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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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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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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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Art Beard


From:
Once upon a time out west (deceased)
Post Posted 18 Feb 2018 1:04 pm     Mica Sho-Bud Reply with quote

while living in 5th wheel in the Tombstone Territories RV Park, near Tombstone, I remember seeing an ad somewhere, on the forum, or ebay or something for a Mica Sho-Bud like the brown one. I thought at the time that Sho-Bud didn't build many mica guitars, and this one was in Tucson, Az, close by. But didn't get chance to go look and see if I wanted it.Memory is a little shakey at times from all the pain meds and operations but that how I remember it.
CAA
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GAS -1969 ZB D11/10,1974 Sho-Bud D10 Professional,1975 Speedy West S10, 150 yr okd Barn Board tele, Beard signature Gold Tone Dean Acoustic/Electric Bass, Tennessee 12 string Bass, 3 String Shovel.2 Fiddles., Sho-Bud amp, Epiphone valve special amp, Fishman loudbox artist amp.
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Mike Flick


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 18 Feb 2018 5:14 pm     Reply with quote

Hal Rugg lived in Tuscon the last few years of his life. Don't know if he still had that Shobud though.
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Art Beard


From:
Once upon a time out west (deceased)
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 12:55 am     Hal Rugg Reply with quote

I knew that he was living in Tucson at that time, as I am a fan. But listing did not contain his name as seller. Hope that claify's it a little. My instinct told me to buy it, But my love of the lacquer Buds wouldn't let me. Crying or Very sad
CAA Muttering Crying or Very sad
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"like an old stallion, lonely for freedom, still trying to out run the wind" Seals,Setser,& Davey.
GAS -1969 ZB D11/10,1974 Sho-Bud D10 Professional,1975 Speedy West S10, 150 yr okd Barn Board tele, Beard signature Gold Tone Dean Acoustic/Electric Bass, Tennessee 12 string Bass, 3 String Shovel.2 Fiddles., Sho-Bud amp, Epiphone valve special amp, Fishman loudbox artist amp.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 6:13 am     Reply with quote

Mike Flick wrote:
Hal Rugg lived in Tuscon the last few years of his life. Don't know if he still had that Shobud though.


Mike and everybody else:

It is extremely likely that Hal Rugg never had anything to do with that steel. Never owned it, never saw it and never even heard of it. Bobbe’s story seems to be another one of his absurd tall tales that he enjoyed telling. At the time he sent out that newsletter the steel in question was available for sale at his shop. The parts used to put that steel together and Hal’s personal time line do not ad up to anything other than Bobbe is weaving an elaborate fantasy.

For anybody who still uses Bobbe Seymour as a reference:

Bobbe was a great guy and I enjoyed hanging out with him. He did give me some good deals and buy me lunch. But he was a pathological liar. He would make up really crazy and actually mean spirited stuff just because he enjoyed screwing with people. He did Change a bit when the internet exposed him though. He modified his regular BS and promptly got to work having fun using the forum and his newsletter to sell instruments and stir crap among pro players.
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Dustin Rigsby


From:
Parts Unknown, Ohio
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 12:25 pm     Reply with quote

You Vultures ! He is no longer here to defend himself ! I met Bobbe before I started playing pedal steel. He confessed from the get go that he was a salesman. It was “his job to make you hate your gear so he could sell you brand new gear that you will hate six months from now “ ! Now I agree that he could spin a yarn. Any fool should have seen him coming from a mile away. With all that being said, he never bent me over on anything I purchased from him. He gave away freebies. Yeah they only cost him pennies on the dollar, but it was the thought that counted. As a new player he only gave tips and encouragement, which is a lot more than what I got from at least one “A” list player...He refused to work on one of my Wilcox guitars, said it was an abortion, but he coached me over the phone to get it playing right. Remember, Elvis never liked Bobbe.....LOL. I miss the guy. He made me laugh and he never stabbed me in the back. Sorry if I offe.....nope I’m not sorry at all. Hope I don’t get suspended. If I do, I guess it was worth it !
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 12:25 pm     Reply with quote

I saw Bobbe with Bobby Bare in Jamestown, NY a long time ago. First time I saw a pedal steel played through a Leslie cabinet. Bobby had a unique style, was great with effects, and could play a lot of the big band tunes with full chords.

I spent a lot of time with his Uncle Doug who taught me a lot of C6 tunes that he learned from Bobbe. I bought and sold a few guitars with Bobbe and got a along with him real well for years. Near the end of our friendship I had a minor disagreement with him about pickup configurations. He emailed me out of the blue and told me that I'd better shut up and listen to him and if I did that I might actually learn something. We never got along after that!

His stories were outlandish but top notch entertainment. You could mention any player or builder and Bobbe would have some "inside" information on that. He was a colorful guy and the most honest stories about him would have to come from sources other than himself. He had a lot of income from his classic car rebuilding ship that funded a lot of his hobbies.

Doug gave me an early tape of Bobbe rehearsing for about 4 hours with Ray Price. It was made from a tape recorder sitting on Bobbe's amp and that's when I first noticed how good his blocking technique was. You could barely hear Ray sing but the tape had a ton of steel pads and ideas for backing up a singer.
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John De Maille


From:
On a Mountain in Upstate Halcottsville, N.Y.
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 12:29 pm     Reply with quote

Didn't Hal play that ShoBud on the Wilburn Brothers show? I remember seeing him play it on the show.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 1:53 pm     Reply with quote

Dustin,
I'm sorry if I offended you. I am actually in agreement with most of your sentiments. Guys like us who knew, liked and dealt with Bobbe understood he could "tell a yarn". The issue is people that didn't know him (and never got the chance to see him coming from a mile away) are now repeating his fantastic stories as history.
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Art Beard


From:
Once upon a time out west (deceased)
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 4:56 pm     History Reply with quote

Has any one written the history if our great instrument. With the history of the builders and players. Stories of the players would be good too but must be taken as legend not fact. When fact and legend meet, print the legend.
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GAS -1969 ZB D11/10,1974 Sho-Bud D10 Professional,1975 Speedy West S10, 150 yr okd Barn Board tele, Beard signature Gold Tone Dean Acoustic/Electric Bass, Tennessee 12 string Bass, 3 String Shovel.2 Fiddles., Sho-Bud amp, Epiphone valve special amp, Fishman loudbox artist amp.
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Dustin Rigsby


From:
Parts Unknown, Ohio
Post Posted 19 Feb 2018 9:02 pm     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:
Dustin,
I'm sorry if I offended you. I am actually in agreement with most of your sentiments. Guys like us who knew, liked and dealt with Bobbe understood he could "tell a yarn". The issue is people that didn't know him (and never got the chance to see him coming from a mile away) are now repeating his fantastic stories as history.


I’m not offended Bob. Unlike most folks today I have a thick skin. I guess it just hit me wrong. Bobbe was a salesman for sure and I’d lay money that he could’ve sold a dead man an extra burial plot,just in case the view was bad ! He had a weird sense of humor and he did stir the pot quite a bit, but boy did he make me laugh. He offered me the best price on a new guitar that I still kick myself for not taking. Very Happy
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