Steel Guitar News

Hello fellow players,

I got this from Jessi Colter and was asked to pass it on to my newsletter readers, so here it is:

On Feb. 13, 2002, the world lost a pioneer of American music to the ravages of diabetes.

More importantly to me, my son lost his father, and I lost my beloved husband.

Waylon Jennings was truly one-of-a-kind. Often thought of as an “outlaw” and a mentor to a new generation of country and rock acts inspired by his spirit and individualism, he was, above all, someone who stood strong in the face of adversity.

As original as he was, Waylon’s struggle with diabetes was not uncommon. An estimated 25.8 million children and adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes — a chronic metabolic disease in which the body fails to produce or properly use insulin.

We now have a chance to honor the man who loved his country, his family and cared so much for his community, by helping to speed the development of new treatments for those suffering from this terrible disease.

The new Waylon Jennings Research Fund at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will spur innovative research into finding better ways to treat diabetes, and be a fitting tribute to his life and musical legacy.

To make a donation to The Waylon Fund, please go to:

For more information about The Waylon Fund, please visit: WWW.THEWAYLONFUND.ORG

The steel players that Waylon had, he has a great many followers in the steel guitar world that may not have been fans normally, he was quite a character and a good friend of Steel Guitar Nashville. Anything we can do to make Jessi happy, I’m all for it.

Now I would like to give some of the great stars a salute from us steel players because of their love for us. Billy Walker was one. A great singer that used many steel guitar players from Nashville and sometimes non-Nashville players.

David Rogers, the great singer on Columbia Records, much like Bob Luman and David Houston. Of course, I just mentioned the great Waylon Jennings that used Ralph Mooney, Fred Newell, Mike Cass and Jim Vest.

Very nice and great Nashville artists that really liked steel guitar players in their band were not really known for their love of the steel player, remember Jimmy Dickens has used steel guitar throughout his whole career with Buddy Emmons and Walter Haines being two of his prime players.

Hank Thompson got famous amongst musicians for using Curly Chalker then hiring Peewee Whitewing and Bob White. These two guys together worked as well as any two steel players in any band I ever knew.

The famous Del Reeves from the Grand Ole Opry had Jim Webb working for him for many years and then of course, the infamous Porter Wagoner, I remember one of the greatest country songs I ever heard Buddy Emmons play on. It may not have been one of Porter’s biggest hits, but it was one of the biggest with me. It was called “Me and Fred and Joe and Bill”. Sort of a comedy song.

I asked Buddy later where that incredible tone came from on his solo on that song. He said that he had borrowed Chet Atkins old Standel tube amp and the guitar was a Fender 1000. Obviously an incredible combination.

Anyway, there were many great singers that loved steel guitar on their records. Of course, Jimmy Day recorded with Willie Nelson and Jim Reeves in the golden days of country music. Ray Price is still with us today and singing better than ever, but I don’t think I know a steel player that hasn’t worked with Ray Price some time or another.

I’m sure if you all do some thinking, you’ll come up with some more great old artists that would never get on the stage without a steel guitar player. Singers like Jean Shepard, Stonewall Jackson, Connie Smith and so on.

As you can see, we are also losing the great singers who used steel guitar in the golden era and should never be forgotten. Some incredible things have been recorded on vinyl by steel guitar and some fine singers.

I can’t let this section of the newsletter go by without mentioning Faron Young and Johnny Paycheck. The crazier their steel player was, the better they got along with them. This doesn’t say too much for me because I got along real well with both of them.

Billy Robinson, steel guitarist who made his name throughout the fifties, mentioned to me that he thought the most recorded steel player in the world was Little Roy Wiggins. Little Roy recorded on smash hit after hit with Eddy Arnold throughout the late forties and all through the fifties and when I say recorded with, I mean Little Roy did all the intros, all the turn arounds and all the fills on about everything he did with Eddy.

This guy did as much for steel guitar in the beginning as anyone possibly could have. Billy Robinson, Jerry Byrd and Don Helms jokingly fought for any scraps that were left. Now to be totally honest, these first artists like Little Roy, Don Helms, Howard White, Billy Robinson and Joe Mac Vincent were here in Nashville before I was, but they definitely blazed the way for players like myself, Stu Basore, Ron Elliott, Russ Hicks, Larry Sasser and many other popular players of this day and time. So much for your history lesson today.

Remember this boys and girls, any song can be played on any tuning as long as you can find the melody in it. Technically, E9th with the E to A pedal on it is just a style. The C6th played correctly can do as much for a song as the E9th tuning can.

If you don’t believe it, go back in time and listen to players such as Johnny Sibert and Carl Smith, Joe Vincent with Faron Young and Curly Chalker with all the great artists he recorded with. So remember, the style that is played with each song really comes from the player, not the guitar tuning.

Almost everybody that learns steel guitar today thinks they have to have at least 3 pedals and 5 knee levers, but this is really far from the case. This can take several other newsletters to fully explain. It’s just that some styles are easier to play on certain tunings. I’m just glad that I was born in the early days of steel guitar when Jerry Byrd and C6th reigned supreme.

When talking about pedals and knee levers I’ll never forget what the immortal Tom Morrell always said. “When it comes down to it, you either play or you don’t.” My answer to this is yes, however what you want to sound like and how you want to play is going to be one of the forces that drive you in one direction or another.

Until next week, do you know the difference between a soprano and a Rottweiler? Jewelry.

What’s the difference between a puppy and a flutist? Eventually the puppy stops whining.

What’s the difference between a jazz musician and a country musician? A country musician plays three chords for a thousand people, the jazz musician plays a thousand chords for three people.

Why was the piano invented? For the band to have a place to sit their beers.

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

Your buddy,

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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