Larry Self, Shane Koontz, Jazz steel guitar, Building an amp from parts

Hello fans and fellow players,

I’d like to thank several of you players for coming by and visiting with me last week. Some of you I hadn’t seen in a pretty good while. Larry Self and wife Angie put on a wonderful steel guitar show every year until recently in the Orlando area of Florida was most welcome to be seen in my shop. Larry had a steel guitar store that covered the Deland/Sanford/Orlando area. Larry is living in Dayton, Tennessee now on top of a mountain ridge. If he could bottle scenery and sell it, he’d be a millionaire.

Great guitar player Shane Koontz from Bloomington, Indiana that used to be my guitar player at the Conway Twitty Theater also paid me a long overdue visit. Thank you Shane. Great steel guitarist Kenny Foy brought me some wonderful refreshments that he brewed up at his own house. Kenny has been a long time customer and steel guitar player. Kenny is one of those guys that over-married. (Laugh!)

Many, many of you have responded favorably to me answering your questions in my tips email, so I will precede to answer several more of your questions.

Question. Do you bend strings behind the bar? Answer. Yes, I did this on C6th neck, E9th and non-pedal. I no longer do that because I removed my ring finger that I used to use for this purpose. It still hurts. Well, I still do it but I have to use my little finger on my left hand .

Why did you choose steel guitar as your main instrument? I like it for being the beautiful mechanical machine that it is.

Is this the only reason that you play steel guitar? No. I love the tone and the ease in getting big complex chords.

Do you prefer playing old standards and jazz chords on steel or piano? I love steel guitar because it will do more things differently than piano. With steel guitar I can hit a chord, raise and lower notes in the chord without breaking the sustain of the chord. The chord keeps ringing where on a piano I would have to stop the strings from ringing before I changed the pitch of individual notes.

Plus on steel guitar, not only do I get the complex chords, but I can also get a lot lower notes and a lot higher notes at the same time. Some things on steel guitar are just easier to play than they are on piano. I like the speed of being able to play several different things quickly on piano, but steel is not as limited as most people think it is. Then when it comes to beauty and tone, we all know steel is the winner.

Question. How does it make you feel to go to a steel guitar show and hear younger players play your style on songs you’ve recorded? Answer. It makes me feel great. It’s really a nice off-handed compliment. I want to help everybody to play as well as they can.

What inspired you to record your As Time Goes By jazz standard album? That’s the kind of music I grew up with. I just always wanted to fit in with that kind of group. When I sit down to practice, I love thinking in big chords, however I realize that most steel guitar fans would rather hear somebody play real fast than have somebody play big chords. I’m always walking the line between doing what I think people want to hear and what I really want to play.

Question. Does your artistry extend to other mediums like painting? Answer. When I was taking art in New York State I enjoyed working with charcoal. I haven’t done much oil painting, but I find it fascinating. I’m still a pilot and fly my airplanes whenever I can. I really enjoy working on steel guitars and doing things that people say can’t be done. Technically anything can be done mechanically with about any steel guitar. These are the things that are fun.

Question. Bobbe, I’m surprised you haven’t gotten into electronics since they are so closely related to what you do with steel guitar building. I always wished I would have stayed more into the electronic field. I understand very well the theory of guitar amplification, however there are some very fine points that keep me from being an electronic engineer. This is what I would want to be, not just a fix-it guy.

For instance, I want to know exactly why one brand of amplifier sounds so much different than another brand when the schematics may look almost the same. I just think it would be a lot of fun to grab a handful of parts, wire and a soldering gun and start building.

Many years ago I hired a bass player for a job. He showed up about 20 minutes til starting time with just a paper bag full of parts. I asked him where his amp was. He replied that he was just going to have to put one together right quick.

He said, “Where can I plug in?”

So I asked him, “Plug what in?”

He said, “My soldering gun.”

He pulled an ugly hand punched chassis out of a gig bag, started soldering resistors, capacitors, tube sockets and his transformer together. In 12 to 15 minutes he plugged this monstrosity that he had just built. The tubes all lit up. He plugged his bass into the front and the back of the amp he plugged into the bass reflex cabinet.

The bass immediately made a big, soft, warm, booming tone like I had never heard before. This was an astounding feat that I just couldn’t believe. This was in Norfolk, Virginia and if I remember correctly, his name was Earl Costerude. I haven’t seen or heard from him since. He’s probably working for NASA or the CIA. Great bass player, great electronics tech and a good guy. I learned more in that one night talking to him on break than I’ve ever learned since.

Check out our monthly specials at and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

The friend to all bar holders,
Bobbe Seymour

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(615) 822-5555
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