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  #1  
Old 03-16-2019, 10:02 AM
agfsteve agfsteve is offline
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Default Playing resonator quietly = oxymoron?

I am thinking about getting a resonator, but if it's as loud as I'm expecting, then I might end up only playing it when the house is empty.

So, probably a silly question, but is there any way to attenuate the sound of a resonator?

I would be getting a wood-bodied, roundneck one (got my eye on the Gretsch Alligator Biscuit), and I would be mostly fingerpicking without thumb or finger picks, so I think, with those criteria, I am already getting the volume down, but I understand the sound would still be considerably louder than playing in the same manner on a double-o acoustic?

I can also stuff a towel in my acoustic, but there's no way to do that with a resonator.
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Old 03-16-2019, 12:11 PM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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For me, my resonators (a 1935 Dobro and a newish Goldtone Beard Signature), are not noticably louder than my acoustic guitars, and are equally able to play soft or loud depending on how you pick. Now, I set mine up for finger-picking (the Beard) and for slide (the old Dobro), and with fairly light strings and low action, and this contributes to the volume range. On the other hand, big strings, high action and stiff picks will get it talking!
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1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
1943 Paramount (made by Kay) mandolin
1946 Epiphone Zephyr electric archtop
1957 Hofner Senator archtop
1962 Gibson Melody Maker electric
1963 National Dynamic lap steel
1996 Landola jumbo
1998 Godin Artisan TC electric
1998 Epiphone SG electric
2010 GoldTone PBR-CA resonator
2015 Evans electric archtop
2016 Evans archtop
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Old 03-16-2019, 06:48 PM
agfsteve agfsteve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC5C View Post
For me, my resonators (a 1935 Dobro and a newish Goldtone Beard Signature), are not noticably louder than my acoustic guitars, and are equally able to play soft or loud depending on how you pick. Now, I set mine up for finger-picking (the Beard) and for slide (the old Dobro), and with fairly light strings and low action, and this contributes to the volume range. On the other hand, big strings, high action and stiff picks will get it talking!
Thanks for your reply. It's interesting that you use your Beard Signature for fingerpicking, because I am interested in both the Beard Signature and the Gretsch Alligator Biscuit, but I was under the impression that the Gretsch would be better for fingerpicking (no slide), but do you think this is true?
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:44 PM
Willie Voltaire Willie Voltaire is offline
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IMO, wood-bodied models are a little quieter than metal in general, and the Gretsch resos that I've played are more subdued than most. A light touch (and a closed door) should keep things under control.
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Old 03-17-2019, 10:13 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is online now
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A good way to work on your dynamics...
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Old 03-17-2019, 11:36 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agfsteve View Post
Thanks for your reply. It's interesting that you use your Beard Signature for fingerpicking, because I am interested in both the Beard Signature and the Gretsch Alligator Biscuit, but I was under the impression that the Gretsch would be better for fingerpicking (no slide), but do you think this is true?
My Goldtone has a cutaway, which I think helps it for playing up the neck. I was on a road-trip from New Orleans to Maine and on into Nova Scotia when I bought it - I tried resonators in a dozen music stores, all in the $500 range and neither I nor my wife (who was buying me the guitar for a present) liked the tone or the feel. I tried this Goldtone (used, $750, new street around $1200) at Randy Wood's store in Savannah. Instant bond, the tone was there, the quality fit and finish was there, the playability. Bought it right then and there. For an import they really are professional level instruments. I did not find that of the Gretsches, the epiphones, the various other more entry level instruments.
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1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
1943 Paramount (made by Kay) mandolin
1946 Epiphone Zephyr electric archtop
1957 Hofner Senator archtop
1962 Gibson Melody Maker electric
1963 National Dynamic lap steel
1996 Landola jumbo
1998 Godin Artisan TC electric
1998 Epiphone SG electric
2010 GoldTone PBR-CA resonator
2015 Evans electric archtop
2016 Evans archtop
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Old 03-21-2019, 02:31 PM
archerscreek archerscreek is offline
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I agree with those who say you can play a resonator soft enough. I have a 12 fret steel bodied NRP. The volume doesn't get overly loud when played with fingers.

I was actually surprised by the lack of volume when I first started trying out resonators because everything I read said they were LOUD!!!! They certainly can be. Dig into the strings aggressively with a pick and it will definitely get loud. But easy picking with flesh doesn't drive that cone nearly as much as an aggressive pick.

My only warning is this: playing a resonator is extremely addicting. Are you ready to become an addict? Haha
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:49 PM
agfsteve agfsteve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
I agree with those who say you can play a resonator soft enough. I have a 12 fret steel bodied NRP. The volume doesn't get overly loud when played with fingers.

I was actually surprised by the lack of volume when I first started trying out resonators because everything I read said they were LOUD!!!! They certainly can be. Dig into the strings aggressively with a pick and it will definitely get loud. But easy picking with flesh doesn't drive that cone nearly as much as an aggressive pick.

My only warning is this: playing a resonator is extremely addicting. Are you ready to become an addict? Haha
Yes, bring it on! I am hoping it will be exactly that, an addiction. I am hoping I will also be able to learn some slide, but my dabbling so far on my acoustic has not been encouraging.
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Old 03-22-2019, 09:31 PM
archerscreek archerscreek is offline
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Well, let me introduce you to something called "guitar slide addiction syndrome." Soon you will own steel, brass, ceramic, and glass slides for multiple fingers. Playing slide on a reso is hauntingly beautiful. Enjoy.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:18 AM
rsmillbern rsmillbern is offline
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Yes, you can play a reso fairly quite...

And yes, they are addictive...
I've got a round neck, a square neck and a bass reso and I keep looking for a mandolin resonator...
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:31 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agfsteve View Post
I am thinking about getting a resonator, but if it's as loud as I'm expecting, then I might end up only playing it when the house is empty.

So, probably a silly question, but is there any way to attenuate the sound of a resonator?

I would be getting a wood-bodied, roundneck one (got my eye on the Gretsch Alligator Biscuit), and I would be mostly fingerpicking without thumb or finger picks, so I think, with those criteria, I am already getting the volume down, but I understand the sound would still be considerably louder than playing in the same manner on a double-o acoustic?

I can also stuff a towel in my acoustic, but there's no way to do that with a resonator.
Steve,
If the manufacturer whose instrument you purchase supplies a cover with a removable palm strap, or bridge cover (whatever it's being referred to, etc), then you may be able to use a Banjo Mute, which clips/slips onto the bridge.

It works via its mass, which sucks up the inertia transfer to the skin/cone.

It would get in my way because I like to play with the strap removed on my Nat'l Resolectric, right in front of the saddle. Most resonator players are used to playing forward of that location so it may work for you.

I believe that the Gretsch you're considering does have the removable strap, but if you see 4 screws it's a certainty.

Most Hawaiian/lap style Dobros do not, almost without exception.

Regards,
Howard Emerson
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:41 AM
RedJoker RedJoker is offline
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I have a Gretsch Boxcar reso and LOVE it for bare flesh fingerpicking. If I know I'm only going to be practicing fingerpicking, that's my go to guitar. As others have said, it's easy to play it soft, or loud.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:50 AM
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An alternative you might consider is a smaller body ladder braced all mahogany guitar. My old Harmony H162 has a very resonator like quality to its sound. Plus, it's pretty quiet.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:47 AM
agfsteve agfsteve is offline
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Thank you, everyone, for the replies.

I went ahead and got the Gretsch Alligator Biscuit, and I have been able to find a place to play in my house without disturbing anyone. It's loud in comparison to my The Loar LO-16, but it's not as loud as I was concerned that it might be, so I do also manage to play it quietly without disturbing my wife in the next room, who is very understanding and supportive, any way.

The Gretsch Alligator Biscuit does have screws holding down the bit above the saddle, so I might look into Howard's suggestion, if necessary--thanks for that, Howard.

I am having a great time playing this thing, with and without a slide, so far. I tuned it to open G to play along with a Toby Walker DVD that came with it, so I'm also learning that tuning, which is also a lot of fun. By the time I go back to standard tuning I'll be like a fish out of water.
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