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Old 12-17-2016, 01:09 PM
donter donter is offline
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Default resonator guitars

thinking of jumping in on a resonator guitar. Anyone try gretsch G9221 bobtail or a National polychrome tri cone. Any feedback would be appreciated
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:26 PM
roylor4 roylor4 is offline
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Originally Posted by donter View Post
thinking of jumping in on a resonator guitar. Anyone try gretsch G9221 bobtail or a National polychrome tri cone. Any feedback would be appreciated
Two different classes ($ wise, quality and street cred too) and two totally different types of resonators. Spiders and Tricones react differently, although both have LONG sustain. Tricones sustain for days.

I own a Gretsch Boxcar (same guitar with no pickup and wooden body) and have owned the Honeydipper (single cone, brass body).

I liked the Honeydipper but it was loud as a cannon and nearly as heavy - too much of everything for my purpose. I also find the Boxcar more versatile - it does Blues and country both well.

Make sure you REALLY WANT 12-14lbs. sitting on your lap before you buy one. The HD was WAY louder than my wifes banjo, if that says anything.

There are also more affordable options than going w/a National. Michael Messer and Republic spring to mind. You should play all three types (spider, biscuit and tricone) before you buy. They all sound much different as do wood versus steel versus brass.

The Boxcar is the best budget resonator I have played to date.

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Old 12-17-2016, 01:28 PM
bil bil is offline
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Well, I've got a Gretsch G9220 and I like it just fine. Then again, it's the only resonator I've ever had or played. I use it for open tunings, with and without a slide. I've played it a few times in standard and it seems pretty cool there as well but I like it better for open D and C stuff. You may notice in my signature line that it's for sale (actually it's sold). There's no problem with it, I just need to clear some room for a dread. I would imagine there are huge differences between it and, say, a National. And the resonators themselves come in different styles too. Bottom line - I'm going through a lot of research to pick a dreadnought. I can guess you have quite a way to go to come to an informed purchase decision. Have fun and happy hunting!
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:46 PM
futboljim futboljim is offline
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I've played the Bobtail, the Honeydipper, a Republic brass body, a couple of new Nationals, and one vintage National. Do not recall the model, or even the type of the Nationals, sorry.

All were set up well, and I enjoyed each one. Definitely different sounds coming from different instruments. That might be one of the things that slowed me down - I am not sure which I thought suited me the best, because I really liked them all for different reasons.

Because of that, I would call the Bobtail the best value - just lots of $$$ less than the others. The Republic brass body sustained for days, and had a HUGE voice - loads of fun to play. Not sure what I think of the weight, definitely have to pay attention to how you sit and hold it.

Enjoy the search. I gave up on mine, but I am sure I will embark on one again at some point, they were all so much fun to play!
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:49 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Default resonators

Among brands, there are none that compare with National, in quality or price. Resonator guitars were developed to be loud, to be played in big bands before the advent of microphones. A few years after they were introduced, microphones came to be and they were largely abandoned. It is ironic that the people who picked them up were not the big band players but bluesmen, Hawaiians and, to a lesser degree, old time country players. They were cheap and rugged as well as loud, good for bar fights. My Duolian sold for $27.50 when new.

Incidentally, it's resonator wore out and was replaced this year. 80 years was not bad. For some reason it was hard to find a proper replacement and the one we did find is inferior in sound to the original.
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:58 PM
MrDB MrDB is offline
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I have a Honeydipper and love it, a great little reso for the price. It's not a National, but it's $2000 cheaper too.

Brass body resonators are LOUD. They are also heavy. If you sit down to play like I do that's not that much of an issue but it's worth pointing out.

Play a bunch of them and choose the one whose tone and playability you like.

For $600 or less you can buy a pretty good reso that will get you into that style of music. You can always jump up to a National later if you really get into it. I won't buy anything more expensive than the Gretsch, it's perfect for me, I don't play that much slide.

Good luck in your search.
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Old 12-17-2016, 02:04 PM
L20A L20A is offline
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I have played several brands of resonator guitar over the years.
In the under $500.00 price range the Regal is a good choice.
They have been around for a long time and sound good to my ear.
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Old 12-17-2016, 02:14 PM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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I have a Goldtone Beard signature solid mahogany cutaway round neck, it's a spider cone style. Beautiful guitar, and the tone is head and shoulders above the $500 range imports (although it's an import it lists for around $1200). I paid $750 for it. I have a 1935 Dobro Model 25 that I paid around the same for, it I play slide as the neck has a bit too much relief in it. Sounds very different yet awesome.

I always recommend playing some great instruments before you buy a cheaper one, so you can understand the compromise you may or may not be making. If you don't know what it's supposed to sound like and play like, it's very hard to make a good choice. Also, luthier-made resonator guitars are cheap compared to acoustic guitars, so become a very real choice that you may not think you had.
Brian Evans
1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:32 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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I have a Boxcar & think it's excellent value for money. I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of getting into resos.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:34 PM
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TBman TBman is offline
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I have a Republic Tricone 200, which they no longer make, but they have other models now. I put a strap button in the neck heel because it weighs a ton. I told the guys at Republic that I played fingerstyle not slide so they swapped out the default pickup and replaced it with one that allowed a lower set up. It has a great sound. I would also like to pick up one of the wooden ones also for the tone they have.

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Old 12-17-2016, 04:03 PM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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I was once out looking for a reso like you are and did a whole lot of research and trying-out of various types. I ended up writing a review of the instrument I bought and included the general research I had amassed. You can read it over HERE.

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Old 12-17-2016, 05:56 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Hi, I've played Dobro square necks for many years - since about '75, but only had about three (four?)
They are the "spider cone" design.

My current one is a 1999 Gibson made one - so whilst it looks fine, they were (are?) built with the seat in the wrong place making the intonation about 1/4" out. They also have dreadful cones - which is the heart of the beast.

The bodies are plywood/laminate and are mostly just the housing.

Fortunately Beard make compensating spiders and cones to correct the build errors.

Beard and their cheaper Goldtone square necks are remarkably good,as are the Scheerhorn designs now offered by National.

I also play bottleneck and have had a Far-eastern made Tricone - which was very playable - nice neck, but tonally and volume wise was not a patch on the real thing.

I went for a National Style "O" Deluxe which was ,as they say, a "cannon" - very heavy very , very loud - bell brass body, maple neck, and , f course the biscuit cone arrangement.

As it really was too loud (and heavy) for what I needed I swapped it for a wooden body "Estralita" which is lighter and has a milder one.

These are my National and Dobro.

I don't know anything about the newer Gretsch branded jobs, apart from seeing on played by a busker ..and it wasn't very loud.
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Last edited by Silly Moustache; 12-17-2016 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:21 PM
donter donter is offline
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WOW THANKS, a lot of interesting stories, an incredable story Bob such detail.The journey will start on Mon or Tues. Its hard to find any resonators around here in S Cal stores. strange I guess they make Dobro here and National north of here. I'm having better luck in the used market but it's better to know what I like first before adventuring there. Been playing with some country players even though my Collings sound can stand with any guitar, thought for a change of pace something different at the jams. Cheers
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:52 PM
gmr gmr is offline
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I decided to get myself a resonator a couple years ago. I ended up purchasing the Gretch 9220 biscuit cone round neck. I don't play slide at all and I am not experienced with resonators in general. But I enjoy playing this guitar. It offers a fun departure from my regular acoustic guitars. I rarely play it but when I do it is fun. I did NOT like that "faux antique" finish they sprayed on the wood body. I recently took all the hardware off and after some judicious sanding and re polishing it now has a nice sheen. I also considered one of the Epiphone hound dog resonators and a republic wood model. The Gretch worked out fine and seems to be a fair example of an entry level resonator. Retrospectively I may have liked a spider cone style a bit better. The tone may have been a little more subtle wit a spider cone.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:52 AM
blue blue is offline
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Just remember that the imports are just that. And that Nationals and Mules are handmade (the mule more-so) USA products. National being a relatively "small shop", and Mule being a "workshop" situation.

Nothing against the imports, but they are what the are. Watch videos on the production floor of National and Mule. Just as an unbiased person wouldn't expect a "masterbuilt" epiphone to hold it's own against a nice Collings in terms of workmanship, material selection, etc. you can't expect the import resonators to compare either.

If you do, you simply do not have any respect for the instrument style called resonator guitar. National and Mule probably takes as much time to fit the neck as some imports to take to put together.

Again, nothing against imports guitars. I just bought an Epiphone Korean made guitar and love it. But I'm not going to compare it Gibson custom shop just because I happen to own it.

Single cone biscuit guitars are in my opinion the hardest one to get a great tone out of. If someone does, that is to their credit. They developed the skills/techniques to do so. I say this having owned both wood and metal Nationals. I still own a brass National Singlecone, and when I pick it up I have to pull great sounds out of it. Not so with the Tricones. And while the spider-cones are not to my taste soundwise, they also want to sing prettily when I have played one.

That's just my opinion. They all have their little foibles, but biscuits take more dedication to learn. There's lots of sloppy cacophenis playing out there being passed off as "rustic"

The big giveaway to me is when someone uses the term "trash-can like". They aren't supposed to sound like that. If it does, there's a small chance it's on purpose. Ask them to play clean and clear if they make that claim.
I only play technologically cutting edge instruments. Parker Flys and National Resonators
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