Joe Morrell, a native of Bristol, Tennessee, was a musician, playing professionally as a young man with country music bands in New England and locally with Curly King on the WCYB "Farm and Fun Time" radio program in the 1950s. He sometimes performed using the stage name 'Herbie Hootenauger'.
In 1960 he founded the Joe Morrell Music Store in Bristol, and later organized the Joe Morrell Music Distributing Co. which supplies music products to retailers throughout the U.S.
In the 1980s Joe designed and built the landmark “Grand Guitar” just off Interstate 81’s exit 74A in Bristol. The Grand Guitar, 70 feet long and three stories tall, housed a country music museum. In 1989 Morrell purchased radio station WOPI, the oldest station between Knoxville, Tenn. and Roanoke, Va., which he re-located to the Grand Guitar building.
Sensitive to the needs of the Appalachian musical community, Joe recognized a market for affordable musical instruments. Being an accomplished steel and resonator player, he designed his namesake model lap steel which was not only affordable, but structurally sound and easy to play.
Today, Morrell is owned and operated by Joe's son Curtis. Morrell Lap Steels are enjoyed by beginners, enthusiasts, and professional players from around the world.
Lap Steel For a New Generation
Since the late 1970's when Joe Morrell had his first few lap and pedal steels made, Morrell Music has shipped thousands of lap steels across the globe. Although the music business as well as the instrument manufacturing business has changed vastly since then, the Morrell Lap Steels has kept a constant vision: to provide the most affordable and wide range of USA made lap steel guitars in the industry. Each steel is cut, finished, assembled, and tested individually to provide its buyer with the best product possible.
With the addition of the Morrell Custom Series Lap Steels in 2013, we took the next step in bringing a new kind of lap steel to the market. Featuring a 25" Scale and many features seen on the most modern electric guitars such as dual pickups and coil splits, this guitar brings a whole new level of versatility to the lap steel world! A true modern lap steel guitar with professional appointments was the result; all while still being Affordable and American Made!