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Old 09-08-2019, 02:38 AM
Digelectric Digelectric is offline
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Default Resonator... Gretsch or National?

I’d like to take the resonator plunge and play some finger style blues. My heart says National El Trovador but my wallet says Gretsch Alligator. Unfortunately I have NO local shops with both to play side by side.

Any advice? Is the tone of the National worth saving up for a year? Or are they close enough that I should get the Gretsch now?

I guess I can throw in the option of saving up for a few months for Gold Tone as well.

Thanks in advance
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2019, 04:44 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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The overall higher quality of the National is immediately apparent when you can compare them side by side, but from what I have seen and heard - and from personal experience owning and using a National guitar and several National mandolins - I think that a low cost Gretsch resonator guitar will probably give you 90% of the sound of the National for a lot less money.

As it happens, I worked with Don Young and MacGregor Gaines, the two owners of National Reso-Phonic at the time, while they were developing what eventually became the National RM-1 mandolin. I was a consultant for the project. On one of my visits to their plant I asked Don whether all the inexpensive Asian-made resonator guitars like Regals and Gretschs were robbing sales from them.

“No, not at all,” he told me. “Just the opposite.” He went on to say that lots of players start off with these affordable resonator guitars, then as they go forward with playing them, after awhile decide that they want to upgrade to a National. He and Mac saw these low cost resonator instruments as a sort of informal feeder system that helped generate future sales for National.

So my suggestion is that you seek out a few resonator guitars to play, both Nationals and Gretschs if you can find them, then decide how much you want to invest at this point.

For a lot of guitarists, an inexpensive resonator guitar is as much of a resonator as they’re ever going to need, especially if they’re looking at it as a second or third instrument to double on. But if you’re like a lot of players, you might find that it whets your appetite for an even better one.

And that’s when you start working towards putting some money aside and stepping up to a National.

Short version: you might find that a Gretsch resonator guitar is as much resonator as you’re ever going to need. But if not, then look into upgrading.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:15 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Nationals definitely have a smoother more refined tone. What I didn't care for about Nationals is the wider nut. A 1 3/4 nut is the widest I can deal with. Nationals are usually wider. So keep an eye on that aspect. Also keep in mind that the cone of resonator guitars can be upgraded for smoother sounds. After market of coarse.
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:59 AM
Digelectric Digelectric is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
Nationals definitely have a smoother more refined tone. What I didn't care for about Nationals is the wider nut. A 1 3/4 nut is the widest I can deal with. Nationals are usually wider. So keep an eye on that aspect. Also keep in mind that the cone of resonator guitars can be upgraded for smoother sounds. After market of coarse.


I didn’t think about a cone upgrade, that’s a good idea to explore.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:32 AM
archerscreek archerscreek is offline
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I have a National 12 fret NRP that I bought used online. You can probably find some "like new" used El Trovadors around that will save you a lot of money. So that might help.

Based on playing one Gretsch for about 30 seconds out of curiousity post-NRP purchase (and the roughly ten or so other Nationals I had previously played), I would not recommend a Gretsch reso unless you get your hands on one and tell yourself you could be satisfied with it.

Nationals sound hauntingly beautiful. They sing and reverberate. They also look nice. The Gretsch I played sounded like a garbage can lid soiled with three inches of gunk by comparison. The Gretsch also felt like it easily weighed twice as much as my NRP.

However, if we ever experience a zombie apocalypse and ten to twelve of the brain eaters are dragging their legs after you, the Gretsch would undoubtedly knock them all down if tossed, whereas an El Trovador would only take out two or three. So the Gretsch has that going for it.
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:03 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digelectric View Post
I’d like to take the resonator plunge and play some finger style blues. My heart says National El Trovador but my wallet says Gretsch Alligator. Unfortunately I have NO local shops with both to play side by side.

Any advice? Is the tone of the National worth saving up for a year? Or are they close enough that I should get the Gretsch now?

I guess I can throw in the option of saving up for a few months for Gold Tone as well.

Thanks in advance
Buy cheap, buy twice!

Go for the National. If you like the wood body sound (as do I) then the Estralita is also worth considering, plus a little extra space on the fretboard.

Also, consider a used one, but National necks and neck sets can be dodgy, so you do need to know what you're looking at.
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:53 AM
roylor4 roylor4 is offline
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I'm with Wade on this one. A Gretsch ain't a National, that's for sure.

That said, I've had a Gretsch Boxcar for about 5 years and I am very happy with it's performance. Sounds like a reso should and plays very well.

Keep in mind that everything I play are budget guitars. I do make a good portion of my living gigging with them though.

Don't wait a year for a National - get a Gretsch now and start enjoying it right away. You can also buy a National later. My .02
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:57 AM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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I fortunately own a Hot Rod : that brand was marketted for some times some years ago. They were sold around 1k$ brand new then. Maybe you could find a used one. The guy who ran that brand is a National lover that wanted to offer an alternative at lower price...
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Old 09-08-2019, 02:52 PM
Realbluesman Realbluesman is online now
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A Gretsch is a good place to start. They are consistent and playable out-of-the-box. Save a ton of $$$ and see where it goes. Enjoy the ride.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:54 AM
Digelectric Digelectric is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
However, if we ever experience a zombie apocalypse and ten to twelve of the brain eaters are dragging their legs after you, the Gretsch would undoubtedly knock them all down if tossed, whereas an El Trovador would only take out two or three. So the Gretsch has that going for it.

Shall I assume you mean the Gretsch is a metal bodied model and not a wood? Otherwise I need to question your logic on the SHTF scenario described here
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:17 AM
roylor4 roylor4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digelectric View Post
Shall I assume you mean the Gretsch is a metal bodied model and not a wood? Otherwise I need to question your logic on the SHTF scenario described here
He is, no doubt, talking about the Gretsch Honeydipper metal bodied reso. I had one, but it was so loud and heavy I sold it and got a Boxcar. Very heavy.
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  #12  
Old 09-09-2019, 07:38 AM
RedJoker RedJoker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
The overall higher quality of the National is immediately apparent when you can compare them side by side, but from what I have seen and heard - and from personal experience owning and using a National guitar and several National mandolins - I think that a low cost Gretsch resonator guitar will probably give you 90% of the sound of the National for a lot less money.

As it happens, I worked with Don Young and MacGregor Gaines, the two owners of National Reso-Phonic at the time, while they were developing what eventually became the National RM-1 mandolin. I was a consultant for the project. On one of my visits to their plant I asked Don whether all the inexpensive Asian-made resonator guitars like Regals and Gretschs were robbing sales from them.

“No, not at all,” he told me. “Just the opposite.” He went on to say that lots of players start off with these affordable resonator guitars, then as they go forward with playing them, after awhile decide that they want to upgrade to a National. He and Mac saw these low cost resonator instruments as a sort of informal feeder system that helped generate future sales for National.

So my suggestion is that you seek out a few resonator guitars to play, both Nationals and Gretschs if you can find them, then decide how much you want to invest at this point.

For a lot of guitarists, an inexpensive resonator guitar is as much of a resonator as they’re ever going to need, especially if they’re looking at it as a second or third instrument to double on. But if you’re like a lot of players, you might find that it whets your appetite for an even better one.

And that’s when you start working towards putting some money aside and stepping up to a National.

Short version: you might find that a Gretsch resonator guitar is as much resonator as you’re ever going to need. But if not, then look into upgrading.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
I was going to say something along these lines but Wade said it so much better than I. It's like most things. Yes, I can tell the difference when side by side but in the midst of a song, those differences fade away for me. The increased cost simply wasn't worth it for me so I have a Gretsch Boxcar and simply love it. I'd love a national too but my used Gretsch was way less than $300 and worth every penny.
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:58 PM
bisco1 bisco1 is offline
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If you want to hear how great a Gretsch G9200 "Boxcar" can sound, go to Youtube and enter G9200 and look at Toby Walker's video--I went and bought one after watching it!! As with many things, the quality of the tool is not the limiting factor for me. Bill
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:25 PM
jansch jansch is offline
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I like Silly Moustache's comment - Buy cheap, buy twice!
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:55 PM
Rumblefish Rumblefish is offline
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Go to Reverb and set up a feed for National’s. Watch it like a hawk. Reasonably priced ones pop up but they go quickly. I got my 2005 Polychrome Tricone for under $1200 and bought it within an hour of it being listed. Selllers who have things listed will sometimes do a big price drop. You have to do your research and be ready to jump.

Nothing wrong with Gretsch and they are good for the money but the difference is night and day and it’s worth being patient for a good deal on a National. It will also hold its value.
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