FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

Usually, it's chrome plated brass. . .
© Frank Ford, 9/6/98 Photos by FF

A steel guitar is made of steel, right?

Nope. A steel guitar is called that because it's played with a "steel." The steel is usually a chrome plated brass bar and it is used to "fret" the strings:

Actually, the strings are raised high off the frets, and can't even be pushed down to them:

This way the steel won't bump into the frets as it slides.

The steel's great mass is enough to act as termination point for the vibrating string as it slides along and changes the string length. That's what gives the steel guitar its characteristic "whine."

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