Here’s my tab transcription for C6 6-string lap steel of the Thelonious Monk Quartet Misterioso head section from the album Misterioso.

The tuning is good old standard CEGACE. Low to high.

I love that it’s a Bb tune but we’re playing down around the 5th fret. (Typically my head tends to put me up at the 10th fret for Bb.)

(Click on the Flat logo to see/hear the whole piece.)


Here’s me (and my hairy legs) and my RAM Speak Easy 8-string (I only use the top 6 strings for this.)

Original piece:

Figure 3-6

Here’s a C6 lap steel transcription for this particular Woody Shaw passage:


Here’s the C6 lap steel transcription I’ve written out:

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I love how outside of my own box this takes me (phrase starts on a six and ends on a 9) but at the same time is completely approachable because of how nicely it lays out on the neck. Nothing crazy. Eleven notes in six moves. Five moves each hold two notes. Efficient!

Here’s the original passage starting at the specific passage:

Dave Easley

Had the pleasure recently to help organize an impromptu show in Kansas City for Dave Easley. Since I’m most familiar with his pedal steel playing it was totally interesting to see him play a 10-string weissenborn for the whole two-hour show. He played some standards like I’d hoped and then also did a few pop and country standards to boot.

Probably may favorite thing was watching these guys come up with the repertoire and arrangements on the spot despite no rehearsal.

The band were seasoned jazz all-stars Bryan Hicks on bass, Arny Young drums, and young gun Adam Schlozman on guitar.

Figure 2-1 Stella

I’m attempting to start a series of posts that demonstrate and document my approach to transcribing exercises and sample passages of music from existing notation for piano into C6/A7 Low F 8-string lap steel tuning. These are exercises completely for my own learning.

Here’s the four-bar passage

Here’s Victor Young’s recording (starting from the particular passage)


Here’s how I’ve transcribed it for C6/A7 Low F 8-string lap steel tuning:

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Jazz-Influenced 12-Bar Blues

More recently I’ve been exploring the possibilities of rhythm lap steel for swing. Currently there’s not a ton of solo lap steel rhythm playing changes out there (Mike Neer is the exception). So, driving this influence for me is the guitar recordings of Eldon Shamblin and Whit Smith. What’s fascinating to me in players like this is how they take a simple three or four chord progression song and really dress it up in fancier chords.

To me, learning this approach from a blues progression is a good place to start since blues music shares ground with and is the foundation of jazz. So for Christmas I asked for the Joe Pass The Blue Side of Jazz instruction DVD and have been working through that.

In the video I made today I took exercise 3 from that DVD which I’ve really been digesting and translating recently for the lap steel tuning of C6/A7 Low F.

I play an eight string Speakeasy made by RAM Guitars and play through an old Alamo Fury with a 15-inch speaker.

Steel Guitar T-Shirts


As a graphic designer by profession for a large marketing and design firm I’m always on the lookout for great visual creative work. T-shirts are on my radar a lot and over the last few years I’ve been thinking about the lack of many smart steel guitar T-shirts for people like us. So, I’m trying to fix that.

The ideas are simple and straightforward – if you know steel culture. And a lot of credit goes to the lap steel community on the Steel Guitar Forum for helping me vet ideas and generate new ones.

A few years ago this would have been a lot less possible without start up costs to make any products. But more recently print-on-demand apparel, e-commerce and fulfillment have made it very simple to upload custom designs online with no investment upfront or back office work whatsoever. So, I’ve put up some starter designs at TeePublic and have plans for more.

So, if you are interested, check out my TeePublic store page and stay up-to-date with this effort on the Facebook page.

Swing Rhythm Lap Steel 

We know a steel guitar can not be strummed like a guitar for consistent rhythm playing. However for certain types of music the steel can lend itself to a rhythm approach.

I’ve been interested in rhythm chord comping for lap steel for awhile and have come up with a technique for how I approach this in terms of both rhythm and chords (voicing and movement.)

This technique is particularly useful if I am in a situation without another musician to provide rhythm. I love to play in small combos and jam situations so this really has come out of necessity. And like Franky K, I too simply love playing chords.

Much influence for me has come from country and swing rhythm guitar. And in this way, this technique depends as much on string muting (palm muting) and syncopation as it does notes being played. Perhaps it’s not as versatile as standard guitar voicings but a steel guitar with an 8-string split-tuning does have enough options to hold down the meat and potato chords changes (and likely more) within a song.

I’ve demonstrated and tabbed out some specific executions of this in previous posts but here I’d like to focus more on the general approach. The chord vocabulary.

Like I mentioned, the tuning used is important: C6/A7 with a low F. (Very related to pedal steel.) The C# and F allow for more “straight bar” options.


Currently I use about five different string grips that yield seven different chords. I try to keep my voicings on the thick strings  to help keep a consistent tonality to the rhythm.

Below are the grips I use to approach rhythm playing and how they can start to fit together.


In the video above I am using all but the diminished chords shown here. Blue Monk is a great example for how these chords can be used for back up rhythm as well as phrasing like in the head. (This video happens to only captured the later part of the tune.)

Now getting away from the video, below are a few ways these chords can be used together for very basic chord progressions. These two examples happen to be in the key of G but the same chord grips and moves can be used all over the neck in other keys. Tunes similar to Blue Monk uses the 1, 4, 5 changes shown below and the 2, 5, 1 changes demonstrate another very common chord progression.


As always, this is a work in progress for me and hopefully it might help others who are of a similar mind. Please let me know if you see errors in my thinking or execution. Going forward, my goal is to expand upon this and make it more versatile to other music styles.

And finally, I hope to hear feedback or input from others on this subject.

Basin Street Blues Solo for C6

One of my favorite Bob Wills cuts is this version of Basin Street Blues primarily for the vibe, but what I’m focusing on and semi-replicating here is the trumpet chorus on the intro (not sure of the musician!) This is a great example of Bob Wills and his band interpreting a pop favorite and Tommy Duncan‘s vocals have a lazy delivery that fits the slow blues nature of this song perfectly.

The big idea here was for me to find and interpret a solo (not necessarily a steel solo) and tab it out for steel. (95 percent accurately).

I use the C6/A7 low F tuning spelled low to high: F, A, C#, E, G, A, C, E

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Download entire tab (PDF) and/or TablEdit audio file.