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Author Topic:  Sonny Garrish
Herb Steiner

 

From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post  Posted 30 Dec 2019 11:05 am    
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OFF TOPIC ALERT!!!

Still fishing, Tiny. Just added two H'bird Helix 10s (console and bow) and an Ultrex 80 to the bow.

I could have bought a Franklin for that kind of dough Laughing
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2020 12:46 pm    
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Tiny Olson wrote:
I was fortunate enough to watch Sonny in the studio many times in the 70s and early 80s. His ability to stack parts accurately is so cool.

His amp of choice back then was a Session 400, first with the PV labeled, JBL, later with the BW Spiderweb speaker. He had just gotten the BW at one session and told me he thought he liked it better. It was a little "milky-er sounding" in Sonny's words. He most definitely used the Boss Chorus Ensemble that Paul mentioned. He told me one time that it was a money maker for him.

Sonny is without question, one of the nicest people you could ever meet. His playing and musicianship is absolutely outstanding and speaks for itself..!! One of my favorites that he cut was Ronnie McDowell's, "Wandering Eyes" in which he played a great, innovative ride with stacked, harmony parts and an Envelope Filter. Really great and creative..!!... That's Sonny..!!



Tiny, was he using the original BOSS CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, the big grey box pedal? I used to have one, loved that tone, it was stolen. Got another now, but it has problems and haven't used it much.
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Jeff Wamble

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2020 6:57 pm    
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Some of sonny's best work was on gospel projects, Hinsons, Mcgruders, etc back in the late 80"s and 90"s! So tasteful and great tone and creative, wow!!
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Bill Ford


From:
Graniteville SC Aiken
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2020 8:11 am    
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I met Sonny when he was with Bill Anderson, he had just got his Emmons PP a couple months before, super nice person, one of the "not recognized enough" players. He still has that PP.
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Tiny Olson

 

From:
Tribes Hill, NY, Mohawk River Valley, USA
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2020 7:23 pm    
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Hey John:

Yes, I believe it was the CE-1 and looked pretty much as you described. A big unit that was grey / silver in color.

Around late '81 - early '82, Sonny got a new, black D-10 Emmons Original (metal necks) and started using it for sessions. I'm pretty sure he still uses that horn. Around late '84 he also got a JCH which I think, was one or two serial #s earlier than mine. His and mine were both Cherrywood mica.

I'm fairly certain that Sonny had a pre 1970 Emmons "Decal" guitar during his early days with Bill Anderson. Not sure when he got it or what it replaced. That was before the famous, wood-neck guitar that John Macy now owns.
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2020 8:23 pm    
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check out this fantastic version of Four Wheel Drive played by Sonny and the Po' Boys... not sure who's playing guitar but he plays harmony with Sonny throughout, which includes their arrangement of Buddy's solo from the original recording:

https://youtu.be/3m7bqxzO93M
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Larry Dering

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2020 4:01 pm    
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Nice version of 4 wheel drive. Thanks for posting, Scott.
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2020 6:07 pm    
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Hey Tiny, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your JCH serial number? I have #106...
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Tim Sergent

 

From:
Hendersonville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2020 7:51 pm    
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I have a wooden neck p/p like the one Sonny had. I think Mike Johnson had/has one too. It is an amazing guitar. I haven't played it in years, but I've always said that I would never sell it unless I really needed the money. I think the last time I played it was on Dierks Bentley's song Free and Easy....whatever year that was...2006 maybe? It's been in the case ever since. I guess I should sell it, or get it out of the case and play it. It's a shame for it to sit in a closet.
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Brett Day


From:
Pickens, SC
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2020 11:38 pm    
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Tim Sergent wrote:
I have a wooden neck p/p like the one Sonny had. I think Mike Johnson had/has one too. It is an amazing guitar. I haven't played it in years, but I've always said that I would never sell it unless I really needed the money. I think the last time I played it was on Dierks Bentley's song Free and Easy....whatever year that was...2006 maybe? It's been in the case ever since. I guess I should sell it, or get it out of the case and play it. It's a shame for it to sit in a closet.


"Free and Easy" was released in 2007 as the third single on the "Long Trip Alone" record. I knew Sonny had played a JCH and Emmons. Wonder if it was the Emmons or JCH on the Judds' records.
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Charlie McVay

 

From:
Pittsburgh, Pa. USA
Post  Posted 29 Jan 2020 4:48 pm     Sonny Garrish 66 Black Emmons Bolt on Wooden Necks
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I have a Black 66 Emmons bolt on with wooden necks that was Sonny's guitar when he was playing with Bill Anderson in the late 60's and original volume pedal. The guitar is that textured grainy looking formica. Invoice#2683 I loved and listened to Sonny’s playin and tried to copy some of his licks. I would post a few pictures but don't know how.
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Tiny Olson

 

From:
Tribes Hill, NY, Mohawk River Valley, USA
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2020 6:29 pm    
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Hey John:

I don't remember the exact ser. # of my JCH. It was one or two #s later than the one Sonny had.

Hope you're well.

Chris "Tiny" O.
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Terry Wood


From:
Marshfield, MO
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2020 12:31 pm    
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Like others said, Sonny Garrish never got the credit due him! He is a Great player! He played thousands of recordings in Nashville! I always loved his Steel Guitar playing!
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Jacek Jakubek


From:
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 21 Feb 2020 1:35 pm    
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I was re-reading some of my "Steel Guitarist" magazines recently and noticed that Sonny Garrish wrote a column in
some of them called "Sonny Garrish's Studio Steel." In this column, he talks about some of his studio experiences, which are pretty interesting.

The most interesting one I found is in issue #3 (Sep. 1979 with Jeff Newman on the cover) where Sonny talks about having recorded 300 instrumental country songs with his studio team for the 3M Corporation. 150 were instrumental covers of well known country songs, and the other 150 songs were originals that he and his studio musicians came up with: They wrote the charts and improvised all the melodies, and Sonny says they did a good job. 300 songs! That's like 30 albums of material, if you count 10 songs per album! At the end of the 300 songs, Sonny says that he and all the musicians had used up just about every lick they knew how to play!

These tunes were supposed to be sold by the 3M Corp. to department stores and various workplaces and offices, to be used as background music, or "muzzak."

I wonder if 3M Corp. still has those albums sitting in a vault somewhere, I doubt they still use them...It would be great if someone would get 3M Corp. to release them as a box set, or licence them to some Nashville label to be released. I'd love to hear that stuff. This was recorded before all this fake "muzzak" with canned drums and MIDI stuff...Just real musicians playing real instruments. It would be great to get a hold of this material.
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Dave Burr

 

From:
League City, TX
Post  Posted 26 Feb 2020 4:16 pm    
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Check out the early 70's Red Steagall albums. Sonny killed on those!!

db
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Larry Bressington


From:
The beautiful sunsets of Nebraska
Post  Posted 2 Mar 2020 6:22 pm    
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When i was 6 years old, i first heard and recognisized this beautiful sound, i asked my Mum what it was and she replied, 'It's a steel guitar an american instrument' It was Slim Whitmans version of 'Mr ting a ling steel guitar man' played by Sonny Garrish, that beautiful touch and tone still shakes me all these years later, that was a few full moons ago!!! Thank you Mr Garrish.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 3 Mar 2020 6:40 am    
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Sonny also seemed to keep the steel alive in Nashville when it was falling out of favor with his creative use of effects. Envelope filters and stuff like that.

I was bugging him about his studio sound one time and he told me he liked to use a Furman PQ-3 for direct recording.
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Franklin

 

Post  Posted 5 Mar 2020 3:35 am    
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Bob, Buddy Emmons in the 70's was using more effects than the rest. Buddy had just moved back to Nashville from LA and was fastly becoming a first call player on several accounts...This happened during the same years as Sonny's rise to becoming most producers first call....Buddy was the steel guitarist that experimented on sessions using more effects as the LA players were doing....Basically in the 70's when Sonny's career took off, Sonny was using a direct dry and using a Boss Chorus ensemble and/or would double everything he played when the producers would allow... This gave his playing on the radio a unique sonic difference on some pretty big hits of the day. That separated his sound and approach from what Buddy and the others were using to fit the more pop sounding stuff. The new electronic keyboard stuff changed the steels role and Sonny's doubling parts was the answer for the mid to late 70's.

I was Sonny's sub at the Possum Holler during those mid 70's and it became mandatory I play the same effect and doubling Sonny used because he was recommending me for his demo and custom work as his master calls went through the roof. Sonny's calls helped keep me in town during the Jerry Reed years and then again after I left Mel Tillis in the early 80's....

It's important that all session players tone separates from the pack. Sonny was so smart to see a void between Buddy using many effects on the dates and the others staying more pure...Sonny found it with doubling his parts and jumped on it. Nobody did that better than Sonny.

But in the 70's while Buddy used everything stomp box wise - Sonny's recorded tones were more consistent from date to date which I believe was a brilliant move for the times. Whereas Buddy was always experimenting which is what they like today - Sometimes Buddy brought different stomp box tones to each session...Buddy brought that element back from LA to Nashville.... Lloyd remained a steadfast purist as was Hal. There were many established artists that remained true to the purist of steel tones....Skaggs, Don Williams, Dolly, etc. Weldon's tone choices were more experimental at times and he remained prominent into the 90's period.. And Pete retired due to Emphysema. Russ Hicks, Buddy Charlton, and I all threw our hat into the ring.....Russ had the most success out of the three of us in the mid 70's. Check out his stuff with Barefoot Jerry....Its awesome!

Buddy was also the second choice on many of the sessions Sonny could not make such as the Bowen account in the early 80's...Sonny's approach for what to play is the reason he became the main Nashville force. I also believe its important historically, to know Buddy was the other strong radio presence as was Jay Dee's presence on all of the Snuff Garrett LA recordings which were all over radio by the late 70's into the 80's...Artists like Johnny Lee and many others, There were a lot of radio hits recorded in LA during those years which is where Jay Dee always dominated. Also Russ Hicks was on quite a few hits for artists like Mickey Gilley. His work for Barefoot Jerry is incredibly great. Lloyd, Weldon, Hughey, and Hal maintained a strong presence with the more established artists like Lorretta, Mandrell, Milsap, etc. Sonny seemed to land all the up starting legends like Whitley, Reba, Strait, the Judds, Vern Gosden, Eddie Rabbitt etc .. The industry always focuses on newer artists successes because its expected that established artists will do well at radio....

All in all I loved and appreciated everyones playing personally, but I loved Sonny's sound. It was thicker than the effects pedals could provide due to the doubling of his parts. To my ears Sonny's tone blended better with the Synth and electric keyboards that were ever so present in the late 70's Country recordings, I believe it blended because he was not using too many stomp boxes like delays, compression, flangers, etc. I know there a couple of hits where Sonny used a little distortion with a dry steel double but those were rare birds......Sonny came up with the sound that is now known for the 70's. He kept the steel alive by doubling prominent parts with Keyboards when no typical parts were desired..... Evident on Teri Gibbs recordings. These are a few examples of the chorused/doubled tone which was Sonny's signature sound and his approach for orchestrating parts: Sonny forever changed the steels direction in the studio....Sonny could and would play anything they wanted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZmiou7BI3I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt6-ZtOL_gY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd1GVbTjB2w

Paul
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 5 Mar 2020 6:11 am    
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First time I heard Sonny was at a Bill Anderson show taping in late September 71. It was at Channel 8 TV Station studio (its some other TV station now).

I did a show with Alan Frizzell and the talk got around to steel pickers and Alan mentioned he always used Sonny in his studio.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 5 Mar 2020 11:42 am    
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Paul,
Thanks for the clarification. I'm a big fan of Sonny's playing.
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Brett Day


From:
Pickens, SC
Post  Posted 5 Mar 2020 12:36 pm    
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Sonny had played on many of my favorite records in the 80s and 90s. I remember, as a kid, my favorite Judds song was "Grandpa"-I got excited every time that song came on, and as a kid, I didn't know anything about Sonny Garrish, but I loved the sound of the steel guitar, and I also heard "Mama He's Crazy" and "Love Is Alive", which also featured Sonny. When I heard Chalee Tennison's first record she put out when she was on Asylum Records, I'd just started playing steel at the time, and Sonny was on that record. Not only did I enjoy his playing on that record-I still enjoy it today, but there was something about his playing on that record that I was amazed by! One example of his steel on Chalee's song "Just Because She Lives There"-the opening steel part after the piano intro, got me playing that part a lot whenever I would play other songs. So, Sonny Garrish, Paul Franklin, and many others are all influences of mine!
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Daryll LeCroy

 

From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 24 Mar 2020 9:04 pm    
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Gene Watson -- What She Don't Know Won't Hurt Her
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4ORa7KdKaY

This steel is hard to top for a radio-hit type country song IMO.

I don't know how many have ever watched Sonny play up close, but as time passed, the spread between his thumb and index/middle fingers widened, to a point not like anybody else I've seen. You can hear it in a lot of his licks where the thumb-picked notes have a rounder tone, and the other notes have more bite (closer to the bridge). If that makes sense. I personally love that sound, almost like you're hearing two different instruments.

I was talking to him once in the 90s and I said "I see that right hand." I explained, and he said "you're right".
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Dave Burr

 

From:
League City, TX
Post  Posted 11 Jun 2020 10:09 am    
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Here's a link to one of the songs Sonny did with Red Steagall. On Truck Driving Man you can really hear the doubling in full effect.

https://youtu.be/L68VZmRBDdY
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jun 2020 10:27 am    
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I'm a big fan of Gene Watson and have most of his CDs.
When I'm listening to one of his CDs and am really impressed by the steel player, I look at the credits and usually its Sonny Garrish. Very Happy
Erv
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