Aloha! I love the sound of the steel guitar! And I hope you will become a fan as well. This unique instrument was invented in Hawaii in about 1880. The steel guitar gets its name from the fact that the players use a 'steel' - typically a round metal bar, to play the notes on the guitar.
There are many types of steel guitars. From the 1880's to 1932 steel guitars were acoustic instruments. As the Hawaiian style of playing grew in popularity it was included in more types of music, and with larger bands. As Hawaiian music became popular in the early 1900's, steel guitar players wanted more volume from their instruments. The Weissenborn Hawaiian steel was invented in the 1920's with a hollow neck in an attempt to expand the tone and volume. Also at that time the Dopyera brothers formed the National String Instrument Corp. and introduced the 'resonator' style guitar for Hawaiian music. They also created the company called Dobro (tm), and produced what most people recognize as a Bluegrass instrument today. Most people call resonator guitars 'Dobros' as a result. Not many know that these instruments were invented long before Bluegrass existed, and were designed for Hawaiian players.
Then in 1932, the Rickenbacker company introduced the worlds first production electric instrument - their model A lap steel - today known as a 'Frypan'. This simple 6 string electric instrument redefined the sound of Hawaiian steel guitar. This new electric sound captivated young musicians imaginations and they began using this sound in country music. The country swing era with groups like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys expanded the use and visibility of steel guitar.
The Pedal Steel guitar was invented in the 1940's to expand the range of tuning options and allow musicians to play more complex harmonies and chords. It has since evolved into the modern instrument often heard in Country music today. These instruments often have two necks with 10 strings each, and employ the use of pedals and knee levers to raise or lower pitches of strings (much like a harp). This is a uniquely American invention, and comes from the Hawaiian legacy.
I've been playing guitar for 50 years, and the steel guitar for over 25 years. This album is my first solo CD. I love Hawaiian music and continue to study and learn the styles of the great players of the 1900's like Andy Iona, and Jerry Byrd. But there isn't a huge market for Hawaiian steel in our century. Today you'll hear Dobro (tm) in Bluegrass and other folk music more often than you will any other steel guitar. However pedal steel is still expanding within Country and also the Sacred Steel community.
I currently work as a full time pedal steel guitarist with the Barleen's Arizona Opry in Apache Junction Arizona from Nov. thru April each year. I'm their 'utility' string guy and add steel, dobro, guitar, fiddle and banjo to the mix seven days a week. In the summers I play with them at their new Rocky Mountain Opry theater in Estes Park Colorado, and also with my Hawaiian swing band - Book 'em Danno (that CD is also on CD Baby!) I look forward to your comments, and hope we get to meet someday! Keep on steelin' - Chris