This is archived information from "Ask Buddy!" The only things I edited out were the "Hi, Buddy!" and " so and so says, hello!" type messages.  I fixed a few mis-spelled words here and there, (not all of them...) but the content is the same.  If there was any information being passed back and forth, it has been included.

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Question Archive 1

  1. Vertical Knee Lever, lowering 5th and 10th strings
  2. Humbucking Pickup you prefer
  3. The fourth pedal....
  4. Judy Collins
  5. P A Settings
  6. Changing necks on a Sho~Bud
  7. Nothing's Changed, Nothing's New
  8. The Indian Killed a Woodcock
  9. Everly's CD
  10. Tuning
  11. Which guitar did you use on Gene Watson's last album?
  12. E6 tuning
  13. Fuzz unit on Nashville Bar Association album
  14. Volcanic Action
  15. What Do You Play For Fun?
  16. Half Duzin'
  17. Ernest Tubb
  18. Your Matchbro Invention
  19. Travis-thumbpickin' style on steel
  20. The Black Album
  21. Ear Training
  22. We're In this Love Together
  23. Right hand
  24. C-C#

Vertical Knee Lever, lowering 5th and 10th strings

From: Dennis Manuel
Date: 2/25/2002
Hi Buddy: I use this knee lever when going from a one to a four chord and I am sure there are many other uses. It would be most beneficial to myself and other players if you could explain how you use this knee lever. Thanks Dennis

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Dennis, One way would be for going from the tonic to the two chord. Another is a melodic change within strings 5, 6, and 9 by raising the fifth string, releasing it and engaging the vertical and releasing it. This gives a melody of 6, 5, 5b, and 5 within the root position and each note should be on each beat. Another is also with strings 5, 6, and 9. Raise the 5th one tone, release the pedal slightly for a half-tone, release again to off and engage the vertical. This gives you a melody of 6, 6b, 5, and 5b. When you get to the 5b, slide the bar one fret back and you'll have a seventh in the four chord. Again, each note is on each beat. If you start in C, you'll end in F7th.

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Humbucking Pickup you prefer

From: Danny Bates
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Buddy, In the studio you use a humbucking pickup in your guitars. Which brand/model do you prefer? I understand you helped design the E-66 pickup with George Lawrence. Is this true?

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Danny, The humbucking pickup in one of my Legrande guitars is made by the Emmons company. My other Legrande has single coil pickups and by comparison, the two are reasonably close with the single coil being a bit warmer. My preference for sound is the noisy single coil, but since the Emmons humbucker is close, I prefer it for studio work. I helped in the designing of the E66. We used an EMCI cabinet and a 1966 Emmons push/pull of mine for a side by side comparison of sound. Therefore, logic would tell you that the E66 and the EMCI guitar would be probably come closest to simulating the 66 Emmons sound.

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The fourth pedal....

From: Roger Rettig
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Your 'Basic C6' course omits the 4th pedal completely and, when I asked you in Biloxi a year or so ago, 'though you had the 'standard' 'A' to 'B' raise, you had to go check it before you answered my question. This implied that you rarely used it. What's your current thinking on this pedal? I'm currently raising my 10th to 'D' and 6th to 'F', but I'm new to C6th, so some real wisdom here would be appreciated! It seems to me that a 'D' note is 'missing' in the middle of this tuning - do you agree, and how would you get it? Many thanks!

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Roger, I have the A to B raises on one Legrande and E to F on the other so I obviously don't have a preference for either change. The D is definitely a plus but for my use, I wouldn't raise the E on the same pedal. I recorded the "Live 77" album pulling the lower C to D, A to C, F to A, and low C to F, but wouldn't recommend it because of the gauges you need to pull it off. Also it was distracting for me to have to hold the pedal down while playing single notes. That's why I have one of my guitars tuned D, E, C, A, G, E, D, C, A, F. If there was a practical way to have that tuning on the standard C6, I would have kept it, so I guess it boils down to what you want to sacrifice for the gain.

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Judy Collins

From: Larry Miller
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Buddy, I'm a history buff of sorts, and I am curious about the circumstances that led you to play on the tune "Someday Soon" i.e., who hired you, also your memories of the session, was your part a head arrangement or a contrived arrangement? Memories of fellow musicians on the record James Burton, Steve Stills etc. also your thoughts of how this song brought the sound of the steel guitar to a much larger and younger audience. Finally, do remember what you had for lunch that day? JUST JOKIN' Thanks so much, Larry

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Larry, I was called by James Burton, who was probably the leader. As far as my solo, it was just a hole left in the arrangement for me to fill, or in other words, off the top of my head. It was my first major L. A. session so James was the only musician I knew going in. Under those circumstances, just keeping up was my primary interest. As the sessions went by I became closer to the guys and felt quite honored to be in the middle of the project. I had no idea how well the album would do, but it turned out to be the album that got me started in studio work in Los Angeles.

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P A Settings

From: Gary Lee Gimble
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Buddy, what are some ballpark settings on a P A system that will make my steel sound as good to me on stage as it would out in the audience? Do you think high/low weather pressure systems affect tones and if so, how does our sound man compensate? Finally, are there any particular brand of microphones best suited for steel? Thanks too much in advance! Gary Lee Gimble

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Gary, I have never had to deal with P.A. settings. I do think weather changes affect the sound. Our sound man with the Everlys knew my basic amp sound on stage before he ran it through his system. Once that sound is in his head, he was able to keep it as close as the atmosphere would allow. It just boils down to having the communication between you and your sound man. Of course if you're going cold turkey, you just bite the bullet. I'm about as Lo-Tech as it gets so I don't have a microphone I could recommend.

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Changing necks on a Sho~Bud

From: Carlton Day...Owensboro, KY
Date: 25 Feb 2002
I recently bought a Sho~Bud S-10 (LDG) Can the wood neck be changed out with an aluminum one without adversely affecting the guitar? I am looking for a tone similar to that of my D-10 Emmons, (original) which I sold four years or so ago.

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Carlton, I should think a recent Sho~Bud aluminum neck could be put on the guitar. Everything is adjustable, but I would check first. Even if you could do it, I'm not sure you would come up with the sound you're looking for.

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Nothing's Changed, Nothing's New

From: msorensen54@yahoo.com
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Hiya Buddy, In 1984 I heard 'Nothing's Changed, Nothing's New' on the radio. It seemed as if the version I heard that day was longer than the one on 'Swingin from the 40s to the 80s'. As I recall the steel solo went on quite a while and you could hear Ray Pennington joking 'will you shut that thing off?' Is there in fact a longer cut out there somewhere. If so where can I find it? Thanks Mark Sorensen

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Mark, I don't know of any other cut on Nothing's Changed, but there is that type of outro on the song "Drownin' My Troubles" on the Goin' Out Swingin" album. At the end I go for a lick, miss it, try again and then really miss it and the music stops. Amid the laughter, Ray says, "E's getting' ready to play now."

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The Indian Killed a Woodcock

From: Danny Kuykendall
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Buddy, When you are playing the bridge on "The Indian Killed a Woodcock" (Rainbow Album)1. are you using the e-9 neck, and 2. are you playing a similar lick to that of the bridge on "Orange Blossom Special"? It sounds like the E# pedal and A pedal, and going up and down a short run. I've been working on this song for ages, and can't quite seem to get it right (picking the notes clean is hard enough as it is). Thanks, Danny

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Danny, The entire album was recorded with a 12 string E13th tuning: F#, D#, G#, E, C#, B, G#, F#, E, D, B, E. That might explain the reason behind the difficulty you've had in finding the notes. As best I remember I used only pedals A and B and the extra C# note for that particular section.

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Everly's CD

From: Steve Frost
Date: 25 Feb 2002
I managed to miss your tour with the Everly Brothers last year. Is there any likelihood that they'll put out a live CD from the recordings. Seems like a winning idea!!

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Steve, There were plans for a live album at the Orleans Casino theater in Las Vegas, but the brothers took a year off, so everything is on hold for now.

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Photography

From: James Smith
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Mr. Emmons, I once heard that you used to be interested in photography. I really like that cover photo of you on the Black Album. It looks like your wife was given credit for the photo. Is she a photographer as well, or did you set it up for her and then let her fire the shutter?

From: Buddy Emmons
Date: 26 Feb 2002
James, Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years and yes, I composed the picture and Peggy fired the shutter. She's not interested in photography, but I give her credit for just about everything I do.

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Tuning

From: Tom Hodgin
Date: 25 Feb 2002
Buddy, are you tuning both necks in a straight up 440...thanks, tom

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Yes. I tune the thirds to around 438 or 439, not for pitch but more to handle any drifts north of that number from temperature change. I started tuning that way when I had to deal with ill designed air conditioner vents in some of the recording studios around town.

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Which guitar did you use on Gene Watson's last album?

From: Jody Sanders aka The Big J
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Great tone and a lotta new licks. Take care and I'll see you down the road. Jody

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Thanks Jody. The guitar on Gene's last album was my mahogany Legrande lll with Emmons humbucking pickups. You take care and I'll be looking for you.

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E6 tuning

From: Moe Kabir
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Buddy, how long did you have E6 on your Bigsby for, was it E6 or C6 you did most of those early instrumentals on the Bigsby. What was your pedal set up on your 6th tuning on that old Bigsby ?

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Moe: I couldn't have had the E6th on but a year because I received the Bigsby in late 1954 and used C6 tuning on the Columbia instrumentals I recorded around late 1955 or early 56. The first two pedals were for E9th and the other two were similar to our present day pedals 5 and 7.

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Fuzz unit on Nashville Bar Association album

From: Robert Rogers
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Mr. Emmons, I was wondering if you used the Emmons fuzz machine or a boss tone on some of the cuts on the Nashville Bar Association album. I can get enough of that album. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks, Robert Rogers

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
I used a Boss Tone by itself as well as combining it with an MXR Blue Box. The Blue Box was an octave divider that when used with the Boss Tone, created a sound somewhere between a baritone sax and a bassoon. I also used a phaser and fretless electric bass combination on the tune "Warming Up The Band."


Volcanic Action

From: Roger Rettig
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Can you say a little about how you got called for the Ray Charles album? He's known for having eclectic musical taste - as far as you're aware, was having steel on the record something he wanted personally? Were the tracks done 'live', or did you overdub? Was it all on E9th (it sounds as though it could have been)? For what it's worth, I think you did particularly fine work on that project - two of my favorite musicians on one record!

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
The call for Volcanic Action came from Glen Campbell. One morning he called and asked, "Would you like to do some Ray Charles tunes tonight?" I had previously recorded with Glen so I figured he would be recording some old Ray Charles hits. When I got to the studio, Glen was there but said nothing about the session. About twenty minutes later, three silhouettes in a hallway came slowly toward the room until I recognized the person in the middle as Ray Charles. My first thought was that he was there to support Glen but shortly after that, I learned that it was Ray's session. After that, it took me an hour to settle down. The first thing after we were introduced was for him to take me to the piano and run a blues tune and explain where he wanted me to fill. I used the C6 tuning for that particular cut. It was Ray's studio, so everything was recorded live with him at the console, singing and working the sliders. The string and brass section was also present. Evidently, he likes the steel guitar as he called me for another project after I moved back to Nashville in 1974. I had the pleasure of working a live show with Ray and his band at the Opryland location after I moved back and I must say it was an indescribable feeling and one I will always treasure.

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What Do You Play For Fun?

From: Drew Howard
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Ernie, Thanks heaps for assembling the Ask Buddy Forum. Buddy, What songs do you play for fun? What I mean is, what's the first thing that rolls off your fingers when you sit down to play? Foaming in mid-Michigan, Drew

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Drew: This may seem a little strange but for the last three months, I've practiced nothing but minor scales on a 12 string Sierra practice guitar that has no pickup. I've sat down at my D-10 twice in that time, once to tune it and the other to see how my road rack sounded in an amp. I don't know what I would play if I spent time with the D-10 now, other than to catch up on my E9th chops. I'll be playing it in a few days, mostly to learn the Johnny Bush tunes for the Midnight Jamboree, March 9th. Check back with me in a month or so and I should have a better answer.

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Half Duzin'

From: Dave Birkett
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Buddy, I recently bought your Half Duzin' Shuffles and was surprised and amazed by how good the tracks are. I was expecting a steel lesson but not such wonderful music. Not only is the steel work great but the rhythm section is terrific. Who plays on the tracks? They really swing.

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Wow! I thought I never find someone to ask that. I played all the instruments in the tracks except for the drum machine. I had to play the piano chords in C and transpose them to whatever key the song called for. Just as a joke I even threw in a Billy Byrd type lead guitar, but nobody has ever asked me who it was. Thanks for giving me a chance to crow about it.

From: Dave Birkett
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Thanks for replying, Buddy. I'm embarrassed. I must say that those are the most human sounding shuffles I've ever heard a drum machine do.

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
I'm embarrassed too Dave. I could have just told you I played all the instruments with a drum machine and left it at that, but the clown in me got carried away. For everybody that wishes to participate in the Q&A stuff, bare with me from time to time.

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Ernest Tubb

From: Joe Arsenault
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Hi! Buddy! I understand that Shot Jackson built an acoustic Sho-Bud guitar for Ernest Tubb. What year did he build it in? Enjoyed your playing at the PSGA in New York in 1975.

From: Buddy
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Thanks Joe. As for the guitar, I've not seen or heard about it. I know it wasn't built in the early Sho~Bud years but it could have been made during the six years I lived in California. That would put the time somewhere between 1968 and 1974.

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Your Matchbro Invention

From: Frank Estes
Date: 26 Feb 2002
Buddy, What inspired you to come up with the unbelievable Matchbro unit and how did you solve it?

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
The thought originally came to me when a few local steel players told me they couldn't get a break on the price of a Peda-Bro. That lead to thinking how nice it would be for every steel player to have a quick fix for those once-in-a-while occasions when a Dobro sound was needed. I started with a six band EQ and cut certain frequencies for the basic sound. Next, I added an eight band EQ to boost or regenerate the original sound at other frequencies. When I had a sum of all the bands, I added the MatchBox to provide the sizzle sound characteristic of the acoustic Dobro.

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Travis-thumbpickin' style on steel

From: Jussi Huhtakangas
Date: 27 Feb 2002
You played this style already on a very early stage of your career. How/when did you got into that style of playing? Did another steel player influence you to do that? All the best! Jussi

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
I learned the thumb style from Charlie Cline, a fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and banjo player who had worked with Bill Monroe. We were sharing an apartment in Detroit Michigan around 1954 and Charlie would sit at my Fender Stringmaster and use his right hand technique to look for ways to play it. One of the ways was the Chet Atkins or Merle Travis thumb style, and when I heard it, I stopped him from playing anything else until he showed me the basics.

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The Black Album

From: Frank Estes
Date: 27 Feb 2002
Buddy, The "Black Album" is an incredible recording and even though it was recorded around 1970, it still sounds fresh today. As I recall, Weldon Myrick was the session leader and you recorded the entire album in about 8 hours one day. Wow! How did this album come about and how did you prepare for it? Thank you in advance!

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
The album title, Emmons Guitar Inc. was an idea of mine to help promote the Emmons Guitar Company. Several of the tunes were instrumentals I had written and didn't know what to do with, so I talked Ron Lashley into co-sponsor an album. At the end of the day, our drummer was suffering from the affairs of a previous night out in Nashville so we were forced to record the last tune, Blue Jade, without him. Fortunately it was a slow song and to my surprise, came out quite well without drums.

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Ear Training

From: Frank Estes
Date: 27 Feb 2002
Buddy, All the top players (especially yourself) have incredible ears for music. What do you recommend to better develop one's ears for music as steel players? Thanks in advance

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
The most important learning process in my lifetime that pertained to music has been the ability to recognize right from wrong, and covers areas such as chord changes, intonation, and the sound of notes from a blocking technique. I've had a critical ear for that since childhood, which I attribute to my having analyzed most everything I listen to. For ear training, one of my old methods was to simply take several notes of a tuning and see how many keys they fit in while in their static position. For example, the first four strings on C6th: D, E, C, and A, can be used for chords C, A minor, D7th, D min7, F Major 7, and G11th. Many songs are written around these changes, and you'd be surprised how far you can get through a solo using just those four notes and a little phrasing. It's an understanding of intervals that helps me through those bumps in the road when I paint myself into a corner, and something I continually work on. I'll stop here because there is no means of paragraphing in this format, which makes my answers long and difficult to separate my points, but I hope this will get you started in your thinking.

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We're In this Love Together

From: Frank Estes
Date: 27 Feb 2002
Buddy, Last night on your site, I just found that Real Audio clip of the 45 record of "We're in this Love Together," with you singing and playing cool steel fills. I have always liked that song and your voice-tone quality is wonderful. Very Steely Dan! I just keep playing it over and over. I hope my wife and I will sing it some time (I don't sing nearly as well as you). You mentioned how you used pickups on the Blade to get that "funky sound." Are there any stories behind recording this song? BTW, what song was on the flip side? Thank you in advance

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
The recording of that song was guitarist Phil Baugh's idea. Phil asked me if I'd like to record it as a vocal and I told him I thought he was nuts, but I'd try if it felt good. He brought me the demo version and after listening, I told him yes. Bassist David Smith overdubbed the harmony and I overdubbed the fills and that's about it. As for the pickup, it consisted of two six string Lawrence acoustic pickups wired together and slid under the strings. I also used that pickup on the last jazz album Lenny Breau recorded. I don't remember the flip side title.

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Right hand

From: Tom Stolaski
Date: 27 Feb 2002
Buddy, I have watched you play live many times. Would it be safe to say that you pick block when playing fast single note runs, but use a more traditional style of blocking on the slower stuff?

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
I do nearly all blocking with a combination of third finger, palm, and bar hand. On rare occasions, like a reverse roll, I'll block the top note with my third finger, middle with my first pick, and bottom note with my thumb, but that has always been more of a natural action than a conscious effort. In other words, I looked down one day and it was there.

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C-C#

From: Dave Birkett
Date: 27 Feb 2002
Buddy, on your guitar(s), on the C6th neck, do you raise the third string a half tone by fully engaging the RKR or at the half step? Thanks.

From: Buddy
Date: 27 Feb 2002
My RKR is fully engaged for the raise.

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Copyright 2002  Ernie Renn/Buddy Emmons. All rights reserved.
Revised: August 02, 2015