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The ReSound'65 ® Trademark

There are moments in life that you simply cannot forget.

This story details one of those moments!

Maybe we should begin with the back-story. The date was September 11th, 2020 and I sent my first text message to a guy that I had spoken to the night before, but I didn't remember his first name. Little did I know that this text would be the first of thousands of text messages that would be sent over the next several years!

I received a call from Kelcey on the evening of September 10th after I'd just got home from working at Lime Media in Rockwall, TX (East Dallas). I was the Senior Director of New Business Strategy there, and was cruising along with an amazing team of Experiential Marketing geniuses.

I remember it like it was yesterday! I was sitting on the balcony with my wife, Amanda, overlooking beautiful Lake Ray Hubbard. It was a soft evening, and she had a nice dinner set up for us outside to enjoy while we decompressed from a hectic week.

I received a call from my brother, Stacey Shiflett, and I quickly rejected the call because I was done for the day, and was not about to abandon this beautiful dinner date with my wife! Well, he called back immediately, and Amanda said, "Babe, he never does that, you may want to answer it, yeah?". Well, I reluctantly did, and he said, "Hey - you are about to receive a call from a guy I know from South Carolina. Take the call. Trust me." Before, he could finish, the call came in and I answered. It was a guy named Kelcey O'Neil. I'd never met him, but he knew my brother from way back when he would come preach at a youth camp that Kelcey attended as a teenager.

That evening they had been on a phone call together discussing music and pedal steel guitars, and my brother insisted that Kelcey call me, as he knew I was more familiar with both subjects.

Stacey and I are close, and have always been involved in creating music. We both share an unprecedented interest in instruments and music. However, he never learned to play steel guitar, but I did. I had borrowed a Sho-Bud Maverick as a teenager from Tim Hamilton, and then went on to buy my first pedal steel from Bobby Seymour in Nashville years later. As Kelcey and Stacey were discussing steel guitars, Stacey convinced him to call me.

As it turns out, my call with Kelcey went on for about an hour or so, and my patient wife simply ate dinner by herself, watching the sun set over a lake. She occasionally smiled at me as she knew I was in the music "zone" and about 2 miles deep into discussing 432 tuning and the wonders of "sound and frequency".

We did not immediately talk about a partnership that night, and the Emmons Guitar Company did not come into a formal discussion until later on. That is story for another day, but needless to say, we eventually tackled the incredibly difficult challenge of not just resurrecting a brand, but forming a company that could both produce and re-issue of one of the most legendary instruments know to the music world, the Emmons Original.

We grew to comprehend that this re-issue guitar would be different than anything ever seen in the Emmons line-up. It was so perfectly designed back in 1963-1965, but this would be the best version of that concept because of the accuracy of the geometry, that we could achieve through modern tooling and technology. This was going to be big!

As a strategist, I also knew that this instrument would need it's own identity, and deserved to appropriately exist within the product line-up along with the other models that existed in the Emmons brand, such as the LeGrande series. Although a push-pull design already existed with an Emmons logo on it, this one was different.

It was reborn with something different in mind. It would bring back the original design but with consistency in manufacturing, ease-of-play, reliable service and parts, and a long-term availability tract to the public, so they can experience what Buddy envisioned this steel guitar to be. We simply wanted to offer this amazing guitar to people who never had the chance to own a wrap-around Emmons, and allow them the choice between an all-pull, and a push-pull. The market was saturated with all-pull designs, and the players deserved a choice to play one that was set up correctly. Most push-pull guitars were relics, and had drifted so far from the factory setup, that it was horrible to play! This had to change.

I began to consider what would be an iconic statement for such a guitar? How do you capture the story behind such an epic effort? What would encapsulate the message of the re-issue with adequate expression? It was something I was working out in my head for quite some time, but didn't quite feel peace on anything I had come up with. Then it happened!

In May of 2021, we took a much needed break and accepted an invite to a two day get-away in Mexico Beach, Florida. Our long-time friends, Daniel and Amber had secured a beach-front rental and wanted us to hang out to decompress.

On May 21st, I woke up out of a dead sleep around 4:30 am, and heard: "Resound". I was a bit confused at first, but then quickly made the connection to the Emmons guitar and knew right away that this was connected to the branding. I grabbed my phone and Google searched the definition of Resound and saw things like: "fill a place with sound, to sound loudly or for a long time", and "late Middle English: from re- ‘again’ + the verb sound, suggested by Old French resoner or Latin resonare ‘sound again’".

It hit me like a ton of bricks; The 1965 will sound again - ReSound'65! I had a hard time going back to sleep to be truthful. I needed to make sure it wasn't just my emotions, so I waited a bit and then text Kelcey to see if he agreed with the logic. Here is that text dialogue from that day:

Needless to say, that day is one I'll never forget! I immediately began ideating in and imagining what the logo would look like! I'd been a creative on hundreds of brands and logos in the past, as my wife and I had owned a creative agency for more than a decade. I was used to strategic branding and marketing, so I jumped right in with font research and vintage branding concepts. My challenge was to discover something that blended well with the Emmons script and chevron geometry, yet provided this new model a proper stand-alone entity that would fit the mid 60's era without looking vastly modern.

Here are some of the original ideas I kicked around in the early stages of the design phase.

I eventually sculpted a brand that I felt included just enough vintage vibe, but wasn't too edgy, then sent it over to Kelcey and a few other colleagues for their opinion.

It was unanimous - we've got a name and brand for the new push-pull pedal steel guitar!

Now let's build one! This complex challenge involved more than 1000 hours of research and development, spanning more than a year of intense reverse engineering, hovering over an original 1965 push-pull Emmons pedal steel guitar that we'd purchased from our buddy, Mike Bourque, along with several additional 1965 guitars loaned to us by other owners who wanted to help us out.

With Weldon Myrick's guitar completely disassembled and all of our new prototype parts all in hand, we began putting our mock-up together one sultry afternoon in an open, one-car garage in Pageland, South Carolina. With nothing more that some saw horses, a piece of MDF plywood as a workbench, our tools, my shop drawings, and Kelcey's trusty calipers, we dived into a 3-day assembly attempt at our first 1965 guitar build! I brought my fabrication skills to the body, and Kelcey brought his machinist skills to the undercarriage! Together, we toiled nearly 36 hours, racing the clock to finish this mock-up.

This was an intense week for us and we pushed though all manor of challenges. Around 3:30 AM, August 15, 2021, we had our first mock-up build and it sounded INCREDIBLE! We called our good friend Brett Crisp and he came over to play it and tell us what he thought. It was an amazing moment!

We then packed up and rushed off to Nashville for our first offical test-drive (of the guitar we named "Darkhorse") to meet up with some other players that were concluding at the Nashville Steel Guitar Camp hosted by Paul Franklin Jr. and some his close friends. Jay Dee Maness was among those who helped give us some valuable information and feedback in those days!

We had a fantastic response! We went on to do another testing session in Texas at the Wraparound Steel Guitar Summit hosted by our dear friend, Tommy Detamore. It was a smashing success there as well!

You can see all of those details here:

After a few months of further finalization and testing, we applied for the trademark in November, then went to market with our idea after confirming with our attorneys that the filing of the brand was secured and safe.

The only thing left to do then was produce ReSound'65® pedal steel guitars!

After years of hard work, extreme development cost, and patiently waiting, we now have a brand that is both respected, and also possesses the long awaited certificate of trademark.

This wordmark ensures that any instrument bearing the ReSound'65® mark on it is indeed the authentic product of the Emmons Guitar Company, and will be built to our rigorous standards of manufacturing.

We realize that some people want their new Emmons to look like it did in yesteryears, but the ReSound'65® is not from that era, and was not built back then. It was birthed out of respect from that era and pays earnest tribute to a whole generation who pioneered back then. Ron Lashley Sr. and Buddy Emmons created an entire revolution in pedal steel guitars, and those guitars will remain safely within that era forever with our utmost honor and respect. Branding the ReSound'65® prevents blending the two eras and organizations and provides clarity for all who see these instruments on a stage, studio, or photograph. Each era and model deserves it's own identity.

Our re-issue model, the ReSound'65® stands on it's own as a living testament, built on the shoulders of the innovators of the Emmons Original, but it is an improved effort that is making it's own history with a new generation of enthusiast.

We will not stop with the ReSound'65®! There will be other models and yes, other trademarks for those models too. If it is made by us, it will be clear and intentionally branded to advertise on behalf of the entity of our organization, and reflect the team of hard workers here at Emmons Guitar Company that are pursuing the highest quality of pedal steel guitars available.

We are thrilled to build these gorgeous instruments, and appreciate all the loyal customers who have the utmost confidence in us and their purchase.

ReSound'65® - A Sound Choice!!

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1 Comment

Todd Clayton
Todd Clayton
Jun 12

That is a great story. I was curious as to how you and Kelcey met and how you envisioned the push/pull in a modern day setting.

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