Memories

I received a phone call from steel guitarist Paul Wade from Las Vegas. I’ve known Paul since the late sixties but have not kept in very good touch. It’s wonderful to hear from old friends even though I haven’t heard from them in a long time. I remember several very good players from Las Vegas. Counting the ones that were just working the strip for a month or so, I’ve always had several great friends to visit when I came through town with a Nashville or Texas band.

I hadn’t heard from Paul in many years and was surprised to hear that he had left Vegas and moved to Fresno, California.

Also, steel players that I’ve met while coming through their towns with bands that I have either been helping out or working steady with from Nashville. I never forget a friend steel guitarist that I have met years ago on the road. I might forget where I left my keys five minutes ago, but I remember every steel player, most of which I think very much of.

Remember, I am retaining my remembrances of you like you do me.

I was working a live radio show with Tracy Lawrence in Russellville, Kentucky the night that he was signed by Atlantic Records. It seems like he is a standard now and has turned into one of the big boys. Tracy was very nice to work with and I would not hesitate to recommend anyone working with him.

Another new tidbit. I have not heard of The Jones Boys, George Jones’ band lately and don’t know if they have disbanded or if they are staying together to be some other stars band. Any good word on this, I would appreciate it. I was not in the store yesterday when the newest steel player from the Jones Boys came by. I would like to hear what the status was of this nice country group.

Hearing from western swinger Herb Steiner from west Texas, he was thanking me for mentioning the fiddle players Leon Boulanger, Johnny Gimble and Jimmy Belkin and he mentioned Bob Wommack, a wonderful trumpet player. I’d also like to say since Herb mentioned it, Johnny Gimble is not doing very well lately. This is bad news for all the players in Austin, Nashville and Dallas who enjoyed his wit and music on the bandstand and off.

I remember walking into a studio for a 10 o’clock session one morning at the Shelby Singleton studio on Belmont and Johnny looking at me and giving me a big smile. He put his hand out and said, “You’re a sore sight for eyes.” He had many witty things he was always coming up with along with many quick, on the spot arrangements.

I was a member of The Southernaires Western Swing Band at the Southern Club in Lawton, Oklahoma for a good while in the late ’50s and early ’60s on and off. I met many great western swing musicians during this stint. I just found out that Herb Steiner also was a member of this group along with Chuck Caldwell on steel.

Chuck Caldwell played a double neck Gibson non-pedal with a straight pick and played fast like Curly Chalker and Joaquin Murphey. He also used a flat bar as I remember.

I had worked with the group when it had as many as 12 players at one time which means we were a pretty full sounding band. I didn’t work with a group this large again until I went to work with Ray Price the last time in 1987.

Ron Middlebrook from Center Stream Publishing is doing a book on the old tube type Standels. His web address is www.centerstream-usa.com. This should be an interesting book when it’s finished and be very similar to that wonderful Bigsby book that was put out a few years ago.

A friend of mine Mike Dunn from Kingsport, Tennessee asked a question I think all of you would enjoy hearing the answer to. Here is the email I got from Mike.

Hi, Bobbe.
Thanks for expounding on the subject of stage presence. I suppose it falls somewhere neatly between being a fool and looking like the guy on stage playing solitaire on a very pretty table. I had another question that I thought might be of interest to many who don’t frequent studios. What are your thoughts regarding using a direct box and local rack or pedal effects (delay, reverb, etc.), versus using a mic on an amp in the studio? Since tone is a function of all parts of your rig, including the amp, it seems to make sense that this may be the way to get your “true” sound. However, amps, and some effects pedals are inherently noisy, and may be problematic for the engineer. What do most of the big studios expect: dry, with no effects from a direct box; the “finished” sound, including your effects and amp? There just seems to be any number of ways that this could be configured, but there must be a tried and true way. Thanks for all you do for steel guitar- and us players!

Mike Dunn
Kingsport, TN

The recording engineers in Nashville generally like to have the tone as dry as possible, in other words, don’t like to have a steel player using any effects. This I feel is a shame since I have a way that I build my own tone and it involves my own effects or system of doing so.

I feel some of the greatest engineers let the steel player build his own tone and records it the way it is, but there are some engineers that prefer to just have a dry tone and do it their own way. I’m almost never satisfied with what they come up with.

I did a master session with Stan Hitchcock one day for a major label. I’d just gotten my new steel guitar. I set it up and was getting just exactly the sound I wanted, a stereo tone with delay on one side and dry on the other. Together on playback, they sounded wonderful, but a year or so later when the album came out, the sound was pretty bad.

I called the engineer and asked him what he’d done to my tone and he said he didn’t remember and asked me if I had sent him a stereo signal. I said yes I did. He said, “Well we needed another track for the backup vocals and noticed you had a wet and a dry line coming out from your guitar so I just took one of them.” He took my stereo line for the backup vocals and left me with just a mono line.

Then once we leave the studio, we are always at the mercy of the engineer. From that point on, I always gave him a signal as simple as possible so that they wouldn’t mess it up.

Bobbe Seymour

www.steelguitar.net
info@steelguitar.net
www.youtube.com/bobbeseymour

Listen To Steel Guitar Music Streaming 24 Hours A Day!

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Second and Third Saturday each Month Open 9AM – 2PM
Closed Sunday

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Steel Guitars on Ebay; Greg Leisz with Eric Clapton

I’ve been contacted by many people who have purchased steel guitars on Ebay and called me to get the guitars serviced, fixed and made playable. Most of the guitars are total disasters with such things wrong as cracked bodies which affects tuning cabinet drop, bad pickups that sound awful or no ohm reading, tuning keys that are stripped and sometimes serious problems that can’t be fixed. Several guitars have parts missing which are no longer available and have been stripped to make other guitars useable. I feel Ebay is a wonderful place to sell steel guitars but a horrible place to buy them.

I see many Sho-Bud and ZB guitars being bought at low prices by customers that think they can quickly, easily and cheaply add two more knee levers. No way, not any more. Many Sho-Buds were built from ’70 to ’74 with only two knee levers. By now, all the original parts have been used up making these modern configuration 4 and 5 knee lever guitars. Before you buy a steel guitar, make sure it is what you want configuration wise. Homemade knee levers and homemade parts will destroy the value of what you started with. This of course, only applies to the older classics and not new guitars.

Sho-Bud is a true orphan which means the bad ones are worth less and the good ones are worth more. Any Sho-Bud that I sell will be in incredible shape and ready to go for many years, regardless of how I purchased them.

As far as Emmons push-pull goes, I have never seen an Emmons push-pull that didn’t require a good going through before I could resell it. I do feel the Emmons push-pull is the finest steel guitar in the world in most ways and if you have a good one, it’s value will continue to ascend forever like the Stradivarius violin. Don’t shy away from the push-pull, just be very careful where you buy it … or buy it at a low enough price that you can afford to have me go through it for you.

I’d like to share this email with you. Here it is.

Hi Bobbe,

Tom Blizzard, here, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. A drummer by trade, but with a lifelong love for pedal steel – and, like yourself, an appreciation for great musicianship, regardless of the genre.

Just wanted to mention that I watched Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013″ DVD the other day. Clapton’s band included Greg Leisz on steel. I wasn’t familiar with him, but he certainly was a solid player on this high profile gig. Always great to see pedal steel on stage at Madison Square Garden!

So happy to see that you’re “back in the saddle”, Bobbe.

All the best,
Tom

Of course I think that’s absolutely great. Hats off to Eric Clapton and Greg Leisz.

Bobbe Seymour

www.steelguitar.net
info@steelguitar.net
www.youtube.com/bobbeseymour

Listen To Steel Guitar Music Streaming 24 Hours A Day!

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Second and Third Saturday each Month Open 9AM – 2PM
Closed Sunday

Posted in Bobbe's Tips | Leave a comment

Three Handy Tips for Steel Players

Just a quick little newsletter today because I’ve got a lot going on at the moment.

Tip … When playing through two amps with the third ground prong on the AC receptacle, you will always hear an audible hum. Cutting off the ground prong or adding a ground lift adaptor which can be bought at any hardware store, will eliminate the annoying 60 cycle hum. You can also plug everything into the same power strip and then plug only the power strip in thus eliminating the ground loop and the 60 cycle hum.

Tip … I’ve noticed many players are replacing the nylon tuners on their all-pull guitars with tuners that are longer than the stock ones that come from the factory … this gets the tuner out beyond the end of the guitar and makes them much easier to see and faster to tune. I agree with this modification but be careful to pack your guitar in its case in such a way as the tuners are protected from contact with the case. Many guitars automatically have enough space because of the switch on the end of the guitar.

Tip … As several of you may have noticed, when tuning your guitar, if there is a fan in the room or near you, tuning seems to be more difficult. The larger the blades on the fan and the slower the fan is turning, the more it seems to affect your ability to hear the strings in perfect tune. This happens very often in the summer on stages or in clubs where there can be fans blowing on the band. To illustrate this point, a Leslie tone cabinet that has a rotating speaker you will notice, actually raises and lowers the pitch of the note due to the Doppler effect of the moving speaker. It is not just the noise of the fan but the way it actually affects the pitch to your ear. To sum up, make sure the air around you is still or else use a good tuner when in an ear-unfriendly environment.

Bobbe Seymour

www.steelguitar.net
info@steelguitar.net
www.youtube.com/bobbeseymour

Listen To Steel Guitar Music Streaming 24 Hours A Day!

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Second and Third Saturday each Month Open 9AM – 2PM
Closed Sunday

Posted in Bobbe's Tips | Leave a comment