While growing up in Ohio, Luke Schneider was raised on California country-rock (Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles) before discovering early-’90s grunge. Those two influences (helped by the fact that Neil Young had a foot in both camps) were a big reason that 11-year-old Luke Schneider scored his first guitar so he could start rockin’ in the free world. Even at that pre-teen point, he knew that the six strings on “Old Black” weren’t his true calling. He wanted to cry and moan like Neil Young’s pedal-steel guitarist Ben Keith, but it would take over 10 years before he landed his first ride—a mid-’70s MSA doubleneck pedal-steel. (He paid for it from his bellhop tips he got during the 2001 Summer NAMM show.)
Luke Schneider has played alongside Margo Price, Orville Peck, Caitlin Rose, William Tyler, and others. He recently made the transition to solo artist and recorded an instrumental album (Altar of Harmony via Third Man Records) that exclusively uses his 1967 Emmons “push-pull” pedal-steel guitar. The music created by the doubleneck steel combines familiar cries of Floyd, Eno, Lanois, Parsons, Byrds, and, of course, Ben Keith. The result is a seamless wander through meditative moods and celestial calmness creating the perfect contemplative soundtrack.
Schneider welcomes PG’s Chris Kies into his jam space for an enlightening conversation that covers his 20-year arc behind the pedal-steel desk, the musical journey that led him to combining ’70s outlaw country with ambient shoegaze on pedal steel, and details his use of digital synth pedals through the traditional country instrument.
[Facing a mandatory shelter-in ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the seventh video in that format, and we stand behind the final product.]