GAA's Guide to C6 Lap Steel Resources


Introduction

This page describes instructional material and links for the six string C6 lap steel tuning. From bass to treble the notes are C E G A C E.
 

C6 Instructional Material

The following are instructional materials that I've used and recommend.

WSG Learn to Play Western Swing Guitar by Cindy Cashdollar is a very good C6 instructional video available on two DVDs with accompanying tab booklets or as a direct download.

It teaches an 8 String C6 tuning (ACEGACEG) but it's easily adapted for 6 string C6 since the 1st and 8th strings are not heavily used. One thing I like about the video is that it shows some good picking exercises. It teaches some nice tunes too - "Cold, Cold Heart", "San Antonio Rose", "Steel Guitar Rag" and "Right Or Wrong". Almost no slants are required to play the tunes.

Basic C6th Nonpedal Lap Steel Method by DeWitt Scott is an especially good book for beginners. It assumes no previous experience and starts with the basics. Included are tabs for quite a few songs in a variety of genres - folk, country, Hawaiian, etc. The songs increase in complexity, but they are all playable by beginners.
25sflsg 25 Songs for Lap Steel Guitar by Doug Beaumier is available on his Play Steel Guitar website. It's not an instructional book - it's just a set of very nice C6 arrangements of some fun, very melodic tunes. It includes audio CDs with lead and backing tracks. You'll can learn quite a bit about phrasing and note articulation by playing along with the lead tracks. A follow up book, 25 MORE Songs for Lap Steel Guitar is also available. Check out the audio samples on the website. Also check out his playing on his YouTube channel
YCH
Your Cheatin' Heart contains tabs and lead/backup tracks for many Hank Williams tunes. It's by Don Helms, who played steel guitar with Hank Williams.

It's written for an eight string E13 tuning, but everything is played using an E6 subset (EG#BC#EG#). That is the same as the six string C6 tuning except it's moved up two whole steps. It shows you how to get that classic "country steel guitar" sound. There are lots of ideas for chordal backup behind a singer or soloist. It's a pretty straightforward style suitable for beginners. There are no slants required. It is available from Scotty's Music' or as an eBook from Mel Bay

SFM
Mike Neer's Steelin' from the Masters site has some unique intermediate/advanced C6 instructional material.

  • Four Wheel Drive is an instructional video and tab that covers the Buddy Emmons instrumental adapted for C6 lap steel. It has a good demonstration of the importance of blocking.
  • Chloe is an instructional video and tab for Gabby Pahinui's Hawaiian steel guitar tune from the Chicken Skin Music album.
  • Bebop Lap Steel Guitar, an eBook containing the heads of five bebop standards tabbed out. The tabs are very well thought out and show how to make good use of the C6 tuning.

    Everything is available as a convenient download. The site also has material for other 6th tunings when you're ready to branch out beyond C6. Be sure to check out Mike's Lap Steelin' Blog - lots of great thoughts about music and lap steel.

  • JMCWS Joaquin Murphey - Classic Western Swing: Steel Guitar Solos contains transcriptions of solos by Joaquin Murphey. It's a good source of swing licks and ideas for playing over swing chord progressions. The C6 tuning is used throughout. Some tunes use a seven or eight string C6 tuning, but it's easily adapted for six string C6 because the six highest strings are CEGACE for all the tunings. The book is available from the Steelin' from the Masters website. Here are some samples of Joaquin's playing from Herb Steiner's site.
    AoHSG
    Stacy Phillips' book, The Art of Hawaiian Steel Guitar, touches lightly on the C6 tuning. He actually teaches the G6 tuning (GBDEGB, low to high). The notes have the same relative relationship as the C6 tuning. The nice thing about G6 is that if your lap steel is tuned to High-G tuning (GBDGBD, low to high) you can loosen the first three strings to get a G6 tuning. This lets you try a C6-style tuning without forcing you to put on a special set of strings for C6.

    There are only five G6 tunes tabbed out, but they do give you a feel for some of the things you can do in the tuning. The tabs for "Little Heaven in the South Sea #2", "Alekoki" and "Kaua I Ka Huahua I" are especially nice sounding arrangements that make good use of the G6 tuning. One odd thing about the "Little Heaven" tab is that it shows lots of two-fret forward slants on the 1st and 3rd strings. These are more easily played as a straight bar on the 1st and 4th string (for example, the ending can be played on strings 1 and 4). In fact almost everything shown on the 1st-3rd string pairs can be played on the 1st-4th strings.

    He spends some time relating the G6 tuning to the standard High-G tuning. For example the pattern of straight and reverse slants that you use on the 1st and 2nd string when playing a scale of harmonized thirds in the High-G tuning is the same pattern you use on the 2nd and 3rd strings of a G6 tuning. If you already know the High-G tuning it is a useful way to think about the tuning. You can apply what know about the High-G tuning to G6 (or C6). It helps you orient yourself on the fretboard.

    Also available as an download from Mel Bay.

    GAA I wrote a guide to The C6 Lap Steel Tuning which outlines a systematic approach to learning the layout of the C6 fretboard. I also wrote a guide to Harmonized Scales in C6

     

    Other C6 Instructional Material

    The following are other C6 materials that I'm aware of. However, I have not had direct personal experience with them.

    Scotty's Music Scotty's Music carries a video and workbook by Jerry Byrd. The workbook is a very complete course. It starts with the A tuning and covers many tunings before it gets to C6. The video demonstrates important elements of lap steel technique.
    GeorgeBoards is a manufacturer of lap steels that has also produced some C6 instructional DVDs and CD-ROMs. Some of the material is for beginners. The emphasis is more on blues, rock and country western styles.

     

    Internet Resources

  • The Steel Guitar Forum is an excellent source for steel guitar related information. The Steel Without Pedals section is devoted to lap steel guitar.
  • Brad's Page of Steel is a very informative website devoted to lap steel guitar.

  • The Sierra Steels website has a set of free online video lessons for 8-string C6 lap steel by Joe Wright. It is over 6 hours of lessons. They are very well done. The first two lessons cover right hand technique including pick-blocking. He places a lot of emphasizes on methodical, careful practice - it is a very important habit to develop if you want to make progress in your steel guitar playing.

  • HawaiianSteel.com has some very good C6 material
    • This lesson shows some nice harmonizations of a V7->I transition that make good use of the C6 tuning: Part 1 and Part 2
    • This describes the Hexachord Harmonizer, is a simple and novel approach to harmonizing melodies.
    • Here's a handy lap steel string gauge chart
    • Here's an insightful article discussing lap steel tunings - what distinguishes one tuning from another and why you'd want to choose one over another.

  • Horseshoemagnets.com has a document describing how modal scales in the C6 tuning lay out in a simple "2-fret box". The "Theory" section of the site contains some other information about slants and string gauges in the C6 and C6/A7 tunings.

  • Here's a website that takes the "2-fret box" concept and goes to town with it: C6 Modal Theory Document and a C6 Fretboard Diagram with modal boxes laid out.
     

    C6 Tabs on the Internet

  • The Steel Guitar Forum's Tablature section mostly contains pedal steel tabs. However, there are some lap steel tabs and some of them are for C6 tuning!

  • Brad's Page of Steel has a page of lap steel tabs which includes some C6 tabs.

  • Rebel and Ricky tab page has some C6 tabs.

     

    Feel free to contact me if you have any comments.

  • Updates:
    04/12/05 - Initial version
    04/26/05 - Added "Other Materials". Added link to HawaiianSteel.com
    04/29/05 - Added information about Joaquin Murphy transcriptions
    05/06/05 - Added link to Doug Beaumier tab page
    12/15/05 - Added link to George Boards website
    01/10/06 - Added links to Steel Guitar Forum tabs
    01/24/06 - Added links to more Steel Guitar Forum tabs
    04/03/06 - Moved to new server
    01/31/07 - Updated Steel Gutar Forum links
    11/29/07 - Updated Steel Gutar Forum links
    03/29/11 - Added images, fixed links. Added link to HawaiianSteel.com Hexachord Harmonizer
    05/25/12 - Added links to "25 More Songs for Lap Steel" and "Chloe". Fixed broken links