Moving steel guitar from the past to the present

Hello fellow players,

I’ve been talking about this for a long time, but I thought I’d touch on it again because the future for steel guitar looks bright, that is, bright if you play well. The golden age of country music is now definitely gone. We’ve lost almost all the stars. Jimmy Dickens is 90 years old. Jack Greene is almost there and Kitty Wells is not a spring chicken anymore.

All these great artists are about gone as are most of the great steel guitar players. However, what’s happening today is music that can be played on steel guitar very successfully. Many of the so-called alternative groups are using steel guitar.

Neil Young, Pure Prairie League, Poco and many of these groups have steel guitar so if we just change our aim a little bit, broaden our scope and start knocking on the doors of funky rock groups, we can possibly find work that may even pay better.

Sure, you’ll miss that beautiful shuffle rhythm that we’ve all grown up with, that smooth, flowing old Nashville sound, but remember, it’s the instrument we’re really in love with and these bands need steel guitar worse than any band ever has in the past.

We are at the beginning now of new. What is new you may ask? Let’s look at what’s gone and what’s coming. Sure, it’s a lot easier to look backwards and see where we’ve been and play music that we’ve been playing forever so we can feel comfortable, but let’s look at what’s coming.

Music today is really very easy when it comes to chord changes. It’s very easy to play because you can really get away with about anything. There is a great future and new doors opening up in all kinds of music.

Do you not like the new country? I don’t either, but thank goodness there are many other kinds of styles that not only accept steel guitar but look for steel guitar. I’ve seen steel guitar on the Letterman show and on Jay Leno and Austin City Limits many times in the last two years. If you’re playing steel guitar in this day and age, you have a whole new world opening up for you. You are just going to have to throw away your old thoughts of what direction you want to take.

Please remember this. Music has always been music and always will be. Chords are chords. Melodies are melodies. Styles are the only things that are changing. The good thing is there are no set patterns for what a steel guitar has to do in the new music of today. This means you can get away with about anything. Just play in tune with taste and tone.

If the song calls for beauty, you as a steel guitar player can give beauty like no other instrument can, and many of you can play fast single notes that can actually push the keyboard player or your hotshot showoff lead player. Steel guitar really has no boundaries except you yourself as the player. Your music talent won’t go away. So find a way to use it.

Again remember, old country will not be the staple of everyone’s taste forever. If you don’t go to the future, you stand a good chance of going under. Styles may change like I said, but music rules and taste is written in stone. Like gravity, the eight elements along with light and Newton’s Law of Physics cannot be changed. There is no reason at all why a good musician that plays steel guitar can’t work forever.

You may even say a great steel player will always work if he plays his steel guitar and his cards right. He may have to play some politics also. Yep, the first golden age is over, but get ready for what’s coming and someday when it’s over, you can be remembered as a legend for what you’ve contributed.

Your music career and the music business is exactly what you make it.

Just like lead players of today, you may need a lot of tricks which may include setting up a second guitar onstage and having all the effects, phase, echo, distortion, Leslie organ effect and anything else. Remember, if a lead guitar player can do it, so can you. The object is to be sellable and desirable as a musician for who hires you.

This may involve us doing things that we’ve never done before and things that at first you may not want to do, but this is what’s going to make our instrument grow.

Check out our monthly specials at and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Your buddy,

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

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