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Aloha, Mr. Bong,

I was given a 6 string Magnatone lap steel yesterday just like this one, only purple:


I'm enthralled. Would you be so kind as to point me to books, websites, etc. that may help me learn more Hawaiian music and not so much the blues, country thing.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Also, you mentioned about acquiring CDs from TC member/bands. Is there a comprehensive list and place to get that here? I'd love to hear all of that and so would my frequent guests.


[ Edited by: pablus on 2003-11-12 14:55 ]


Welcome to the steel braddah-hood!

I'm at work now, but when I get home I'll get you some instructional book titles. But first, a little info.

Are you a standard guitar player? You'll need a bit of rudimentary guitar theory under your belt, such as: a major chord is a major third, minor third stack; a minor chord is a minor third, major third stack.

The reason this is important is because steel guitars are tuned in major tunings such as open E (1,5,1,3,5,1 intervals), open G (1,3,5,1,3,5 intervals) and the Hawaiian sounding C6th tuning (1,3,5,6,3,5 intervals).

Obviously, if you lay the steel bar straight across the frets, you're playing a major chord, because you're strumming the 1, major 3rd and 5th interval; in order to play a minor chord, you must angle the steel so you're flatting the 3rd interval a half step (a minor chord is a 1, flat 3, 5 intervalic deal).

Most chords played on a steel are only 2 intervals - the root or 1, and the 3rd (either major 3rd or minor 3rd). We also play alot of single note stuff in Hawaiian music. One of the hardest aspects of playing steel guitar is control of the steel bar; it must be DEAD ON the fret; it must have the correct amount of pressure applied.

The right hand is also important. There is a lot of blocking or dampening done with the right hand. This prevents unwanted strings from ringing.

I found the best way to learn steel is simply to get a bunch of old recordings and learn it by ear. It DOES get discouraging, but do not quit.

Also, do picking exercises. You should get finger picks for your thumb, first finger and middle finger; practice hitting all the stings in order; practive picking adjacent strings and strings separated by a string.

It's hard, but it can be done. I honestly practice 7 days a week for anywhere from a minimum of 1 hour to 3 plus.

Check the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association website at http://www.hsga.org

Good luck and I'll post the book titles tomorrow.

"I'm ashamed to be here, but not too ashamed to leave..."

Celebrate 'International Tiki Day' the second Saturday in August - Hau'oli La Tiki!

[ Edited by: Tiki_Bong on 2003-11-12 17:10 ]


You can order this book from the Mel Bay website http://www.melbay.com

The title is 'Hawaiian Steel Guitar' by Stacy Phillips. It has some great history of the instrument as well as a forward by the legendary Bob Brozman.

It als comes with a CD so you can hear how the examples should be sound.

The item number is: MB94383BCD

Good luck and practice like a mother fu...

For the record, The Smokin' Menehunes hit the studio this last Saturday and laid down thirteen-fourteen(?) tracks for our first independent release. The CD will be available through us. I'll let you know more as the situation develops.

By the way, Bong was hot that day, hitting the steel with some serious agility. The recording should sound pretty good. This is a good place to check out some great steel playing and some hula-billy(?) singing by yours truely.
I gotta throw a plug in for myself.


That association site is very good even for a sub-rookie.

Thanks for the links and the info - and oddly enough, the manager of MelBay is a client/friend of ours and sends me anything I want.

Free goodies are always nice!

Looking forward to copying all your licks from the Smokin' Menehune's release and making a fortune out of them and giving you no credit for it whatsoever.

...cuz that's just the way I am.


Alright! I'm already much better than Sol Hoopii...

...at eating pie.

I'm gonna take this new obsession to PM on the ensuing questions, Mr. Bong; but before that I have a few itty-bitty queries.

Where should I get my slide bar?
Hawai'ian style - right?

Could you suggest a few of your "learning curve" favorites? I'd like to get the CD's or albums and start hacking about.

And one last question...

...would you help me invent a drink called
"Hawai'ian Steel"?

I think we could probably win the next Tiki Central drink contest. Even though you shuddered at the thought of the Banana Rum Split, (which truly is a spectacular nod to that oft-maligned fruit), I'm an excellent mixologist and The Amber Love Goddess was a premier bartender when I swept her off her tiny feet 7 years ago.

I'm thinking - keep the "sure to be won" trophy at The Bong Hut the first year and then move it to the Lagoon Lounge(™ AlnShelly Productions), the second year and so on.

Right now - I'm enjoying 2 ounces of Cruzan Single Barrell, an ounce of fresh lime juice, a half ounce of pineapple juice, a teaspoon of Tupelo honey, a dash of Pernod and a splash of homemade falernum. And as always: fresh mint. I have no name for it but it's slighty reminiscent of Jeff Berry's transcription of the Erawan Garden Hotel's Planter's Rum Punch, which is a truly magnificent recipe.

Thanks again and even though I am
He ma'uka'uka hoe hewa;
...let us
Ho'okahi ka 'ilau like ana.

See you in PM.

[ Edited by: pablus on 2003-11-13 21:42 ]


I use a Shubb-Pearse SP2 guitar steel slide. I've tried many others, and this one works best for me.

There are some called 'bullets' that are a metal cylinder. But they are hard to hold onto when playing single note stuff.

The Shubb and a ridge in the top for easier grasp.

As far as CD's to listen to, I highly recommend The Smoken' Menehunes latest (and only) CD. It will be available soon.

But if you want to get going sooner, buy the CD Hukilau Hulas and take you pick (pun intended).

The braddah-hood of steel players is sort of a secret society. I was a standard guitar slingin' shreadder for 25+ years - we're a dime a dozen.

But a steel player is quite rare out my way. When you meet another one, it's like the connection you get when you meet another tiki freak. Braddah!

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