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Author Topic:  Hal Rugg and Sho-Bud history
Ron Hogan


From:
Nashville, TN, usa
Post Posted 6 Feb 2018 2:23 pm     Reply with quote

Hal Rugg and Sho-Bud experimental guitars
Posted on May 12, 2011 by Bobbe Seymour
Hello fellow players,

I started a couple weeks ago doing the history of some of the players of steel guitar. One interesting player in Nashville that has left us now was the great Hal Rugg. Hal was a very competitive steel player in Nashville and was always on a quest to have a better guitar, which included searching high and low, finding something great and trying to improve on it.

The Sho-Bud company located at 416 Broadway in downtown Nashville with satellite factories on the north and south side of town were great places for Hal to experiment. He was the right person to do this kind of experimenting because he worked the Opry as a staff player and did many recording sessions throughout the week.

Hal and David Jackson, who was the main driving force behind this company, were in close cahoots and shared many ideas on some very interesting approaches to building steel guitars.

About the time that many of the players were switching over to Emmons guitars, Hal thought that there was no reason to do this if the right model Sho-Bud could be designed and built. So he and David decided to build some experimental guitars that similar building processes that the Emmons company was using, one of which was the aluminum neck, something that Sho-Bud had never done up until this time.

The first guitar that was built by and for Hal to try to accomplish this feat was a brown double ten with eight pedals and four knee levers. I remember hanging around the factory when this guitar was going together. I made the comment to David that I was sure he could find some nicer looking formica to put on the guitar than that ridiculous brown simulated birdseye that he had.

David’s reply was, “We’re not building this guitar to look good. We’re building it to be a better sounding guitar and we’re just experimenting with brown mica and aluminum necks. The next time I saw this guitar, I was playing the Opry with Billy Walker and Hal had the guitar there and was using it with acts that he was backing up. It sounded wonderful on the Opry, but Hal took a lot of verbal abuse because of the strange looking brown mica on the guitar.

So he went back to David at Sho-Bud and said, “Let’s build one just like it but put some beautiful black shiny mica on it instead of the brown.” Six months later it was done. Hal played the black one for awhile and claimed to really love it, but ended up going back to the brown one and using it until many people started ordering identical guitars from Sho-Bud.

At this time, David Jackson called Hal and told him to bring the guitars back to the store because too many people were asking for steel guitars like this but the factory wasn’t building them.

Besides, David had an idea for a revolutionary new guitar that had a changer at both ends of the guitar. The guitar raised at the right end by the pickup and lowered strings from the other end which was normally the keyhead end. Hal and myself went into the factory to check this unit out. Hal took it straight to the Opry and played it several times before David called him and told him he’d built a couple more and wanted Hal to try them out.

David ended up building six keyless guitars in all, but none of them were ever actually sold to any customers outside of Nashville. A few years later I ended up buying the two double neck Sho-Buds and all six keyless guitars when I was in my Goodlettsville store. I bought these along with many other experimental guitars that David was working on at the time.

I bought barrels of parts, tons of birdseye maple and many truckloads of parts and added this bevy of parts and guitars to stock in my Goodlettsville store. It was ten years before I had most of these sold off. I remember Johnny Cox buying one of the best keyless guitars that David had built and I actually converted a couple of them back to models that had keyheads and tuning keys.

I sold the famous brown double neck guitar to a gentleman in Nashville named Pete Harris. He was rather old and retired and really didn’t play much. He sold it to a guy named Larry Johnson. Larry was just a student guitar player and left it in a building that he had rented and lost it when he didn’t pay the rent on the building. I ended up buying the guitar back from his landlord.

I sold the guitar to a recording company here in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Then it was sold to a preacher in South Dakota and as luck would have it, he traded this guitar back in to me for the much nicer looking black guitar that Hal Rugg had second.

I have talked with David Jackson and we have decided to totally restore the brown one to better than new specifications, cosmetically anyway. Hal Rugg went back to using a sixties model permanent setup double ten sandalwood brown Permanent guitar on a lot of the video clips that you can see now on YouTube.

These two guitars with the mica and aluminum necks turned out to be the forerunner of the Sho-Bud Pro III model. Later they were scaled down in dimension and they were turned into what is now called the Super Pro. So as you can see, Hal Rugg played about anything that Sho-Bud was building on an experimental basis.

Hal had a little to do with how David built these guitars, but David Jackson that was the president of Sho-Bud was actually the father of all these models. He built them all himself with a little help from Hal, Duane Marrs and the production staff at Sho-Bud at the time.

The story of all these experimental guitars is pretty well unknown to the masses and is the stuff of many rumors over the years. Many people that think they know a lot about what went on, don’t even have a clue. Every once in awhile I’ll see a statement on Ebay or the Steel Guitar Forum where someone will post Sho-Bud never did anything like that. Well I’m here to tell you, David Jackson at Sho-Bud did almost everything. Many great ideas sprung from the fertile mind of this young genius and Hal was right there to prove or disprove the validity of many of these designs.

It’s unbelievable what great guitars were designed fifty years ago and graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry under the hands of Hal Rugg, Buddy Emmons, Shot Jackson, Ron Elliott, myself and many others. In the very beginning when Sho-Bud started, players like Howard White, Porter Wagoner’s steel player Don Warden, Buddy Emmons, Hal Rugg and Pete Drake, Ben Keith, Jimmy Crawford and Weldon Myrick, these guys were the crusaders for Sho-Bud in the very beginning and the stage at the Grand Ole Opry was the proving grounds for many of the early Sho-Buds.
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Billy McCombs


From:
Bakersfield California, USA
Post Posted 6 Feb 2018 3:33 pm     Reply with quote

Great read, thanks for that Ron.
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Skip Edwards


From:
LA,CA
Post Posted 6 Feb 2018 4:17 pm     Reply with quote

I believe this is the Pro III that he was referring to, Ron.

I played it a bit when it was at Bobbe Seymour's store, and it was pretty cool. One of a kind. It was later refurbished in a black mica with chrome accents, like an Emmons. I might have a pic somewhere around…

Found it… you can tell it's the same gtr, with the unique pedals, endplates, attachment for an Emmons vp, and small size Gumbys.



Last edited by Skip Edwards on 6 Feb 2018 4:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chris Templeton


From:
The Green Mountain State
Post Posted 6 Feb 2018 4:46 pm     Reply with quote

"We’re not building this guitar to look good".
Like when Jerry Byrd was asked why he didn't smile when he played. He said, "I'm not selling toothpaste".
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Ben Waligoske


From:
Denver, CO
Post Posted 6 Feb 2018 6:50 pm     Reply with quote

Interesting. My modded Super Pro has pedals just like those pictured and I've scarcely seen any others like them until now. Most other Sho~Buds from that era I've seen seem to have the skinny, smooth pedals... wonder if there's any connection?
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Eugene, Oregon
Post Posted 7 Feb 2018 12:36 am     Miss Bobbe Reply with quote

I never met Bobbe, but was on his e-mail list and have missed those ever since they stopped coming. Still go back and read his web posting now and then.
Seems a lot of people had strong feelings about him both negative and positive.
I'd never feel in a position to comment on that having never met the man.
Just seems a sad thing that so many have passed on in the last few years.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 7 Feb 2018 3:05 am     Reply with quote

Paul Franklin Sr told me about his Hal Rugg "experiments" with the Franklin Guitars. One thing Hal was adamant about was no slack. If he pressed a pedal or knee lever he wanted it to start doing something immediately. He did other guitar builds and things for him but didn't say exactly what except it cost him (Paul) $$ even though they remained close friends until Hal passed.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 7 Feb 2018 5:55 am     Reply with quote

The interesting thing about Bobbe Seymour is that sometimes he would sneak in a little truth to his constant BS just to give it a little flavor Wink
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 7 Feb 2018 6:03 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
The interesting thing about Bobbe Seymour is that sometimes he would sneak in a little truth to his constant BS just to give it a little flavor


Seymour would have made a great used car salesman.
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Franklin


Post Posted 7 Feb 2018 10:16 am     Reply with quote

I noticed the short keyheads, the mid seventies pedals. I also remember when the aluminum necks were added to the professional series guitar in the early 70’s. David added them to create a longer and brighter sustaining guitar. During that same period Hal played an Emmons...also Emmons guitars, Weldon, Hal, and many others were inputting on the tonal ideas towards a new Emmons all pull guitar.
Through their years Hal was one of many players who brought ideas to David like the 25” scale. I do agree with the part where BS says David is a genius. David came up with many, if not all of the mechanical design ideas Sho Bud pursued. And he still is creating new concepts for the Jackson steels which sound great!.......
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 7:40 am     Re: Miss Bobbe Reply with quote

Andy DePaule wrote:
I never met Bobbe, but was on his e-mail list and have missed those ever since they stopped coming. Still go back and read his web posting now and then.
Seems a lot of people had strong feelings about him both negative and positive.
I'd never feel in a position to comment on that having never met the man.
Just seems a sad thing that so many have passed on in the last few years.


I miss him too ! He was an interesting guy. I used to hang at his shop and talked with him regularly. But do keep in mind that he was a fantastic liar and had no problems telling anybody anything. His stories were entertaining but rarely connected to reality. One of my favorite things about the shop where those gold records on the wall he had made. He had a different story for everybody about them depending on what mood he was in. It usually involved a steel that he just got back in the store this morning.
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 8 Feb 2018 11:46 am     Reply with quote

Ah, Bobbe... I miss my pal, and not just because he'd always buy lunch whenever I visited him! Wink

But Hoffnar is correct. He'd lie about anything, I believe just to see how far he could BS somebody, about anything. Like the endtable in the foyer of the store, where Michelle worked in the office. He had a maple endtable from the 60s sitting there into which he'd inlayed a Bigsby logo. I noticed it on the way out and he said to me "I'll bet you didn't know that Paul made endtables did you? You can have it, but it won't be cheap." The BS Detector started flashing big time and I told him it didn't go with my decor. Then we both started cracking up. Smile
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Son, we live in a world with walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with steel guitars. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg?
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 13 Feb 2018 2:51 am     Reply with quote

I recall seeing that brown Sho Bud visiting BS way back. I asked him about it and he said in his famous tone..

" You don't wanna know "

He did say it was the only one in the world . I had no idea of the history until this post !
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Bill Cunningham


From:
Atlanta, Ga. USA
Post Posted 13 Feb 2018 6:56 pm     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:
The interesting thing about Bobbe Seymour is that sometimes he would sneak in a little truth to his constant BS just to give it a little flavor Wink


Sometimes the Forum needs a "like" button like Facebook Laughing

In spite of the "BS" factor, the few times I was in the store Bobbe treated me very nicely. I think he gave me more stuff than I purchased. Best to always look for the best in people as we all have our quirks.
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Bill Cunningham
Atlanta, GA
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 3:44 am     Reply with quote

Bill Cunningham wrote:


the few times I was in the store Bobbe treated me very nicely. I think he gave me more stuff than I purchased. Best to always look for the best in people as we all have our quirks.
Me too !

I would buy a set of strings and he would give me 5 CD's!

I found him to be one of the best parts of visiting Nashville. His satire and humor were well worth the price of admission !

When he would hand me a CD he would tell me, listen to it but don't try to learn to play any of the songs, you won't be able to ! Then he would laugh and say..but you should at least try !
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<b>Steel Guitar music here >>> http://www.tprior.com/five.htm</b>

Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
Pro Tools 8 and Pro Tools 12
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