Steel Trappings

Gibson EH-150

Did You Know? - Part 1

June 5, 2016 • Addison ChingEducation

Did you know this about the steel guitar?

  • The first electric guitar was the Steel Guitar.
  • The frypan steel guitar was given its nickname because of its "frypan" shape.
  • The steel guitar was given its name because of the steel bar that is used to play it. Steel guitars are made from wood, plastic and metal.
  • There are many different tunings for the steel guitar. Each tuning produces a unique sound and is identified by the tuning's fundamental note and the chord type defined by the string tunings (such as C6, B11, E9, etc.).
  • Players use guitars with multiple necks, each with their preferred tunings, to accommodate playing songs that require different tunings.
  • The steel guitar is thought to be indigenous to Hawaii.
  • Pedal Steel guitars have pedals and knee levers that are used to affect string pitch.
  • While normal guitar notes are formed by pressing the strings between neckboard fretlines, a steel guitar's notes are formed by placing the steel bar ON the fretline but not pressing down completely on the fretboard. This accomplishes the same thing as pressing on the fretboard.
  • Lap Steel guitars may have 6, 7, 8, or 10 strings. Pedal Steel guitars may have 6 to 14 strings.
  • Many vintage guitars of the 50s and 60s came in a pearloid finish commonly known as MOTS or "Mother of Toilet Seat."
  • "This invention of the Hawaiian schoolboy is the most significant contribution by Hawaii to music."
    — Helen Roberts, anthropologist
  • Steel guitar necks come in several lengths: Short Scale (22.5"), Medium Scale (24.5") and Long Scale (26"). Longer necks feature longer note sustains but may be more difficult to play.



June, 2018
May, 2018
April, 2018
March, 2018
February, 2018


Festivals and Conventions
Instruments and Luthiers



Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikiki Steel Guitar Week
July 9-14, 2018
Monday-Thursday - Nightly Evening Performances
Friday-Saturday - Festival Ho'olaule'a Performances
Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki
Hawai'i Island Steel Guitar Festival
September 7-9, 2018 - Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Kohala Coast, Hawai'i
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali'i
February 16, 2019 (tentative) - Ka Makana Ali'i Shopping Center, Kapolei
Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival
March 1-2, 2019 - Courtyard Kaua'i at Coconut Beach, Kapa'a, Kaua'i
Maui Steel Guitar Camp
TBD (tentative) - Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Maui
Maui Steel Guitar Festival
TBD - Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Maui
TBD - Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
June 8, 2019 (tentative) - Windward Mall, Kaneohe

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HIMELE is a Hawai'i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.