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Author Topic:  Johnny Fields D12 Emmons
Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 29 Oct 2009 4:30 pm    
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Well guys, I've finally pulled this beast out and finished redoing the copedant and retuning everything. Wow, what an interesting pedal steel! I have two pedal steels with two pickups on each neck, but this is my first with three.
If anyone can give me some insight on Johnny, or this steel, I'd love to know as much as possible. I don't want to take his name off of the front of the guitar as a sign of respect, even if I didn't know him. It just seems wrong to remove it at this time. Here are a few pictures.




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Ray Montee


From:
Portland, Oregon (deceased)
Post  Posted 29 Oct 2009 7:26 pm     Can't help but wonder.........................
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With what I've heard from the likes of Lloyd Green, Buddy Emmons, Jerry Byrd and countless other artists with their mere single pickup guitars, I can't help but ask what do these double pickup g'tars and now, triple pickup g'tars SOUND LIKE?

WHAT IS IT, that they do better? Any recordings or whatever to substantiate how much better they sound?
Wouldn't four pickups give it an edge over any of those olde three pickup models.

My old Emmons Push-Pull sounds pretty good with its stock (non-stereo) pickup.

You really have my curiosity. Does it have a Doo-Wah button?
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Al Udeen

 

From:
maple grove mn usa
Post  Posted 29 Oct 2009 8:14 pm    
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Johnny Fields Was from Des Moines Iowa, However he spent at least 30 or more years playing in Minneapolis, until his passing 10 or 12 yrs ago. I saw the above guitar that Johnny played at a benefit in about 1983, & he said it was built for & played by Mr. Emmons. Johnny was playing through 2 Randall Steelman amps at the time, His real name was John Rienfeld sp He & myself taught steel at Sunesons Music here in Mpls. May he rest in peace! Al Udeen
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Ernie Renn


From:
Brainerd, Minnesota USA
Post  Posted 30 Oct 2009 1:10 am    
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It's the one Buddy had made after he had the basket weave single neck. I think the double was too heavy, I'll ask him and see.

The two bridge pickups acted as a humbucker and could be out of phase, (sort of Strat like.)

The third pickup on the nut end was so that when you turn on the pickup, play in E at the 12th fret and slide down, the notes coming out would go both up and down. (Another one of Buddy's incredible ideas.) There's a couple places that he used the 3rd pickup on a session, (of course I can't remember where.) It's an amazing sound. Sort of like playing the unison 2nd string C# and the 5th pedal C# and playing that Half a Mind type lick, only the bend could last an octave. One of those things you think is overdubbed, but Buddy did it all at once. Winking

I remember Johnny coming into the Steel Guitar Emporium and we'd set for hours and talk steel. He was an incredible guy. I always told him I wanted to buy this guitar from him, (even thought I'd have no idea where to start with a 12 string E9 or C6. Doubt my back would like it much, either.)

Thanks for posting the pictures! Seeing the guitar brings back a lot of good memories.
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My best,
Ernie

www.BuddyEmmons.com
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Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 30 Oct 2009 2:58 am    
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Thanks for the posts re: said guitar. Ray, having two or three pickups is not better, just different.
I'm pretty sure Buddy used one of the different pickup settings on Orange Blossom Special on the Flying Fish album at 1:00 and later at 1:50
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Drew Howard


From:
48854
Post  Posted 30 Oct 2009 1:17 pm    
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WOW - too cool
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Ernie Renn


From:
Brainerd, Minnesota USA
Post  Posted 30 Oct 2009 7:41 pm    
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I asked Buddy and he said he didn't remember having a rosewood D-12. He thought he had a double 12 basket weave. (I didn't know that!) He thought maybe it had been refaced, but it was rosewood when I saw it in Minneapolis in like 79... So, it might not actually have been Buddy's guitar. Even though, he did have that pick up configuration.

So keep your eyes peeled for a D-12 basket weave push-pull with this three pickup configuration. How many could there possibly be? Winking
_________________
My best,
Ernie

www.BuddyEmmons.com
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Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 2:24 am    
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Somebody told me they remember someone else having a 3 pickup Emmons from that era. Who would know how many were built? My guess is only a few.
Ernie, thanks for the info.
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Ernie Renn


From:
Brainerd, Minnesota USA
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 7:30 am    
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I told Buddy I had seen the guitar in '79 and it was rosewood. He said then it must have been his, but he wouldn't have it for that long.
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My best,
Ernie

www.BuddyEmmons.com
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CrowBear Schmitt


From:
Ariege, - PairO'knees, - France
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 8:37 am    
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the Emmons that Buddy has on the cover of the "Rainbow" album is a basket weave w: 3 PUs
(i could be wrong, but to the left of Buddy's right hand, there seems to be some kind of black lever or damping device ?)
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Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 8:51 am    
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The black thing was a single string pickup that Buddy could swing out over one string. I believe he used that for "violin" type sounds with a Bosstone or other distortion device.
My D12 has a screw hole at the corner of the E9 neck. Maybe it was for one of these pickups? This steel had 10 pedals and 9 knee levers. I've since removed 1 pedal and 1 knee. The left knee vertical is not being used yet, I'll get around to putting something on there soon. P/P's are kinda crazy to work on, but after awhile it all makes sense. Plus, when set up correctly, they stay in tune and are a blast to play.
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Ray Riley

 

From:
Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 9:15 am     Johnny Fields
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Johnny was indeed from Des Moines as he was my second instructor on steel. He taught at Professional House of Music on West University in 1952. My first instructor was Jim Stafford at Hullings Music on East 14th st.Johnny was almost blind when I knew him. Ray
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Sho-Bud S-12 and a brand new N-1000
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in Southern California
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 11:04 am    
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There are nodes on a vibrating string where both sides will form a note in the scale; for instance 2:3. This principle has been used to good effect on the hammer dulcimer, where there's a middle bridge, at 2:3, and if you play both sides at the same time you automatically harmonise in 5ths. Unfortunately, outside those nodes the pair will be dischordant.

But if you think about it, as we slide the bar between notes we create all sorts of dischords. It seems that the human mind accepts dischordant sounds as long as the sounds come back into conchordance at set intervals. That being said, not every fret will produce a conchordance between the two sides of it, but Western music, especially Country Music, evolves around the tonic, dominant and sub-dominant, at each of which positions there is a conchordance on both sides of the frets.

I should like to hear something played on this instrument. Maybe over the weekend I'll build an instrument with a nut pickup and see what it sounds like. Someone else on the Forum has built an instrument with a nut pickup. I can't remember who it was. Maybe if that member reads this he can jump in.
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 31 Oct 2009 9:31 pm    
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Crazy. I had this "nut pickup" idea years ago (from a dream, if I remember correctly), and I thought, nah, that'll never work!
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Ernie Renn


From:
Brainerd, Minnesota USA
Post  Posted 1 Nov 2009 5:23 pm    
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Buddy had three arms that swung over the strings. (The guitar jack at the endplate didn't need to be plugged in.) Then swing the arms over the strings. Mounted on each arm was a pickup from an Emmons String Machine.

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Each pickup would run out to a fuzz unit, (probably the Emmons Fuzz Machine,) and into a seperate Echoplex. It'd create three part harmony for the emulated string section. Additionally, you could adjust the tone on each pickup on the string machine. Making each one sound a little different.
_________________
My best,
Ernie

www.BuddyEmmons.com
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 1 Nov 2009 8:18 pm    
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Quote:
Buddy had three arms that swung over the strings.


That explains how he plays some of his impossible licks! Laughing
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Ernie Renn


From:
Brainerd, Minnesota USA
Post  Posted 1 Nov 2009 11:37 pm    
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Laughing
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My best,
Ernie

www.BuddyEmmons.com
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Ken Metcalf


From:
Converse Texas USA
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2009 4:57 am    
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I have seen a guy (in Branson) pick on the other side of the bar playing a ride, without the extra pick up..
It sounded good but when I try it there is not enough volume. Is there a trick to this???
obviously there is a technique.
I did not get the memo.. Smile
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https://thetonkers.com/
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Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2009 5:42 am    
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Thanks Ernie. I forgot all about the string machine! Plus, I'd never seen a picture of it until now. Very cool indeed. Again, thanks to all those who have interesting tidbits of info on this steel, and it's potential history.
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Drew Howard


From:
48854
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2009 7:00 am    
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Again, I say, "wow!"
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Ernie Renn


From:
Brainerd, Minnesota USA
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2009 7:33 am    
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There's a segment of one of my brother's tunes that I play behind the bar. Hold the bar at the 12 fret. Hold your bar hand fingers off the strings, only touching the bar and reach over your left hand and pick the strings. You'll be able to tell if you're in the right spot. With a little experimentation you'll find the right spot. Very Happy

The last chord of At E's is a reverse rake behind the bar on C6 at the 7th fret. Then push the bar forward and slightly down and slide the bar ahead to release the 10th string. The bar slidin off of it, will slightly pick it. Winking

Kind of a harp type sound...
_________________
My best,
Ernie

www.BuddyEmmons.com
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Don Brown, Sr.

 

From:
New Jersey
Post  Posted 2 Nov 2009 9:05 pm    
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What Ernie said. It's also a great way to check your intonation at the 12th fret. Winking
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Mike Cass

 

From:
Nashville,Tn. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 5 Nov 2009 9:34 pm    
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What I remember about that guitar was when Johnny had E write his name on the keyhead endplate with an electric pencil at a show that Clem Schmitz put on in Mpls. Is it still there?
Man, thats a cool axe but Id sure hate to have to carry it around. Theres a candidate for 2 cases Whoa!
I remember that Johnny was very proud of that guitar and told me that it had about everything he'd ever wanted, setup wise. I believe he used it until he stopped playing. Glad you've resurrected it!
MC
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Dave Ristrim


From:
Whites Creek, TN
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2009 4:05 am    
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Mike, yep, the signature is still there. And, yes, this guitar is HEAVY! I tried to figure out what Johnny's copedant was, but the steel was way out of adjustment by the time I got it, so I just gutted the undercarriage and started over setting it up like I have my other D12 steels.
Thanks for the story on the signature. That's the kind of info I'm looking for. Sometime it's nice to have a little back history to an instrument.

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Mike Cass

 

From:
Nashville,Tn. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2009 3:33 pm    
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youre quite welcome, Dave.

the man has impeccable penmanship, even with an electric engraver.......... Smile
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