Stealin’ from the Steel
BY JEFF MCERLAIN
Jeff McErlain is a New York City-based guitar
player, producer, songwriter, and educator. He
performs regularly in NYC and abroad with
his trio and blues band. Jeff has a number of
instructional DVDs available at TrueFire.com,
and he is a featured instructor for the National
Guitar Workshop. Jeff’s latest album, I’m Tired,
is available on i Tunes or at jeffmcerlain.com.
you may ask? Well, because by bending
the F# on the 11th fret up a whole-step
to G# and sustaining the B and E on the
12th fret, we go from an Esus2 chord to
an E triad. Sweet.
We get a bit more of the country
sound from Fig. 2. Once again, we’re
bending the second degree of the scale to
the third, but what makes this one a little
trickier is changing the top note while
holding the G# bend. Make sure you keep
that bend in tune! Out-of-tune notes hurt
We add some double-stops in Fig. 3.
This will take a bit of work, but the goal
is to bend two strings up a half-step and
keep things in tune. In this case, it is
the 3 and 5 being bent up a half-step.
Tricky. Okay, very tricky since the ten-
sion is not the same on both strings. The
pitches will inevitably be slightly out of
tune, so to remedy this, add some vibrato.
Fortunately, the aural rub of slightly out-
of-tune notes actually adds to the charac-
ter and greasy sound that we want. This is
definitely a guitar-face lick.
• Create steel guitar-inspired
phrases with unison and
• Play greasy double-stop licks
by bending two notes at the
• Learn the secrets behind the
licks of James Burton and
E fi oe #joe
oe# oe oe#
Click here to hear
sound clips of
E fi oe #joe
oe#oe oe# oe#
Ilove the pedal steel, but I am entirely too lazy to sit down behind one and
learn all those crazy tunings. I have
enough of a problem with standard tuning, so C6 is out of my realm of comprehension. So, like many jealous guitar
players, I’ve tried to cop as many of those
sweet country-infused sounds as I can
and insert them into non-country styles
of music—like the blues, for example.
Here are some cool, yet fairly easy licks
to get you started on the road to Twang
The lick in Fig. 1 is a standard steel
lick that will get your foot in the door.
Actually, I think I heard a similar phrase
on “Hot Legs” by Rod Stewart when I was
a kid. It’s also a Southern rock staple that
works great on an E or E7 chord. Why
oeoe oeoe b