In the April 2015 issue of Premier Guitar magazine, Michael Ross presents a wonderfully written history of the steel guitar. It’s no exaggeration to call this endeavor, to condense an immense history into an easy to understand and fun to read story, a monumental task. Ross breaks down the complex history starting from the evolution from the Hawaiian islands in the early 20th century and its progression through Western, Country, and Pop music. In the process, he spotlights key figures including Bud Issacs, Buddy Emmons, Speedy West and Paul Bigsby. Whether advancements in the pedal steel came from the personal preference of an individual (think pedal function from Buddy Emmons and Jimmy Day), or practical issues such as Paul Bigsby putting the pedals in front of the player rather than fanned out on the side, Ross covers all of the bases. It can easy to for the early contributions Paul Bigsby made in the development of the pedal steel world to be hazy as he is mostly remembered for his solidbody guitars and True Vibrato tailpieces. However, as was the case in many of his endeavors, his influence was trailblazing! Be sure to check out the complete article on Premier Guitar’s website HERE and for more information on Paul Bigsby, check out Andy Babiuk’s The Story of Paul Bigsby; Father of the Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar. The world of steel guitar is rich with amazing stories, players, inventors. Dig in!
Just for a bit of inspiration (and envious frustration), here are some video links of incredible steel guitar recordings…
Sol Hoopii, Hula Girl
Eddie Kirk, Candy Kisses
Webb Pierce, Slowly
Leon McAuliffe & Cimarron Boys, Steel Guitar Rag
Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant, Flyin’ High