"I commit at least two to three hours a day, no matter what": Slash has been learning to play pedal steel for two years

Slash onstage in 2024
(Image credit: YouTube)

Slash is one of the most recognisable musicians on the planet: he has a look, he has a sound, but he isn't done challenging himself. Far from it; he's been learning one of the most challenging stringed instruments a guitar player can find.

"I've only been playing it for a short time," he tells MusicRadar about learning to play pedal steel in a new interview focussed on his new blues album, Orgy Of The Damned. "So it was really sort of flying by the seat of your pants to put it into the set. But I made myself do it because I wanted to get better at it. It's something that you have to practice all the fucking time."

I've only scratched the surface with this thing

And he's putting the time in:  "There are so many nuances to it. I commit at least two to three hours a day, no matter what, to playing the pedal steel. I started after the last Conspirators' tour. So that was in 2022. I've been at it for two years, and I've only scratched the surface with this thing, but I fucking love it. It's a great instrument."

A pedal steel guitar is a sit-down console-type instrument that rises pedals and knee-activated levers to change the pitch of strings. The combination of sliding notes and expressive vibrato can give it an almost vocal quality. David Gilmour is another guitar hero famous for using one to perform Pink Floyd songs including High Hopes and The Great Gig In The Sky onstage. 

Slash is currently playing a Jackson model and while we shouldn't expect a country pedal steel album any time soon, it's inspiring to hear he's is putting so much time into learning it for the sheer love of music.  

"I don't have any professional aspirations for it, really," he admits. "It's not something I'm doing because I want to put out a pedal steel record. It's just really for my own personal enjoyment. I don't know how many songs or what songs I could actually put it in, you know?" 

Those songs won't necessarily be country either. You can see above how Slash integrated his pedal steel skills into a cover of Elton John's Rocket Man with Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators in Manila earlier this year. 

"I love country music," he reasons "I don't necessarily [like] all country songs or country singers especially, but I love the musicians, they are great. And I love steel guitar playing in that capacity. I also love where you can put it where it doesn't sound like country – in other contexts. And I think that's where I'm headed with it."

Check out our interview with Slash soon where he talks more about his pedal steel playing and the new album. 

Click here for more info on Orgy Of The Damned 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.   

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