My Wonderful Jesus!

By David J. Stewart

Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

       Back in 1992 I found an old vinyl record of a Bluegrass band from 1974 in California titled, “The Bluegrass Gospel According To Steve, Leroy And Brother Dave.” For the first time my soul was introduced to the pedal steel guitar and the rest is history. I didn't know what that beautiful heart-gripping instrument was, but I knew I wanted to learn to play it for the rest of my life. After much inquiry and even driving to Nashville, Tennessee, I discovered the pedal steel guitar. God is amazing!

My favorite song on the album is titled, “MY WONDERFUL JESUS”! The song streaming in the background on this webpage is only 32kbps to conserve bandwidth (download 192 high-quality MP3 version).

Here's some information for fellow musicians. Steel guitar legend Al Perkins is the guest steel guitarist on the album and he's playing a ZB (Zane Beck) Custom pedal steel (which he still plays). Interestingly, Al had a unique sound back then that's not heard elsewhere on records. The reason is because Al Perkins rarely used any reverb, which is a must for most steel guitarists.

One of the best examples of awesome steel guitar playing without any reverb is found on The Oakridge Boys 1990 release of gospel recordings going way back to their early singing days. It's some of my favorite gospel music. The album is titled Sensational Oak Ridge Boys (listen here to their song, Angel Band, to the great dry sounding pedal steel guitar). It really brings out the steel guitar, to the foreground. Dry steel guitar only works for certain styles of music, but not for others. Using reverb places the steel guitar in the background, which is where you usually want it to sound; but using NO REVERB makes the steel guitar sound like it's in a small room, close-up. More reverb widens the sound. A lot of reverb sounds like you're playing in a stadium. I usually set my reverb at 3-4 and use a BOSS DD-3 digital delay, which is an awesome sound, but it's not the Al Perkins sound in My Wonderful Jesus.

I also believe that the ZB Custom guitar played a significant part in Al Perkins's unique sound. Steel guitar teacher Jeff Newman produced a Woodshed Workshop course years ago for a few Buck Owens songs which Ralph Mooney played pedal steel on. Jeff had to borrow an old Kline pedal steel from a friend to record the album, because the guitar had a very unique sound that produced the much musically coveted and unique West Coast Sound that Ralph Mooney made famous. On a Kline steel guitar, you have to almost mash down on the pedals because the pedal tension is so high. It drastically affects the resulting sound. Each steel guitar is uniquely different, some a lot more than others.

1st Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.”

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