Hello fellow players,
First of all, I would like to thank all of you for the tremendous response I’m getting from you for the articles on players and their guitars. Being in Nashville through the golden days of Sho-Bud was very interesting to see. Being there to see so much of the design work and thinking that went into this wonderful company was amazing and yes it was painful to see it come to the end that it has, however the demand for good Sho-Buds is like the demand for ’32 Fords and ’57 Chevys. The demand is there regardless of the factories producing them.
Sure, the new Chevys of today are extremely quick, get great mileage and the air conditioning always blow cold, but when you see one pass you on the road, you never look at it twice. But let a ’57 Chevrolet convertible pass you from either direction and you’ll definitely say “Wow!”
The Sho-Bud guitars are receiving some of this charisma themselves. Just look at the steel guitar forum and see where somebody may post asking for pictures of Sho-Buds in the world today. All the beautiful Sho-Buds that show up are really a treat to see. Let’s face it guys, Sierra, Emmons, MSA, Mullen, GFI and most other brands just don’t have that beauty that reaches out and slaps you in the face the way that the Sho-Bud guitar does.
It’s pretty hard to not love something that’s made of wood that’s so exotic today that buying and selling it is against the law. Sho-Bud has used all the great exotic woods in the past. Ebony, zebrawood, purple heart, the best burl walnut, Brazilian rosewood and the greatest birdseye maple that’s ever been found along with many other types of exotic woods that are now on the worldwide endangered list.
It won’t be long until just owning a guitar made of some of these exotic woods will put the price of the guitar over the top for most folks. The finishes that have been put on most of these old guitars are hand rubbed lacquer applied with the greatest of care.
As most of you know, I am a Bigsby steel guitar fan also, but Bigsby did not make guitars with the variety of wood that Shot Jackson did at Sho-Bud, or let’s just say, the Jackson family did at Sho-Bud. Bigsbys now have reached values that are astronomic for steel guitars, with even old rough ones going for $12,000 and up. Some star owned double and triple neck guitars with 10 string necks and pedals are going from $40 – 80,000.
The early Sho-Bud guitars are just now starting to break loose in the world of collectability, originality still being a big factor. It’s hard to predict what guitars being made today will collectable in the future, but it’s a pretty sure bet that Clinesmith and Jackson and some early Emmons push pull guitars will be climbing the list of desirable guitars to have as time goes by.
Things that are going to make guitars collectable are the things that have made them collectable in the past. Quality, tone, exotic materials, rarity and so on. Restoring a fantastic old Sho-Bud will not hurt the value of the guitar if pains are taken to keep the guitar original. Things like tuning keys and pickups can be changed without hurting the value of the guitar. Chrome plating, buffing the aluminum and replateing any steel parts will not hurt of the value of the guitar, but done with care can enhance the value.
I remember twenty five years ago the little three leg Fender guitars were worth almost nothing. Today, restored correctly, they are definitely getting to be very valuable. The good thing is again, just like restoring a classic car and driving it daily, a restored steel guitar can be worth the small investment for restoration to enhance its playability.
I’m seeing many great steel guitar players reaching back in time and buying guitars like the Fender Dual Professional, Gibson Console Grand and Rickenbacker doubles and triples and definitely the little Rickenbacker Bakelite and Frypan lapsteels.
One thing that everybody needs to be very careful of is getting an old guitar to restore and it having no value, now or in the future. Unfortunately, some fairly well known guitars will never be worth much. Like the National double eight. A good guitar, just not much retail value, restored or not. The same with some Rickenbacker models. It seems like every Fender has value in the collector market as do many of the non-pedal Gibsons.
The little Gibson Consolette is a very nice little guitar with a good value when it’s in good condition. Most of what I’ve been saying here in the last few paragraphs concerns non-pedal guitars. Many of these guitars have had a pedal or two added. Done correctly with class and quality, this will not hurt the value of the guitar. Shot Jackson himself, before the days of Sho-Bud, did many non-pedal to pedal guitar conversions. Any of these are worth big money today.
He converted guitars for such artists as James Farmer with Marty Robbins, Howard White with Cowboy Copas and many players that were on the Nashville scene in the mid-fifties. Shot was doing so many of these conversions that he decided to start a steel guitar company and build the whole guitar and not just add pedals to some other brand of steel guitar. This was the beginning of the Sho-Bud venture in the mid-fifties.
These guitars that Shot converted are better guitars today than they were when he did them because strings can be bought today (Cobra Coil) that are much more durable than strings that were being built in the mid-fifties.
If there is a steel guitar in your past that had legs and sounded like a million dollars to you, you can probably get one very inexpensively and have one or two pedals installed on it, then go back and learn all those great licks that were being played on records in the fifties and be known as one of the best steel players ever.
This sort of takes us back to Ralph Mooney and his double neck eight string Magnatone. He added a pedal to this guitar very crudely fashioned from a car jack handle that had previously been used as a lug wrench and turned that little rascal into a million dollar lifetime achievement.
Talk about tone? Mooney was wonderful in all commercial aspects of playing his commercial style as simply as possible.
Check out our monthly specials at http://www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.
Steel Guitar Nashville
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Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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