John Bechtel, Miller guitars, Jody Carver, Curley Chalker

Hello fellow players,

There are a lot of steel guitar players that live in Hendersonville, Tennessee most of which are internationally known or have been. Over the past few years many of these players have turned into good friends and will come and visit for hours at a time. Several of these have left us, like Don Helms, Howard White, Big Ben Keith, Walter Haines, Harold Fogel, of course Gene O’Neal and many others.

We can now add another one to our list. Mr. John Bechtel. John was principally a road musician and is what I call a working industrial steel guitarist, a commercial player that fills in and works with stars continuously but not necessarily on a permanent basis. John worked with many stars like Billy Walker, Charlie Louvin, Ray Pillow and did many jobs in clubs in town and a lot of shots on the Opry.

John was one of the very first Sho-Bud customers that Shot and Buddy built a new guitar for. John was very soft-spoken, had many stories because he knew so much. He was from the northeastern United States and spent a lot of time around Philadelphia in his youth. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him. This may be a corny line, but it is really the truth when it comes to John.

I was asked some questions the other day by Mr. David McKnight. David was the originator of the JagWire String Company. He asked me, “Whatever happened to the guitar called a Mooney that Tom Mooney of western Tennessee designed and built?”

I let him know that I didn’t know, however it seemed like a pretty decent guitar to me. He mentioned the Miller guitar also which is now a thing of the past as is its owner, builder, designer Roger Miller from Chillicothe, Illinois. There were many, many guitars hand built by Roger. All were pretty homemade looking. Some were very homemade looking, but then again, some of them looked pretty good. All of them that I’ve ever seen did play well.

They were all a pull release design and most of them used a good grade of maple and rosewood together. He had the same problem in pickup winding that the Mar-Len Company in North Carolina had and that is all the pickup magnets we placed in the pickup frame North South North South etc, instead of putting all the north on one side and all the south on the other.

Capri also made this mistake. Capri is a similar company to Mar-Len and Miller. I actually liked them better because they were smaller, lighter and more beautiful. Mr. Al Collins was the builder of this fine but not too good sounding guitar. The Wheeler guitar made in Nashville for awhile, unfortunately was pretty much a joke from day one. A couple of guitars that are no longer being built because of the owner’s demise are Derby and Bethel. Both very good guitars.

The Randall Steel King amplifier. The Randall Company was absorbed by another major amplifier company. Mr. Don Randall was a brilliant businessman in the music world, was also president of Fender for quite awhile and was a dear friend of mine and Jody Carver.

Jody is a famous steel player of course, that is in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame because of his working with Arthur Godfrey and doing major network television shows over the years. I also have Jody to thank along with some others for being in the Hall of Fame myself this day and time. Jody is a wonderful human being that played Bigsby, Fender pedal and non-pedal over the years. A better friend a fellow player couldn’t have.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the great Thumbs Carllisle, but this is one truly incredible guitar player that we lost just a few years ago. Herby Wallace did at least two albums with him. Thumbs had very short fingers and laid his guitar in his lap much like a lapsteel and played with a thumbpick on his right hand or a straight pick and with his left hand he played chords with his thumb and fingers on the front of the neck only.

He was an extremely fast player and for a player that just used a basic E major tuning, also played nice chords in songs with deep changes. He worked with Roger Miller while Buddy Emmons was playing bass with Roger. As a person, I really liked Thumbs very much and often hired him on jobs that I had in Nashville when I needed a great guitar player.

I loved hiring guitar players that also played steel like Russ Hicks, Curly Chalker, Steve Hinson and many more. They always knew what I was doing and how to enhance what I was playing. About the only sarcasm I ever got was out of Curly Chalker. I was doing a medium tempo country song and played an obvious Buddy Emmons lick and got an immediate, “Okay, that’ll be enough of that!” comment from Curly.

I busted out laughing and said, “I just wanted to see if you were awake.”

He said, “If I had been asleep, that would’ve woke me up.”

Curly was known to have a very abrasive personality and would always say what was on his mind, however we got along famously and I liked him very much and we were great friends from 1957 to the day he died. Yes, we have lost an awful lot of players over the past few years and many of them really hurt to have gone, but they just keep leaving me.

Terry Bethel stopped by the store here the other day and let me know that his present days with Mel Tillis are as pleasant as the first 45 years. Boy this has to be some kind of a record. Terry’s been with Mel so long he’s starting to stutter. I remember working television shows with Ralph Emory in the sixties and having Mel Tillis guest on the show and hearing Terry Bethel and Leo Bittner playing fabulous arrangements on instruments like “Mrs. Robinson”, “Johnson Rag” etc.

We still have the lowest prices and the best deal in the world on the Peavey Nashville 112 plus they are in stock and ready to ship like always. We always keep the GFI steels in stock. The reason the GFI is so favored is because of it’s extreme high quality compared to many other steel guitars, lightweight and tremendous factory backup service. If you need a part overnight, you can get it.

What do you call a building full of rap singers?


What’s the difference between a bassoon and a chain saw?

The exhaust.

Why do bagpipers always walk when they play?

To get away from the noise.

How long does it take to tune a steel guitar?

Nobody’s ever bothered to find out.

Just kidding guys.

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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Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
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1 Response to John Bechtel, Miller guitars, Jody Carver, Curley Chalker

  1. ken newman says:

    Bobbe’s Tips . always takes time to buoy other players. kenx 1/10/2-19 re reminder from my kuzzin Danny Newman [John Bechtel]

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