Inexpensive Resonator Guitar Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by mt10, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. mt10

    mt10 Member

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    I have been listening some slide resonator guitar clips lately and am really interested in trying one out. Does anyone have any recommendations for what the best sub $500 resonator guitar is. I figure, if I like it, I would be willing to make more of an investment, at this point I just want to try it out. Thanks
     
  2. sinner

    sinner Member

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    Dean, Regal, for a start--but be sure to try out in a store alongside a new National Resophonic. That way you'll have a reference for what a better one sounds like.

    Many get the less expensive ones, then upgrade to the Nat cones.
     
  3. PunkyBub

    PunkyBub Member

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    Check out Liberty Guitars - they sell on ebay quite a bit (that's where I got mine) and are around $400 or so. They make some different styles of resonators but use Quarterman cones I believe, and by all accounts they're ahead of the pack sound-wise in that price range. You can read up on them at Harmony-Central in the user reviews. I like mine almost as much as my beloved and now long-gone '39 Dobro.... If you go with a Regal or Fender or other low-end resonator, a huge upgrade for very little $ (50 or so) would be to replace the stock cone with a Quarterman cone. It might take a bit of fitting but they sound soooooooo much better that it's worth the trouble. You can find 'em at Stew-Mac among lots of other places. Good luck!
     
  4. mt10

    mt10 Member

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    Thanks Mudslide and PunkyBub. That is good info about the Liberty's having Quarterman cones. From all the reading I have done thus far, everyone recommended swapping out cones for Quarterman cones, if the Liberty already has one, it might make it that much easier.

    Is installing a Quarterman in a Regal or a Johnson difficult? If it is a simple upgrade, I could still consider the Regal or Johnson. Neither of you mentioned Johnson, is that because you wouldn't recommend those? Seems like Regal with a Quaterman or a Liberty would be a safe bet.

    Thanks
     
  5. bluesmain

    bluesmain Member

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    I have an epi biscuit that I'll sell for 300.00 plus paypal and shipping.It's signed by Kent Duchane. Sweet lil guitar too.I'll consider trades too.Spent it's time in my closet.

    Johnny>>
     
  6. Budman2k

    Budman2k Member

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    The Gold Tone line which is availble from local dealers as well as Musicians Friend seem to be pretty good for the money. I have been looking into getting one myself. They are built overseas but setup in Florida with Paul Beard cones. They have metal bodies as well as wood.

    Budman
     
  7. PunkyBub

    PunkyBub Member

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    The Quarterman cones are slightly larger (1/16" or so) than a normal stock cone, so to upgrade you might have to either widen the area where the cone's edge rests or trim the cone. I've not had to do it so I don't know which would be better.

    I've heard a bunch of Johnsons and I never found one I liked, though with a better cone and a setup that could change.

    Keep in mind spider resonators sound different than biscuit bridge (National-style) resonators. Generally the National biscuit bridge guitars have a bluesy, kinda honky tone whereas the spider resonators are what you hear when you listen to Rob Ickes or Jerry Douglas.
     
  8. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Jerry Douglas, in addition to being acknowledged as the best Dobro player on the planet, has a custom made squareneck w/jacked up action & 0.16 (!!) gauge high E string, so don't expect a budget roundneck spider bridge to sound anything close to the G#dlike tones he gets on his recordings.

    I've got a Regal woodbody reso (RD-65) w/a spider bridge that does sound pretty good since I upgraded to a Quarterman cone. The cone's diameter was slightly larger than the soundwell, so I sanded down the edges till it fit - I can't really imagine the amount of work involved in enlarging the soundwell, so I went the easier, faster route. Nice guitar, but I'd try before buying.

    The Regal Tricone (RC-51) I ordered was a drop-dead gorgeous piece of junk. Beneath the beatiful nickel plated exterior lay a mass of masking tape and black electrician's tape smothering the cones - I removed it and repositioned the mushroom braces, but the guitar still had almost no volume. I've heard they've improved the construction of these, but again, I wouldn't buy one w/out playing it first.

    Johnson's are also quite inconsistent. I've played a few "style O" bell brass bodied models that were unimpressive - but found one that sounded every bit as good as a vintage National. When I went back for it, it was gone..

    I got a similar styled Dobro (33H) in '94, just after Gibson took over the line. It's a great sounding guitar w/a bisquit bridge, but the larger 10 1/2" cone normally found on spider bridge models. These guitars have since been discontinued, but have not held their value, in part because of the hybrid design, but mostly because of all the asian made alternatives out there. I've seen mint condition examples w/built-in pickup systems going for less than half of what I paid for mine. I'd seriously consider one of these if I was on a budget and shopping around today.

    Almost forgot about the Epiphone I owned for an hour or two. Couldn't figure out why it sounded so dead untill I took off the coverplate - The cone was SCREWED DOWN. That one went right back to the shop. With the exception of a used '58 Korina V reissue, I've had uniformly dissappointing experiences w/Epis and would definitely try first.

    Finally got a National a few weeks ago, and it's everything I ever wanted from a resophonic. The steel body combined w/the small cone give it that distinctive bark that I'd been after for some time. The 12th fret body joint, cant of the neck, fretboard radius, etc, etc. all contribute to the tone & vibe of the guitar. This is the one I wish I'd started with..
     
  9. mt10

    mt10 Member

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    I just agreed to buy a Liberty O since it sounded like my best bet at somewhat of a reasonable price. Now the only thing I am worried about is Drolling's comment about getting the National he'd "wished he started with". I hope I don't end up thinking the same thing.
     
  10. BruceL

    BruceL Member

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    Just picked up a Paul Beard Goldtone and for the money it is very nice...
     
  11. drolling

    drolling Member

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    You're already diggin' recordings done w/these guitars. If the Liberty's properly set up, you should be able coax out similar sounds from your new guitar w/a bit of practice.

    At that point, you might start jonsin for something more upscale. It's OK to have two; I've got the National tuned to open D, the Dobro to G and the Regal's in standard tuning. Thay ALL get played everyday.

    Please post a review when it comes in! Pics would be nice, too!!
     
  12. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    How 'bout a real Dobro brand dobro for five hundred? 1992 (pre Gibson), new Quarterman cone. I'd list it in the classifieds here, but I've got twenty-seven days more before I'm eligible. Can provide photos.
    ________
    Rehab Discussion
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  13. gnugear

    gnugear Member

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    I'm interested, can you send me photos? PM sent.
     
  14. 84superchamp

    84superchamp Silver Supporting Member

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    i don't think you said if you were looking at metal bodies or wood, but i picked up a galveston brass body that i really like. from talking with other reso owners, it seems like vibration & noise is one of the biggest problems with a cheap resonator and if you're not familiar with checking for noise, it can be a real chore figuring it out and fixing it.
    i've been curious about the beard / goldtone reso's..a good name with a reasonable price, but never played one.
     
  15. Budman2k

    Budman2k Member

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    Let me know how you like it. I'm still going back & forth between the Liberty & the Gold Tone. I may order a Gold Tone first since I can return it in 45 days at MF

    Budman
     
  16. Budman2k

    Budman2k Member

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    Bruce,
    I'd be interested in what you think of the Gold Tone after you've had time to get familiar with it. :AOK

    Budman
     
  17. mt10

    mt10 Member

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    Granted I am new to resonators and slide guitar, I been playing the Liberty O for the last couple of days and I absolutely love it. It has exactly the tone I was looking for. Kinda like a jet engine firing up, warm, fuzzy, and loud. I noticed that things start buzzing in my room when I play it. The playability is great and it looks awesome. I played a regal at the guitar shop it wasn't half as nice. I played a couple of Nationals and the Liberty sounded just as nice. Being new to it, my opinion probably isn't worth that much, but for what it is worth, I think it is a great guitar.

    I picked up musicofanatic5's Dobro and my buddy just bought a Liberty O with a national cone and a very inexpensive Johnson so we will be able to do some more comparisons in the next couple weeks.
     
  18. drolling

    drolling Member

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    So you got TWO resos in the same week!! Good for you..

    If the Dobro's a wood body w/a spider bridge, you're pretty much covered for 'slide' guitars. Congratulations!
     

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