Collecting Steel Guitars, Hall of Famer Billy Robinson

Hello fellow players,

Why do people buy steel guitars? You might say because of the beautiful sound they make or because they are beautiful and they have a way of capturing a part of one’s soul. Believe it or not, I know of many people that don’t play steel guitar and never will, that have complete collections of steel guitars.

A gentleman called me other day with over 200 lapsteels. I thought to myself this is a wonderful opportunity for me to buy some steel guitars for stock. But upon approaching him to sell me something, he just laughed and replied, “No. I’m just a buyer, not a seller.”

I asked, “What are you going to do with them if you don’t play them?”

He said, “I look at them, hold them, smell them and brag to my buddies about what I have.”

I said, “You wouldn’t let me look through there and let me buy maybe just two or three of them?”

He replied, “Why would I do that? I don’t need the money and believe it or not I’d miss whatever I sold from now on.”

So I asked him, “Well I guess you’re just a collector.”

He said, “I have friends that collect oil cans, bottle caps, signs and they’ll collect anything including rifles and handguns.”

Then I got to thinking I’ve got about twenty guns that I know I’ll never fire, never have fired them and have no desire to fire them and I love the history of them and I only have one other fault when it comes to collecting. I collect muscle cars from the sixties. I love the way the sound when you fire them up, the way they shake the ground and the floor and of course I love the way they look and the histories of each one of them.

There are many people that collect steel guitars for the same reason, just like this gentleman with all the lapsteels. You don’t have to be a great player to desire a great guitar. The things that attracts you may not be their greatness, but something that just strikes a chord with you.

I have come to the point in my life where I have many steel guitars that I won’t ever play on the Opry, in the studios, on the road or anywhere probably, but they’re all ready to go in case the urge hits me.

It sure is fun to look through YouTube and see Howard White, Buddy Charlton, Curly Chalker or any of the great players from yesteryear and know that I have that same guitar that I can pull and play and try to emulate any of these great old players that I love so much.

Besides, it gives my cats a lot of extra things to play with and hide in. None of cats really play steel, but they all have their picks on. There’s just something really comforting in having toys and being able to look back and see what you’ve accumulated in your life and how much you enjoyed doing so.

When you think about the amount of people that do this, like the women that collect jewelry, Christmas sweaters, hats, shoes and the kids that toy box after toy box full, I say there’s nothing wrong with adult steel players wanting our toys too.

Do you want that Rickenbacker you’ve seen Jerry Byrd play all your life or that double neck Sho-Bud that Buddy Charleton had? How about some of the guitars that the great Curly Chalker had? Or Buddy Emmons? Too expensive for you, you think? You might be surprised, especially that you may make a profit when you sell it.

I sure do know a lot of amplifier collectors. Lord knows I’m still looking for amplifiers that I played back in the fifties. Somehow for some reason, my Bigsby collection keeps growing along with supporting paraphernalia and assortments of Bigsby parts.

When I’m sitting and watching TV at night, many things run through my mind that I’d like to own. For what reason I don’t know, it’s just that I’d really like to have them. Like a ’65 Buick Riviera, a ’46 Cessna 140, a Stits Playboy 2, a ’57 Standel tube amp.

As I’ve said before, I don’t need them and I know I can’t have everything but I sure like stuff but when I think back over my life and think of the things that I have had and think how lucky I am, I thank God for being able to live in this magnificent country where if you work hard enough, your wildest dreams can come true.

Born August 6, 1931 was a wonderful player named Billy Robinson. Billy is actually from Nashville, Tennessee. He was inducted in 1996 into Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. He had much to offer the world of steel guitar and still does.

Being a great artist with pen or pencil as well as paint and a skillful professional graphic artist, having designed many things for the steel guitar industry like the Sho-Bud Christmas Tree amp and the Sho-Bud logo, this guy’s talents know no end.

Billy has worked the road with many of the great old artists of yesteryear such Red Foley, Tennessee Ernie Ford, George Morgan and Webb Pierce. I remember riding to work with my father to his music store in 1949. A song came on the radio in his new Packard. It had the most beautiful steel guitar intro and turnaround, so as soon as I got to the store, I took a lapsteel out of the showcase and tuned it to what I remember the record on the radio sounded like.

I found out many years later that it was Billy playing the song Candy Kisses. Everyone remarked at how well I played it and how I learned the song. This was the beginning of my serious steel guitar playing. I was influenced by many players in the next four years. Don Helms, Jerry Byrd, Don Davis and then a multitude of others later on. But Billy Robinson and his work he did on Red Foley and some of Hank Williams records lit the fuse that later became Bobbe Seymour.

This gentleman today lives in Hendersonville and we see him often here at Steel Guitar Nashville and are grateful that we do. Billy plays better than ever today and is as good a friend as any steel player could want.

Merry Christmas to everyone with special remembrance to the widows of steel guitar. To name a few, Ruth White, Jean Hughey, Elsie Crawford, Hazel Helms, Pegi Keith Schaeufele (Big Ben Keith’s wife), Marilyn Day and several others that we love and hold dear to our hearts. Special remembrance also to the players who have lost their wives such as Buddy Emmons wife Peggy.

Check out our Christmas specials at http://www.steelguitar.net/christmasbundles.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Your buddy,

Bobbe

www.steelguitar.net

sales@steelguitar.net

www.youtube.com/bobbeseymour

 

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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