The lap steel guitar is played in a horizontal position on the player's lap, rather than upright in the more popular fashion. Some lap steel guitars have the familiar guitar-body curves found on other guitars, while some are straighter in form. You fret the strings from above rather than from the side, using a bar, instead of your fingers. The Hal Leonard Lap Steel Guitar Method is an instructional book and accompanying CD.
The method includes a good deal of music theory. This includes music notation, scales and chords. Music notation refers to the way notes are written on the page so they can be read, interpreted and played by musicians. The Hal Leonard Lap Steel Guitar Method uses conventional notation and also TAB -- or Tablature -- notation too, which some guitar players prefer, as it indicates where you should place your fingers on the instrument to obtain the notes. Scales, also covered in the book, are sequences of notes in ascending or descending order. Chords are groups of notes played together.
The method also conveys a great deal of useful information on playing technique. This includes using a pick, or plectrum, and a bar, a glass or steel cylinder you use to fret the strings. Different tunings are covered in the method, since different players tune their instruments different ways. Blocking, a technique where you muffle the strings with the side of your hand, is also covered, as is bar bounce, where you rebound the bar against the strings.
Demonstration and Play Along
The method utilizes a demonstration and play-along technique, where you listen to one of the many licks on the CD, then play along on your instrument. You replay the lick as many times as you need to in order to get it right. The CD also contains renditions of several songs by veteran country music performer Johnie Helms. These are: "Aura Lee," "Down in the Valley," "Give Me That Old Time Religion," "Go, Tell it on the Mountain," "Midnight Special," "The Red River Valley" and "The Streets of Laredo." Using the method, the idea is that you, too, will be able to play these pieces.
At the time of publication, the CD and booklet pack cost $9.99. They are aimed at beginners and provide a very comprehensive approach to learning the lap steel guitar. Other topics covered include string gauges, posture, and right- and left-hand techniques. String gauge refers to the thickness of the strings, measured in thousandths of an inch. Posture refers to the correct way of sitting and holding the instrument when playing. You can play the lap steel guitar using a right- or left-hand technique, and both ways are covered.