Beautiful Sho-Buds, Value of old steel guitars, Ralph Mooney

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 and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Your buddy,

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

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22 Responses to Beautiful Sho-Buds, Value of old steel guitars, Ralph Mooney

  1. Bill Clery says:

    I have a sho bud maverick. years ago I sent it to some one in Nashville to repair. Came back ruined. He used model airplane parts. Never played again. I need the string die cast levers. and maybe some correct pedals. He replaced the originals with aluminum bars. Also the knee lever is not a shaped piece but a alum bar. I am very good at building mechanics. Thought I might try restoring it. Do you have parts ? If not – Where do I get them ? Thanks Bill

  2. Bobby Lee says:

    Bobbe doesn’t actually read this site – I just post his email newsletters here for posterity. Contact Steel Guitar Nashville at (615) 822-5555 to get parts for your Sho-Bud.

  3. Slim Pickins says:

    Hello sir, Been involved with country since demob from the forces.
    Got my first steel in 1969, played steel for American artists when they visited England,i.e. Carl Perkins, Tex Ritter, Don Gibson,Dennis(McCloud)Weaver, and a few others, and am still playing, mostly Sho Bud.
    Have at this time a Super Pro, the last I think I shall ever own thou I’m still playing as a pro at 75. have a label on the steel look’s like, Model:9139 orGi39. Serial No:9727, and inspected by initial’s, SG, bit blured now as was done in pencil, is it possable to give me a date on this steel, going to need some loving care soon as the chrome is coming away from the legs, and one or two part are starting to wear, hope you can help. Don’t have a web sit, but I am doing lessons for beginners and some of the older generation, and loving it,Regards,Slim.

  4. Elaine Madeira says:

    I have a sho-bud double neck steel- guitar in excellent condition ite s above 25 to27years and it has 4 knee levers and 8 pedals, what is worth today if I want to sell it .please e-mail asap

  5. Bobby Lee says:

    I’ve seen them sell recently in the $2500 range.

  6. jamie says:

    I have a sho bud jet xiv six nee 10 peadal would like to know its value…

  7. Thomas Meadows says:

    Do you have parts for a 1975 ShoBud three pedal steel guitar (Mavrick)?

  8. Bobby Lee says:

    Bobbe Seymour passed away a few years ago, and his store is gone. You might try Steel Guitars of North County in California. He has a lot of parts.

  9. Brittany McCutchen says:

    I have a very early dbl8.Sho Bud with the original case built custom for my husbands grandfather. It is not restored, but very solid and in great shape. It has the wood end pieces. I have pictures. I’m trying to get an idea of its value. Posting online has all sorts of experts with their opinions. Thanks for the time.

  10. Bobby Lee says:

    Probably about $3000.

  11. Bobby Lee says:

    I do not.

  12. rick McKean says:

    I have a sho-bud 10 string double neck steel guitar that is distributed by Baldwin all original and beautiful condition with the case volume petal and original bar..It doesnt need anything done to it and its mint..I would like to sell it but dont know the value or who to tell about it like collectors..Can you give me any information.. I dont know if this helps the value but it has 6 petals and 4 knee levers..


  13. Bobby Lee says:

    I bought one from Scotty in St Louis about 20 years ago, for $800.

  14. rick McKean says:

    Thanks for your reply and I thought that this steel guitar was worth at least 4 to 5,000.00 but thats why I wanted expert advice on the value,,it is like new condition but if its only worth 800.00 I will keep it..I play lead guitar but I can play steel enough to get by..I guess I will practice and get good enough to make money playing it..

  15. Bobby Lee says:

    That was 20 years ago. It’s probably worth more now.

  16. rick McKean says:

    I understand it has went up in 20 years but not enough to sell it for 4,000.00 Right?? The Sho-Bud like mine does sound and play great and its a shame they arent worth more now that you cant have one built.

  17. McKenna S says:

    I just recently purchased a 1977 Sho-Bud The Pro III custom D-10 for my husband, In excellent original condition with a few minor chips in the clear coat poly. Any input on what it’s worth-range would be? Want to be sure I got an okay deal!

  18. Bobby Lee says:

    It would probably be in the $2000-$2500 range today.

  19. Linda says:

    The Sho Bud that I have does not have a model number or serial number (that I can find). Is there a particular place that I should be looking at on this instrument to help me identify what model it is?

  20. rick McKean says:

    I found out that the sho-bud steel guitar I have was owned by Glen Duncan and it was the steel guitar he used in the studios and I also have a picture of him playing this steel..I am trying to find out if he used it on any recording of known songs..I also would like to get information on where to sell it ,,by auction or advertisment on a web site or what and if its more valuable that it was owned by Glen Duncan..Thank you for any information

  21. Bobby Lee says:

    I’ve never heard of Glen Duncan, so I doubt the providence will increase the value. The Steel Guitar Forum is the best place on the internet to sell a steel guitar, but you have to be a member. Membership costs $5.

  22. Richard Swiger says:

    Hi. I saw a Sho Bud Old Hickory SD10 on a dbl frame. Do you have any information about this guitar. I guess they didn’t make to many of them.

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