National Reso-Phonic

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National Reso-Phonic

Postby wwpete52 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:57 am

I own a National Resophonic Reso-Rocket. I just would like to say for all those good folks that are looking for a nice resonator guitar that these guitar are WAY over priced for what you get. I know that it is great to own a resonator with "National" on the headstock but believe me they are not worth the $2000 extra that you have to pay. Think about Gold Tone, Republic ... and other import guitars at a fraction of the price. They make very good guitars that sound great. I know, if you own a Nation you think that it is better because you paid so much more but is it worth it? NO! We Americans are pricing ourselves out of the market. The imports are much better than they use to be.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby abhinav » Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:43 am

I used to own a couple of Republics. I persisted with them for four years. I did enjoy playing them, but a lot of times it was an exercise in frustration. Bad setup, poor action,
unbalanced sound, poor neck angle, too many rattles, buzzes, etc :( . They did produce a very good tone, though, on some strings, sometime :? . Now, I own two Nationals. They play wayyyyy better, and sound much better :) . I am extremely happy I spent those 2000$ extra on each of them, though I had to save a few years for them! After I bought my first National, I had the Republics still with me. No comparison.
I will still say that they had pretty good tone, but the Nationals sound better, and are a lot louder too. The Republics had too many issues which I spent too much time correcting, and with reasonably good results. But,
they were still not as good as the Nationals. The Nationals were great right out of the box. And, after a year, they sound even better :D .
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby wwpete52 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:27 am

But are they worth $2000 more? If you spent $300 for upgrades on the Republic couldn't you get the same sound? Both guitars are made out of steel, or brass, with wood necks. The cones? Well, a person can buy a National cone. Sometimes I think the label on the headstock makes us think that it sounds better. Just a thought.
I will say that the Gold Tone guitars sound awesome right out of the box!
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby abhinav » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:01 am

I did make some upgrades, which did improve the sound, but
there were still too many issues. I agree that in principle, a much cheaper guitar can sometimes sound as good. But, more often than not, If you don't try it before you buy it, you will end up with
something not só good. One big issue with one of my Republics was a bad neck angle. That was too much for me tó do something about. The other one, a tricone, probably
had soundwells which were not a perfect match for the cones. So, there was always some buzzing and rattling. These are things that are not easy to get right.
I feel that if you buy a cheap reso off the internet, there is a reasonably good chance that it will have issues, perhaps issues which cannot be sorted out easily. Though,
I do concede that in principle, out of a large number of them, a few could sound amazing.
I addition to sounding and playing great, the other thing that I must say about the Nationals is that the intonation is great. It is as good as one
would expect in any acoustic guitar. I have been to forums where the idea of a not so good intonation on a resonator guitar is passed off as 'resonators
need not intonate well, since one usually plays slide on them'. There are even phrases such as 'gloriously out of tune' used. I don't believe a musical instrument
should sound out of tune, even 'gloriously'.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby kiwiblues » Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:32 pm

I'm on the fence about this.
I have a National Style O and I know two people with Chinese made resos that they have upgraded with National Hotrod cones and they sound every bit as good as my expensive National, if not better.
I can't vouch for the action or intonation but for slide they were certainly more than adequate. :wink:
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby abhinav » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:44 am

I quite believe you. As I said, in principle, a well-built, setup chinese reso can sound amazing. But, I can only say what my experience has been with these guitars. If one browses through forums, there seems to be as many people satisfied with cheaper resos as those disgusted by them. This tells me there is no consistency in quality of these instruments. Also, upgrades will not get rid of the kind of problems I faced: bad neck angle, uneven sound wells, etc. There seems to be
a lot of people who have had the same problems.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby slide496 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:05 pm

I have had similar problems as abhinav with my 2 metal body republics, I thought it was something I was doing wrong as they were my first resonators- both were pretty unstable, both required alot of attention. I learned alot about the instruments but it took away from learning slide and playing.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby Freeman » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:12 pm

I'm afraid that in my limited experience, I have to disagree with the OP. First, my minor credentials - I currently own three resonators (a vintage Dobro with a Quarterman cone, a 1980 Duolian with a hot rod cone, and a home made tricone, also with NRP hot rods). I build guitars, including reso, and I fix and set them up. I've worked on cheap asian resos, a few mid priced ones and some vintage Nats and new NRP's.

I hate generalities, but in general I have never seen a budget resonator (Rogue/Regal/Johnson/Dean/yadda yadda) that I particularly liked. Most of them have neck profiles and angles that are hard to set up, most at least need a cone transplant. However, they do offer an inexpensive way to experiment with this style of guitar.

The mid priced ones ($1000) have a great appeal - in most cases (Goldtone and Republic) these are Asian bodies with a good spun cone and in theory, a good setup. I've played a squareneck Goldtone and one of their Weissies - both were very nice guitars and would make a great gigging instrument for someone on a limited budget. Unfortunately I've never played one of Goldtones biscuits or any Republic - the reviews seem to be pretty mixed on the Republics - folks seem to find a lot of quality issues with them. What I will say is that if these meet you needs, again, more power to you.

Vintage Nationals are like any old guitar - there are good ones and bad ones. There is alway a delima about whether to replace a cone in an old guitar - is it better to keep it original. In my case the decision was easy - my old Dobro was a basket case and needed a cone, and a friend damaged the one in the Duolian by tuning up to A so I had to replace it too.

Lastly, I will simply say that in my opinion, every new NRP that I have played has been worth the money. They are consistantly good - well made, correctly setup, and sweet sounding. I understand the pucker factor that goes with the price, but I have never heard of a NRP owner complain about his/her guitar.

When people ask me about getting a resonators I aways suggest staying away from the budget ones (or bring it to me if they get one) and at least looking at the mid priced ones. However, I also say that if you've got the money and are serious about playing resonator, an NRP or Dobro (tm) or Beard or Sheerhorn are worth what they charge for them.

And to Wwpete - I also live in Washington state - if you ever in the central cascades I would love to let you play my little collection.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby abhinav » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:25 pm

In the mid-budget range, I've heard excellent things about 'Michael Messer' guitars. If you are dissatisfied with your NRP, you could
easily get rid of it (if you cannot return it, it will hold its value, or close to it, so you could sell it), and get both the steel and brass single cone instruments from buskerguitars.co.uk, for
probably less than the price of the NRP. They are made in the same factory as the Republics (at least far as I know), but the quality control and setup, I've heard, is excellent.
At one point of time, I thought of them as serious alternatives to the NRPs. The reason I went for the NRPs was that I would need to import them (I live in India), and the
import duty (taxes, etc) from U.K. is very large, so it would already be about 75% of the cost of an NRP, if I imported it from the U.S.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby Freeman » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:25 pm

abhinav wrote: I addition to sounding and playing great, the other thing that I must say about the Nationals is that the intonation is great. It is as good as one
would expect in any acoustic guitar. I have been to forums where the idea of a not so good intonation on a resonator guitar is passed off as 'resonators
need not intonate well, since one usually plays slide on them'. There are even phrases such as 'gloriously out of tune' used. I don't believe a musical instrument
should sound out of tune, even 'gloriously'.


I'd like to address the intonation issue with resonators. They have three things going against good intonation. First, most of them have the saddle at exactly 2 times the distance to the 12th fret - there is no compensation at all. On a square neck or a Weissenborn, that is what you want since you are not signficantly stretching the strings with your bar.

A few manufacturers are starting to build a little bit of compensation into the cone locations. Most do not angle the saddle like an acoustic, but some add a 16th of an inch or so to the scale length. In addition, some people when they set them up try to move the saddle break point as far back as possible - that will help.

Second is that most of us like fairly heavy strings on our resonators - heavy string with thicker cores simply go sharper as they are fretted. Many of us run a 14 or even 16 first string and often an unwould third - these will sharpen dramatically.

Lastly, many reso players like their action on the high side which stretches the string more as it is fretted. If your guitar has a fairly flat fretboard (20" or less radius) you can run the action just a tad higher than a normal acoustic and minimize this.

Intonation and compensating for it will always be a compromize. If you play mostly fretted (and up the neck), then do everything you can to compensate. If you play mostly slide then it truely doesn't matter - you've got an automatic compensator on your pinkie.

(just so you don't think that I am advocating the "gloriously out of tune" arguement, I am the sort of guy who compensates each string of each course of my twelve strings individually - the saddles look like a rip saw blade but they play in tune all the way up the neck)
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby abhinav » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:29 pm

Both my Nationals have compensated saddles. I think NRP have been doing that for a little over a year now. The intonation is indeed very good (to my ears, at least).
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby slide496 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:22 am

I live in NY but I have been quite taken with the tone of the instruments Michael Messer has been producing for metal bodies and at some point I would like to have one of the wood bodies he's planning on coming out with - although right now I am having a good experience learning and playing slide using my relatively trouble free little stellas and the like. I am glad to see MM products mentioned on this board and there are some youtube videos of people playing them to be found if anyone wasn't aware of them and would like to check them out.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby wwpete52 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:20 am

I've also owned a bunch of resonators. I currently own a Gold Tone deluxe maple round neck in addition to my Reso-Rocket. One word: GREAT! I have also owned the Gold Tone National metal body cone. Superb for the money. I've also owned a Crafters of Tennessee. Awesome guitar. Many years ago I owned one of the Regal Tricones made by Amistar in the Czech Republic. It was the Park Ave Model, RC-55. I wish that I still owned it. It was the best sounding of the bunch. It's too bad that Regal switched to China because those Czech made guitar were fantastic.
Don't get me wrong, I love my National Reso-Rocket. But the price tag, wow!
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby Django3 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:31 pm

Hi Y'all
I have a Regal duolian,cannot be faulted as regards looks or finish, sounded great till I upgraded with a hot rod cone.I could not believe
the sound and volume with the National cone.I also have a VINTAGE tricone, sounded ok, till I installed The National cones in it.Tuning it up, it sounded like a RY Cooder movie soundtrack.
I Heartedly recommend a cone upgrade.
happy new year guys
jim.
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Re: National Reso-Phonic

Postby flapjack » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:12 am

I paid $1200 for my National VS Delphi (used), so it was not THAT much more than an import like a Regal. The resale/value of the National will likely improve over time in a way that some of the other, lesser expensive resonators will not. Also, I owned a Regal RC-1 for about 7 years and thoroughly enjoyed it, but the build quality, fit/finish, playability, and sound of my National, in my opinion, put it in a whole different league.
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