This letter is one of many letters written detailing the development of the pedal guitar, and the birth of the Emmons Guitar. It also includes standardization of the tuning and copedent, as well as historical commentary.
The letters were written from Ron Lashely Sr. to Mr. Paul J. Graupp, the editor for "Pushin Pedals", the pedal guitar section of Fretts magazine, which was published by Fender Sales.
Scroll down for the complete transcription of this letter. The spelling and grammar shown below is exaclty how it was written by Ron Lashley Sr.
Nice to hear from you. Guess you have really been busy lately plating and working. I’ve been pretty busy myself building a few guitars. I only stayed in Nashville 2 weeks and came back home and went to work. I stayed with Buddy 5 days and we have designed a new pedal guitar that will have all the improvements that the Sho~Bud should have had but Shot was too hard headed to listen. Buddy has pulled out from the Sho~Bud guitar and I am working with him on it. It is called the Emmons Stereo and can be played manually just by flipping a switch. It is rather compact 33” long and 10’ wide and is universal. Any string can be raised and lowered and can be changed in minutes. We are using rollers at the nut which is a must for any pedal guitar. We are still working with the experimental model and should be ready for orders in around 2 months. We are not using a tone control because as you know they only cut down the quality of the signal. With all the ideas of Buddy I think it is the ultimate in a pedal steel guitar. When I was out at his house we spent approximately 40 hours at his kitchen table just working with pencil and paper.
A foot volume control will be standard equipment and attached to the pedal bar. This makes it easy when you need to pick it up and walk across stage.
We are using a mica finish and your cigarettes will not harm the finish. Please mention it in Fretts if it is ever convenient. We would be grateful.
I talked with Buddy on the phone Wednesday for about 10 min and we completed most of the details on it. He will be in for 5 days on the 25th and I’m going back out for a week. I’ve got a brand new double 10 Sho~Bud. With same set-up that Buddy uses which we built since I was out last, but I think I’ll sell it because Sho~Bud and Emmons Stereos will not mix. Haha.
You asked about the two fine strings on [sic] Buddies E9th neck. The ninth string is an F# while the tenth is an Eb. Also he does use a knee pedal on his E9th neck. It lowers his 6th string from an E to an Eb.
I enjoyed reading your last article in Fretts concerning the present status of the steel guitar. Of course your rating of steel players was a little pathetic. I suppose you rated them as such just to draw some argument. Correct me if I’m wrong. My top 3 steel guitarist(s) (also everyone's in Nashville namely Buddy) are #2 Don West, plays country, jazz and classical and was piano player for the Atlanta Symphony for 5 years. (#2 Curly Chalker who has been held back on all his recordings. He was only tuning up on the Travis album and has recently cut a jazz album with Barney Kessell. Bill Purscell, jazz piano player says Chalker is the greatest jazz musician that he has ever had. #3 Buddy Emmons, my favorite, is great all around. He recently cut a jazz album for Mercury and he told me last Wed. that it would be out in about a month.
Concerning which came first Chalker or Day, there is no comparison. I heard a 2 hour tape of Chalker which was recorded at Nashville a few months back when he was in for a week-end. Words can’t describe his playing because it is on a much higher plane. Day can’t hold a light to Chalker.
Well, I had better close for now. Write soon.
P.S. I don’t know and don’t think that you can get 4 Wheel Drive and Cold Roll Steel but I have them both and would be glad to tape them for you. I also have (C Jam Blues taped from Record Shop) and [sic] Buddies other single.
P.S. I haven’t seen Leonard in a couple of weeks. Your guitar looked good when I last saw it. It is equal to Sho~Bud in quality. I made the pick-ups and hope that you will like them. I told Leonard that the strings should have been 11/32” open. I don’t know if he made them as much or not.