Email Feedback from Recent Newsletters

September 5, 2013

This is Bob Hempker and today I just wanted to share a very few of the wonderful, well thought out and insightful replies I’ve had to the last couple of newsletters. I wish I had more time to answer everyone individually and space to print many more of these.

Bravo, Bob….

Over 60 years I’ve preached that same sermon to a hundred people thinking they could buy the Chet Atkins course book and in a week play like Chester.

As a teen player, I was privileged to get some time with the great Eldon Chambliss, later with Chet and Paul Yandell … and I still can’t sound like any of them with thumb pick and three fingers.

I subscribe to Chet’s basic philosophy … if my mother walks into the room, I want her to know what song I’m playing … and the one I live by. “If you can’t play the lick on a flat top acoustic, don’t put it into the song.”

The best Marshal amp and all the stomp boxes in the world won’t make you a player.

The day I stop learning, my335 will go in the case and sit in the corner.

Bill Cook

Bob, Thanks for sharing the information about playing stereo. . I have been playing that way for about 40 years and I ask players all the time if they have ever tried to play this way and I am amazed with the answers. About 90% of them look at me and say how do you do that? As I have been playing steel and guitar this way for about years. I tried everything possible to improve my sound and playing with two amps is the greatest tool of all. I can’t believe that the amp companies haven’t done more to promote the use of this great sound. I would like to have a new amp that has two power outs with two small speakers 12″ that you could just plug in the second speaker and not have to carry two amps. Then the other angle of this is to have the speaker cabinets with legs so that you can lay them back on stage and point them to your liking and let the sound guys figure out how to get your sound out front. I have always told my buddies that if you start playing this way you will never go back to playing just one amp. It’s like listening to the home stereo with just one speaker? Why wouldn’t someone want to hear more? Again, the more players to do this would improve sales of amps and equipment and I think you would have better players as well. I have learned through the years the better you like your sound the better player you become and also the better you look on stage the more people will take notice of you. Thanks again for sharing this and I hope that the amp companies will pick up on this someday. I do know that there are a couple of companies that already have this built in to their systems and that is what sells equipment. I would love for Fender and Peavey and the Little Walter amps to give us a simple way of just plugging in two small speakers and a stereo head and let us rock! I see they are working on one with Paul Franklin right now. Maybe other companies will take notice. Stereo Steel has a great set up and their pre-amp is killer. I have been using their pre-amp for years.

Keep up the great new letters…………James Bates

Hello Bob,

Thank you very much for your “rant” today. Personally, I couldn’t agree with you more!! As a member of the Steel Guitar Forum, I sometimes want to rant as well when I read folks implying that Country Music is the only way to go with the steel guitar! Although I was raised as a kid with Classical Music, even playing some on the piano, I too am a real Country Music devotee!! However, as you so correctly pointed out, the steel guitar has so much versatility to offer, we should ALL support the efforts of those who play it, regardless of the genre they are playing in. Thanks again for saying what I’ve felt for many years.

Kindest regards,
Jim Harrison

Double dittoes and a hell yeah on this one, Bob.
When I came up on steel, almost all the gigs were classic country, or country rock. But every time I made myself available to new genres or musical avenues, many more doors opened up. I’ve found that most musicians really like steel guitar and have thought about adding it to their sound, at least on recordings, and players who have disdain for anything outside of classic country are shutting MANY doors on themselves.
Best wishes,
Mark van Allen


To me, and instrument is something you have a conversation with. The piano player lays down a line, we all hear it, and the next guy filling in sends that line back with his own twist on it. It goes back and forth between players and behind the vocal until the conversation is finished. It’s not an argument, just a chat.

I agree with you on musical genres, it’s fascinating to hear Handel’s Messiah on Steel Guitar. Try that at the corner bar on Friday night and they all look at you and wonder what’s wrong with the steel player?

Where I draw the line is; “do they have something to say with their instrument?” Finding a tune that’s familiar but not shop worn and digging out lines you haven’t heard before…that tells me they have spent “quality time” with the instrument. They have found a piece of themselves in the music. That’s something fresh to add to the musical conversation. That takes a lot of work and imagination.

IMHO we spend too much time finding the lines the session players laid out, and not enough time finding the lines we hear in our own minds. With a little taste, many players would have as fine a showcase of ideas as the A team players. Often, those ideas are never heard, because it wasn’t on the recording.

Ron Carpenter

Well that’s about all the space I have for newsletter replies. I appreciate and read every one of them whether good, bad or ugly. Everyone doesn’t agree with me, but everyone has a right to their own opinion.

For all those who asked, I talked to Bobbe last week and he said he is doing better so that is good news. Not many things are more valuable than your health.

Yesterday, Jerry Fessenden came by and delivered two brand new Fessenden steel guitars which are now up on the website for anyone interested.

Remember, we cater to steel players, not sound men.

Listen To Steel Guitar Music Streaming 24 Hours A Day!

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
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