Bruce Zumsteg, maker of ZumSteel

Hello fellow players,

I received this letter and feel pretty bad that I slighted Mr. Zumsteg. Bruce is a pretty historic builder and has built outstanding steel guitars on a one by one basis over the past 36 years. Getting to know Bruce personally over this time, he has become a very close personal friend that I certainly do not mean to slight.

His guitars are of excellent quality in design, workmanship and have been played at one time or other by almost every great player in the world. There are many of them being played today by famous players we have all heard play. I have sold many Zumsteel guitars over the years and have always found them to be of the highest caliber.

Bruce Zumsteg is a very deep thinker and great designer. He is extremely tasteful person when it comes to building as fine a steel guitar as one could build in this day and time. I would like to share with all my readers the letter which Bruce has sent to me. His guitars definitely deserve more than an honorable mention. He is an astounding person, friend and designer. Here is his letter.

June 4, 2012

Dear Bobbe,

I just read your article in the latest issue of the Pedal Steel Guitar Newsletter (May 2012) on the history/evolution of the steel guitar/pedal steel guitar. I enjoyed your article very much. I’m so glad you are documenting and sharing all of the vast history of our instrument and its players that you have accumulated over the years. Please keep up the good work.

However, I really feel that you left out a chapter. In 1976, before the Emmons LeGrande was in the picture, the market was clamoring for an Emmons style and size guitar, i.e. a compact body, mica covered, with an aluminum neck, but with an all-pull scissor-like changer that provided shorter and easier pedal action, and that allowed easier set-up changes and additions. That year, I came out with that very guitar. In all fairness, the Franklin and Mullen guitars came out at about the same time, although the early Mullen guitars were much more like a Sho-Bud than an Emmons.

Since that time many guitars have come and gone. (You and I both know how the JCH was born, as we witnessed the dis-assembled Zumsteel on Jimmy’s work bench at the same time.) All of the similar designed guitars that followed are modeled after Zumsteel (JCH, Fessenden, early MCI from the ’80s; Rains, Rittenberry, Justice, Russler, and numerous others that never made it from the last 15 years or so.) None of these models were modeled after a GFI. I feel that the light weight designs such as Carter and GFI fall into a different category from the above. Also, they came out long after Zumsteel was born.

Bobbe, I mean no disrespect. I guess I just felt like my 36 years of effort and contributions to this instrument deserved at least an honorable mention.

I hope your health issues are better, and that things are going well for you.

Your friend,
Bruce Z

I’m sure some of you out there know Bruce as well or better than I do so you know what I’m saying when I compliment him on his taste, personality and building skills. I’m honored to have Bruce as a very close friend.

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

Your buddy,
Bobbe Seymour

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5 Responses to Bruce Zumsteg, maker of ZumSteel

  1. Larry Petree says:

    For some reason, I am not getting your newsletter. I always enjoy reading it, so please add me back to your list. Thanks, your Bakersfield buddy, Larry

  2. Bobby Lee says:

    Larry, send an email to Bobbe doesn’t monitor this site. I just post the newsletters here in his name.

  3. Rick Forgey says:

    My Dad passed away a few years ago, I got his Zum Steel. Got to really missing him one day and opened the case, set it up, tuned it up, put on the pics, I could hear my Dad say, it’s about time Boy, I’m a beginner learning. Thanks Dad, and thank you Bruce for making a great instrument!

  4. Daniel March says:


    i am baswed in Sydney Australia

    and would love to get a pedal steel guitar

    4 knee lever one please

    just a nice entry level one as i’ve never played pedal steel before but have always loved it

    i play a bit of bottle neck slide and i play a standard Tele and Strat

  5. Bobby Lee says:

    There are many manufacturers of pedal steels. Most are in the US. You can find them on the internet through

    I know that steel guitar is very popular in Australia. Best of luck in your quest.

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