variation 3

Modern Steel

  • Modern Steel Part 1
  • Crafting a Rock Solo

The C6 Neck

  • Overview of Forthcoming C6 Videos
  • Differences Between E9 and C6
  • C6 Intro and Open String Tuning
  • C6 Open Strings Explained
  • C6 Fretboard Explained
  • C6 Buddy Emmons Pedal Setup
  • C6 Chord Pockets (Maj & Min)
  • C6 Single Note Pockets Pt.1
  • C6 Single Note Pockets Pt.2
  • C6 PFM Blues pt.1
  • C6 PFM Blues pt.2
  • C6 2-5-1 Progression
  • C6 Harmonizing the Scale in 3rds and 4ths
  • C6 Turnaround Progression 3m 6 2m 5
  • C6 2-5-1 Lick (Eb and Bb)
  • C6 Blues With Extensions Pt 1
  • C6 Blues With Extensions Pt 2

Steel in the Real World

  • Backing a Singer Intro
  • Backing a Singer Part 1
  • Backing a Singer Part 2