Susan Taylor Carson plays Texas style Western Swing rhythm guitar in Tennessee. Steeped first in bluegrass as a well-known banjo player and fingerstyle guitarist in east Tennessee, she went on to study Western Swing guitar with the late Bob Wills’ Texas Playboy legend, Eldon Shamblin. Susan was the first female 5 string banjo picker in East Tennessee, the youngest female to own a guitar shop (age 19), and Fender Musical Instruments’ first female District Sales Manager.
After having her own music store, she worked as a vintage instrument specialist for Gruhn Guitars for five years, then enjoyed a twenty year association with Fender, which included being a District Sales Manager in the southeast, as well as being a banjo design and marketing consultant for Fender’s acoustic division.
Susan provided the banjo music for Charles Kuralt’s commentary and history of Tennessee in 1976, has played on various recording projects, and conducted instructional workshops. More recently, in 2010, Garrison Keillor featured Susan on The Prairie Home Companion radio show during which she played a Travis style medley on guitar.
In recent years, she has been an adjunct instructor in swing rhythm guitar at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN, home to the only 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music, and serves on the Development Council of the program. Today, Susan enjoys playing Texas style rhythm guitar with all the many fiddle players in the region, as well as helping others to learn the style. Ironically, it was Mother Maybelle Carter who first played an archtop guitar in the region and made her famous recordings with it in 1927 just a few miles from Susan’s hometown. Many years later, Susan is having fun introducing the archtop back into the area known as the birthplace of country music.
For 30 years, she was married to the late Bill Carson, a veteran in the musical instrument industry, a Fender Hall of Fame member, and principal designer of the famous Fender Stratocaster guitar. (She plays an ANDY model and a SINFONIETTA)
“I can’t wait to get my Benedetto Sinfonietta and play Texas style rhythm on it in Tennessee. It is an honor and privilege to own such an incredibly fine made instrument by legendary builder Bob Benedetto. But in addition to the joy of owning a Benedetto guitar is the privilege of knowing Bob and Cindy Benedetto personally. They are the real deal – honest, sincere, and hilariously funny, and whose friendship I cherish. Howard Paul, Bob, and Cindy will do everything possible to make sure you get a guitar made just for you, the way you want it.
Having spent my entire adult life in the musical instrument industry, I know and appreciate the great craftsmanship, the care, the passion, and the pride that Bob Benedetto puts into his instruments.
When I think of the greatest archtop builders in history, I think of Stromberg, D’Angelico, D’Aquisto and Benedetto.”
photo courtesy of player