John Fabian

1945 - 2010
Remembering John

John Fabian loved pedal steel guitar. He loved technology almost as much. So it was only natural that he would seek to blend the two whenever possible. As President and co-founder of Carter Steel Guitars, John had the perfect outlet for his twin passions.

John Fabian

John was an early adopter of computer technology and immediately realized the potential the Internet provided to transform and promote his business. The pedal steel guitar industry had been (and to a great extent, still is) mostly a cottage industry -- a few small builders in small shops, lovingly hand-crafting customized instruments, selling them largely through word-of-mouth. During the industry's 70s-80s boom, larger companies like Sho~Bud, MSA, and Emmons had extensive production and distribution facilities but by the time Carter came on the scene they were either closed or greatly diminished.

As John's business began to grow, coincidentally Internet access became available to the general public. Grasping that the 'net could be a sales and service medium for Carter, John quickly snapped up dozens of steel-related domain names, including the coveted He created the first steel guitar manufacturer's web site and continued to add features, services, and content to it for over 13 years. There were no professional web developers or webmasters in those days, so John learned how to produce web sites himself. He learned to use Dreamweaver, ColdFusion, Photoshop, 3DMax, PHP, HTML, and other essential tools and technologies.

Carter was the first manufacturer to offer online ordering for steel guitars, even including a web-based tool John developed to show custom configurations and prototyping with 3D modeling. He later added a dealer-only site which allowed resllers to view currently available inventory in real time, freeing up the office staff from phone inquiries and providing immediate feedback to those needing the information.

Behind the scenes, John was using his MBA background to improve business and production processes at Carter. He was a Deming disciple and also brought Carter in line with the Japanese kaizen principle of continuous improvement. Anyone who toured the Mesquite factory location was able to see the obvious results of these practices in action, particularly with the production facility for the Carter-Starter.

John was also fascinated with salt-water fish and once again was able to blend his outside interests with the steel guitar business. Here is a video (created by John) of a one-of-a-kind PSG creation he envisioned. The music selection was John's, as well. The fantastic inlay was done by the highly-regarded, in-demand sea life inlay artist and marine biologist Craig Lavin, to whom John gave total creative license for this project.

For more information about John's life, please visit