Later he took a job working with Semie Mosley assisting him in building Mosrite guitars.
Interestingly, Walt Smith was encouraged in his effort by his friend Leo Fender.
He then returned to his hometown and started building his own brand of unique steel guitars. He named them Melobar guitars.
Smith built a metal version of this guitar. However he was unhappy with the completed instrument.
He kept some of them and had his son take the rest to the county dump.
Many of these guitars were salvaged by dumpster divers. This guitar has been unofficially designated as the Melobar Dumpster Guitar.
Because Melobar guitars were all handmade there are subsequently few. Probably around 1,000. Not only are they unique, but rare as well.
Many well-known steel players have a Melobar in their collection. Players such as David Lindley, Rusty Young, and my favorite steel player, Cindy Cashdollar all own a Melobar.
Walt renamed his venture The Smith Family Music Company.
At first Melobar Guitars started with six string lap steels. The product line soon expanded to include not just six string instrument, but eight string guitars as well.
Another instrument developed that same year was the Supersteel, that came with interchangeable double and triple neck stands.
In 1998, Melobar added a Fiberglass resonator guitar to the line-up. These models were produced in six, seven, and eight string versions. That same year Melobar/Smith Family Music add a double neck instrument called the Tele Steel Guitar.
The Tele Steel Guitar is reminiscent of Junior Brown’s Guit-Steel. The top neck is a guitar neck and the bottom-angled neck is a 10-string steel guitar
Possibly the most well known Melobar was the Skreemer. This is the one with a Flying Vee shape and an angled neck, designed to be played standing up. It was offered in a six or seven string version.
The Melobar X-10 is a 10-string Explorer shaped guitar that is made to be played in a standing position.
Smith Family Music made a Mosrite Melobar model that came in sunburst or white. This guitar was based on the Ventures guitar.
Walt Smith died in 1991. His wife, Mildred Smith, and son Ted Smith kept the company going. They built over 1000 instruments, including lap steels and Melobars.
A family business is a tough to run. I know since I ran one for 27 years. Profit is hard to come by. Good employees are hard to come by and great ones even harder.
I have read that Jim Frost and Ted Smith attempted to resurrect Melobar in 2008 with a company called Hardway Manufacturing.
Ted Smith has entered into the world of sales and is promoting a book he has written about cold calling.
Melobar/Smith Family Music is no longer in business. But for a while they produced a truly unique and unusual guitar.
Update! ere is a wonderful link that I have come across from Ted Smith.