Hello fellow players,
Guitars that I recommend in this day and time are of course Emmons because of its tone, but for most players, it’s awfully hard to beat GFI because of the tremendous dependability, simplicity, light weight, very reasonable cost and ease of making changes and serviceability.
I also recommend Mullen because they also sound good and are very easy for young and new players to learn how to tune. Mullen also is a company that like GFI, is very easy to get service from the manufacturer. If you have a problem, one phone call to Mullen or GFI will take care of your service request.
I’ll never forget the Masters Collection CD that Tommy White and I did with Jimmy Day. Jimmy’s tone was so great through a Webb amplifier that it sent Tommy and I scurrying to try other things to catch up with his great tone. Jimmy was playing a blue, wood, lacquer Mullen. I was playing a push pull Emmons and Tommy with a new wood neck LeGrande by Emmons.
With three of us on the same album, or as a matter of fact, when any three players are recording on the same album at the same time, if the tone doesn’t come up to par from any of the players, it’s not good. Anyway, if you listen to this album with Tommy, Jimmy and myself with a few passes by the great Buck Reid, you can notice first hand that there is no slouchy tone going on anywhere.
If you are a professional steel guitar player, you know that when you get into a situation like this where you’re recording or playing anywhere with other pros on the same session, you had better be developing a killer tone with your equipment.
The last time I got really bad tone on sessions was in the early seventies when I was using a different guitar and amplifier. As a matter of fact, I tried many guitars on sessions over the first few years of my recording career. There is no question what the winner is and there’s no question which one the loser was.
Believe me, start as early as possible in your career getting as great a tone as you can get. And I don’t mean tone like just adjusting your amplifier. I mean tone like timbre, the true voice of your guitar and the true voice of your amplifier.
Effects are wonderful if you’re going to do tricks, if you’re going to mimic violins, a race car, birds chirping or whatever, what kind of guitar you use to get it really doesn’t matter.
As far as amplifiers go I’ll just offer my opinion of the finest, and none of this will mean anything unless you have a great guitar. The new Standel amplifier is a wonderful amplifier to have, especially if you like tube amps. The transistor Sho-Bud amps of the early seventies are wonderful, dependable amplifiers with incredible tone and very good power but need a very efficient 4-ohm speaker to reach out and touch someone. One of the best amps in the world today I feel is the Webb amplifier. Not in production at the moment, but there are many used ones available. No matter what price you pay for it, it will probably be worth it.
There’s no question that the standard of the world for the steel guitar and most other instruments is Peavey and the Peavey Nashville 112, way ahead of everything else in sales. Don’t worry about buying two in case you’re playing very loud or need more coverage in two directions because these amps are very dependable and very loud for a single twelve. They may only be rated at 80 watts, however they are louder than most 150 watt amps. It puts out as much volume as most single fifteens. Besides, it’s loudness we’re after.
Fender seems to be a thing of the past, much like Premier, Magnatone, Rickenbacker and the old Gibson tube amps. Forget about Silvertone, Vox and Marshall. Every once in a while you’ll run across a weird new amplifier that will sound really good to you, just make sure you get a real good warranty and they’re going to be in business awhile so test them out very good before you buy more than one of them.
Little boutique amplifiers with very little power seem to be in vogue at the moment in some parts of the world. Just use caution here because most of them have only enough power for rehearsal in someone’s living room.
A small light amplifier with great power and tone, dependability and resale is the Peavey Nashville 112, one of the best values to come along in a lifetime. Great tone, power, lightness, serviceability and about anything else you could demand in an amplifier is right here for very little money. Buy it from me and your savings will be unbelievable. By the way, this isn’t just a left hand commercial, this is truly the way I and thousands of others feel about this amp.
I’ve given you my opinions on amplifiers, guitars and equipment. Now I’d like to hear your opinions. Email me.
A good friend of the steel guitar community and a well-known old golden age player, the great John Bechtel is in a local hospital and not doing well. John Bechtel has had and played many of the industries finest pedal steel guitars and is one of the finest Jerry Byrd style players there is. He knows all those tricky Jerry Byrd tunings that Jerry did all those wonderful deep Hawaiian tunes with. John and Shot Jackson were very dear friends. John was owner of one of the first triple neck Sho-Buds ever built in 1957. Let’s wish John the best of luck in getting out of that hospital.
Check out our monthly specials at 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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