Steel Guitar News

Hello fellow players,

It seems as though many of you really wanted those questions answered that I answered last week.  I�m glad to hear that.  I would be more than glad to answer any more in the future, but first I want to relay a small story about a master guitar player that I ran across when he was but a mere child at 17 years old.

I had an incredible sharp little country jazz band working out of Colorado Springs and while we were going from one place to another in the southwest, we stopped at a club in Albuquerque.  We went in and there was a great little western swing band playing.  I went up to the band leader and asked him if the three of us could sit in.  He said absolutely.

So I sat my Fender 1000 up and the other two members of my group, Joe Allen and Mike Elliott setup and started jamming on the great western swing song Hang Your Head In Shame.  Everyone was very impressed with what we were doing including the band.  

Suddenly on one turn-around, the little 17 year old guitar player in the group broke into one of the finest jazz passages I had ever heard.  As soon as the band finished up their nightly duties, the rest of us musicians sat there and played until the wee hours of the morning.  I finally just got up and sat in front of this guitar player whose name was Louie Shelton.

Fifty years later after having a great career in Nashville, I saw the name Louie Shelton on movie credits and on several album credits and just recently googled the name to see if he was alive and well and in this search engine.  Much to my surprise, he had many mentions in google.

So I contacted Louie and just recently have continued our long lost friendship.  If any of you care to look him up, please feel free to do so.  There are some wonderful YouTube clips of Louie playing and I assure you he is not over-rated in any way.  As a matter of fact, here�s the link to his website � and tell him Bobbe sent you.

Here�s a question from Jim Gardner �

Okay, so here's a question for you to answer next week. . . . What with  all the "blending" of music types these days (example: Western swing styling "blending" or mixing with traditional country music styling, etc.), and having a double neck in front of you ----- what influences you to choose the neck - E9 vs. C6 - to play a particular song/tune - even an instrumental? I know some players may use both necks on one piece of music, but predominantly, a player is likely to "pre-select" one neck or the other to play. What influences you to decide that.... "this song will sound better on E9, or, I can make this sound better doing a C6 thing"... ???

This issue becomes more significant if a steel player is freelancing and plays with different artists, or bands, and not just one band or artist all the time. A studio player would be a good example, too.  JD

The answer is I personally never, ever even consider playing western swing on anything but a C6th neck.  C6th is strictly to play pure western swing music without playing in a country Bud Isaacs style.  All the great pioneers of western swing never had steel players that played E9th.  The great western swing players that pioneered western swing like Tom Morrell, Maurice Anderson, Billy Bowman, Bob White, PeeWee Whitewing, Curly Chalker, to name a few, never played E9th in western swing bands.

The great bands like Spade Cooley, Bob Wills, Tex Williams and Bill Wimberley wouldn�t even hire you if you played like Nashville.  So naturally, anytime you�re playing any material by these great bands, play western swing only on your C6th neck (or possibly some E13th) with as much punch and drive as you possibly can.

If you need a very smooth flowing triad style of music where one chord flows into another with a lot of sustain and tone, E9th is the way to go.  Tunes like Sweet Memories, anything ever recorded by Ray Price, Webb Pierce, Vince Gill.  Smooth, beautiful and simple is E9th.  

I hear a lot of people say, �I don�t need a double neck because I don�t play any C6th.�  Then you are only playing half a guitar.  It is possible to play some substitute C6th things on an E9th tuning and some guys do it fairly well, but it seems to me like it�s a lot faster to learn it in its conventional way of playing it.  

Both styles, both tunings have their place and do their jobs well.  I�m just one of those players that can�t even think about playing a live four hour job on just one neck.  Both styles are steel guitar and if you play one, you can sure learn the other.  Don�t cut your talent in half.

If you need help figuring out the other half of your talent, then check out my Instant C6 videos here � 

The style of music that I record in my albums is usually governed by my buyers that I sell to.  Let me know what style you would like to have me do.  I have done many albums already, but I don�t mind doing another one.  I can do western swing, gospel, hard country, soft country, big chord C6th jazz or something completely outside of the box like Rhythmatic.  I�m going to let my readers make the decision about what I�m going to do on my next album.  Just hit reply and tell me what you�d like to have me do musically.

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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