Articles, Blog

Paul Franklin – Guitar Power

November 14, 2019

(relaxing guitar music) – I like that. That was cool
– Well let’s add. (relaxing guitar music) (laughter) You got me. – Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Dweezil Zappa, this is Paul Franklin and this is Guitar Power. But today, it’s pedal steel guitar power. (laughter) This particular instrument you developed this with your father so maybe you could fill us in on why this instrument is different than any other pedal steel. – When I started, I was
eight years old in Detroit, the steel guitar capital of the world. (Paul laughing)
– Yeah. – There were no steel players so we went into a music
store, ordered a Fender 400. The moment we received it, we learned that it was obsolete to Nashville standards cause you could only do one function. You could either raise the string or lower the string. My uncle had a body
shop so my dad just said well, we order one of those things. (laughter) and he did and he put these literally like a forklift he
put ’em under the key head. So as the string tries to pull up, it forces the key head and the guitar to dig
deeper into the wood. And it lengthens this.. Sustain, we didn’t really
know that was gonna happen. It was just an idea that
was tried, and it worked. And he built my second
one, which I played up until the time I moved to Nashville. He followed me about six months later and went to work for Sho-Bud, building their endorsed players. He also changed the pivot point in here cause steels would
typically only raise out, when pulled, about three tones (guitar pitch increasing then decreasing) So it’s either lower the string or raise it that far. He made this like a whammy bar (laughs) This will raise or lower a whole octave. – And that hadn’t been done at all before. – Oh it still hasn’t. This is the only guitar
out there that does that. – So full octave. That’s incredible. – Those are the two unique
factors about this guitar. It enables me to do changes like (bright guitar tunes) That’s what most people do. (bright guitar tunes) So I can take it on-offs. So when people hear this (bright echoing guitar tunes) And that gives me a unison (bright echoing guitar tunes) – What’s happening right there describe it for me, if
somebody was to sit down on that stool right
there, and they’re looking at this instrument and you had to say alright, here’s how this works (laughs) – I use an E9 tuning which is to give any single
person credit, Buddy Emmons probably developed the most of the tuning. You have a major nine on
top (bright guitar sound) Major seven (bright guitar sound) For the second string,
then you have a third, root, fifth, third and
then you have another nine. And you have an E, a root, and then the fifth down the bottom. In between those, you
have a dominant seven. So they’re all basically,
all of them, triads. (progressively deeper guitar sounds) In versions, duplicating one. Then, the first pedal
gives me a minor with those (progressively deeper guitar sounds) And if you press both pedals down, you go into a four hood. (Rich echoing guitar sounds) Then if you just do the second pedal, and you’ve got (playing sus chords tunes) – Those sus. – You’ve got a sus. And if you hit third
pedal like, hit pedal two and pedal three you’ve got (rich sus chords guitar tunes) (fast bright guitar tunes) All these are the traditional stuff. That’s what most people
play on country records. And then the fourth pedal, I have. (mellow guitar tunes) Gives me an add, add nine (mellow guitar tunes) If I want it with the bending sounds. – This is something that you’ve developed This is fourth pedal that goes to both X. – This pedal, the steel guitar community calls it the Franklin pedal. It still makes me cringe
when they say that but I was the first one to
come up with the concept. It does some cool things (mellow guitar tunes) Then the next pedal, which I love. This lowers the fifth. (quick bright guitar tunes) So I can go (fast upbeat guitar tunes) And then next to it, (slow mellow guitar tunes) That also raises the top strings. So I like a Miles kinda thing (cheerful guitar tunes) So you can do (jazz guitar tunes) A small door opening
into that world of jazz. We use a volume pedal a lot – Yeah to reduce the attack–
(guitar tunes) – Listen to the difference (bright guitar tunes) – I didn’t use my volume pedal But listen to the difference. (bright guitar tunes) So it gives it a cry but in the rock world,
if you’re doing like a (echoing guitar tunes) When I was on the road I
was doing stuff like that. What I love about the steel guitar is everybody’s used to these sounds (bright upbeat guitar tunes) that’s really almost a
beginner-phased sound. And I’m not putting that down – That’s like the early vocabulary – It was the earliest. It was the alphabet, maybe. But when you do these sounds (deep guitar tunes) If I played a melody on that in unison, then it becomes something
totally different, especially if I do (echoing guitar tunes) – [Dweezil] I like that – You’ve got a whole different animal. When you buy a steel, if you’ve got a mental understanding of music you can say hey listen I don’t
care about playing country I don’t care about doing this. I wanna play blues. To me, it’s all open out there. – So if you wanna start
like an Albanian dubstep pedal steel band
– exactly! – You’re good to go
(laughing) That’s the thing, it’s so crazy. When you listen to music and go there’s only 12 notes and you have an infinite
number of possibilities – I think that each
individual has to express their own heart or their
own, passion or whatever into the instrument And being a studio player is a composer, you can’t go far if you
copy everybody else’s thing. You’ve gotta create parts
for the record, for the song. – That brings up a good point. When you’re playing with different artists and on music that you
have never heard before, how do you decide how you can connect with the song and put the emotional content in there? – You never hear the song
(laughs) before you walk in. It’s rare. You’ve gotta read the room. If you know somebody’s
more into traditional or if they don’t like that, then for me, that means I have
to play completely different If I know somebody
likes the country style. (country guitar tunes) I might can play (country guitar tunes) those kind of voices. But if they don’t like that,
like when I did Shania Twain. See, that was not the
mission on that record. (fast echoing guitar tunes) I was doing all those kinda lines. Then in the background
if you listen closely to those records, I was
also doing stuff like this. (upbeat guitar tunes) So I was actually playing
the role of a guitar Then Mud would mix that down. The interesting thing for me in music is all so interrelated. We practice for those
moments at home years before. – If you’re smart. (laughing in unison) We all have our goals. So I started at a young
age and how I learned was I also listened to the radio and they might play a record
that I wanted to learn maybe three times a day. But I might only get four notes from that. Then, if I was lucky
enough to get the record and setting the needle back, I would have to do that. I would practice things like (slow guitar tunes) Then I just think about
somewhere I’ll use that. And saving time to learn
something can be good but sometimes it doesn’t go into your soul because you didn’t have
to struggle to learn it. I always ask everybody that do you remember the first
time you learned something completely on your own and you got it? That’s the best feeling in the world – Right where you are and that, do you remember that
moment of that one thing that you, as a kid.. Because you start when
you were eight, right? So do you remember one of the
first a-ha moments like that? Can you play it for us? – I’ll show you It’s an ending that was
on a Buddy Emmons’ record. And I heard it and it was fast I probably can’t play
it at the right speed. (Buddy Emmons’ guitar tunes) I heard that and I thought what in the world is he playing. And I sat there with that
record and put it back I get (Buddy Emmons’ guitar tunes) That was like Mount Everest I can see it and thought, no way. But I kept on trying. And when I got it,
without anybody showing me then I thought, okay
I can do this (laughs) – That is a great thing You can learn so much from the failure way more than you can from the success. – I totally agree with that. That’s the whole point. There’s a story that I love that I recently heard Herbie Hancock tell. He said that he was with Miles and he played a really bad chord. And another thing that could happen, when players learn how to
really listen to everbody, he said he hit this chord,
it was like (groans) and then he said Miles hit a note That made that chord right. And he goes, lightbulb went on. There really is nothing wrong. There is some way to make everything work. I have an exercise, I’ll play it. Some of you might recognize it (quick upbeat guitar tunes) That’s called Dire Straits, Calling Elvis That has been my just
getting my coordination between my bar and my picking It’s just something that it
kinda gets things going around I’m in an iso booth in London Air and I’m playing this, and all of a sudden Carl starts playing (drumming softly) He starts playing to me The genius that Mark Knopfler is it was me doing my exercise It was never meant to be musical (laughs) it was just a warm-up thing. Once he did that, then Mark,
we heard over the phone “calling Elvis. Is anybody home?” He started singing the song and it transitions like that. The rest of the band joined in. That song was arranged, just like that. That’s why I said you
gotta practice at home be ready for those,
whatever’s coming your way (laughs) hope you can swim. – That would be a bit
terrifying, I would imagine. Then I guess you get used to it after having done it a few dozens times and in your case, a few thousands times (laughs) – For me, I think a
little bit of nervousness is always the best thing cause it keeps you on edge. I’m forever a student. That’s where I view myself, I can’t learn enough of this stuff. – I appreciate that because
I feel the same way. – Knopfler has a quote about this. He always said the more you learn about
music, it dwarves him. It’s like, I actually
feel like I’m shrinking as a musician because I don’t have enough time to learn at all. – Part of the sound that you are creating is coming from this little effects box which seems to be a multi-effects unit, you want to talk about that a little bit? – I worked with this friend of mine, Sage Benado, and he’ll
take your favorite things. This is kinda like the Wampler reverb which I thought was a really
good reverb for steel. (reverb guitar sounds) And what’s great about it is even though there’s a lot of ‘verb the presence of the
note is still up front. Same thing with this
delay, but it allows me to still have the presence of the note. (cheerful guitar tunes) I can go to extremes. I can also radicalize it, like (mellow guitar tunes) – Is it analog to the point
where you have a time knob and when you change the time, it will work like an old echoplex? I don’t like it when
it’s absolutely perfect. And then when you get into
techno pop and all that, where it has to be, it does. But I listen to all those old records with the echoplex and all that. They were never perfect and
that was part of the beauty. It was a fact of having it delayed, maybe a little bit behind, or sometimes a little ahead. It did something to the track. – You just tuned it musically. – Yeah tune it to whatever
my taste is that day. Then this is like a little overdrive It’s kinda like a.. It’s not, but it’s like a Zendrive (reverb guitar tunes) I’ve got a little delay – Back the delay off. (upbeat guitar tunes) Now when I play rock
or any of those things, I also use like you do. I grab guitar amps and
break them up naturally. – That sounds great. We’ve done quite an extensive
tour of all of this stuff. And I’ve learned so much
from you, Paul Franklin. – Thank you so much
– Thank you. – I’ve learned tons (laughs) – Thank you so much. (relaxing guitar sounds)


  • Reply Zachary M January 4, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Great interview!

  • Reply Shawn Tubbs January 4, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Paul Franklin is the best there is.

  • Reply Natalie Morrison January 4, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    So cool!

  • Reply Hovey Otis January 4, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Wishing I could make those noises. So sick

  • Reply Sarumantheevil January 4, 2019 at 3:22 pm


  • Reply Professor Hamamoto January 4, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Beautiful interview. But this nicely-produced and directed video will revolutionize music of all genres and styles. Would like to see a full-length biographical documentary on Paul Franklin. Thank your Mr. Franklin and keeper-of-the-flame Mr. Dweezil Zappa.

  • Reply Mark Nason January 4, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    So very talented. Such a great artist that, sadly, is not as well known as the artists he's worked with. Check out his albums or Bakersfield, the one he recorded with Vince Gill.

  • Reply Jack Smith January 4, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Paul is simply the best. Love this!

  • Reply Treden Wagoner January 4, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    More with Paul Franklin, please.

  • Reply Dankmuffinz January 4, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Paul is just too good. Thanks for this.

  • Reply Steve C January 4, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    For an entirely different pedal steel perspective, try Robert Randolph – he's got the most aggressively blues/rock style I've ever heard coming from a steel – at times it is unbelievable the tone and texture he is able to get from the pedal steel guitar.

  • Reply blastosist January 4, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Another great interview , thanks!

  • Reply John Horne January 4, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    This is amazing!

  • Reply continental breakfast January 4, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Ok, THIS is epic.

  • Reply Rec League January 4, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    This is awesome. Love Paul Franklin!

  • Reply Sabrina Brengel January 4, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Wow I've never seen two instruments have a conversation like that

  • Reply Philip Carollo January 4, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Paul stated that this is the "only one"… How come this instrument isn't on the market?

  • Reply Arnie Newman January 4, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Paul & Dweezil what a great video !!

  • Reply anitadavideduo January 4, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Great intro! And great video too. Paul is really amazing and we had the pleasure to play with him using also the cool pedals of our friend Sage Benado. Wonderful memories!

  • Reply anitadavideduo January 4, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Dweezil Zappa & Paul Franklin duets: new record soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Adam R January 4, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    okay now THIS is epic

  • Reply mark norris January 5, 2019 at 2:37 am

    fabulous stories

  • Reply Mister Calamity January 5, 2019 at 5:08 pm



    I grew up learning to play in the 1980s.
    It was an era of technologically marvelous guitar virtuosos dominating radio waves and magazine covers, and in my neck of the woods, if you couldnโ€™t โ€œshredโ€ like those types of players….you โ€œsuckedโ€.

    I came to a point where I could continue the the immense work needed to play as complicated and fast lines as I could, or I could rebuild my style and learn to play what came most naturally to me.

    These days, great players are recognized for great playing, and not just graded on the scale of technical difficulty of their compositions. To me, it just warms the heart to see such humble virtuoso players like Paul Franklin and Dweezil Zappa taking time to educate musicians about making great, tasteful music.

  • Reply Steven Hicken Jr Pedal Steel Guitar January 5, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Words aren't enough to describe Paul's ability and importance to the pedal steel world.

  • Reply The Maximum Chill January 5, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    The sounds you can get out of a pedal steel guitar always amazes me. Love seeing The Dweez talk music with people, too. Hopefully one day we will have a chance to chat ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Reply Ken Boi January 6, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Loved the part about 9:45 in where Paul describes his first "Conquering Mount Everest' moment. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply Christian Scherrer January 6, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Nice People

  • Reply Bo Borland January 7, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Great video and commentary by one of the best ever. Iโ€™ve been studying his work, learning his licks and stealing from his creativity for many years and now studying the Paul Franklin Method with Paul for almost a year now. Every lesson from rudiments to advanced is an epiphanic AHA moment. I canโ€™t thank him enough for the opportunity and his feedback.

  • Reply Joseph Ekins January 7, 2019 at 9:33 pm


  • Reply James McFarland January 9, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Love Paul Franklin. Very humble and down to earth.

  • Reply Filmpest January 10, 2019 at 2:36 am

    I saw Paul with The Time Jumpers about a month ago, Paul did some amazing stuff, I was giddy with the guys playing!

  • Reply Chace Swinson January 25, 2019 at 5:06 am

    5:33 Love that lick

  • Reply Monk Peabody January 28, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Now that is a great interview!

  • Reply Carlos Conesa Carbonell February 23, 2019 at 8:23 am

    What a LEGEND.

  • Reply Chace Swinson April 6, 2019 at 3:12 pm


  • Reply JT Keel June 5, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Paul Franklin is a Legend. Great interview Love this series

  • Reply Bestest Inventions June 25, 2019 at 1:54 am

    wow he's older now, i remember being blown away watching a much younger Paul Franklin ripping the ending solo to Dire Straits' Walk of Life!

  • Reply siskokidd July 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Love this series of videos! A lot of names and talents I hadn't seen or heard before. And dammit if pedal steel doesn't get me all weepy just hearing it!

  • Reply Matt Stark August 16, 2019 at 4:04 am

    This whole series is so inspirational A+++! Thank you Dweezil & D'Addario & Paul Franklin & all the other guests!

  • Reply Thomas Pick September 18, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Paul is wonderful. Why is he getting fat? Eating at fast food restaurants? Women- if you have a husband, you are very fortunate. You should take care of your husband by cooking fresh food from scratch in the kitchen every day. This is the way to have a healthy, happy, and successful family.

  • Reply yobhsiFehT October 3, 2019 at 9:14 am

    โ€œWell, Iโ€™ll BUILD one of these things! ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธโ€ <โ€” The best of Detroit in a nutshell lol

  • Reply Lindsey Miller October 6, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Listening to Paul Franklin talk about both Miles Davis and the imperfections of an echoplex just made my day. He's one of the best musicians around in my humble opinion.

  • Reply Bill Diehl October 26, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    They MUST record a collaboration album!

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