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Author Topic:  One of the world's first Pedal Steels?
Steve Salvi


From:
S.A., Australia
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 12:16 am     Reply with quote

Hi everyone.
This is one of my first posts, and hopefully it's interesting enough to take a look.
i have a great friend here in Adelaide (South Australia) who is a fellow steeler and a guitar shop guy like myself. To cut a long story short, he had to move house and no longer had room for this rather cool instrument that was made over here in Sydney in the late 1940's, so he's given it to me because he knows how much I'll love it, and I'll look after it.(that's him in the photo on the FB page)
It's called the KordKing, and it's pretty amazing! It has a cable actuated mechanism for every string! It's pretty hot in the pickup department as well, and I'm pretty happy to have it.
Check it out! I'll post the address to my FB page for some cool pics and also the site that has some information about it. I hope that's alright? It saves uploading all the pictures. I think Gibson beat them to the punch with the cabinet model, but take a look and see what you think. There's also some cool old lap steels on there if you wanna take a look.
Cheers!
Steve

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Scott Duckworth


From:
Etowah, TN Western Foothills of the Smokies
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 3:15 am     Reply with quote

Steve, I took the liberty to post one of your pics here... it definitely IS a pedal steel guitar.




Here are some tidbits about it found by Googling..

Quote:
Pedal-steel guitar, 'Kord King', Olson, Iverson & Richards, Sydney, 1948

Production notes
Designed and produced by Olson, Iverson and Richards. One hundred were made and distibuted by the music retailer Nicholsons.

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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 7:45 am     Reply with quote

Jay Harlin built what was arguably the first pedal steel sometime in the mid 1930's.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 9:53 am     Reply with quote

Yep, the Harlin Multi-Kord, 1930s. Shortly after that the Gibson ElectaHarp.
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Ken Pippus


From:
Lake Oswego, OR
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 10:10 am     Reply with quote

But that one looks way cooler than the Gibson or the Harlin!
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Russ Wever


From:
Kansas City
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 10:57 am     Reply with quote

~> click


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Last edited by Russ Wever on 9 Oct 2014 11:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 11:04 am     Reply with quote

Ken Pippus wrote:
But that one looks way cooler than the Gibson or the Harlin!

But the one thing it doesn't have, which the Harlin and Gibson do, is the ability for any pedal to pull any combination of strings.
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Dave Grafe


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 11:50 am     Reply with quote

Great stuff, guys Smile
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Jim Priebe


From:
Queensland, Australia - R.I.P.
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 1:56 pm     Reply with quote

You can see more about the Chord King and Jack Richards here:

http://www.steelguitardownunder.com/Past/Legends/legends.html

Interestingly I don't remember Jack ever claiming his was the "first" anything - it was others who did that (and still seem to).
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 2:16 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
But that one looks way cooler than the Gibson or the Harlin!


I don't know about that... let's take a vote on it. Winking




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Tom Gorr


From:
Three Hills, Alberta
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 3:18 pm     Reply with quote

Some real treats to have in one's collection.
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Steve Salvi


From:
S.A., Australia
Post Posted 9 Oct 2014 4:34 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Priebe wrote:
You can see more about the Chord King and Jack Richards here:

http://www.steelguitardownunder.com/Past/Legends/legends.html

Interestingly I don't remember Jack ever claiming his was the "first" anything - it was others who did that (and still seem to).


Hey Jim, feel free to grab all the photos of the KordKing off my page and use them for your interest. If you need more, I'd be happy to take some and send them your way.
Also, do you happen to know anything about this Corona lap steel? The case and 6V6 amp enclosed are made here in Adelaide, but I haven't seen the guitar before.
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 10 Oct 2014 10:29 am     Reply with quote

Doug Beaumier wrote:
Quote:
But that one looks way cooler than the Gibson or the Harlin!

I don't know about that... let's take a vote on it. Winking

The problem with the early plastic and bakelite covers, that they put on Harlins and Gibsons, was that they all crumbled over the years. The oil leaked out, they dried and became brittle. I've yet to see a MultiKord with intact mechanism and tuner covers. That doesn't bother me as I like to see the tuners and mechanisms. For some reason in those days they wanted to hide the mechanics, and early pedal steels were often built with aprons at the front covering the pedals and rods.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 10 Oct 2014 11:38 am     Reply with quote

A friend sold a Harlan Multi-Kord, 8 string, last year. It was in almost pristine condition including the covers.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 10 Oct 2014 12:08 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
early pedal steels were often built with aprons at the front covering the pedals and rods.


True. In my early days of teaching steel guitar, about 35 years ago, a student showed up with a massive Gibson...? He brought the wood panels for the front and sides and he spent about 10 minutes setting it up! I was amazed at all that wood and all that work for only 8 strings, but I did think it was a pretty cool instrument.










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Danny James


From:
Summerfield Florida USA
Post Posted 10 Oct 2014 2:48 pm     Reply with quote

Jack Stoner wrote:
A friend sold a Harlan Multi-Kord, 8 string, last year. It was in almost pristine condition including the covers.


Jack, the covers (lids) are still intact on my Harlin Multi-Kord too. I bought it new in about 1961 from Jay Harlin.

However Alan is right the covers did get pretty brittle with age and you had to be careful with them.

But, most of the cover breakage was caused by improperly putting the guitar in it's case.

If you leaned over the guitar while it was standing upright, and you were behind it with the changer to your left, and took hold of the legs on each end far side just below the guitar body. -- Then lifted it while turning it upside down, and gently setting it in the case it could be done without damaging the tuner & changer covers. Easy to do once you got the hang of it. Wink
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 10 Oct 2014 2:59 pm     Reply with quote

Danny James wrote:
...most of the cover breakage was caused by improperly putting the guitar in it's case...

Unfortunately, all of my MultiKords were bought on eBay and the covers were all missing or broken before I got my hands on the instruments. I have several covers that I've glued back together, but I don't use them because they never look right afterwards, and I like to see the mechanism anyway. I've kept the broken ones in case I want to try my hand at molding some new ones at some time in the future. If I do they will be completely transparent, not one of the Harlin colors.
I don't know who was responsible for designing the different finishes on MultiKords, but he/she really liked bright colors. There are so many variations, not only of color but also of texture. I saw one once which was faux marble, and it looked pretty good. Cool
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Eddie Cunningham


From:
Massachusetts, USA
Post Posted 10 Oct 2014 3:19 pm     Alvino Reys Pedal Guitar Reply with quote

I believe Alvino Rey had Gibson build him a custom pedal steel early in the 30s . I always thought his was the first pedal job ?? Who knows and who really cares !!! olde geeze - AKA Eddie "C"
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Danny James


From:
Summerfield Florida USA
Post Posted 13 Oct 2014 11:22 am     Reply with quote

Alan Brookes wrote:
Danny James wrote:
...most of the cover breakage was caused by improperly putting the guitar in it's case...

Unfortunately, all of my MultiKords were bought on eBay and the covers were all missing or broken before I got my hands on the instruments. I have several covers that I've glued back together, but I don't use them because they never look right afterwards, and I like to see the mechanism anyway. I've kept the broken ones in case I want to try my hand at molding some new ones at some time in the future. If I do they will be completely transparent, not one of the Harlin colors.
I don't know who was responsible for designing the different finishes on MultiKords, but he/she really liked bright colors. There are so many variations, not only of color but also of texture. I saw one once which was faux marble, and it looked pretty good. Cool


Alan, Jay Harlin's personal 15 pedal Multi-Kord had transparent florescent orange lids (covers) over the changer and tuning keys. In their hawaiian shows (student recitals) at the old Manual Training High School Auditorium in Indianapolis, they used a lot of black lighting, which really made their Hawaiian style clothing and those Multi-Kord lids stand out.
The hula dancers, leis, skirts, & kimono's etc. looked pretty good too. Cool

Those florescent lids (covers) in various colors could be bought as optional equipment on their later commercially made Multi-Kords.
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 14 Oct 2014 11:25 am     Reply with quote

If he was making them today he would probably have them covered with holographic images. Winking
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 17 Oct 2014 6:22 am     Reply with quote

Here is a picture of the Multi-Kord I was talking about. I just found the pictures of it.



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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 17 Oct 2014 9:56 am     Reply with quote

Is that the special screwdriver on top of one of the covers? They always seem to get lost, and are rarer than the guitars themselves. None of the MultiKords I have came with one, so Danny James kindly made one for me. It makes changing the copedant a lot easier. Winking
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Danny James


From:
Summerfield Florida USA
Post Posted 17 Oct 2014 2:52 pm     Reply with quote

Alan Brookes wrote:
Is that the special screwdriver on top of one of the covers? They always seem to get lost, and are rarer than the guitars themselves. None of the MultiKords I have came with one, so Danny James kindly made one for me. It makes changing the copedant a lot easier. Winking


Yes that screw driver / socket wrench combination pedal tuning tool looks to be original Alan, but it is a later model than the earliest original tuning tools.
From looking at the width of the black plastic lids, the guitar is an eight string.
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 17 Oct 2014 3:51 pm     Reply with quote


The Achilles Heel of the Harlin mechanism is those bolts. If they sheer off there's no way of extracting them, and you need a completely new machined crossbar. I've had four of them sheer off on one of my 8-string 6-pedal MultiKords, rendering the pedals unchangeable. Crying or Very sad
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Danny James


From:
Summerfield Florida USA
Post Posted 17 Oct 2014 8:42 pm     Reply with quote

Alan, the next time you get a frozen screw on a Multi-Kord tuning changer, take the cross bar with the tuning screws in it off and soak it for a few days in vinegar.

"If" there is some of the screw left on the bottom side then try using a pair of small vice grips and slowly try working that screw loose. You may be surprised to find it will work free.

I have found sometimes that works when nothing else will. It's worth a try.

The changer shown in the picture is not a common M-K changer. I have seen a few, and I owned one, but only a few to my knowledge were like that. I'm pretty sure that one was made later than 1961.
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