Grateful Dead Music Forum

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Chat about Equipment Info
 #89078  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:10 am
After many years of wanting, I finally scored a vintage, late '60s ZB pedal steel like Jerry's. This one could possibly be very close in production date to Jerry's. There weren't many made. This one has been dated around late-'67 early '68. It was a double neck, but the C6 neck has been replaced by a pad as so many steel guitars are. Jerry never cared for the C6 voicing anyway. We only heard him play the E9 neck. Mechanically it's a dream, very precise and tight and in-tune. These ZB steels are tricky to tweak mechanically. The cult of owners reminds me of VW Microbus owners, where it takes a degree of mechanical inclination. It's been said that if the ZB was easy to work on, they'd still be in business. The company migrated from Phoenix (circa '66) to Scranton, Arkansas (circa '67-'69), and then out to Bakersfield, CA for a long stretch thru the '70s. These Scranton models are said to be quite desirable because of the nickel content in the endplate castings, a major contributor to tone. Also Zane Beck liked to use birdseye or normal hard rock maple for the top layer and that's also said to be a good tone factor. In later years the ZB's got real pretty with flamed maple tops, but some say the flame maple doesn't necessarily have the ideal tone compared to the birdseye or non-figured type. This is the exact type guitar that we hear on "Teach Your Children", Wheel, To Lay Me Down, Dire Wolf, early NRPS, etc. Jerry's actual ZB steel lives in the Bay Area and is owned by a guy named Pete Grant. Pete tells the story of him and Jerry driving around in the mid/late '60s when they heard Tom Brumley play the classic steel part on Buck Owens' "Together Again". He said Jerry was hooked instantly and soon dove in and bought and learned the instrument. Incidentally, it was Tom Brumley who soon bought the ZB steel guitar company and ran it for about 10 years in California.

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Last edited by SarnoMusicSolutions on Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
 #89080  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:15 am
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 #89081  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:18 am
Happy as a clam...
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 #89091  by Pete B.
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:03 am
Nice AXE!!!
Great score, Brad!
 #89093  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:11 am
The pic of Jerry sitting at the Emmons is interesting. I know that Buddy Cage encouraged him to get an Emmons at one point later in time, but I also wonder if that's Cage's guitar in the pic and maybe Jer was just using his for convenience. Maybe that's from a show where (post-Jerry) NRPS opened. Anyone know the date on that shot? Cage eventually played a tricked out Dekeley steel guitar after the Emmons. Not sure on the chronology. My other guitar is an Emmons. They're famous for their tone. It's funny when you talk to people about new steel guitars being made, they always compare it to the classic Emmons "push/pull" tone. They cry like nothing else.

BTW, Buddy Emmons is THE god of steel guitar. Anyone not familiar with Buddy should get familiar. One of the truly greatest musicians in human history. A freak monster of technique, taste, innovation, and soul.

Also, everyone should go listen to the original Buck Owens "Together Again" to hear what ultimately turned Jerry on to pedal steel. Actually, the steel work on that single literally launched a generation of new pedal steel players in the '60s.

 #89108  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:20 pm
Nice find! Looks like a great score!

Listening to Buck Owens now on Grooveshark. Was pedal steel an uncommon instrument at the time or was he a particularly good player? It sounds good to me but I don't have much background on it.
 #89109  by Pete B.
 Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:34 pm
I know most pics are of Jer playing a ZB, but since it came up...
Here's another pic of Jer on an Emmons: