I began playing the steel guitar when I was ten years old. My father played steel, and had a 1939 Gibson lap steel, which became my first steel guitar. I grew up in Graham, NC. We lived one block from a building which became the Emmons guitar factory. My dad soon became good friends with Ron Lashley. As a kid growing up, I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time at the Emmons factory with Ron and my Dad.
In late 1963 and 1964, I spent many nights and weekends at the Emmons factory with my Dad and Ron Lashley, watching Ron build steel guitars, and learning about the mechanics of the steel. Many weekends, Buddy Emmons would have jam sessions there with the Cherokee Cowboys. They were very private affairs, but Ron always called my Dad and told: “Get Gary over here, Buddy is here with the guys”. Thus was born my passion for the pedal steel guitar. When Ron built “Blondie”, Buddy’s name for the blond 1964 non-serialized Emmons shown on my site, Buddy played it for a short time, and Ron then sold the guitar to my dad as my first pedal steel. There are a set of Buddy’s finger picks on the rods of guitar. I can recall Ron telling my Dad and I that they should never come off, and that perhaps maybe some of Buddy’s talent would remain in the guitar. The finger picks are still on the guitar today. A lot of people have scoffed at the idea that Buddy would leave picks on his guitar. In fact, I asked Buddy myself if those were his picks on my guitar on his column “Ask Buddy”, and his response was: “That’s an Affirmative!” Ron gave me many lessons on that guitar, and that started my career with the pedal steel. So in some way, I feel like those finger picks have brought me luck in my own career.
I moved on to many guitars through my life, but always had a passion for the old Fender Stringmasters. Both my Dad and I collected guitars for many years. I built this website to show some of the guitars in my collection. Enjoy!