Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

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Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby stewie » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:43 am

I was thinking that Kiwiblues would be the best person to ask about this but input and opinions from anyone is welcome of course. I've been thinking about getting a Beltona and I know from your posts that you have (or used to have) a Beltona uke, and that you have a National. Of course a uke is a different animal from a guitar so it might not be a good comparison but I was wondering what your opinion is on Beltona vs National instruments since you have experience with both? Would you say that Beltona is basically on par with National or National is much better? Beltona's are cheaper than National's but still pricey. I was in touch with Steve from Beltona about 2 1/2 years ago but at the time decided that I wasn't ready to spend that much on a guitar, but now I'm considering it and I thought you might have some good insight.

Does anyone else have any experience with Beltona guitars?

Thanks!
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Re: Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby leftyguitarman » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:49 pm

I can't comment on Beltona guitars, but I have played Beltona ukes and National ukes side by side. The fretwork on the National was a bit better, but both were equally comfortable to play. I didn't get to peek inside of them to see the inner construction, so I can't comment there. However, the National was a lot louder than the Beltona and the overall sound was better. The National just had more of an organic, "real" sound to it. Hard to explain. The Nationals were, IMO, a step above the Beltonas, but the Beltonas were also very fine instruments. Do you have a place where you can try either of them?
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Re: Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby stewie » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:59 am

Thanks for input Lefty. It's a bit difficult to find any opinions on the web on Beltona, especially since they switched to fiberglass bodies. One thing I read is that fiberglass is apparently a better reflector of sound than metal (and therefore I would have assumed louder), but that could just be the people who build fiberglass guitars saying that to make theirs sound better! The volume difference could be with the cones. I did read that with fiberglass being stronger than metal they can build the body without a lot of the internal bracing that's needed with metal, and that means less material to absorb the sound. With metal vs fiberglass may be why National has a more organic sound.

Unfortunately in New Zealand it's difficult to find National guitars in any shops - I've never seen one. And despite the fact that Beltona is a NZ company I've never seen any of their instruments in a shop either so I can't compare them. With the Kiwi/U.S. dollar exchange rate and paying all of the import taxes a National would get pretty pricey. Maybe I'll contact Steve at Beltona again and chat with him about it.
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Re: Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby texas blues » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:52 pm

Here's my opinion for what it's worth (and it ain't much). I have never seen a Beltona but I have played a lot of Nationals, both new and vintage. I own a National Delphi and love it looooong time. I'll never sell it. I have never played a National of any model that did not play and sound great.....EVER! Not to say the company doesn't build a dog or 2 but I haven't run across them. I would never buy a guitar that I haven't played first but National is the one guitar company that I would feel good about buying sight unseen without playing. I think they're quality control and attention to detail is that good. Pricey? Yes! And worth every dad gum penny!
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Re: Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby ricochet » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:09 pm

Eric Clapton once needed a tricone for a recording, went through several and wasn't happy with the tone of any till he tried a Beltona. I saw that one auctioned for something like $27000 back in the 2001-2 era, IIRC.
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Re: Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby stewie » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:41 pm

I heard that Clapton used to have a Beltona and later auctioned it off. I'd imagine that anything Clapton even breathed on some people would be willing to pay insane amounts of money for. Mark Knopfler has a couple of their early ones too that he still uses. I can see where TB is coming from that buying a guitar sight unseen is always risky, but that National is probably one of the only manufacturers where you would be pretty safe. The reviews I have read about Beltona have always been glowing reviews and I'm sure that they are high quality instruments. I'm going to contact them and what they say. I'm particularly interested in the cutaway model they have because I really like the idea of the fret access all the way up the neck.

As an aside I saw that Elderly Instruments has a fiberglass reso made by Melobar (never heard of it before) that's kind of a neat looking guitar. According to the Melobar website it's really loud - they say that banjo players call it the "banjo killer"! At least that's what Melobar says...
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Re: Question for Kiwiblues re: Beltona instruments

Postby ricochet » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:48 pm

Melobar's made some good lap steels.
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