on December 31, 2012
First, a disclaimer. I'm Suzanne's husband. I own a black one but obviously this review applies to the red and white versions of the Power Slide as well.
I haven't found a lot written about the Peavey Power Slide by users, though a fair amount can be gleaned from the videos. So, I'd like to contribute my experiences for those of you who are interested in this unique instrument. I've had mine for about a year. I play classic rock, country, blues, folk and pop (just about everything) on it so my needs may be a bit more diverse than most. While a lap steel wouldn't seem to be a natural instrument for all songs in all these styles, I've found ways to incorporate it into most of them. The Power Slide adds an emotional dimension to any kind of music that nothing else quite matches because of the way you play this kind of guitar, but partially because the musician is free to move around.
Here is my setup, which is very simple because I'm on a limited budget. Tuning: Open D (low to high) - D, A, D, F#, A, D. Strings: D'Addario XL Nickel Wound 60, 48, 36, 26, 17, 15. Bar: Shubb-Pearse SP2 (I'm still playing with the chromed brass model and haven't tried the stainless version yet). Capo: Golden Gate Squareneck Dobro Capo. Amplifier: Fender Frontman 25R with Fender footswitch. Pretty hard to beat this setup for about four hundred all together.
I like the Open D tuning for several reasons. The tonic D note is on both the high and low strings and I can make the tuning minor by lowering just the 3rd (F#) string. When playing a blues in key of E the D note is easy to play, just play an open 1st, 3rd and 6th string. In country music two-string chords progressions are easy on the 1st and 3rd strings (about half are straight bar and half are single-fret slants), and many of the dobro licks can be played on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, strings since the intervals are the same as the first 4 strings on the dobro. I use the capo very rarely, but it comes in handy for dobro-style playing and in songs when you want a drone string in a key other than D such as "I Can See For Miles" by The Who, which uses open E and B strings in standard tuning.
The SP2 bar is unique in that it has a rounded "bullet" end as well as a sharp end. Also, being a bit heavier than most Stevens-style bars it has good sustain. The rounded end makes it easier to simulate a bullet bar on a pedal steel, and to stop just two strings in the middle of chord by pointing the nose between the strings. The sharp end works for pull offs, but for intricate single note passages the bullet end works well because you can slide from string to string without getting hung up.
When playing rock and blues I add varying amounts of distortion using the amp's drive channel. The Power Slide can make some great, surging power chords as you slide into a chord position in songs like "Born to be Wild" or "LA Woman", or sweet, ethereal sounds in moody songs like "Miss You" or "Wish You Were Here" (pickup split half way between single coil and humbucker). For folk style I usually finger pick like a banjo or folk guitarist. The sound can be almost harp-like. I get a nice country steel guitar sound with pickup set on single coil with a generous amount of reverb on the amp. Whenever I play with someone new they always comment on how such a "modest" rig could sound so good.
I almost always play standing up. It is bad enough to have to be looking down most of the time so standing lets me feel like I'm more part of the action. The provided strap works well, though a buckle broke after about 9 months. Fortunately, it is a standard size and was easy to fix. The gigbag, as is often stated, is functional but minimal. It would be nice to have one with more padding...or a hardshell.
The instrument itself is well built in all the places it needs to be. The finish on my black guitar is perfect. All the hardware is solid and well made. The tuners could be heavier, but they stay in tune just fine.
My only real criticisms are: The "belly cut" portion of the body which rests against you belly when you are playing standing up isn't wide enough to allow me to comfortably reach the higher "frets." An extra inch or two there would have made a big difference. I may try to make a piece to fit in there, just to see how much it helps. And, I wish they had raised the fretboard above the body, just a quarter of an inch. I do a fair amount of behind-the-bar string bends so it would be nice to have something to brace against all the way up. Finally, my nit-pick is that I'm not crazy about the weird design on the fretboard. I got used to it pretty quickly, but they could have made the design helpful instead of distracting.
What would I do differently if I were to do it again...nothing really. With more money to spend I would have bought a bigger amp and I'd have a case made for the guitar. My wish list for Peavey's future versions would be a 7 or 8-string model. All things considered, for any amount of money this is a fine instrument that will serve me for a long time. My next purchase will probably be to get a red Powerslide so I can have one in a different tuning...either Open G, or C6.
on March 9, 2013
This is a kinda cool instrument. I play guitar and lap steel, and this thing, for it's low price, is worth checking out. It has a nice long (for a lap steel) scale (24-1/2"), wide string spacing, and a humbucking pickup. It's got two knobs - a volume control, and instead of a tone control, the second knob controls the pickup circuitry like a coil tap - it goes from a single coil and gradually over to a humbucker. This gives you a nice range of tones - you can go full single-coil for a nice clean steel-guitar-like tone, or turned full-on the other way, to George Thorogood-style dirty slide guitar sounds.
The instrument comes with a weird three-point strap which, in theory, allows you to stand and play it either vertically, guitar-style, or horizontally, lap-steel style, while standing. In reality, both positions are extremely awkward and you will either not be able to play properly, or you will look an idiot, or both - play poorly AND look like an idiot. The reasons are: played vertically, like slide guitar, the thick Dobro-style neck forces you to lean your head forward and look down at the fretboard to see where you are playing. Unless you think you look cool hunched over staring at a fretboard, or the top of your head is extremely interesting to an audience, this really is not a good way to play. Played horizontally, the instrument snugs up tight against your torso (unlike playing lap-style, where the instrument is out near your knees), and this seriously inhibits your bar technique (if you already play lap steel, take your instrument and pull it snug up against your torso, and you'll see what I mean). You might be able to get away with playing standing for one number or two, but I definitely wouldn't make a night of it (and Peavey very thoughtfully painted the words "Power Slide" in 1"-high white script along the bottom edge of the instrument for you to display when playing it horizontally).
Speaking of bar technique, the bar that comes with the instrument is near useless. It's shaped kind of like a Shubb or Dunlop lap-steel bar, but is hollow and lacks the heft of a real steel bar. And, although it's hollow, the hole is too small to put your finger through to allow you to play slide guitar-style. Go get some real bars and slides to see which you like working with best (solid steel, brass, glass, ceramic). I threw mine in the case to use as an emergency backup.
The unpadded case was obviously custom-designed to accomodate the instrument's weird shape, so I can't for the life of me figure out why it's at least a half-inch shorter than it needs to be - it's a really tight fit, length-wise. It provides about as much protection for the instrument as a pillowcase, but at least it's water-resistant.
If it sounds like I'm trashing the Power Slide, I really don't mean to - it's actually a very cool instrument for the money, goofy looks aside. Before I received it, I had expected to have to change out the cheap stamped-steel nut and bridge, but the tone is pretty decent as-is. I had hoped that it would be a cool way to play lap-steel and be able to move around, but, as I wrote above, that doesn't work too well. But if you're new to lap steel and or Dobro-style slide guitar, it's a fun introduction at a good price.
on February 18, 2013
can't imagine you could spend this little money anywhere else and get anything comparable. The Peavey Power Slide is a niche instrument, of course, but it fills that niche wonderfully. I got this guitar about a week ago. Getting the Y-strap set up was very quick and easy, and once that's done the guitar sits perfectly on your hip/belly and feels perfectly stable and comfortable.
It's got a really good tone. The split pickup "tone control" is kind of brilliant in my book. The single coil tone is at least as good as the tone of my Fender lap steel, and kicking in the 2nd coil kills all the noise which is the worst problem with single coil. The finish is fine. I'm not a big fan of 50s retro, but it's fine as far as it goes. Honestly, I think this is a great instrument at any price, and for the actual price, it's a killer. Talking about the problems other reviewers have mentioned:
1. My "fretboard" was perfectly aligned. I don't doubt that some have this problem, but I figured Peavey would fix it under warranty if necessary, and for $200 I'll take that chance.
2. The "cheap" bar: I wouldn't necessarily call it cheap. It's definitely different than a high-density bar, but I think that is deliberate. It's shaped like a standard lap steel bar, but it's actually closer to a pipe bar, a flat sheet of metal bent into standard bar shape. It's a lot lighter than a standard bar, so it's easier to maneuver, and the lighter mass gives it a "punchier" tone. All in all, I think it's a useful piece, not a cheap, useless fill-in.
3. Too early for me to tell if the volume knob is in a bad place; seems OK to me.
4. Tuning keys are kinda cheap feeling