Steel Guitar News November 1. 2012

This is Bob Hempker with today’s newsletter.

Working here in the store, I get to play more steel guitars in a month than many of you get to play in a lifetime. Six, eight, ten string, all pull, push pull, non-pedal, Sho-Bud, Emmons, GFI, Carter, Mullen, Zumsteel and on and on. When you get to play as many diverse steel guitars as I do, you get a much better idea of how really different and unique the different steel guitars are.

For instance, there are many different models of Sho-Bud. Every time you turned around they came out with a new model. If can make a comparison, Corvettes or Chevys and Silverados are Chevys, but they’re not the same ride. They’re completely different vehicles. The same goes for Sho-Buds. Sitting down behind a Super Pro, a Baldwin Cross-over or an old permanent setup, they are totally different guitars in spite of all being Sho-Buds.

This diversity can make finding the best guitar for yourself a bit of a challenge. Sometimes it can be a trade-off. You may sacrifice some tone to play a guitar that is easy to work on and plays easy. On the other hand, you may find the better tone worth the drawbacks of playing a guitar you may have difficulty finding parts for or that’s difficult to work on or may not have real smooth pedal action.

We have to be real honest with ourselves first of all. What is of the most paramount importance to us personally. We have to really come to terms with ourselves sometimes and blot out what anyone else says about a certain instrument. Deep inside we all know what we really want, we just have to search for it. Figuring out what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not is a good starting place in your search for a steel guitar.

I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot of money and I bought a guitar that I wasn’t really happy with but that I could afford. It was workable is about all I can say. I learned an important lesson from that. Buy the guitar you want to live with, not for the price on the price tag. Be choosy because you’ve got to live with the guitar long after you’ve paid for it. The same thing applies to amplifiers and any other piece of equipment.

Buy it for what it does, not what it costs. Every dollar you save on the purchase will probably buy you ten dollars worth of frustration on the backside. I’m not saying this to get you to buy high dollar equipment, I’m saying this to get you to buy the right equipment and the right equipment is the equipment that gets the job done the way it needs to be done. You don’t want the frustration of trying to hammer a nail in with a screwdriver just because the screwdriver was cheaper than the hammer.

Getting back to the original subject of the difference between guitars, not only are the different models within the same brand name different, but the instruments vary from guitar to guitar even in the same model. Not all push pulls are created equal and not all LeGrandes are created equal. There are so many variables from one guitar to the next, one may sustain a little better than the next. Another guitar may have a brighter, or a darker tone. Another guitar may just have that great feel that makes you feel you’re really in control of the instrument.

Other variable such as different pickups, different types of strings, cables, even picks. Also, the sounds that comes out of your amplifier is part of your instrument. Certain guitars match up better with certain amplifiers. Nowadays, we have different sorts of effects and volume pedals that also play a role in the mix.

I wanted you to be aware of all these variables when you go shopping for any steel guitar or accessory so that you can make the best choices for yourself. Figure out what your bottom line is, what you’re really after and then go for it.

We have lots of friends in the area who come by just to visit and play guitars that are on the floor. They’re usually not looking to buy a new guitar because they’ve already got a spare bedroom full of them. Every so often they all seem to gravitate to one particular guitar. This guitar is so good that I’m surprised that it’s still here.

I won’t hold you in suspense any longer or make you try to guess which one it is. I’m going to tell you. It’s the brown Sho-Bud Pro III, 8/4, triple raise, double lower all pull guitar. This is just a sweetheart of a guitar. Anybody in the market would do well to scarf this one up. It plays smooth and easy, the tone is creamy and it’s been really well cared for. It’s like finding a ’55 Chevy convertible in pristine condition sitting on your local Chevy dealer’s car lot. If you love classics, this is one of them.

Finding ideas for these newsletters is not always an easy job. Quite often they are inspired by someone coming into the store and asking a question, or calling on the phone or emailing their problems. So if you’ve got anything on your mind that you’d like to know more about, please hollar at us. We love to hear from you and it makes our job easier at the same time.

Check out our monthly specials at

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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