Pedal Steel Guitar Artist Lloyd Green

By David J. Stewart

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       Lloyd Green (born 1937) is my favorite pedal steel guitar player and Jerry Byrd (1920-2005) my favorite lap steel player. I often thank God for the gift He has given to these men. They are both tremendous personalities and wonderful people. Of course, Jerry went home in 2005 at age 85. Thank God Lloyd is still with us and cherished by many. What a cool guy!

*Here's a recent video of Lloyd performing some of his best from July 12th of 2017 | Second Session. Check out “Venus Moon” (second recording | Tabs). And here's Lloyd recently from May of 2019. I love this man. Thank you Lloyd, you're the best!!!

Lloyd has incredibly recorded pedal steel and dobro on more than 30,000 songs from 10,000 recording sessions, including all of Don Williams' and Charlie Pride's hits, and is still doing eminent session work in his eighties. I sincerely pray for Lloyd and his family regularly and am always inspired by Lloyd himself.

I read these awesome quotes today and thought of Lloyd...

Lloyd plays with attitude, giving his very best performance every time he sits behind his guitar. Both Jerry Byrd and Lloyd Green define excellence on the steel guitar. I've spent many years as an amateur steel guitarist striving to learn their techniques. I've learned that what sounds difficult to play is simply great technique on their part. It's not magic, no special equipment, just proper technique and hard work. Jerry Byrd once said, “Talent is highly overrated. All the talent in the world means nothing if you don't have desire.” I like what Eddie Van Halen once said, “I've never practiced a day in my life!” In other words, he always gave it his best while working at his guitar, even when not in front of a crowd.

Here's a beautiful recent song from October of 2017 by Lloyd, “In The Garden,” which is precious.

Lloyd's playing is what I like to call “profoundly simple.” It's not difficult once you understand what he is doing, but his techniques take a lifetime to master. I love that because there's always a challenge. I've learned not to try to play exactly like Lloyd or Jerry, because it is frustrating and impossible; but rather, I try to learn techniques and ideas from them that can be incorporated into my own playing. That is exciting and something that anybody can do. I love what Lloyd said in an interview...

“I never quit thinking about the instrument; I never quit trying to strive for new ideas. I felt like it was important to keep forging ahead. If I stopped, there would be no reason to keep continue playing. It’s an endless adventure playing the steel guitar; you’re only limited by your imagination. As long as you got a good brain, you can think and play anything on the instrument. It’s an endless journey.” Lloyd Green, interview 2001, Steel Guitar Rag magazine

Lloyd once told me in a letter that a lot of what the listener hears on his albums is an illusion to the ears. That is an amazing concept perfectly demonstrated in Lloyd's awesome timing techniques, that are unprecedented in the world of steel guitar. Lloyd has pioneered a whole new style which is truly majestic. I've learned that Lloyd never just plays something, he carefully articulates every movement he makes. It is amazing how certain sounds are produced on the steel guitar. Lloyd has perfected executing elaborate pieces of music that require impeccable timing and bar slanting skills; but once the techniques are learned and one's timing skills mastered, a whole new world of opportunities open up on the steel guitar.

The reason tone is so important is because I think ultimately that’s what is the emotional connection when you’re playing music to what people are hearing. If they hear good tone, there is something that strikes a resonant note in the soul. You can be playing the greatest stuff in the world, but if it doesn’t have good tone, there’s something that’s not making a connection. I think that’s what people really hear first.” —Lloyd Green, interview 2001, Steel Guitar Rag magazine

Whereas most steel players get “lucky” here and there while recording, Lloyd never misses a beat (although I'm sure he would humbly disagree). I'm amazed how Lloyd can go into a recording session and play a whole instrumental album without error, especially REFLECTIONS and REVISITED (my favorite albums). Incredibly, Lloyd had only 17 hours to record the entire Reflections album while in Germany. On the REFLECTIONS album, Lloyd said he used a Peavey Session 400 amplifier with a little reverb and delay from the board. That's it! Lloyd has a good half-stop on his 2nd string, which is important (I think) for every steel player to have. Lloyd makes extensive use of the half-drop on string 2 (which is necessary to complete the chromatic scale).

With Lloyd, less is always more. That is, he uses a simple guitar setup, hardly no effects, and still uses his old Sho-Bud volume pedal and original equipment. Most new players tend to think that buying more equipment will make them sound better, but the opposite is usually true. Nothing can replace hard work, desire and persistence. In Jerry Byrd's autobiography, “It Was A Trip On Wings Of Music,” he quotes Lloyd Green as saying, “Simplicity is the heart of elegance.” Yes, it sure is!

Lloyd's playing style changed drastically in the 12 years between LLOYD'S OF NASHVILLE (1980) and REFLECTIONS (1992). Here's Lloyd's discography. I absolutely love Lloyd's new style and am so grateful to God for his music. I thank God all the time for Lloyd Green and Jerry Byrd, and for putting the desire in my heart to play such a beautiful instrument. Music truly does make the world a better place. (continued at bottom of page) ~by David J. Stewart, webservant

Lloyd Green Tribute Website

I love the picture above (taken by Henning Kock from Denmark) of Lloyd's Sho-Bud guitar undercarriage. I see so many steel players with tons of knee levers and junk hanging out from the undercarriage of their pedal steel, but Lloyd's guitar is uncluttered, neat and incredibly simple; yet he plays great things that no other player has achieved.

Here is some of Lloyd's best steel guitar work on the song, “NIGHTTIME SKY” by NICK 13. I first heard this song and immediately went to search the internet to see whose playing the pedal steel. The steel guitar moved my heart. I thought, “Who is that man playing pedal steel?” There are steel players, and then THERE ARE STEEL PLAYERS! As I heard more of the song I thought to myself, “This guy reminds me of Lloyd Green,” and then it hit me... THAT'S LLOYD GREEN! I typed in “Lloyd Green” and “Nick 13” and sure enough... it is Lloyd doing some of his best work!

Also, you'll notice at the end of the song “Nighttime Sky,” that Lloyd does some overdubbing in the recording studio, playing a second guitar along with the original recording. This produces a wonderful rich sound that can only be obtained by having two steel guitars played simultaneously. Lloyd often used this technique during song endings on his numerous instrumental albums.

I don't mind saying that Lloyd's playing brings tears to my eyes because it is so beautiful. That's a gift from God when you can move other people with your music. Truly, steel guitar is the heart of Country music!

Lloyd Green Tuning Seminar
(MP3, 21:54 minutes long, Texas Steel Show, October 1992)

Songs of Fox Hollow

Here's some of Lloyd's most recent excellent pedal steel artistry on the album “I LOVE,” for children and adults, featuring Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow. You can hear all 12 songs at RedBeetRecords' website, which album is also available for purchase. Lloyd masterfully articulates his pedal steel guitar on 11 of the 12 songs. Each of Lloyd's performances are a library of things to learn and play.

Rare Recordings of Lloyd Green

I recorded the following songs in 1995 at a Super Jam with Jeff Newman. These are rare recordings. I only wish I had a better recorder back then, but my little cassette recorder did pretty good I think. I was able to brighten the songs with a Graphic Equalizer, bringing out the wonderful steel guitar. I've converted them all to MP3's.

There are four players: Jeff Newman, Lloyd Green, Hal Rugg and Jimmy Day. You can study Lloyd's playing and learn a wealth of information from these songs. Lloyd plays songs here that you've never heard him plan elsewhere. I focus on Lloyd because he's my favorite pedal steel guitar artist, but I admire the others too. These are some of the songs I recorded. This is some of Lloyd's best live playing and I cherish these recordings. You are welcome to share them freely. God bless and enjoy...

Amazing Grace | Blues Eyes Crying | Born To Lose | Cold Cold Heart | Crazy Arms | Faded Love | I Love You Because | Look At Us | Making Believe | Storms Never Last | Sweet Memories | Waltz Across Texas

More awesome rare live recordings by Lloyd Green. In particular I love Meshes Moment and The White Light, and I'm so grateful to Lloyd for his recent 2014 studio recording of “The White Light” (192 kbps MP3 | 320 kbps MP3)! These are a blessing to have...

Borrowed Angel | Cold, Cold Heart | Farewell Party | All I Have To Offer You Is Me | Bars Of Steel | Four In The Morning | The Blues Man | Just Between You And Me | So Sad | Remember When | Farewell Party 2 | Remember When 2 | Just Between You And Me 2 | Sweet Memories | Satin Sheets | A Legend In My Time | Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger | Cold, Cold Heart 2 | Meshes Moment | Green Blue | One Has My Heart, The Other Has My Name | Don't Be Angry| The White Light | Just Out Of My Reach | Making Believe | Danny Boy | Blues Eyes Crying In The Rain | Waltz Across Texas | Secret Love | Farewell Party | The Town Where You Live | You Don't Have Far To Go | Three Picks | Three Picks 2 | You Don't Have Far To Go

Lloyd actually played pedal steel guitar on the original songs for many of the preceding studio recordings; such as, “Borrowed Angel” and “The Town Where You Live” by King Malachi Street (1938-1978), aka, “Mel Street.” It's really beautiful to have Lloyd playing full-length versions of these songs. Lloyd recorded his artistry on over 30,000 songs during his illustrious career, each song containing a wealth of knowledge for the pedal steel guitarist who hungers to learn and also increase his musical repertoire. Here's a little cool clip of Lloyd warming up to perform.

*NOTE FOR THE E9TH NECK: Please remember that Lloyd has a good working half-stop on his 2nd string, making regular use of the “D”; that is, the original Eb note on the 2nd string is lowered a half-step to D, and then can be lowered all the way to a standard C#. Lloyd uses the standard set-up. You can hear Lloyd's excellent use of the half-stop change in the previous song, “The Town Where You Live.” You'll have a hard time finding many songs where Lloyd doesn't use the half-stop on the 2nd string.

I mention this because many of the older guitars don't have a good half-stop, if any at all. I played for several years without one and regret doing so, because I developed my playing with a limited chord scale. You need that D note to complete the chromatic scale. Although you can obtain the D note by moving the bar, it is the only note in the 12-note chromatic scale which causes you to have to leave the fret marker position, and that simply ought not be for the E9th. Buddy Emmons calls this aspect to be able to play an entire song on one fret without moving the bar elsewhere, “linear.” I highly advise you to do what it takes to make sure you've got a good, solid, working, half-stop on your 2nd string, and then use it often and incorporate it's incredible sounds, practicality and beauty into your playing style. Enjoy!

Here's some awesome MP3 recordings (192kbps) from a performance Lloyd gave in October of 1992 in Texas. These are original recordings, not adjusted in any way...

Love Notes | Making Believe | Waltz Across Texas | Three Picks | Bud's Bounce | Bars Of Steel | San Antonio Rose | Crying | Dixie Drive-In | Midnight Silence

At the event, Lloyd also gave a 21 minute seminar on how he tunes his guitar by ear, which is really interesting. I love Lloyd's approach. I have learned in a similar way to tune my C6th lap steel by ear. Here's some tabs to learn some of Lloyd's work. END

L l o y d   G r e e n   I n t e r v i e w

The following interview by Gib Sun took place in November 2001 in Nashville, Tennessee and appeared in the Steel Guitar Rag.

Lloyd, thank you so much for joining us in the Steel Guitar Rag, and how are you doing tonight?

I know we talked about doing this for a long time and I’m so grateful that we’ve finally had the opportunity to sit down and get together on this.

What a great show, you, Tommy White, and Johnny Cox put on tonight on the stage of the Bell Cove.

Gib, anytime I get the chance to play with Tommy White I’m always going to take the opportunity and avail myself. To have Johnny Cox with us was a special pleasure too.

This is the third time that I’ve seen you and Tommy White together, and everytime has been incredible, not to mention the video that you and Tommy did together. I’ve probably gone through that video a dozen times. What a great night that was when you and Tommy recorded that but no better than what you did tonight!

Thank you very much, Gib. The video was a great joy for me to do with Tommy. Everytime I get to play with him is always a challenge, and he’s so great.

When I grew up, the name Lloyd Green first presented itself to me just after you did Gene Watson’s Farewell Party. What a terrific song!

Well, thanks. That was about 1978 or 79 I think when that record was big. That was one of those things that we did at the end of the session. They needed one more song for a filler for the album, so nobody got in our way. They just said, "Play it," and we did it in ten minutes in one take. It was one of the great ones.

Hard to believe that you had no preparation. That intro is just a classic.

The guys that were doing the session in those days, we were used to doing 3 or 4 songs a session. We were working 3 or 4 sessions each day, so it wasn’t really a challenge. It was something we did without thinking about it. If there had been any new musicians on that session, it would have been a lot different story. We were so used to working together. All we needed was one time to hear the song, do our song chart with the number system that we were using, and we were ready to cut it. Sometimes in those situations you get an average record, but, occasionally, a magical thing would happen. That’s the kind of record you can not plan. You could never, ever sit down and outline a record like that and make it work. It just has to be a spontaneous thing.

Great musicans, great singer.

Gene Watson is certainly one of my favorite 2 or 3 singers to ever record with. Mel Street and he are my favorite.

Speaking of Mel Street, the set that Lloyd Green, Johnny Cox and Tommy White did tonight began with Borrowed Angel. What a shot of lightning went through that audience!

Borrowed Angel is a great one. That was the very first Mel Street song we cut on the very first Mel Street session back in 1971. I knew that guy was going to be a success. I wish he was still around. He would have been a big county singer today in modern times. I think that Borrowed Angel really exemplifies what the Nashville Sound was back in the 60’s and 70’s. That goes right to the head of the class. That’s what country music in Nashville meant during that era.

Born in Leaf, Mississippi. Whereabouts is that?

Leaf, Mississippi is a little town about 15 miles out of Lucedale, Mississippi. Lucedale, Mississippi is about 18 miles from the Alabama state line where I grew up in Mobile. Lucedale is a small town of about 25,000 people. I think it is still about that. Leaf, Mississippi is just a little road that goes through a small place. It’s not much.

Did you get any gospel roots back when you were growing up?

My Mom and Daddy used to sing gospel music all the time at home. They’d listen to the Grand Old Opry on the weekends on the little radio they had in the early 1940’s. I remember hearing all these wonderful gospel songs. My mother had 8 brothers and sisters, and they all sang. In fact, two of her brothers recorded a gospel album which I have at home. It’s a beautiful thing they cut in Mississippi in the 1960’s.

Were you playing on it?

No, I wasn’t playing on it. They didn’t know what I did. They knew I lived in Nashville and recorded records. In fact, my uncle said he’d make a deal with me. If I’d give them one of my instrumental records, they’d give me one of their gospel records.

That’s a collectors item in their lifetime!

Perhaps. Perhaps.

Speaking of gospel groups, we play a lot of the Happy Goodmans, and we hear a lot of Lloyd Green.

I did a lot of sessions with the Happy Goodman Family, including the double album which we recorded live in Huntsville, Alabama sometime in the late 70’s or 1980. I can’t tell you all that I recorded with them, I don’t remember, but I did a lot of gospel sessions with many people. They were among my favorites. Rusty Goodman, he was special. Vestel Goodman was bigger than life. Bless her heart, I didn’t know if she still remembers me. I probably haven’t seen Vestel in twenty years or more. She was so wonderful. What a great singer!

Charley Pride. Live at Panther. When did that happen?

Panther Hall album we did in July of 1968.

Is that about the time you were doing so many sessions and got the tag, "Mr. Nashville?"

Well ,actually about that same period of time, it was about a year or so before, I had an album on Chart Records called Mr. Nashville Sound. I think that’s where this came from. It’s a misnomer really. I was only a part of the Nashville Sound. Lots of people refer to me sometimes as Mr. Nashville Sound, but that dates from that album title. I don’t like to take too much credit because I was only one part of that unit that created the Nashville Sound in that era. I was grateful to be part of it.

Maybe, but I think most people who really have music on the inside of them realize that steel guitar makes great gospel music even better.

Oh, I think so, too. You know, gospel songs to me are the best melodies to play on steel guitar. I think that’s one reason the Hank William’s songs, even though most of them are not gospel lyrics, but if you take the lyrics away, they’ve got all those wonderful gospel melodies. That’s why they make such great instrumentals.

Is a country song really a country song without a great steel player filling up the holes?

I don’t think so. Of course I’m bias, obviously. I think country music and steel guitar are synonymous.

You’re more than bias, you’re absolutely right. You’ve played with about everybody. Let me ask you about Charley McCoy, Freddie Hart. Easy Lovin, you did that didn’t you?

Yea, we recorded that about 1970. Charley McCoy, me, Billy Sanford, and Pig Robbins came up with that intro on the spur of the moment. It’s another one of those quickie things.

How about Faron Young and Pete Drake? You got any great memories of those fellows?

Certainty Faron, I did most of Faron Young’s stuff in the 60’s through the mid 70’s when he was on Mercury Records. My good friend Junior Brown thinks some of my best steel playing was on the Faron Young records. Certainly the tone and the sound was top of the line. That was about as good as my steel could sound, the way they were mixed on the Faron Young records.

I can almost disagree with you. I’ve talked with a lot of your friends preparing for this interview, and they think you’re playing better now than you’ve ever played before. After hearing you tonight and the video with Tommy White, it’s hard to deny.

That’s a great compliment. I never quit thinking about the instrument; I never quit trying to strive for new ideas. I felt like it was important to keep forging ahead. If I stopped, there would be no reason to keep continue playing. It’s an endless adventure playing the steel guitar;, you’re only limited by your imagination. As long as you got a good brain, you can think and play anything on the instrument. It’s an endless journey.

I think it was Billy Robinson that told me that one of his favorite memories was eating lunch with you and Roger Miller.

That was back in the 1950’s. I was struggling. Roger played fiddle with us. I worked with Faron Young when I first came to Nashville when I was nineteen. Billy Robinson was one of my heroes. He had quit playing the steel at that time. He had become very successful as a graphic artist. He was someone I really admired. He had enjoyed the music, but he had decided he wanted a legitimate life-style. He became quite successful with his own businesses, but came back to the steel guitar in recent years. He was always a very interesting man I enjoyed being around. I would go by his office to see him. Kinda cheered me up when times were hard in the late 1950’s. I think by the time I started college, actually I’d gotten myself together. I never was any problem after that. When you mature, things change, too. By the time I started doing sessions, I felt like I knew who I was, and I think that’s what we all try to strive for-to learn who we are. Once you’re comfortable with yourself, then you’re comfortable with other people. And I might tell you, to be successful with sessions, you’ll never do it if you have problems. It’s an atmosphere with a creative environment, and you’ve got to deal with people on a level they’re comfortable, or otherwise they don’t call you.

I bet your beautiful wife, Dot, got met up with right around that time. Is that part of the settling down process?

Indeed, I met Dot within weeks after I came to Nashville when I was nineteen. We were married six months after I got here. I’d planned to go back to college at that time, but I never got back. But we’ve been married a long, long time now. She’s been the anchor for me. She’s really the stable one in the family. She’s still my sweetheart after 43-44 years.

You know what? It really shows. You guys are peas in the pod.

She’s a great gal. She’s always been supportive, even in the hard times. When we were struggling back in the 1950’s, early 1960’s, she kept encouraging me to play music. She always believed in me. I think without her support, I probably would never- I would have ended up playing in a club somewhere. We left Nashville a couple of times and came back a third time before I was ever able to break into recording sessions.

Dot told me that at one time things got so rough that you were actually selling shoes to pay the bills.

Indeed, I sold shoes for about 3-3˝ years--lowest point in my life, but it was a necessary passage of rites. I don’t regret it, but I just didn’t want to starve to death playing on the road which was pretty dismal back in the 1950’s.

The other thing she told me that really touched my soul because you guys are a picture of long-term love, is the most miserable time she’s ever had in her life when you were on the road in the Vegas-Reno circuit for a full month. She said that’s the only month you’ve ever been apart.

Well, it was the longest time we were ever separated. That’s when I decided to quit playing the road. I came back from that trip; I was with Ferlin Husky. We got back, my phone bill was almost as much as what I had made for the entire month. So it was a wasted month, and I said, "If I’m gonna not make any money, I’ll stay at home." That’s when I got a job selling shoes about 1959 or 1960, I think.

Wow, let me just thank you and the Lord for pulling you out of that because the world would have been short changed some really great music. Hey, how about Don Williams? Any favorite memories of your time with Don Williams?

Well, I did all the great era of the Don Williams records, played steel guitar and Dobro on the records. That was the only artist I recorded with where we actually conceived and worked for a long time to come up with a sound for the man. We would go in and do demo sessions to try achieve the sound that we would finally arrived at. Each time we would record, he and the producer Garth Fundis and Alan Reynolds who produced Garth Brooks, they would start chiseling away stuff that we were doing and they would say, "We’ll take a little bit of this away and take this away." One day we were down, I felt like to the last-if they take one more note away the entire architecture of the music was going to crumble, and that’s when they said, "That’s it; that’s the sound." So that’s how we ended up with the Don Williams’s sound. But that was the only artist I ever worked with where we actually created a sound over a period of time for that became the standard for his music.

He really did have a signature sound. So that’s how it came about?

The very first record we recorded was Amanda. That was the very first record he had out. I don’t know how big a record that was. Later Waylon Jennings cut it and had a big record. I played three Dobro parts on this record, and it is still one of my favorites. He cut so many great ones, great songs called You’re My Best Friend, Lord I Hope This Day Is Good.

Tender, but manly songs weren’t they? I mean it just made you feel good to listen to that stuff.

Yea, and his songs they were, they were not depressing things;, they were very emotional and deep-felt, intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, I think.

What are some of the Paycheck songs that you did? Do you recall?

I did all the Paycheck stuff on Lil’ Darlin’ Records. That was the early years. Everything for Motel Time Again, Jukebox Charlie, just great stuff.

Ever work with George and Tammy?

I usually worked with them if Pete Drake was not available. He was their first choice, and that’s why I wound up on one of the big songs of Tammy’s, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, because Pete was unavailable that day. So I lucked-out on one of her big records.

Speaking of the Dobro, I didn’t know you played Dobro. I’m glad you mentioned that. I’ve only seen you with a single neck-the E9 Nashville Sound neck. Have you ever played C6, or have you just made such a terrific contribution with E9 that you stayed with it?

No, I always played C6th until I invented the LDG, the padded model that you see on all the guitar models now that all the companies make. I think I invented that guitar in 1973. From 1964 when I started doing session, until 1973, I played C6th. In fact, on some of my early instrumental albums, I played quite a bit of C6th. I recorded 15 instrumental albums, so these things are somewhat obscure now, some of the early ones. There’s a good bit of C6th on the first ones.

The thing that sets Lloyd Green apart to me is your tone. It is just distinctive and clear. Have you got any secrets?, You must, but can you explain any of those?

Tone is a very personal, subjective thing. I think tone is the most intellectual part of playing music and the most difficult thing to achieve. To me, it’s the bottom line. That’s the hardest part of playing steel guitar is to play it with great tone. It’s a thoughtful thing that you work on and try to explore. It took me a long time. I can hear the evolution of my playing on recordings. Fortunately I’ve got that that I can refer to. You’d be surprise how poor my tone sounded on a lot of the 1964 records. The originality was always there, but the tone was an evolving thing. The more I listen to the playback, the more I realized that if I wanted to be a really complete steel player, tone was ultimately the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow. So I strived for that. It’s too complex to explain exactly how you get tone here, but it involves lots of processes of thought. It’s really like an engineer. You sit down and figure some of this stuff out; how to do it with the guitar, with the picks, with the different parts of the guitar you play on, the amount of pressure you apply with the bar itself; and obviously, the kind of guitar you have, the kind of amplifier you have, and even volume controls, cords, everything. I could draw you a list of maybe fifty ingredients that go into getting tone. To me, it’s just simply the most important part of playing. Without tone, it’s all irrelevant.

Certainly can tell that, because that sets you apart along with John Hughey.

I want to elaborate a little bit on that. The reason tone is so important is because I think ultimately that’s what is the emotional connection when you’re playing music to what people are hearing. If they hear good tone, there is something that strikes a resonant note in the soul. You can be playing the greatest stuff in the world, but if it doesn’t have good tone, there’s something that’s not making a connection. I think that’s what people really hear first. I think they hear tone; something that’s pleasant to their ear then they get tuned into what you’re doing. It’s like tuning in a radio station. Suddenly, they come across this station. That’s a very clear station, and the sound is very pure, and it stops you for a moment.

That’s exactly what happened tonight, no kidding, when you guys kicked-off Borrowed Angel. People levitated off their seats, and it was the tone and the emotional attachment to that song that does it.

Well, I think it did too. But more than that, that song, of course is so synonymous with, as we were talking earlier, with Country Music what it really meant in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s like one of the national anthems of that era, but still it needs to be played with good tone. I’ve heard people play it. You’ve got to play with expression. That’s what makes it come alive and breath life into the song.

Thank you so much for taking this time and giving us a little insight to the legend of Lloyd Green, one of the truly great steel guitar players of all time. I think I’m talking to Michael Jordan.

What a great compliment! I want to tell you what a joy it has been. I know we talked about doing this for a long time, but I’m so grateful that we finally had the opportunity to sit down and get together. Lots of people listen to the music that you play on the show, and I know it’s a great program, and I’m honored to be part of it today.

We certainly are too, and thanks again, Lloyd, and keep up the good work. That’s all we can say, and thank you so much.

Thank you, Gib Sun. END

A Nice Gospel Song For Pedal Steel

Here's a beautiful song I found on YouTube. I added a steel guitar. Pretty much everything I play in the song I learned from Lloyd. I've learned that particular songs motivate me to really get into the song. I have a hard time playing along with a song or track that lacks that special feeling. If you are a musician, you know what I mean. If you play pedal steel, I think you'll enjoy playing along with this song.

Below are some different quality recordings with me playing pedal steel guitar on the recording. I miked the amp (Nashville 112). I used a Rode condenser mike. I turned the amp away from my guitar, so the mike wouldn't pick up the sound of my pedals. I used a Boss DD-3 delay. I kept the delay level at 3 o'clock, so the echo wouldn't ruin the recording. I set my feedback on one repeat. Tommy White taught me years ago to set the delay timing to the tempo of the song. I record with MixCraft software. I use a Lexicon (Alpha model) USB interface. I used a Rittenberry S-10 steel...


       I'm an avid Lloyd Green fan and want to do what I can to help new steelers learn quickly. These tabs are invaluable. If you'd like to learn Lloyd Green's music style, then the most important thing to do is start listening to lots of Lloyd's Performances. Get the sounds into your brain. As time progresses, you'll discover the sounds on your steel guitar. You can't play it if you haven't heard it. Become familiar with the sounds. Like anything else in life, the more time that you spend with something, the more you will get out of it. My advice is to crank up your amplifier's volume so you can FEEL your music. That's very important to developing great tone. The best playing in the world is totally useless if the tone is not there. Hopefully, these tabs will help you by opening your perspective to new things on the steel guitar. The possibilities are only limited by your mind and desire to learn more. Also, I use a great program called MixCraft regularly to change the pitch in songs (so I can play in tune with the song), slow down riffs that I want to learn to play, or my own steel guitar recordings, et cetera. It's well worth the $89 for the basic version. God bless!











More Lloyd Green Tabbed Masterpieces

(Lloyd Green uses a standard E9th setup. The only exception is that he doesn't lower string 4 a half tone. Instead he uses string 2. I designate lowering string 2 with either "LL" for a whole-tone drop, or "L" for a half-tone drop.)

Literally, it took me years to figure these musical pieces out. I cannot tell you how many times I'd spent hours at a time trying to figure how Lloyd did these parts, but they eluded me. I would just walk away in frustration, but I still had the beautiful sounds playing in my mind, being processed. I realize now why I couldn't identify these pedal steel parts for so long. It's because they are unconventional and I was only focusing on a certain group of strings, from the grouping patterns which I had learned from steel guitar courses for many years, completely missing what was going on. I've learned from Lloyd to think outside the box. You'll see what I mean in these tabs. Lloyd is amazing! You won't find these tabs in any steel guitar course. I am sharing this with others, in hopes that Lloyd's playing style will increase in popularity. What has taken me years to figure out is now yours for free... you lucky dog you! You can hear these songs on Lloyd's albums, Reflections" and "Revisited." I believe the song are uploaded on YouTube for free, but am not sure. I recommend buying all Lloyd's albums, before they're no longer available...

Great E9th Pedal Steel Tabs
(Tabs for short amazing pieces from Farwell Party, Does Your Ring Hurt My Finger, Borrowed Angel,
Sweet Memories, Petals, Blue Bonnet Spring, Sleeping Beauty, et cetera)

Cool Things To Perform On E9th Pedal Steel
(Lloyd style licks & more)

More Thoughts On Steel Guitar

By David J. Stewart

When I have difficulty figuring out what Lloyd is playing, I follow the scale patterns and it usually comes to me. Lloyd knows his guitar thoroughly. Amazingly, the incredibly unique things that Lloyd plays are all played within the confines of basic scales. The most intriguing thing to me about Lloyd's uniquely individual and seemingly complex playing is that he truly keeps it simple, following standard chord progressions. It's incredible! It's HOW Lloyd plays everything that makes his music so unique! Most players have been playing the exact same chords as Lloyd for years, but they've never learned and developed new techniques to play those chords. As I studied Lloyd's playing, I realized eventually that I had the right chords all along, but didn't know the techniques or have the expertise.

Literally, you can spend thousands of dollars on steel guitar instruction courses and then hear Lloyd Green and be totally bewildered how he did any of it. They just don't teach the stuff Lloyd plays, because it's from the heart and is felt, it can't be taught. The only way to learn is to listen to Lloyd's recordings and work at it. It will come to you a little bit at a time if you keep at it, and you'll find yourself getting luckier and luckier (which is really technique, knowledge and skill). Lloyd Green's St Louis recordings are truly amazing from 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. If there are others, then I don't have them, but would love to. Fortunately, I have enough thankfully to teach me for a lifetime. Every one of Lloyd's songs is an instruction course and a wonderful challenge to learn. I can listen to Lloyd's recordings a hundred times and I still want to hear them again. That's when you know you've got something special.

A popular technique that Lloyd uses is to play open strings in combination with barred strings at the same time. This one technique has opened an entire new world of sounds in Lloyd's playing. This is why he prefers to play many songs in the key of F# on the 2nd fret, which is the perfect key to combine open strings with barred strings. Open strings work well with the 2nd, 7th and 12th frets.

Also, bar bounces (hammer-ons and bar pull-offs) work great while playing on the 2nd fret.

One of my favorite instrumental songs written and performed by Lloyd is “Green Jade,” which I enjoy playing. The song employs some fantastic unison sounds using string 2 lowered a whole tone, and string 5 raised a whole tone, played together at the same time. Lloyd often plays these two unison notes together, which sounds awesome in many songs.

I've learned that one of the biggest challenges in playing the pedal steel guitar is knowing WHERE in a song to use different sounds and techniques. It's an art that can only be learned through experience. I've learned from playing steel guitar for many years to allow the song to dictate what I play while backing a singer. If you just listen to the song, it will guide you what to play, whether harmonics or the BC pedals, palm muting, chicken pickin' or open/barred string combinations. The possibilities are endless.

I have often tried and failed at figuring out what Lloyd is playing, and I gave up for the time being. However, the sound that I was trying to learn stuck in my mind. I would move onto other songs. A year later I'd hear Lloyd play the same sound again, just a little differently, and then it would come to me after trying to learn it again. Most often I am amazed and can't believe how simple the piece is, right in front of me the whole time, but I was making it harder than it was. I have learned to follow the scales, which Lloyd follows closely. It makes sense. It's easy for newer players to think Lloyd is playing some weird, way-out, thing, but it's just simple chords and standard progressions played in a unique fashion. Now, when I hear Lloyd, after years of studying his playing, I can figure out fairly quickly what he is doing, but mastering it is another story. That takes a lifetime!

Please note that Lloyd does NOT lower his 4th string from E to Eb. Lloyd confirmed that it was because the older pedal steels had too many return problems. Jimmy Day also did NOT lower string 4, for the same reason. Once their styles were developed without lowering the 4th string, there was no need to change it. You can pick the 2nd string instead, so you really don't need to lower the 4th string. I started playing pedal steel in 1992. Having been born in a later generation, with much better steel guitar changers, I was trained to lower the 4th string, so I use it extensively. Lloyd and Jimmy only lowered string 8 a half tone. Of course, they both raise 4 and 8 to F. It was in 1967 (the year I was born) that Lloyd invented the E to F raise change, which has become standard on the E9th pedal steel guitar. Did you know that Lloyd Green started performing lap steel at age 7? It's true. That's so awesome! Children ought to be introduced at the earliest ages to music.

Lloyd does a lot of new things with strings 1, 2 and 3. It will be confusing to readers if I try to explain how to play certain things, but here's a few things that Lloyd plays that I've tried to tab out (as close as I could figure out). The way to learn what is being played is to listen to EACH NOTE individually. Each time you listen to the piece, focus on one note at a time. Then put it all together.

I've learned that Lloyd's live playing has a totally different sound than studio recording. I love his live playing because of the dynamics of the amplifier. Lloyd's live playing is sharp, bright and crisp, awesome! Then again I love all Lloyd's guitar work. Some players sound muddied because of all the filtering equipment. As a general rule, steel players should avoid effects processors. Lloyd doesn't use an effects processor in the studio, only his Fender Twin Reverb with a single 15" JBL speaker (or a Peavey Session 400). Lloyd knows his equipment well and always sounds great! Less effects is best. Set your amplifier's reverb on about 3 or 4. I set reverb at 5 for recordings using my Peavey Nashville 112 amp. If you have a “middle” control, keep it lower at about “3.” Although the Nashville 112 amp sounds nice, I prefer playing through a 15" speaker, which I think greatly affects tone, in a good way.

Knowing what to play is half the battle. Remember that Lloyd doesn't raise string 7 nor lower string 6 to obtain a G note. He uses a forward bar slant, using pedal A only, placing the tip of the bar exactly between strings 4 and 5, while slanting the rear of the bar down across string 6 a fret back. This is how he gets a G note. I could never figure this technique out (for years) until I bought Jerry Byrd's Hawaiian instruction course and learned the lap steel technique of doing forward slants. Lloyd began playing lap steel at age 7 and adapted those lap steel techniques to pedal many steel years later. I strongly recommend that every pedal steel player buy a lap steel and learn to play C6th Hawaiian (hence this website). Lloyd uses this bar slant to obtain a G note quite a bit in his music, and it is a key component of his style. I play this chord here (a little after one second in the ending clip to Farewell Party).

Another thing that I think is important and encouraging to steel players is to know that Lloyd sticks pretty close to an arrangement once he works up a song. I was really sad one day after hearing Lloyd play something beautiful, because I felt like I could never play like that; but after I heard him play the song numerous times at different events, I realized that he had worked up an arrangement and was sticking closely to what he had worked hard at learning. That helped me a lot because I realized that Lloyd's great sound doesn't come magically. He works hard and diligently to play the way he does.

I've learned that a big part of music is PERCEPTION. Unfamiliarity is what draws first time hearers to music. When heard for the first time, people will often cry because the music touches their heart. However, after they've heard the song 100 times, then they don't want to hear it anymore (at least not for a couple days). When I visited Hawaii for the first time in 2007, I cried as I drove along Ala Mauna Boulevard and heard “My Yellow Ginger Lei” by Dennis Pavao. Wow! I even called the radio station to ask who sang the song and they told me. I went to the famous Harry's Music where Jerry Byrd used to teach steel guitar and bought the album. I often play the song at the beach and play along with it.

However, I have heard the song hundreds of times and as beautiful as it is, I get sick of hearing it sometimes. My point hear is that you're steel guitar playing may seem humdrum to you at times because you've spent thousands of hours working up the arrangements, but people hearing your music for the first time may think it's the most beautiful thing they've ever heard and break down in tears. I've seen it happen. Music is a powerful influence upon the human soul, because God made it that way.

A man once walked up to me after playing a few Hawaiian songs at the beach and complimented me, specifically saying that the bar vibrato touched his heart. When I heard that I decided to use more vibrato more often. From listening to my own recordings, I've learned that palm harmonics sound really nice and I use them more as a result. Jerry Byrd used to say that harmonics are like saying, “I have a secret.” Harmonics sure sound nice on recordings. Lloyd has mastered harmonics like none other. I love the harmonic ending that he uses on “Love Notes,” which is classic (my recording, which I tab here... #37).

Note: I've noticed that Lloyd uses separate fingers when chiming strings 3 and 4 together, whereas I just lay my middle finger across both strings and then chime them with the thumb pick. My way tends to sound string 4 and hardly string 3, whereas Lloyd's way sounds both strings, which is best I think. I just got used to doing it with one finger and it became a habit, so I use it mostly. In the above clip I manage to chime them both strongly with one stroke of the thumb, which is a cool sound. It's one of those things that becomes a habit and is easier to play than to explain.

Another key component of Lloyd's style is picking strings 4,5,6 with pedals A and B (pump A pedal). To “pump” a pedal means to let off and then press it down again quickly. Slide down 2 frets with A and B (while letting off the pedal A), and then drop 2 more frets while pressing pedal C. In effect it's like dropping strings 5 and 6, but the 4th string doesn't change pitch. Here's what it sounds like (toward the end of the clip).

Note that this is very different from the “Paul Franklin pedal” as it's known, but you can do it just by using pedal C instead. Really cool! I also raise my first string one whole tone, which Lloyd uses a bar slant to obtain instead. Lloyd raises string one a half-tone.

Also, something that I noticed one day in my playing is that I don't use enough vibrato, whereas Lloyd does. Vibrato adds much life to your playing. The trick is not to use vibrato on every note that you pick (unless you're playing Hawaiian style).

I think a lot of it depends upon the individual musician. I love Lloyd's playing and it is everything I've ever wanted to play on steel guitar, but I know some people who prefer Buddy Emmons' style. We all have our own tastes in music, naturally. Lloyd plays with feeling and attitude, sitting attentive at his guitar, to where people can't help but ask, “Who was that man?” When I play, something in me wants to reach out and play deeper, higher, further and with more fervor and intensity. When I hear Lloyd play, everything within me says, That's it! That's the sound I want! That's exactly what I feel inside and want to express through my music!

Lloyd Green is truly the greatest musician in all the world (to me) and I thank God for him and his music!

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NOTE: This web page is not endorsed in any way by Lloyd Green. I made this web page to help other pedal steel players by sharing some of my own experiences in trying to play more like Lloyd Green, and also to share an interview with Lloyd (which is invaluable). I'm just sharing my opinions and I'm not saying that Lloyd agrees with me. I don't want to speak for Lloyd. I'm just talking from my heart. God Bless. ~David J. Stewart

Here's Some Of My Steel Guitar Recordings

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Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to Heaven!