Buying a resonator guitar

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Buying a resonator guitar

Postby cj48 » Wed May 25, 2011 2:01 am

Hey there everybody, for the past several months I've been thinking about gettin a resonator guitar. So my question is what are some good guitars around the $600 price range? Thats my ideal budget. However, I would of course love to get a high end brand like National. Those are pretty pricey, but I can still afford one, it's just a big chunk of money to get rid of. Can I still get some really nice dobros for a cheaper price, or would I be better off getting a National anyway?
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Re: Buying a resonator guitar

Postby zhyla » Wed May 25, 2011 2:25 pm

There are some nice import options available these days. I would look at Republic and Recording King.

I think it's hard to justify the expense of a National as a first purchase. They're great, but I haven't had much itch to replace my imports with a National. You'll find lots of arguing over this if you search.
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Re: Buying a resonator guitar

Postby cj48 » Fri May 27, 2011 4:19 pm

Oh, alright. So what are the best brands to be comparing, and does National really have such a huge difference in the sound and feel? I've never played one so I wouldn't know.
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Re: Buying a resonator guitar

Postby gaucho » Fri May 27, 2011 7:15 pm

I have 2 Republics, a Tricone and a Resolian that I really like. If you are in the US, you should look into Republic and Hot Rod. If you are in Europe, Check out Michael Messer and Busker guitars. If you want a Spider Bridge, the Gold Tones out of Paul Beard's shop are excellent. I'd look for something used and if possible, something you can put your hands and and play. Pretty much all of the $600 ish price range resos suffer from spotty set-up. There are some really good ones and some pretty bad ones out there.

PS - I've played a bunch of Nationals and tho they are definitely better I don't know that they are 3 times (the price) better. Having said that, I will own a National someday.

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Last edited by gaucho on Fri May 27, 2011 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buying a resonator guitar

Postby OldWailer » Fri May 27, 2011 7:25 pm

I bought a Recording King tricone a couple of years ago--The sound was very good, but I did have to do a lot of work on it to make it a guitar that I could play. The neck entered the body at the 11-1/2 fret--that really sucked for me--I like at least 14 frets to have room to bottleneck--a cutaway is even better. That was before I took up lap style--now I wish I had kept it.

I now have a Dean biscuit--cutaway--some really bad electrics on board. I like the guitar a lot--I use it primarily for busking because its loud--very nice sound. Very Playable and bottleneckable all ther way up the neck--right out of the box. I think they cost around 500 and I would recommend them highly--just know that you'll need to replace the electrics--they have a lipstick pickup and a piezo--if I totally crank both of them, they'll put out enough sound to let the amplifier work, so the knobs are pretty much on/off switches.

I think the highest rated reso on this forum has been the Repuiblics, but some reports say they take a little setup. Personally, I don't think I've ever bought a guitar I didn't work on at least a little to get it right for me--and resos seem to need even more work than regular flatops. Fortunately, I like doing that kind of work on them.

One really annoying thing to me, about resos in general, is that, if you like to do a lot of right hand damping to get the bass to pop, that strip of metal across the bridge is in the way and won't let you get close enough to the bridge for a good damping effect--it really sucks that they make them like that--I mean, wasn't right hand damping INVENTED on a reso? On the RK I solved this with some tin snips and a Dremmel tool. I haven't operated on the Dean yet--but I might. If you've never played resos before, you should definitely go to a store that has some out and play them a lot. Resos, IMHO, are not for everybody--it ain't just like picking up another flatop--its very different.

I love to go to Dusty Strings in Seattle just to play the Nationals. I aspire to own one someday--they are wonderful. But, I really can't hear that much difference in sound that I would strain myself to pay that kind of a price.

Republic has a Weisenborn that I have been lusting for--just have to make the money and it's mine!
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Re: Buying a resonator guitar

Postby Disciple » Mon May 30, 2011 12:52 am

FInd a sound you like then have it set up by a luthier who knows resonators.

I bought my Republic tricone this way, played it along side some Nationals and other lesser brands then made the choice and gave specific directions to the set up guy in the shop I bought at. It was exactly as I asked and after several months playing and a few sets of strings later I'm convinced I couldn't have done much better below a $1000.00.

I expect Frank at Republic would do a specific set up if you ask for it.

In my case I had the bridge altered to achieve an action that is typical of any guitar (not slide specific). I very occasionally hit a fret with the slide but as a very green slide player have had no trouble adapting to the close string height. Nice way to go because I can still play standard fretted stuff and loan the guitar to others who don't have any slide skills and they can play it right away.

I'd say that more than anything set up is the key on a resonator rather than price. You probably can get just as good a sound out of any reso with a few exceptions as long as the important factors are set up well.

Cones can be changed, nuts and bridges can be changed, amplification can be added and altered. Realistically one steel body sounds about the same as another its the stuff mentioned above that really affects the sound.

I suppose one down side to really cheap resos is that you'll have lousy fret heights that likely lead to buzz when fretting traditionally.
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Re: Buying a resonator guitar

Postby oldmanblue535 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:03 pm

i aggree with gaucho check out the michael messer & busker guitars i own a mm blues single cone & a busker tri cone both great guitars.
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