The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Other Stringed Instruments

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 06-24-2020, 08:47 PM
seangil seangil is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 68
Default 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.)?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 06-24-2020, 09:13 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Seattle
Posts: 5,488
Default

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
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-24-2020, 10:27 PM
David Rance David Rance is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Norfolk UK
Posts: 176
Default

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!

Last edited by David Rance; 06-25-2020 at 03:09 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-25-2020, 06:18 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: UK/EU
Posts: 18,283
Default

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.
__________________
Silly Moustache,
Elderly singer, guitarist, dobrolist and mandolinist.

Hey folks, I'm now offering one to one lessons/meetings via Zoom! See: https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=589058

https://www.youtube.com/user/SillyMoustache/videos
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-25-2020, 08:59 AM
Eldergreene Eldergreene is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 248
Default

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.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-25-2020, 07:35 PM
seangil seangil is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 68
Default 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.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-25-2020, 08:15 PM
BluesBelly BluesBelly is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Land of 10,000 Lakes
Posts: 1,618
Default

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

Last edited by BluesBelly; 06-25-2020 at 08:22 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-25-2020, 08:23 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Seattle
Posts: 5,488
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by seangil View Post
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."
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-26-2020, 10:07 AM
seangil seangil is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 68
Default 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.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-26-2020, 03:56 PM
joe paul joe paul is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 252
Default

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.
__________________
Country Blues recordings : https://joepaulblues.bandcamp.com
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-21-2020, 02:28 PM
bloozeman bloozeman is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 46
Default

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
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-21-2020, 08:20 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Washington State
Posts: 2,498
Default

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.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Other Stringed Instruments

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:11 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=