Unleash The Musician Within You In 3 Minutes Or Less!


Unleash The Musician Within You In 3 Minutes Or Less!

Take a look around your house.

Can you see your guitar?

 Or, is it stashed in some dark corner never to see the light of day until you mercifully

unlock it from it’s confines and let it breathe sweet music into your life.

One of the most important keys to playing a musical instrument is simply to play the thing every day.

 That’s it.

 Simple as that.

 Now, I can hear the excuses coming in.

My house is too small, my kids or pet iguana might knock it over, etc.

Believe me, I understand. I have five dogs bouncing off the walls in my tiny shoebox of a house!

 Are you going to let some lame excuse like that rule your life and drain all the joy out of your music?

 Look, it’s a proven fact that when you’re musical instrument is hidden away you are less and less likely to find the time to play it.

Don’t kid yourself, you know what I am talking about. It happens to everybody at some point, even me.

 Instead of being disappointed that you can’t remember how to play a song or phrase that you spent so much time on a few weeks ago, or that the strings on your guitar have turned into blackened, rusty and toneless lengths of wire, keep your instrument in a prominent, well trafficked area of the house so that you can pick it up at a moment’s notice and strum a few chords while waiting for the spaghetti to boil.

 I remember seeing Chuck Mangione on the Johnny Carson show many years ago and he said he had a horn in every room of his house so that he could play any time there was a free couple of minutes.

hmmm, sounds like a good idea wouldn’t you say?

 I realize not all of us can do that so instead have one instrument in the room you use most. Keep it in the case if you have to but just make it easy and convenient to access.

 These quick 3 minute practice sessions really pay off huge dividends in the long run.

 While you are at it, try to focus on one simple thing at a time such as a particular barre chord or simple phrase.

In no time at all you will be sounding like the musician you want to be! 

Energize your music and your life!

Joe Stoebenau




copyright 2013 Joe Stoebenau Music

Tune It Or Die!


Tune It Or Die! Saw that on a T shirt recently.

An easy way to get a spirited conversation going with steel guitar players is to mention the subject of tuning.

Just about everyone has an opinion on how a pedal steel guitar should be tuned. Most can acceptthere are different ways to tune and a few will stop at nothing to get you to agree with them that their way is best.

Most of the discussions start something like this:

 “Well, so and so (insert any famous steel player’s name) tunes like this.” If that famous player is someone you like to listen to then you might agree. But then again you might not and then the sparks fly. 

 There are more or less two ways to tune your pedal steel guitar;

 Straight up and using a tuning chart such as that produced by Jeff Newman.

  The straight up technique is when you tune each string to be in tune with the tuner needle “straight up”. This is the easiest way to tune and judging by the posts on the forum, the most popular. The drawback is that chords will be a little (very little)out of tune so you after you tune, there might be a little tweaking needed to correct that.

  Using the Jeff Newman (or anyone else’s charts) gets a bit more complicated in that you tune each string a little sharp or a little flat so the intervals between the strings are in tune.

  I’m gonna go out on a limb and tell you that I tune straight up and then go back and tweak the intervals between the strings with my ears. I find the charts and graphs a little cumbersome. 

 It really doesn’t matter which tuning method you use. We all end up generally at the same place. The important thing is to be consistent and use what works for you not necessarily what some famous player uses.

 I cover tuning basics in my best selling book “Teach Yourself To Play Pedal Steel Guitar”.

  Now, remember trying to tune when you had crusty oldstrings on your guitar?  Sure, everyone does at some point. And it is very hard and frustrating to get the guitar in tune with those crusty, rusty old strings. Changing your strings periodically is probably more important than trying to try some new tuning method because some famous player does it. If you’re gonna emulate some famous player, change strings often. Not only does your guitar sound better but it will stay in tune longer after using the pedals and levers. 

 Jam On!





Some Lap Steel Guitar Tunings

Some Lap Steel and Non Pedal Steel Guitar Tunings 

    Today I received an email from Skip who plays lap steel. He just found an old Gibson lap steel and wrote to ask me about how to tune it and what strings to use on his new pawnshop find.

I often receive questions about playing the lap steel so I suppose I better get working on a Lap Steel course!

In the meantime, I put on one of my favorite Jerry Byrd records and thought I would jot down some tunings for those who are interested. It seems to me that most lap steel players fall into one of 2 basic groups:

Blues Players and Country/Hawaiian players. The reason I combine the country and Hawaiian together is because they use similar lap steel guitar tunings, at least as a starting point.

 Let’s start with the Blues style since that is the most straight forward.

Most blues players who play lap steel use similar tunings to the bottle neck players (electric guitar, think Duane Allman).

The tunings are generally open E, A and occasionally D.


E: 1 E   .015                           A: 1 E     .015             E7 1 E   .015

    2 B   .020                                2 C#   .017                  2 B   .020

    3 G# .024                                3 A    .022                   3 G# .024

    4 E   .030w                             4  E    .030w                4 E   .030w

    5 B   .038w                             5 C#   .034w               5  D  .036w

    6 E   .056w                             6 A     .042w               6  E   .056w


These are the basic starting points for open tunings to play blues on the lap steel guitar and suggested string gauges. Feel free to experiment with the tunings and string gauges. Think of these tunings as jumping off points for your own musical explorations.  

Some Hawaiian/country  tunings:  (Note, some of these tunings are for 8 string lap steel guitars. If you have 6 strings, simply omit the bottom 2 strings of the list.)


C6 (very popular)                 A6 ( also very popular)             D9

     1   E   .014                             1  E       .015                            1  E       .014

     2   C   .018                             2  C#     .017                            2  C      .018

     3   A   .022                            3   A      .022                            3  A      .022

     4   G   .024w                         4    F#    .026w                         4  F#     .026w

     5   E   .030w                         5    E      .030w                         5  D      .034w

     6   C   .036w                         6    C#   .034w                          6  C      .036w

     7   A   .042w                         7    A     .042w                         7  A      .042w

     8   G   .046w                         8    E     .056w                         8   F#    .050w


E13th (used by Don Helms on the great Hank Williams recordings)

      1    G#

      2    E

      3    C#

      4    B

      5    G#

      6    E

      7    D

      8    B


Keep in mind these are just a sampling of the many tunings used by the great lap and non pedal steel players such as Jerry Byrd, Joaquin Murphey, Herb Remington, Don Helms and many other pioneering non pedal steel players.

Like the blues tunings previous, use these as starting points and experiment on your own and also listen to some of the non pedal steel players I listed above and notice that many times they use different tunings on different songs to achieve a desired sound and feel.


Now grab your steel, tune it up and do some playing! 

Copyright 2013 Joe Stoebenau Music