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Author Topic:  If I Wanted To Get Rich Building Pedal Steel Guitars
David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:10 pm     Reply with quote

With the intervention of the world wide internet I see a future demand for pedal steel guitars. I'm seeing more and more young people and 6 string guitar players taking an interest in pedal steel. Remember there was no internet in the best days of Fender, Sho-Bud and Emmons pedal steels. If I wanted to get rich building steel guitars I would do everything completely different than the norm. I would first purchase the right to use the name and design of all Fender, Sho-Bud and Emmons pedal steel guitars and take that design to Mexico to have them set up to build 10,000 of each. They would all look, play and sound just like the originals for a third of the price and bear the same name.
I would not waste time marketing them at steel guitar conventions. The customer base is too small. I would aim them directly at 6 string guitar players and fiddle players because the majority of them have an interest in pedal steel. Guitar Player Magazine comes to mind.
Many own and play both. They have 12 strings, 4 string basses, electric sitars, acoustics and electrics in their arsenal so show them how they can expand their sound with the versatility of a pedal steel. Then show all the rockers as well as country players that have enhanced their music with a pedal steel in their arsenal of stringed instruments. Do the Walmart thing and make a little bit from a whole lot of people instead of a month's pay from one person.
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Ben Elder


From:
La Crescenta, California, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:17 pm     Reply with quote

"You just keep thinkin', Butch. That's what you're good at."
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Doug Earnest


From:
Branson, MO USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:23 pm     Reply with quote

Well heck if it's that easy I would say just go for it!
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Jerry Jones


From:
Nashville, Tenn.
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:26 pm     Reply with quote

Work up a prospectus and let's go see what the "money men" have to say.
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Fred Justice


From:
Mesa, Arizona
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:42 pm     Reply with quote

I don't know what your smoken, but I'll take a bag of it. Laughing
Just kidding of course, I don't go near that stuff.
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:54 pm     Reply with quote

If I had 10 million to spare I would do it. Look at how many concert violinist have a fine handmade violin vs. students and amatuers with sweatshop Chinese violins. Who do you think made more money? The guy that carves out 30 a year or the shop that kicks out 30,000 a year. I don't have the money but I think it would be a great investment with a few million dollars. Heck my leukemia treatment and bone marrow transplant plus fighting complications was over 2 million dollars. Just look how I could have helped the steel guitar world with that little bit of money. I'm sure everyone laughed at Henry Ford saying "Whose gonna buy all those cars you built in advance?" There was other cars built before the model A but they were expensive and only the rich could buy them. Why buy a motor vehicle when we already have a horse? You have to educate people what they can do with one. Pedal Steel is a young instrument at only 70 years old compared to violin, guitar and piano that's been around for centuries. I don't think my pedal steel reigns superior over my 6 string guitar nor vice-versa. They both have their place. Educate people who play string instruments. Get the price down and they will buy them.
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 2:08 pm     Reply with quote

I might add that I have built, modified, reverse engineered pedal steels myself and building them one at a time is time consuming and a real pain. Building them that way a good one should cost at least $10,000.00 maybe twice that for a double neck. Mass production is the only logical way to get the price down where little Jimmy can have a single 10 with 3&4 under his Christmas tree.
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Jim Fogarty


From:
Phila, Pa, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 2:46 pm     Reply with quote

Q: How do you make a Million $$$, building pedal steel guitars?

A: Start with 10 Million.
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Jay Friedrich


From:
Dallas, TX
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 3:08 pm     Reply with quote

I think it's worth talking about.

The main difficulty with spreading the Pedal Steel Gospel are the barriers to entry. There are several barriers to entry, but cost is definitely one of them.

The others are the fact that it's complicated, so unless you're in a major city, it is difficult to find someone who can do basic adjustments, and if you're not in a major city, it's also hard to find good teachers.

I agree that if costs could be brought down to the $500 level for a reliable S10 with 3 and 4, the instrument would pick up many new players, especially in emerging markets like China and India. Both of those countries have long and proud histories of fretless instruments, and I think PSG could be easily adapted to playing the "in between notes" common in pop music from those parts of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqhLZGGWHNA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5KkIFCYKyo

This next one might not seem as obvious, but about 30 seconds in the uke starts and the slides and glisses are hinting at possibilities... Later, at 1:42, the Vina solo (a sitar like instrument) sounds very similar to a dobro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLPRCLKewc4

There have actually been a couple of new guys on the forum from India... I think it's going to happen, but they might not be playing Lloyd Green tunes... (But they might!)
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 3:14 pm     Reply with quote

You have to spend money to make money and it moves in proportion (usually) to your investment. For instance a few months ago I bought an API Legacy 32 input recording console with a missing patchbay and power supplies I ran across in an electronics salvage plant near my house for $3,000.00 I knew what it was so I took it home and stored it in my studio till I sold it to a console company in Nashville 3 months later for $35,000.00
They even sent a truck down to pick it up. It only cost me $300.00 to have it moved to my studio.
I didn't need that thing but saw an opportunity.
You got to spend it to make it. That's the way it's always been. I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers just saying what I believe is possible. Most people don't have enough to make it happen and even worse no vision of what is possible so it doesn't matter anyway. People sink millions in stuff more ridiculous than steel guitars.
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Emmons PP 8/10, Sho-Bud Pro ll 8/4, ZB Custom 8/4, MSA Classic 10/10, Fender 2000 10/2, Fender SF Quad Reverb, Fender BF Super Reverb, Fender Super Twin, Fender BF Vibroclone, Peavy Nashville 400, Peavy Nashville 1000, Peavy Session 400, Peavy Artist VT, Sho-Bud Christmas Tree
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 3:16 pm     Reply with quote

Jay Friedrich you are right. Steel is worldwide maybe even more popular than in America.
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 3:33 pm     Reply with quote

The idiot brought Donald Trump into the discussion and I'm deleting any contribution I may have made.

Last edited by Jon Light on 8 Aug 2017 9:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 3:38 pm     Reply with quote

Yes I think John was headed that direction but didn't live long enough to see it through. He had a worldwide vision for pedal steel and was very successful with his ventures here on earth.
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J R Rose


From:
Keota, Oklahoma, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 4:43 pm     Reply with quote

David, When I WIN the BIG Lottery I will finance it for you or myself. I have said for years we need a guitar and amp sitting on the music store floor that when the kid drags Mom in for a guitar for Christmas she can justify putting it on her credit card without it breaking the bank. Look at what we have today in the stores, Copies of Telecasters & Fender Amps for a very small cost of what it cost to get into a Steel Guitar & Rig. They may not be up to par for us old pickers but we are talking about teenagers with Mom's with a little bit of money. The world is full of teenagers who will take such and learn some and then trade up to a better rig. A simple single neck with just two floor pedals and two knee levers. Think like Henry Ford did, mass produce them and put them in stores and watch them sell. Think Big, I do but have not won that lottery yet!! Thanks, J.R. Rose
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 4:57 pm     Reply with quote

JR I would do it for you if you had the money. I'm retired and don't have anything else to do. I would just like to put a pedal steel in everyone's home before I die. Lots of piano, guitars and drums in homes. Bill Gates had a vision of a computer in everyone's house and I'm sure they asked what's the need in that too. Steel guitar has brought me and everybody I know that even owns one many hours of pleasure. You don't have to master it to enjoy it.
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Emmons PP 8/10, Sho-Bud Pro ll 8/4, ZB Custom 8/4, MSA Classic 10/10, Fender 2000 10/2, Fender SF Quad Reverb, Fender BF Super Reverb, Fender Super Twin, Fender BF Vibroclone, Peavy Nashville 400, Peavy Nashville 1000, Peavy Session 400, Peavy Artist VT, Sho-Bud Christmas Tree
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Jeff Garden


From:
Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 5:27 pm     Reply with quote

It would also help demand and marketing for the mass produced pedal steel if it could feature more in whatever music is popular with potential instrument buyers these days. No, I don't have a clue how to make this happen in the music industry - bands on independent labels probably have a better chance as Nashville certainly isn't helping to promote steel. Everyone needs a band/song/steel player to be able to point to and say, "I want to sound like ____"
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Greg Lambert


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 6:05 pm     Reply with quote

Remember , its a vertical market and will always be so until sales expand in the existing landscape.

The learning curve for the instrument is much greater than most instruments and to be proficient the player must understand music theory. Just these requirements keep a lot of folks out of the arena and why the instrument remains in the vertical market.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 6:13 pm     Reply with quote

Considering who your target audience is, I wouldn't bother buying the rights to and making duplicates of Emmons and Sho~Bud. These customers, by and large, will have no idea who those companies were. Just make FENDER steels. That's the only brand name that will appeal to them.
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Joseph Napolitano


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 6:16 pm     Reply with quote

I agree with Greg . Most people would never be willing to put the time and effort in to sound even just mediocre on pedal steel , whether you put a $500 beater from China, or $10,000 Franklin in front of them.
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Dan Robinson


From:
Colorado, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 6:17 pm     Re: If I Wanted To Get Rich Building Pedal Steel Guitars Reply with quote

David Mitchell wrote:
With the intervention of the world wide internet I see a future demand for pedal steel guitars. I'm seeing more and more young people and 6 string guitar players taking an interest in pedal steel. Remember there was no internet in the best days of Fender, Sho-Bud and Emmons pedal steels...

I don't know if it's a viable plan for getting rich. But I'm with you on this... the best days for the steel guitar are ahead of us, not behind us. It wasn't a certain period of country music that made the steel great. That music was a vehicle, an opportunity. But THAT SOUND is where the appeal is.

This is the only Steel Guitar Forum. But today's world offers a wealth of channels to put people in touch with steel guitar. There are lots of talented young players. The pedal steel guitar is enjoying some great innovations (MSA, Sierra). Kids are spending more money on gear now than ever.

Look at the fantastic pro-quality guitars like Encore, Discovery, Pro-Lite.... not your father's Oldsmobile, or Maverick, or Carter Starter.

I believe it can happen, but it won't happen at Scotty's convention. It wont look the same. It has to happen in the context of today.
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 6:32 pm     Reply with quote

I agree Dan and not only spread lower priced steels to the masses that are of very good quality but it will drive the prices of small independant builders instruments through the roof. Just look at what happened to old Fender, Gibson, Martin and Gretsch guitars. It will turn their American handmade instruments into gold. The only thing I regret but hope the problem is fixed soon is labor cost in America. I hate to say it but America priced themselves out of business in just about all areas. Now all we have is a few builders that can barely afford 5 people to work for them. Until then Mexico will do.
I would not even try to sell to steel players. The group is so small word of mouth will handle that. I would focus on 6 string guitar players converting to steel or as a supplemental instrument to their 6 strings. Just about every good steel player I know started out with a six string guitar or 6 string lapsteel.
I just went to Guitar Player Magazines website and googled "Pedal Steel Guitar" and 40 articles came up about steel guitars including a good article on Robert Randolf and not one single ad listed from a new steel guitar builder ever. The magazine has been in business for 50 years and nearly every music store carries it. Completely untapped market for pedal steel guitars.
_________________
Emmons PP 8/10, Sho-Bud Pro ll 8/4, ZB Custom 8/4, MSA Classic 10/10, Fender 2000 10/2, Fender SF Quad Reverb, Fender BF Super Reverb, Fender Super Twin, Fender BF Vibroclone, Peavy Nashville 400, Peavy Nashville 1000, Peavy Session 400, Peavy Artist VT, Sho-Bud Christmas Tree
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Bill L. Wilson


From:
Oklahoma, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 9:16 pm     A Steel Guitar in Every Home. Reply with quote

Jimmy Page played pedal steel on the first Led Zeppelin album, but I didn't get inspired to go buy a pedal steel until four years later. McCord Music Co. in downtown Dallas had an MSA Semi-Classic S-10 3&1 for a little over $500 brand new, so I bought it. I charged it to my account at the store and for $35 a month I was in business. Taught myself to play the thing and 44yrs. later I'm still cookin', playin' most weekends on the old Emmons and throwin' some guitar in there with it. Most kids today won't take the time to learn an instrument this difficult to play properly......Learning guitar for me was fairly easy, coming from a lap steel background, the very first time I was shown three chords, I could play and sing "Tom Dooley" and "Don't Take Your Guns to Town", in just a matter of minutes....But the Pedal Steel was a different breed of cat and that was woodsheding night and day for months, jamming with friends, and after a year I started playing in a band....As far as building these things, I ain't got enough yrs. left of my life to mess with it, so I'll stick to just pickin'em.
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 10:40 pm     Reply with quote

Bill my time is about done also so it doesn't matter to me what happens. That was just a suggestion for an investor. There was enough amateur musicians with deep pockets from being doctors and lawyers that they were able to purchase Fender and Gibson that were just about gone. They made it work and look what it grew into. They did have to borrow the building services in Japan to get started but eventually were able to buy their own place and machines in California. If pedal steels were that hard to sell Leo Fender would have stop making them after the first 100. He didn't make too many bad decisions. Leo Fender was also personal friends with Mr.McCord in Dallas and they got some cool instruments in that place. Some of the first to hit the streets.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 8 Aug 2017 2:02 am     Reply with quote

I agree with Gregg Lambert about the learning curve. At 16 yrs old, when my dad bought me an MSA Sidekick learners model, I gave it some attention but, at that time was into R&R, R&B and Jazz, and, although C&W is all that had played on the radios here in NC when I was a young boy in the 60's, I really hadn't digested any of the steel licks in it like I did as I got older w/the music I've mentioned. So, I didn't have it in my ear and it was a bit alien to me so, I eventually gave it up and stayed w/6-string. Now, after years of playing in bands, getting the theory down and listening to C&W almost exclusively for the last 10 yrs (since I quit playing 6-string live with bands) it is coming much easier - my right hand is the weakest part of it (of course), which drills should help. I do find it much easier to play than 6-string in a physical sense (6-string is like playing twister w/an octopus to me anymore) but, you have to have a lot more knowledge and exposure (and determination I might add)to "get" the PSG. My 2 cents.
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Scott Duckworth


From:
Etowah, TN Western Foothills of the Smokies
Post Posted 8 Aug 2017 2:54 am     Re: If I Wanted To Get Rich Building Pedal Steel Guitars Reply with quote

David Mitchell wrote:
I would first purchase the right to use the name and design of all Fender, Sho-Bud and Emmons pedal steel guitars and take that design to Mexico to have them set up to build 10,000 of each. They would all look, play and sound just like the originals for a third of the price and bear the same name.


And then someone would slap an import tax on you and take all your money away... Very Happy
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