Compiled by Duane Becker
The following lists briefly the different models of
pedal steels that Sho-Bud produced through the years.
The dates given for one particular model sometimes
overlap into the dates of another model. For example, the Permanent
model was continued to be built and sold for a number of years well
into the Fingertip era.
Every effort has been made to assure accuracy in the
dates and information given. This in itself has been extremely
difficult to do because nothing has never been published or written
about Sho-Bud, whether it be the company or the models of pedal
steels-other than the individual brochures from Sho-Bud. What I had to
rely on was employees memories, and those memories are fading fast.
Basically its been more than 20 years ago since this stuff happened and
its reasonable to assume that people may not remember details that far
back in time.
As I compiled the information, I often encountered
conflicts in details and facts. I attempted to resolve the conflict by
the corroboration of at least three sources. If confirmation was
impossible and not critical to the presentation of the material, the
information was either excluded or an approximation noted. Volumes
could be written about Sho-Bud, and what is presented here is by no
means a finished work.
I am continually adding to my notes and information
about Sho-Bud. Attempts to contact long time employees and Jackson
family members to interview will continue and the information presented
here will be updated and added to when needed.
2747 Willms Rd.
Elk, WA. 99009
The Sho-Bud Models
in Chronological Order
1) THE PERMANENT
These were the first pedal steels built by Sho-Bud. Starting out in
1957, Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons began building cabinets and
assembling the pedal mechanism in Madison, Tennessee, just north of
Nashville. The cabinets of the first several Permanents were all wood
with no metal end plates. Soon after though metal end plates were added
to the production. The undercarriage parts were welded together and the
pedal setups, unlike today, could not be changed. Eight string, and
later nine string cabinets were made with pedals, and by late 1958, the
three pedals that we know today on the E9, became standard. Shortly
after, the permanent model evolved to the standard ten string. The
early permanents had no knee levers and basically consisted of raises
only on the pedals(which is still the standard E9 three pedal setup
today). During the late 1950's and early 1960's, the C6 neck was also
evolving, with the Nashville players adding pedals and strings to
eventually becoming standard with 10 strings and 5 pedals. As a result,
the double neck soon became the norm and many permanent double necks
with pedals were produced through these years. It was not uncommon to
see a single neck permanent as well. These pedal steels were very well
received by the steel players and became very popular. The permanent,
sometimes called the Custom, continued to be produced well into the
1960's. Although Shot Jackson and others were adding knee levers to
existing steels since the early 1950's, knee levers were pretty much
standard on the Sho-Buds by 1964. Even earlier than this, around 1962
or '63, knee levers were starting to gain in popularity.
Up to this time, steel players sat on a regular chair,
piano stool, or bench. With the addition of the knee levers, players
found it sometimes difficult to set at the pedal steel and reach the
knee levers and pedals all at the same time. Long time Sho-Bud
employee, Duane Marrs came up with the idea of a seat specially
designed for the pedal steel guitarist. Some what higher than the
average chair or stool, this seat was the perfect height for playing
the pedal steel. Duane Marrs built a prototype seat that included a
storage compartment and called it the pack-a-seat. When Duane
approached Shot Jackson about the idea of manufacturing the pack-a-seat
that he had invented, they figured out that they would have to charge
no less than $35 to cover the expenses to build it. No one thought that
the steel players would be interested in such a seat, nor would be
willing to pay money for it. But to their surprise, the seat was well
received and as knee levers were added to the pedal steels, sales of
the pack-a-seat increased and soon became, and still is today, a much
needed accessory for the pedal steel guitar.
In Shot's old catalog, the number of necks, strings and
pedals affected the price of the Permanent model, because these pedal
steels were for the most part, custom built. For a double neck 10
string the price was $480, with extra pedals, $50 each.
2) THE FINGERTIP
Around 1963, production started on the Sho-Bud Fingertip. This model
was unique because unlike the Permanent, it was possible to change the
pedal setup. It was nicknamed the Universal for this reason, and was
basically the start of the all-pull undercarriage system. The Fingertip
got its name from the fact that you could tune the pedal raises or
lowers with your fingertips. On the end of the changer, slotted, finger
turntable screws for each of the strings was used to tune the pedals.
The changer was designed in such a way that you could raise and lower
the same string if so desired. Additional raises or lowers of the same
string had to be adjusted in the undercarriage. Although the setup was
easy to change, the guitar was very sensitive. It had to be setup and
adjusted perfectly in order to stay in tune. Constant adjustment was
pretty much a given. But once it was adjusted correctly, it played and
sounded great. It had a wonderful tone. Generally, the Fingertip was
standard with one, and then later, two knee levers. In 1964, the
Jackson family moved the Sho-Bud company to lower Broadway in downtown
Nashville. A full service music store featuring Sho-Bud pedal steels
and products was offered. Fingertips and Permanents were built and
assembled at this store on lower Broadway. The generally accepted era
for the Fingertip was from 1963 to around 1967 or possibly later.
Suggested prices for these Fingertips during their production run
varied from eight to twelve string; single,double, or triple neck. The
type of wood and finish, plus any wood inlay work also affected the
price. As the Permanent, the Fingertip was considered a custom pedal
steel. But for an example, a double-10 listed at $620 and $50 for each
additional pedal or knee lever.
3) THE BALDWIN CROSSOVER
Sho-Bud became involved with the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company
because of its large distribution potential. Baldwin wanted Sho-Bud to
produce a pedal steel with their name on it to promote sales, and in
1967 the Baldwin Crossover was introduced. This model of pedal steel
like the Fingertip had a wonderful rich tone. The guitar was standard
with 6 pedals and one knee lever (generally placed on the right knee),
although at this time, players were adding knee levers on a regular
basis, and it was not uncommon to see two or even three knee levers.
The Baldwin Crossover was a double neck with a shift type lever or gear
that the player could move. In one position all the pedals would
operate the top neck. Moving the shift lever would disengage the pedals
from the top neck to the bottom neck(by moving the shift lever, the
pedals "crossed over" to the other neck, thus the term "crossover"). In
this way, all the pedals could actually be used on both necks just by
the flick of the shift lever. This shift lever was positioned on the
back side of the pedal steel facing the player. The undercarriage of
the Baldwin Crossover was unique in the fact that the pull rods were
attached to small metal "baskets". These baskets were connected to the
pedal crossrods and bell crank. The guitar had a metal frame that
wrapped all the way around the body of the steel. On the front, the
frame was on the inside of the body and the actual front was covered
with maple. This wrap around metal frame supported the undercarriage.
There were two models of Baldwin Crossover available. One was the
Regular Baldwin Crossover in which the metal frame was an unpolished
black textured-ruff finish. The other model, called the Custom Baldwin
Crossover had a smooth polished metal frame. These Baldwins like the
Fingertip was sensitive and temperamental in the fact that the tuning
and pedal setup up had to be adjusted perfectly in order for it to play
right and in tune. When this was done and the guitars were adjusted,
both the Fingertip and the Baldwin Crossover played great. The
generally excepted Crossover production years were from 1967 to 1970.
Suggested retail price of a double neck 10 string, six pedals and one
knee lever was$1295 for the maple body in 1970.
4) THE PROFESSIONAL
Around 1970, Sho-Bud introduced the Professional model of pedal steel.
The same basic undercarriage design using the small metal baskets on
the Baldwin Crossover was used on the Professional model. The
Professional was also very similar to the Crossover except having the
metal frame and crossover removed. The Professional had a wonderful
rich and warm tone. The Professional production era was from 1970 to
1973, and the suggested price at this time was $1450.
5) THE PRO SERIES
Sho-Bud introduced the Pro Series approximately late 1972 with the Pro-II.
Although the Pro-I had been around for some time, considered by many to be just
a single neck Professional, it was soon called the Pro-I. The Pro-I was standard first
with three pedals and one knee lever. The Pro-I and II were a very popular pedal steel
for Sho-Bud, however, the Professional model continued to be produced well into 1974.
The undercarriage of the Pro II featured rods and bellcranks that replaced the baskets
on the Professional model. The early Pro Series as well as the early LDG models used
a single raise-single lower changer with any additional raise or lower of the same string
provided by a brass tuning collar on the rod. Later the Pro-II employed a double raise-single lower changer.
In 1975, Sho-Bud introduced the Pro-III featuring metal necks.
The standard changer on the Pro-III was a double raise-double lower.
Also, in 1975, the Pro Series body designed changed from a rounded body front to a square front.
The floor pedals also changed to a narrow design. This was the start of the Pro/Custom series.
Also during this time a new nylon rod tuning changer was introduced on the Pros.
This enabled the player to tune all of the pedal/knee raises and lowers at the right
end plate which was a great improvement over the changer and undercarriage of the past.
As was stated, the Pro-I had been around a number of years before the Pro-II and Pro-III.
In the early 1970's, Sho-Buds suggested price list for the Pro-I was $995. In 1976 the Pro-I Custom
listed $895 retail. Gretsch in 1981 listed the Pro-I for $1450. The Pro-II in the early 70's listed at $1595.
In the 1976 catalog the Pro-II was $1595 retail and the 1981 Gretsch catalog suggested price was $2120.
The Pro-III first produced in 1975, had a retail price of $1795 for the Pro-III Custom in 1976,
and Gretsch listed it for $2350 in 1981.
Want a pedal steel guitar for just $400? Sho-Buds answer was the
Maverick. Designed with 3 foot pedals and one knee lever, the player of
this single 10 string model could get most of the Nashville pedal steel
sounds. Production started in the very early 1970's and this model was
designed with the beginner in mind. The changer and undercarriage was
based on the old permanent system and could not be changed. The three
foot pedals were standard E9 changes and the one knee lever standard
lowered the second string and eighth string one half tone. The first
production Mavericks had a solid birdseye maple body with clear lacquer
finish, and a raised wood neck with the regular tear drop keyhead.
Almost all of these early Mavericks were the clear (blonde) natural
finish. Later though, Sho-Bud came up with a way to cut the cost of
building the Maverick by covering the unfinished body with a brown wood
grained covering. The tear drop keyhead was also changed to an ash tray
style keyhead. The Mavericks were popular and many were produced
through the years. These models were built pretty much continually from
the early 70's on. In the early 1970's, Sho-Buds suggested price for
the solid birdseye maple style was $425. A later catalog lists the
price for $395. The 1976 catalog suggested price list for the wood
grained covered Maverick was $360 retail. Its interesting to note that
the Gretsch Company's suggested price list for the same wood grained
covered Maverick was $790 in 1981.
Production started around 1973. The idea came from Lloyd Green in the
fact that he was not playing the C6 neck too much and wanted the back
neck and C6 pedals removed to decrease weight. A soft foam pad was put
on the back neck as an arm rest. The first LDG's were basically early
Pro-II with the pad installed. Later, the body, undercarriage, changer,
and mechanics evolved over time with the Pro-Series and then the Super
Pro. The early 1970's suggested price list for an LDG was $1195. The
1976 catalog lists the price at $1195 retail, and Gretsch in 1981 list
price was $1720.
In the early 1970's the Fender Guitar Company contracted Sho-Bud to
produce a Fender/Sho-Bud pedal steel. This model and the Super Pro were
very similar in design except for the body and the key head. The
undercarriage was basically the same as used on the future Super Pro.
These Fender/Sho-Bud pedal steels had the ash tray Fender style
keyhead. The changer used was a triple raise-double lower, and was
similar to the Super Pro changer. Other then the changer and
undercarriage, this model had a look that was different then the
9) SUPER PRO
In 1977, the Super Pro was introduced. It was standard as a double wood
or metal neck, with 8 pedals and 6 knee levers. This model and the
Fender/ShoBud was very similar in design except for the body and the
key head. The Super Pro had a streamlined-smaller and thinner body
design then the Sho-Bud models of the past. Also, the undercarriage
pretty much the same as the Fender/Sho-Bud model, was very different
then the past Sho-Bud models. The cross rods on the past models were
round. On the Super Pro they were hex shaped. The bell cranks and pedal
rods were also of a new design. Small metal tuning rod clips were used
to hold the tuning rods onto the bell crank. The floor pedals on the
Super Pro were small narrow pedals that had a very different look then
the past wide pedal design. The knee lever design changed as well, to a
straight narrow lever. The tuning key head was square and blunt on the
end instead of the old standard tear drop key head of the past.
Clearly, Sho-Bud had a new pedal steel. This new undercarriage design
was very popular. After the introduction of the Super Pro, the
undercarriage designs of the Pro-Series and the LDG pedal steels
changed to the Super Pro style. When the Super Pro was first introduced
in 1977, the retail price was $2175. Gretsch in 1981 listed the Super
Pro at $2850.
11) SHO-BUD KEYLESS
Although this model was never really produced by Sho-Bud, it is
mentioned here because several prototype Keyless pedal steels
(Single-10) were made. The Keyless was built to eliminate the raise and
lower changer mechanism by using permanent changer fingers at both ends
of the guitar. One end to raise and the other end to lower. The Keyless
guitar idea never caught on with Sho-Bud and the idea was dropped. Had
Sho-Bud continued with the development of the Keyless, they would have
no doubt, been successful. Today, many pedal steel manufactures offer
keyless models that play and sound great.
12) SUPER PRO II
After the Jackson family sold the Sho-Bud company to Gretsch in 1979,
Gretsch came out with a modified version of the Super Pro. Not exactly
considered a production run, several Super-Pro-II's were built by the
Gretsch company around 1984. The Gretsch price list from 1983 lists the
Super Pro-II as a double 10 string, 8 pedals, 6 knee levers with a
suggested price of $3530
MODEL NUMBERS FOR SHO-BUD PEDAL STEEL GUITARS
6138 Single Neck 10 strings 3 pedals
6139 Single Neck 10 strings 3 pedals, 1 knee lever
6140 Single Neck 10 strings 6 pedals, no knee lever
6141 Double Neck 6 pedals, 1 knee lever-maple body
6142 Double Neck 6 pedals, 1 knee lever-rosewood body
6143 Professional Model Double Neck 10 strings 8 pedals,
2 knee levers
6148 Pro-I Single Neck 10 strings 3 pedals, 2 knee
6150 LDG Single Neck 10 strings 3 pedals, 4 knee levers
6152 Maverick Single Neck 10 strings 3 pedals, 1 knee
6155 Pro-II Double Neck 10 strings 8 pedals, 2 knee
6160 Pro-I Single Neck 12 string 3 pedals, 4 knee
6164 Pro-III Double Neck 10 strings 8 pedals, 4 knee
6165 Pro-II Double Neck 12 strings 8 pedals, 4 knee
6166 Super Pro Double Neck 10 strings 8 pedals, 6 knee