Hello fellow players,
I just received a nice thank you note from Pete Drake’s widow, Rose Drake. Rose was totally responsible for running Window Music, the publishing company she and Pete had together. Rose was quite respected herself in the world of music publishing in Nashville. I never got to know Rose very well personally. About the only time I really saw her was when I was going in or out of Pete’s studio or when she was handing me a paycheck for a session. But then again, she was even nicer than Pete, if that’s possible.
Back to the subject of Lloyd’s guitar. A guitar is really just a guitar and I feel it is my responsibility to tell the world that companies that build these guitars for the stars and the masses do not build a better guitar for a star player than they do for the regular player. As a matter of fact, I have seen several steel guitars come out of these little factories that were a lot better for some reason than the guitars they made for star players.
I have sold many guitars to very discriminating players. These guys would not buy from the factories direct because they claim they never knew what they were going to get, but preferred coming to my store and trying a dozen or more before they made their purchase. Players that are too far away, like the famous J.D. Maness on the west coast, would call me and say, “Bobbe, I need a push pull Emmons guitar, black, in great condition and it really has to sound as good as any.”
Then six months after he’d get it, he’d order another one within a few serial numbers of the first one. You don’t have to be picky and come in and hear things yourself because if I tell you something is good, it’s been proven that you can take it to the bank if I tell you it is. I am pretty much of a fanatic connoisseur on all Emmons guitars and Sho-Buds since I pretty well specialized in these two brands in my professional playing career since day one.
There are many other guitars that I have tried real hard to use over time. Some of them are really great, but as most of you know, a lot of them really aren’t very great. Lloyd Green himself was an interesting customer. He came in the store one day and said he wanted a second guitar as a backup for his ’73 guitar that he was doing all those great records on.
I had a guitar in the store that was a brown finish and I thought it sounded great. Lloyd also played it in the store and did fall in love with the tone. He bought the Sho-Bud from me, but a month later said he just couldn’t get use to the pedal feel and wanted to know if I could sell it for him, which I did. I remember he liked it, but the new style triple raise, double lower mechanism didn’t feel as good to him as his double raise, single lower system on his old ’73.
Upon sitting down behind his ’73, I had to agree with him. The tone was not the issue, however the string action was. And this guitar was a half inch shorter in scale. That was several years ago and Lloyd has tried a couple of other brands of guitars but seems to always go back to the old ’73. Lloyd has also tried several amplifiers over the past decade. Lloyd talks to me about an old black face Princeton that he used many years ago to drive a 15” speaker in a larger cabinet. Since I myself had used an identical amp with a 10” speaker for sessions in my early career days, I understood him liking this amp.
Despite the picture on the back of one of Lloyd’s instrumental albums, he really didn’t record with a Standel like many Nashville players did. Buddy Emmons, Pete Drake, Doyle Grissom among the steel players here, along with myself, love the Standel tone, but service for these amps in town was not really great. Most of us in the beginning used American made Fender amplifiers.
Stu Basore used a Deluxe with a stock 12’ speaker. Weldon Myrick recorded with a Fender Twin with two 12” JBLs which weighed a hundred pounds. This was message enough for me to never argue with Weldon about anything. I figured if he would carry a hundred pound Fender Twin, he could hurt about anybody he wanted to without thinking too much about it.
Hal Rugg, along with Pete Drake on several sessions, used Sho-Bud amplifiers. I personally feel about the best tone I ever got was with Sho-Bud amps and hearing Larry Sasser play using an Emmons push pull through a Sho-Bud amp, I don’t see how he could have ever done anything that would have made him sound any better.
Those days in the late sixties, early seventies, all of us were trying to out-tone everybody else. It was very important, the tone we put out, the brand of microphone the engineers put on us and our EQ on the board during the mix. I think all of us learned a tremendous amount about tone in those days, as I don’t hear anything in this day and time being recorded that’s even close to what I used to hear.
I think by far the major amps of yesterday and today are Sho-Bud, Fender, Peavey, Standel, Webb and the old Evans tube type. Things that are important are having an amplifier that has no hum, no hiss and does not pick up extraneous noises. I remember borrowing Pete Drake’s Standel amp one day and fell madly in love with it. I called him and offered him anything he wanted for it. He just laughed and said, “No! I like it. I found mine, now go find your own.” Which I did, but it took me awhile.
In this day and time, the little Peavey 112 seems to really be the workhorse of the studio players. The dependability, clean tone with great frequency range and fidelity and light weight make this a favorite for not just steel players, but electric keyboard and lead guitar as well as steel.
Jimmy Day really astounded me with the great tone he got on his Webb amplifier on sessions we did together. I think that was the perfect amp and steel guitar combination for great tone. A blue Mullen steel and red Webb amplifier. The CD that I’m talking about that he sounded so good on is the Masters Collection which was the last album that Jimmy recorded before he met his untimely death.
As you can see, the right combination between guitar and amplifier means a lot. Gene O’Neal was a fanatic on the Peavey Session 400 amplifier and liked Sho-Bud and Emmons guitars before he died. However, he always had an open mind. Don Helms always used one of the Peavey models and ended up buying a Nashville 112 from me. Ralph Mooney was known to play a big, heavy Fender Quad which is essentially a Fender Twin amplifier with four 6L6s powering four 12” JBLs in one open back cabinet.
If any of you out there want to try some amplifiers, we have all the current Peavey models. We have a Fender Twin with a single 15” from the factory and an incredible Webb amp, single 15”, two or three Standels and no telling what all as we are trading continuously and we scrutinize each amplifier carefully before we put it up for sale. Give us a call for prices.
We also have a great supply and continuous flow of the Peavey Nashville 112 that has proven to be the most successful steel guitar amp ever.
Check out our monthly specials at http://www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday