Are johnsons and regals really that bad?

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Are johnsons and regals really that bad?

Postby motorbankstoolpigeon » Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:38 am

for months now, I have been looking for another resonator for a good price. I know by popular tastes, national seems to be the best of the best, but I can't even dream of being able to afford a national. I was going to just look for a regal duolian steel body or a johnson triolian and just get national cones for them, but the more I read, the more I'm led to believe I'm wasting my time. Am I? And if not, do national cones fit a johnson or regal? I'm not sure about the measurements.

~Josiah
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Postby louisianagrey » Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:48 am

I don't know where you've been reading - probably the IGS Forum, where they think that if you haven't got a National you're wasting your time. In any case they're biased because they're nearly all Americans on that forum - the reality is that for metal bodied instruments Fine Resophonics are the best of the best now that Beltona have stopped making them (ooh, controversial remark ...).

Lots of people on this forum think that upgraded cheap resos are pretty darned good. They're not as well made as Nationals and some of their quality control can be dodgy so make sure you can send the guitar back if there's a problem and check it over carefully when you get it - there's almost certain to be some minor cosmetic blemishes that you can ignore for that price, but you're looking for major structural flaws.

A bone nut, National cone and a new setup will give a big improvement in sound. The National cone fits in the soundwell OK but is about 5mm taller than the original cone so the bridge will need some work.

The way I see it, if you can get 80% of a National for less than 50% of the price you're doing pretty well.
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Postby 1four5 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:20 am

I have a Gold Tone biscut...used to have a Rogue triolian (same as Johnson), and having had both apart...I would swear they come off the same assembly line. Anyways...certianly not built as well as a National...but I put a Quarterman cone in my Gold Tone and it plays and sounds awesome. It's not as loud acoustically as my National, but it comes close and does get more playing time lately, and I can beat it around and sweat all over it and not have a conniption fit...and that says a lot. They are not bad at all and I love mine. Here's a picture of it. http://www.notworthy.org/timbd05.jpg
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Postby zhyla » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:26 pm

I have a brass single-biscuit Rogue (manufactured by same people as the Johnsons from what people around here say) and it's great. Absolutely not a waste of time. Wood-bodied instruments are a different story but you'll have a hard time convincing me that Rogue's brass or welders is significantly inferior to National's brass or welders.

I orirginally intended to swap out the cone but it sounds fine (better than many of the Nationals I've played).
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Re: Are johnsons and regals really that bad?

Postby Mississippi John » Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:01 pm

motorbankstoolpigeon wrote:I was going to just look for a regal duolian steel body or a johnson triolian and just get national cones for them, but the more I read, the more I'm led to believe I'm wasting my time. Am I? ~Josiah


Well, a lot has already been said on this subject in this post and others. Keep in mind that ALL of our comments are completely subjective. That said, I REALLY like my Regal duolian. I have it set up really well and to my ear (and hand/fingers) it plays really well. I have compared the sound to Johnson brass tri-cone, and believe BOTH are very authentic sounding. Having said that, I recently palyed Epiphone and Fender single cone steels - both of these guitars were, in my opinion, very poor sounding guitars - they kind of sounded like a beer-can resonator guitar. And both cost more than the Regals or Rogues.

Bottom line is that you need to assess your own needs. If you don't want to or can't afford the hefty price of a National, then by all means the others guitars, if selected carefully, will put you into a resonator that will make tyou very happy. Some are better than others, so play them first. But have confidence that they are decent guitars.
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Postby ricochet » Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:49 pm

I'm quite fond of my Johnson.
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Postby savage » Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:57 pm

hey man, remember that quality is subjective. Somethings sound good to one person, and others may not like the same sound. What matters is what you think sounds good. As mentioned, you just gotta try different guitars and make your decision.

I play a johnson tricone, and really like it. I have been curious as to how it may sound with national cones, but for the money I am still very satisfied with it.
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Postby motorbankstoolpigeon » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:27 pm

Thanks for all of your replies. I kinda figured I was reading some biased material about nationals on other forums. Not that I wouldn't love to have a national one day.
I have a johnson that I bought three years ago on ebay for only $100. It's a spider bridge style and I've always thought that it had a great sound...not very loud or anything, but louder than anything I own. Now the headstock is about to come apart due to a little accident I'm ashamed to talk about and that's why I'm looking for a replacement or three.
At any rate, thanks again for all of the replies.
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Postby ricochet » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:29 pm

Might be able to glue that thing.
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Postby motorbankstoolpigeon » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:36 pm

yeah, I'm going to try that, but I'll still be a little nervous playing it. Plus, it gives me a good excuse to get another. Keep the one with the messed up headstock tuned to a lower key.
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Postby ricochet » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:48 pm

I think if you do it properly, it'll be quite strong. If you search around on http://frets.com/ you'll find some good instructions on properly fixing a broken headstock.
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Postby jamesfarrell » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:02 pm

post some pics of that busted thing up here, I'm sure someone will have some ideas. Nobody will make fun of ya. Well, not too bad. We all do stoopid stuff sometimes. I can't believe that they can even glue headstocks back on. My friend showed me a dobro he bought that the owner (luthier) reattached the headstock. Broke clean off. The guy did a butcha job reattaching it. He could have sanded and filled it a bit better and it looks like a blind monkey on crack picked out the blending color, but it works like new.
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Postby BigT » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:08 pm

I trolled over a lot of forums before making my decision to go with a Johnson tricone - I found that there were 4 distinct groups of people with opinion in this space.

1) National owners who are universally happy with their instruments
2) Owners of less expensive instruments (Johnsons, Regals etc) who are very happy with their instruments (not as much financial committment and are now playing and enjoying resonator instruments)
3) Those that are holding out until they can afford a National and spending their time wishing and hoping but not making a start with a resophonic instrument)
4) In all honesty, there is a smaller group of converts that start with a cheaper instrument and move on to a National - IMO this seems to be a smaller group.

I did not have the chance to test drive either Nationals, Regals or Johnsons - my local music store only stocked Buesman or Fender single cone instruments (of which the Bluesman sounded superior). I therefore took a leap of faith and ordered a Johnson sight unseen. I spent a little extra and ordered it through a guy who imports Johnsons into Australia (Barron Clarke, based in Canberra). I mitigated the risk around such a purchase by having this guy replace the cones with a National cone set and set up the guitar per my requirements. End result - guitar arrived ready to play (still don't know how much better it is than if I ordered a stock standard Johnson) and I now enjoy playing it on a daily basis.

Which group do you belong to / want to belong to ?
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Postby Loud Librarian » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:52 pm

BigT, I'm in your group 4, but for many years I enjoyed my imported resos - liberty, johnson, goldtone. They were just fine and kept me plenty motivated to play and improve my slide and blues skills. I'm slowing down on giving guitar lessons on the side and wanted to get a few special things with the "last of the extra money" - a National tricone was one.

I've got two Epiphone Elite electrics, and could have used the money to upgrade those to Gibsons...but you know, the epis are good enough for my electric guitar needs. Same with my amp, a Peavey classic 30...coulda bought something better, but...nah. There are no rules with gear, as long as the instrument plays in tune and sounds decent, it's really all on the PLAYER to make good music!
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Postby grady » Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:30 am

I'm also in "Group 4".

My final assessment (coming from a person who makes a living playing music) is that I could do just as well with a nice modified Import and I do leave my National at home and take my Washburn ES-20 to gigs on a regular basis depending on the mood I'm in at the time.

Will owning a National "make or break" you ??
No, absolutely not.

Either you can play and get the gigs or you can't.
With or without a National.
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