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-   -   Resonators and String Tension (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=585005)

seangil 06-24-2020 08:47 PM

Resonators and String Tension
 
I'm just starting to play around a bit with resonators, but there aren't many available in the shops around me. I've been playing on a Mule and find that the string tension and weight are a lot heavier than my flattop and it takes noticeably more hand strength to play it cleanly. I'm curious about others' experiences with resonators. How do they compare in terms of their feel vs flattops and how much do you find that it varies across brands (e.g., National vs. Mule vs. Gretsch vs. Beard etc.)?

Mycroft 06-24-2020 09:13 PM

It may be more a matter of string gauge and setup than anything intrinsically different between a flattop and a resonator. I have a round neck Racyo Reso - maple body, spider - and I go back and forth between light and medium strings. (Although I usually up the high-E to beter support the slide and get a thicker tone)

With lights it plays pretty close to as easily as the purpose-setup flattop fingerpickers.

OMMV

David Rance 06-24-2020 10:27 PM

The received wisdom is that you have to have tension on the resonator cones in order for them to respond and that too light a string makes them sound a bit insipid. Also that the heavier strings are better for slide and open tunings. I should say I'm not that total a resonator fan but this is what I've learnt so far. When I bought my Regal RC51 a few years back I took it to a luthier for a decent setup and that helped a lot as, like you, I had found the instrument great fun to play but heavy and a little tiring. I don't like heavy actions. A Type 1 National (which the RC51 is a Chinese knock-off of!) ships with medium (13) John Pearce PB's. My 'string journey' has been via John Pearse Resophonic Nickel wound G Tuning - just too heavy (.016 - .059) and dull, Elixir Nanoweb PB medium (13) - better/nice, Martin Monel's MTR13 (13) - nice, less brassy, not as nice as PB, Earthwood 80/20 medium light (12), dulled very quickly, Martin 80/20 Lifespan SP MSP6100 (12), nicer, flat wound Chromes (!) D'Addario ECG24, awful. Took me a long time to decide if I liked light or medium and PB or 80/20. Eventual/current fave Martin 80/20 Lifespan 2 medium (13) MA150T.

This is all personal choice of course and I found I had to research and experiment a lot. Basic stuff, and I apologise hugely if I'm teaching granny how to suck eggs but it's still worth saying. Don't take ALL the strings off a resonator at once because the mechanism will fall apart. Only string tension presses it all together and keeps in one place. You probably know that!

Hope all that helps. My experience will not be yours of course. Have fun!

Silly Moustache 06-25-2020 06:18 AM

Hi I play both Square neck Dobro and National with a bottleneck.

Once upon a time I believed that they both needed "HEAVY" gauge strings, and that's what I used.

For some time I used Dunlop Resonator PB strings on my Dobro because they provided a 26 G and two 18s for 1st and second, and I "feel" they are slightly higher in tension than EJ42s.
However, Dunlop strings are not always easy to find in the UK and they have stopped the extra 18 in the pack.

On my National I now use a simple medium set - often a used set of EJ17s but with 17s on 1st and 2nd.

Also you don't need a high action to play bottleneck style, I keep my National at the same action height as all my other guitars.

Eldergreene 06-25-2020 08:59 AM

My experience from many years of reso-playing ( both slide & fretted ) has been that spider-bridge & tricones both need at least mediums to sound good & meaty, but a decently-set-up single-cone biscuit-type should work fine with lights - that's assuming a good quality cone, of course; I suppose it has to do with the different bridge designs transmitting the string energy in different ways, & the biscuit-type being more direct/efficient than the other 2, or so I've always perceived.

seangil 06-25-2020 07:35 PM

strings for resonator
 
Thanks for the responses so far. I've got a single cone Mule. I am not sure what gauge strings, but they are a lot heavier than the D'addario EJ11 that I usually play.

I see some strings market themselves as "resonator strings" and they do seem to have a different gauge mix than typical acoustic. I was pointed towards specifically GHS Tim Scheerhorn strings (0.17 - 0.56).

Do I need strings that market themselves specifically as "resonator" strings? I assume that the material is not fundamentally different, but wondering about the mix of gauges.

BluesBelly 06-25-2020 08:15 PM

I have a Paul Beard Single cone round neck All mahogany resonator and after some experimentation I settled in nicely with GHS 1600 Pure Nickel Rollerwound Reso strings. 16-18-28-36-46-56. Good with both slide and fingerstyle depending on how your guitars action is set. On occasion I will also throw on a set of Beard Special 28’s PB 17-56 RESO which are a whole different animal than the GHS but sometimes the change up is refreshing.

Blues

Mycroft 06-25-2020 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by seangil (Post 6420898)
Thanks for the responses so far. I've got a single cone Mule. I am not sure what gauge strings, but they are a lot heavier than the D'addario EJ11 that I usually play.

I see some strings market themselves as "resonator strings" and they do seem to have a different gauge mix than typical acoustic. I was pointed towards specifically GHS Tim Scheerhorn strings (0.17 - 0.56).

Do I need strings that market themselves specifically as "resonator" strings? I assume that the material is not fundamentally different, but wondering about the mix of gauges.

A .19 - .56 probably is a Dobro Resonator set, designed for a squareneck rather than a roundneck. I use John Pearse round neck reso strings a lot: 013,017, 026w, 036w, 046w, 056w. (and usually up the .13 to a .014 or .015.). Sheerhorn is a Dobro player of note, and the signature set is .017, .019, .028, .036, .046, .056. Dobro sets are also gauged for tuning to what is termed "High-bass G," GBDGBD, while round neck players are more likely to use "low bass G" DGDGBD, or Open D: DADF#AD. Particularly if you want to also use a bottleneck as well as finger frets. I still use mine in Standard tuning too; often with a standard light set (and a .014 high E). My Rayco still sounds great. Apparently others mileage may vary.

And yes, I have a box of unused high E strings...

It is always good to specify "Roundneck" or "Squareneck."

seangil 06-26-2020 10:07 AM

Good point - strings for round neck
 
Thanks for the reminder on being more specific! I am indeed looking for advice on strings suited to a round neck resonator. I mostly do fingerstyle and want to learn slide. It is currently setup so that you can play reasonably fingerstyle yet still have enough space to use a slide if you want.

I also saw that D'addario has a set of strings that it sells as resonator. I use their strings on my acoustic and have generally liked the sound. I tried Elixir, but they didn't seem to have a lot of life on my guitar and I couldn't quite get used to the slick feel.

I haven't tried many others.

joe paul 06-26-2020 03:56 PM

Could be wrong, but I seem to remember the the D'addario Reso-Phonic set is made up for that high G Dobro tuning, like Mycroft said.

If you want to play just slide, then a 16 on top is fine, but if you're fretting too, that may be a bit much. All down to how it feels on your guitar and your fingers though, it's good to experiment.

One brand of strings that are definitely worth a try on resonator guitars are Newtone round core resonator (MM) sets. They are marketed as having a slightly lower tension than what you'd expect with the string gauges, and I certainly find them comfortable. May have to be ordered direct from the Uk, but they're great, they get my vote.

bloozeman 12-21-2020 02:28 PM

If you order mapes strings you can make your own custom order. I just placed an order for 14.5, 16.5, 25.5W, 35.5, 45.5, 55.5. sometimes that .005 can make a big difference

Mandobart 12-21-2020 08:20 PM

I play a Gold Tone Paul Beard round neck resonator with 13's in standard tuning. I use 13's on most of my guitars. It came setup for these per my specs. Currently playing Martin Retro monels.

I don't find it any more difficult to fret than my Martin HD-28 or Eastman archtop.


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