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Old 11-30-2017, 03:21 PM
ohiopicker ohiopicker is offline
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Default I Need the Biscuit Bridge Reso Experts, Please

I just received a new Republic Miniolian in the mail yesterday. I have past experience with playing and tweaking spider bridge resos, but not biscuit bridge ones. Here's my dilemma: I tuned her up to both open G and Open D. While I did not hear buzzes or rattles, the amount of echo on the e and B strings were much greater than the other strings. Almost too great. The lower strings seem to lack the echo, twang or snap I was expecting. I tuned everything up a half-step and it sounded better. Several hours later I retuned to the aformentioned turnings and it sounded slightly more balanced. The action feels ok, but when I view the top of the maple bridge, the slot filing looks somewhat haphazard. What should I be doing? Does the cone need to settle in? Are my expectations off? Should the table side echo much more than the rest? I need some help because I want to make this work.

Thank you in advance.
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  #2  
Old 11-30-2017, 03:43 PM
Tony Done Tony Done is offline
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I have a Miniolian, which is currently on loan to a prospective buyer. I keep it tuned to open E or A, with 13-56 strings. If there is a buzz or rattle, just twitching the cone around a bit, to seat it differently on the soundwell shelf will sometimes fix it. Another trick is to seat the biscuit on the (lightly greased) cone with PVA glue. It won't stick to the cone, but it forms a firm seating. I use witness marks on the biscuit, top and bottom of the cone and soundwell to line the cone and biscuit up in the same place every time. I've also sanded the soundwell shelf to level it, using a suitably-shaped piece of timber as a block.

A word of warning, the soundwell in mine is made of very cheap looking laminated timber, the kind of thing that beams are made from, not true plywood. It started falling apart after a few months, but luckily I spotted it before it fell apart completely while doing some other work. A dozen tubes of superglue and a some bobbin clamps fixed it OK, but caveat emptor!
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Old 12-01-2017, 06:42 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohiopicker View Post
I just received a new Republic Miniolian in the mail yesterday. I have past experience with playing and tweaking spider bridge resos, but not biscuit bridge ones. Here's my dilemma: I tuned her up to both open G and Open D. While I did not hear buzzes or rattles, the amount of echo on the e and B strings were much greater than the other strings. Almost too great. The lower strings seem to lack the echo, twang or snap I was expecting. I tuned everything up a half-step and it sounded better. Several hours later I retuned to the aformentioned turnings and it sounded slightly more balanced. The action feels ok, but when I view the top of the maple bridge, the slot filing looks somewhat haphazard. What should I be doing? Does the cone need to settle in? Are my expectations off? Should the table side echo much more than the rest? I need some help because I want to make this work.

Thank you in advance.
I'm going to assume your meaning of the word 'echo' to be the sympathetic vibrations/ harmonic overtones of the strings behind the nut & the bridge.

Mute them. Use some felt, or whatever you have to limit the 'harp' effect.

The most common sound improvement recommendation for the imported resonators is that you buy a National cone & biscuit. Just make your improvements & mistakes on the existing one.

If the bridge 'strap' is removable it will make the adjustments an absolute breeze. If it's tack welded in place, it's a nightmare, but people have been working on them for decades before National made the strap removable.

If it's not removable then you take the entire cone cover off the guitar, string it back up and do all your saddle adjustments, etc while everything is exposed.

I would advise against .013-.056 being tuned up to open E or A on a biscuit cone, but clearly it's what Tony does, and he's pretty knowledgeable regarding resonators.

I think the danger of crushing the cone is increased, and you get less sustain with the stiffer tension at that higher tuning.

Enjoy your new toy!

Howard
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Old 12-01-2017, 06:50 AM
ohiopicker ohiopicker is offline
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Actually, Howard, the "echo" I was referring to is generated by the cone. In my past experience with spider cone resos, the sustain and twang was pretty consistent across all strings. With this guitar, it drops off noticeably from the D string on down. While I am at it, will moving the cone around make much difference? Thanks.
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Old 12-01-2017, 06:57 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Originally Posted by ohiopicker View Post
Actually, Howard, the "echo" I was referring to is generated by the cone. In my past experience with spider cone resos, the sustain and twang was pretty consistent across all strings. With this guitar, it drops off noticeably from the D string on down. While I am at it, will moving the cone around make much difference? Thanks.
Ah yes, that 'pinging' sound.......It drove me crazy until I isolated it!

I had a bit of that sound on my Resolectric cone, and I tamed it with a couple of strips of self stick felt on the underside of the cone. I was able to determine this prior to dismantling by touching the cone with a pencil eraser through the cover plate holes.

If yours is the 'sieve' strainer pattern, oops......not gonna happen that easily.

My Resolectric is modified quite a bit. I've put in a one of a kind magnetic pickup, plus I have a Crown condenser mic in the sound well.

Regards,
Howard

Last edited by Howard Emerson; 12-01-2017 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 12-02-2017, 02:58 AM
Tony Done Tony Done is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
I would advise against .013-.056 being tuned up to open E or A on a biscuit cone, but clearly it's what Tony does, and he's pretty knowledgeable regarding resonators.

I think the danger of crushing the cone is increased, and you get less sustain with the stiffer tension at that higher tuning.

Enjoy your new toy!

Howard
The Miniolian is a 24" scale, so open E/A isn't so bad tension-wise, it is about the same as E standard on a 25.5" scale. I remember reading years ago that biscuit cones work best with a shallow string break angle over the saddle, but the trade-off is that there isn't much downward pressure holding the cone in place to prevent a rattles - a major hazard in resos. I test for bad contact between the shelf and the cone in more or less the same way as you. I take the coverplate off, press down with my fingers on the biscuit, then poke around the edge of the cone with a blunt stick of some kind, looking and listening for movement. I've also done it by placing the cone on a sheet of glass and running feeler gauges under the edge, but that only works if you know that the soundwell shelf is flat. I've spent many not-so-happy hours bending cone rims until they matched the shelf. A very frustrating business, because you settle one section and another pops up in its place somewhere else. Another trick is to spread the groove around the edge of the cone a bit so that the cone is wider and makes a snug press fit in the soundwell. This damps vibrations in the edge. I haven't resorted to felt, but I did use electrical tape in the Miniolian.

I've found that a shallow break angle and fairly heavy strings works for me. I had a very striking demo of this just recently, I swapped the 13-56 strings on my Estralita for 14-58, electric strings, same alloy, and the improvement in tone was very substantial, and quite unexpected. More volume and sustain, less of that "rubbery" sound. The break angle on this reso is no more than a couple of degrees, Conversely, when I put nylon strings on the Miniolian, I had to modify the tailpiece to increase the break angle to get them to sound OK. My conclusion from all this is that optimum string gauge is related to break angle, among other things.

I did crush the very old cone on my National years ago, but a bit of panel beating with a the rounded end of paddle-pop stick put it right again. I'm pretty sure it had been done before, and I think the inadvertent relicing gave it a nice mellow tone. If I was travelling with a reso, I wedged a piece of wood between the strings and the coverplate so that they and the cone couldn't be pressed down. This is the safety arrangement used on Del Vecchios, rather than a cover over the saddle.

Slightly OT, but someone, probably the OP, asked me recently how much work I had to do on my Minioian when I got it, and I neglected to answer. I'm getting a bit absent-minded. Anyway, I can't recall all the details, but do remember being surprised at how good it sounded, but thinking it needed a fair bit of setup work. I know I lowered the saddle and nut slots and levelled and dressed the frets.
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Old 12-02-2017, 10:31 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Hey Tony,
Yes, I neglected to pay attention to the 24" scale detail, which in this case is substantially shorter than even a standard scale 24.9", so my bad.

It might amuse you to know that my National Resolectric is tuned down to C'Vestapol (open D down a whole step), using D'Addario J-21's.

.052-.012

The bottom of the well, by the way, has factory installed felt for the cone rim to rest on. It doesn't stop the pinging echo, though. That required felt strips under the angled part of the cone.

HE
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Old 12-02-2017, 12:54 PM
Tony Done Tony Done is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post

It might amuse you to know that my National Resolectric is tuned down to C'Vestapol (open D down a whole step), using D'Addario J-21's.

.052-.012

The bottom of the well, by the way, has factory installed felt for the cone rim to rest on. It doesn't stop the pinging echo, though. That required felt strips under the angled part of the cone.

HE
Yeah, I use 10-46 on ordinary electrics for slide when I'm not chasing acoustic tone, and I can see how lighter gauges could improve sustain. I keep my bari in open C, but it is a 30"scale and I use 13-56 strings. I'm wondering what yours feels like.

Do you have any idea what causes the pinging? I can't recall having encountered it.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2017, 01:48 PM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Tony,
The echo/ping is because the cone is a bell for all intents and purposes. I noticed a note sustaining when I had everything muted. Couple that with a hpercardioid mic next to the cone, in a studio, and you get the picture.

Like a microscope.

HE
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:44 PM
ohiopicker ohiopicker is offline
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Post Mortem on the problem with the Miniolian. While an inspection of the soundhole revealed some chips out of the plywood ring, it seemed to have little effect on the sound and did not add any buzz. That was surprising. The saddle was radiused to roughly match the neck.

What put it right was a big tweak of the truss rod. The neck was close to flat. Added plenty of relief, which raised the action, and with a new set of D'dadario 13-56 PBs, the improvement was dramatic. Clear notes plucked or with a slide, nice dynamics. Ringing without the pinging!

I am ready for fun now!
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2011 Martin SWDGT
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2009 Gibson SG Faded
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2001 Ovation Balladeer 6751 12
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And then there's the vintage stuff I wish I had back...
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