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  #1  
Old 03-10-2020, 08:07 AM
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Default light strings on a National reso?

Hi guys,

I ask those with knowledge and experience, can one use light strings on a National reso? What I've read so far advises mediums, much like the John Pearse strings new Nationals are shipped with. I've read that using lights leads to rattles and they do not provide enough pressure on the cone for good tone.

Opinions?
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  #2  
Old 03-10-2020, 12:09 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Doug View Post
Hi guys,

I ask those with knowledge and experience, can one use light strings on a National reso? What I've read so far advises mediums, much like the John Pearse strings new Nationals are shipped with. I've read that
using
lights leads to rattles and they do not provide enough pressure on the cone for good tone.

Opinions?
That is indeed the general (nearly universal, actually) consensus among reso players.
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Last edited by frankmcr; 03-10-2020 at 01:06 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2020, 12:43 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Yup, mediums, and if doing slide - try another .017" on the 1st.

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Old 03-10-2020, 05:41 PM
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Thanks for the input guys.
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  #5  
Old 03-11-2020, 03:01 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is online now
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Yeah, but Don Young at the National Reso-Phonic Guitar Company and I discussed this, back in the early 2000's when I was working with him and MacGregor Gaines to develop the National RM-1 mandolin. I asked him exactly this same question, and Don told me you can use any strings you want. The guitar just needs to be set up for it.

When Bob Brozman published his book about Nationals he wrote that anything less than medium gauge strings could "damage" National guitars. Don rolled his eyes as he told me this, and said that the next time he and Mac spoke to Brozman they said: "Oh, come ON, Bob!"

Short version: yes, National guitars and other resonator instruments are customarily strung with medium gauge strings or heavier when dropped tunings are used, but there's nothing wrong with using lighter strings, either. You just need to make sure the guitar is set up for the strings that you choose to use.

Hope that makes more sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 03-11-2020, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Yeah, but Don Young at the National Reso-Phonic Guitar Company and I discussed this, back in the early 2000's when I was working with him and MacGregor Gaines to develop the National RM-1 mandolin. I asked him exactly this same question, and Don told me you can use any strings you want. The guitar just needs to be set up for it.

When Bob Brozman published his book about Nationals he wrote that anything less than medium gauge strings could "damage" National guitars. Don rolled his eyes as he told me this, and said that the next time he and Mac spoke to Brozman they said: "Oh, come ON, Bob!"

Short version: yes, National guitars and other resonator instruments are customarily strung with medium gauge strings or heavier when dropped tunings are used, but there's nothing wrong with using lighter strings, either. You just need to make sure the guitar is set up for the strings that you choose to use.

Hope that makes more sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
Hi Wade,

yes I got this idea from Bob's book and elsewhere that I can't find now. I would be tuned to standard, not dropped tunings.
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Old 03-11-2020, 11:45 AM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Yeah, but Don Young at the National Reso-Phonic Guitar Company and I discussed this, back in the early 2000's when I was working with him and MacGregor Gaines to develop the National RM-1 mandolin. I asked him exactly this same question, and Don told me you can use any strings you want. The guitar just needs to be set up for it.

When Bob Brozman published his book about Nationals he wrote that anything less than medium gauge strings could "damage" National guitars. Don rolled his eyes as he told me this, and said that the next time he and Mac spoke to Brozman they said: "Oh, come ON, Bob!"

Short version: yes, National guitars and other resonator instruments are customarily strung with medium gauge strings or heavier when dropped tunings are used, but there's nothing wrong with using lighter strings, either. You just need to make sure the guitar is set up for the strings that you choose to use.

Hope that makes more sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
Don told me the same thing, and then proceded to set my National M2 up for the same light gauge acoustic guitar strings that I used on my acoustics 012 thru .054. He even compensated my biscuit saddle for me, specifically for the tuning I generally use to play slide, GGDGBD.
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Old 03-11-2020, 11:49 AM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankmcr View Post
That is indeed the general (nearly universal, actually) consensus among reso players.
Many people are just repeating what they hear, this is not universal among people who actually play!

I have been using lights on all of my National resos (except my spider cone), 2 biscuit, and 1 tricone for the last 15 years with no ill effect.
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Old 03-11-2020, 11:53 AM
frankmcr frankmcr is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockabilly69 View Post
Many people are just repeating what they hear, this is not universal among people who actually play!

I have been using lights on all of my National resos (except my spider cone), 2 biscuit, and 1 tricone for the last 15 years with no ill effect.
That's why I said "nearly universal."

Would you or Wade deny that the vast majority of reso players do not use light strings?
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Old 03-11-2020, 12:23 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankmcr View Post
That's why I said "nearly universal."

Would you or Wade deny that the vast majority of reso players do not use light strings?
Many of them do because they are not aware they can use light strings if the Nationals are set up for them. That's why I'm posting, to counter the flood of misinformation! Once somebody says something on the internet it seems like many others just copy and paste and presents themselves as knowledgable on the subject, which I'm not saying you're doing, but it happens far too much. And most of the guys around my neck of the woods use what they use on their acoustics. One difference is guys with magnetic pickups tend to use different strings (as in the core for it's magnetic properties) for string balance. Also guys that play alot of single line stuff may prefer the thicker tone of a heavier string, especially with spider cones, that's why they are on my spider cone, but for fingerpicking stuff I love light strings. Especially for 3 hours gigs as my hands just get plain worn out from heavier strings!

I love the springiness I get out of my National M2 equipped with light strings, listen how I alternate between fingerpicked chords and single notes here, and this is downtuned with light strings, except for the G string which is uptuned for DADAAD...

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Old 03-11-2020, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Doug View Post
Hi Wade,

yes I got this idea from Bob's book and elsewhere that I can't find now. I would be tuned to standard, not dropped tunings.
Actually the other place I saw this was Steve James saying heavier is better in one of my guitar books but I assume he's in dropped tunings.

Last edited by Guest 33123; 03-11-2020 at 02:49 PM.
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  #12  
Old 03-11-2020, 01:18 PM
Eldergreene Eldergreene is offline
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Another vote for light gauge here - also, if you're after a more 'authentic' old-time sound, round-core strings are worth a try.
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Old 03-11-2020, 03:24 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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I was at the factory and Don Young told me that Chris Whitley had brought a lot of attention to the use of National guitars, and Chris Whitley uses light gauge strings on his Nationals!
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:53 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankmcr View Post
Would you or Wade deny that the vast majority of reso players do not use light strings?
I ain't confirmin' or denyin' NUTHIN' until I consult with my lawyers!!

No, seriously, I know that most resonator guitar players tend to use medium gauge or heavier, but most of those same players also use dropped tunings of some sort or another, too.

A few years ago I gave my National M2 to one of my bandmates because I knew he would get more out of it than I have, but I continue to use National mandolins, and have three of them. I keep the two modern ones strung with John Pearse medium gauge phosphor bronze mandolin strings, but the pre-WWII vintage example is best with lighter gauge strings. It's a fragile instrument and simply isn't as robust as the modern ones. After I collapsed a cone on it using mediums I knew I had to back off in terms of string tension. So I use lights on that one.

Anyway, the point I was making in my earlier post is that there's a widespread misconception that resonator guitars HAVE to be strung with mediums or heavier, but that's simply incorrect. You can use whatever strings you want on them. Since they work in a certain mechanical way you might not get the tone, volume and projection that you want with lighter gauge strings, but they certainly won't damage anything.

Hope that makes more sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #15  
Old 03-11-2020, 11:22 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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The big thing to consider is the tone you are shooting for! Listen to Chris Whitley and his light gauge electric guitar strings. His tone is unique, far from traditional, and totally valid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vdlc-G-cGcw
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