INSTRUCTION STRINGS ACCESSORIES MUSIC LINKS
 Visit Our Catalog at SteelGuitarShopper.com for Steel Guitars, Strings, Instruction, Music and Accessories 
Forum Index
where steel players meet online
The Steel Guitar Forum

Post new topic Resonator - two questions
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Resonator - two questions
Paul Seager


From:
Augsburg, Germany
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 12:31 am     Reply with quote

Forumites, I am considering purchasing a resonator guitar for Country/Swing/Bluegrass using open G/G6 tuning. I've got a budget and a short list of instruments available in my country, so no need to suggest brands / models. But I am curious on two points:

    Metal vs. Wooden bodies - why do players in the Country/Swing/Bluegrass genres use wood over metal? Is it a tone thing or maybe the greats have preferred wood.

    String gauges - I intend to use open G but why are the string gauges for this tuning so heavy over the standard guitar sets? Is this about tension under a bar or volume?

As always, your advice is appreciated.

\ paul
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jouni Karvonen


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 4:39 am     Reply with quote

For my 2 cents(€) i’ve been playing these ”cheapos” from Thomanns since my R.Q.Jones lost its spirit.
Recording King RM-991-S and Gretsch G9210 Boxcar Squareneck were reasonably cheap when introduced in their selection. Both had some problems, and it helped that i’m familiar fixing acoustic instruments. Tricone is my favorite but when grassing i grab the plywood one.

I also use GBDGBd tuning or close variants and regular Dobro sets 16-56, now i like GHS TS 1600 Tim Scheerhorn 17-56 set, they make these two sound one third more expensive.


Last edited by Jouni Karvonen on 29 Oct 2017 7:45 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Chris Walke


From:
St Charles, IL
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 6:26 am     Re: Resonator - two questions Reply with quote

Paul Seager wrote:
String gauges - I intend to use open G but why are the string gauges for this tuning so heavy over the standard guitar sets? Is this about tension under a bar or volume? [/list]
As always, your advice is appreciated.

\ paul


Heavier string gauges are for squareneck instruments that can handle the heavier tension. Volume & "fatness" of tone are improved.

Metal vs Wood - that's really a player's preference. The wood body guitars with spider bridges tend to be more open sounding, and associated with a bluegrass sound. The metal body guitars with biscuit bridges tend to be more punchy/tight/percussive sounding, and often associated with a more bluesy sound.
View user's profile Send private message
Joe Burke


From:
Toronto, Canada
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 7:00 am     Reply with quote

I have a Gretsch Dobro and am very happy with is. It has a bit a dirty sound that I like when doing that bluegrass chop. I also have a National tricone, which is my favourite. It was more expensive, and I play it the most.

Any one tried the a Steel body resonator? Here's a link to one from Gretsch:

http://www.gretschguitars.com/gear/collection/roots/g9231-bobtail-square-neck-acoustic-electric-steel-body-resonator-guitar-fishman-nashville-pickup-spider-cone-weathered-pump-house-roof-finish
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
James Hartman


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 9:04 am     Reply with quote

I don't have much to add other than I think for trad. country and Bluegrass a metal body reso just doesn't sound quite right. I say that as someone who plays one (sounds great for pre-electric Hawaiian and other styles) but wishes I had $$ and room in the house for a decent wood body Dobro whenever I'm called upon to play Country/Bluegrass style. Absolutely a "tone thing" - to Paul's question.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Paul Seager


From:
Augsburg, Germany
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 11:10 am     Re: Resonator - two questions Reply with quote

Thanks all for your replies.
Chris Walke wrote:

The wood body guitars with spider bridges tend to be more open sounding, ... metal body guitars with biscuit bridges tend to be more punchy/tight/percussive sounding, and often associated with a more bluesy sound.


That was the answer I was looking for Chris, thanks and for the clarification on the strings. I have a converted f-hole acoustic (round neck obviously) and have not dared to load the heavy gauges but a mix of regular gauges, e.g., tuning the A down to to G are okay and serve for learning and practice. I'm actually thinking of adding a floating bridge pickup and leaving it at G6 to play swing gigs.

Jouni Karvonen wrote:

these ”cheapos” ... Recording King RM-991-S and Gretsch G9210 Boxcar Squareneck

Yes Jouni, both of these instruments are on my short-list and there is a 991 on ebay somewhere that I've considered, hence the question on metal bodies. I join a local, very informal country session now and again and sometimes play a borrowed, old and original Dobro. It's a beauty, very warm sounding but I cannot afford such an instrument (unless I sell a few others!) so good to know those "cheapos" are worth checking out albeit with caution!

\paul
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 11:27 am     Re: Resonator - two questions Reply with quote

Paul Seager wrote:


    Metal vs. Wooden bodies - why do players in the Country/Swing/Bluegrass genres use wood over metal? Is it a tone thing or maybe the greats have preferred wood.

    String gauges - I intend to use open G but why are the string gauges for this tuning so heavy over the standard guitar sets? Is this about tension under a bar or volume?

As always, your advice is appreciated.

\ paul


Well Bill Monroe's Dobro players all used wooden body instruments so that explains bluegrass. Josh Graves, Bashfull Brother Oswald and, of course, Jerry Douglas explains country. I could imagine a western swing band using a metal body though.

Many people buy similar gear to their heroes and many country/bluegrass players are quite conservative (with a small c). I use wooden body instruments, partly because they tend to be cheaper (and if it's good enough for the guys I mentioned above, it's good enough for me) but I wouldn't hesitate to borrow my friend's 1920s metal body National for a country/bluegrass recording session, given the chance.

I'm sure that if a hot new Dobro player came on the country scene playing a metal body instrument, you'd see an increase in the use of them in that genre.

As regards string gauges - I and many others believe that heavier strings sound better - have a better tone and prefer the feel of tighter strings. Not just on square necks - I have had my round neck Dobro I A6 tuning with a .015 on the top E for about 20 years now with no sign of the neck warping.


Last edited by Jeff Mead on 26 Oct 2017 11:32 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 11:32 am     Re: Resonator - two questions Reply with quote

Jeff Mead wrote:


Well Bill Monroe's Dobro players all used wooden body instruments so that explains bluegrass.


Monroe had dobro players?

h
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 12:08 pm     Re: Resonator - two questions Reply with quote

Howard Parker wrote:
Jeff Mead wrote:


Well Bill Monroe's Dobro players all used wooden body instruments so that explains bluegrass.


Monroe had dobro players?

h


Oops! Sorry - I guess I was thinking of Flatt & Scruggs.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 12:23 pm     Reply with quote

Being a dobro/bluegrass nerd Laughing I can say that Josh Graves was the only dobro player for "Flatt & Scruggs". He left when Earl left to form the Earl Scruggs Review".

More then you probably wanted to know! Very Happy

Adding to what's been offered so far, wood body, spider bridge dobro style guitars typically have more sustain and sound "woody". Metal body (tricone/biscuit bridge)do take on the characteristics of that body. Perhaps not as loud and quite percussive sounding.

hp
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 12:58 pm     Reply with quote

Most people will tell you that in general, a good quality wood body dobro just plain sounds better to their ears.

Aside from playing some classic jazzy Hawaiian a la Sol Ho'opi'i on a metal tricone, a nice wood body dobro works in about any musical genre where the dobro player is making a positive contribution to the music.
_________________
Mark
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Allen Hutchison


From:
Kilcoy, Qld, Australia
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 12:59 pm     Reply with quote

G'day Paul, I would simply say to look at the types of equipment the top players are using in the genre/s you are interested in!
They are using it for good reasons. Very Happy
All the best on your choice, Allen
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Robert Allen


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 1:00 pm     Reply with quote

Howard Parker wrote:
Being a dobro/bluegrass nerd Laughing I can say that Josh Graves was the only dobro player for "Flatt & Scruggs". He left when Earl left to form the Earl Scruggs Review". hp


I'm a bluegrass fan, too. Are you forgetting Kenny Haddock? From Wikipedia: "Haddock will be remembered for his work with the bands of Earl Taylor and Billy Baker and with the original Country Gentlemen, all between 1955 and about 1963. Later he filled in for Josh Graves when the latter took a leave of absence from the Foggy Mountain Boys."

Bob
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 1:06 pm     Reply with quote

Robert Allen wrote:
Are you forgetting Kenny Haddock?
Bob


Great catch!! Very Happy

h
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
John Culp


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 2:37 pm     Reply with quote

In the bottleneck blues playing community, the National style resonators are very popular, metal bodied "biscuit" types, wood bodied "biscuits," and metal bodied tricones. There's an idea that the spider bridge Dobro types aren't right for blues, but I like them personally. I like them all, they're just different. Each has its own distinctive sound. You can quickly learn to identify the major sorts of resos when you hear them. Back in the day there were metal bodied spider bridge Dobros. I haven't heard or played one of those, and don't know of any reproductions being made today.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
HowardR


From:
N.Y.C. & Fire Island
Post Posted 26 Oct 2017 7:05 pm     Reply with quote

Howard Parker wrote:
Robert Allen wrote:
Are you forgetting Kenny Haddock?
Bob


Great catch!! Very Happy

h



Absolutely!....a haddock is a great catch......
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jim Bates


From:
Alvin, Texas, USA
Post Posted 29 Oct 2017 6:25 am     Reply with quote

Check out 'Keb Mo', I think he has metal w spider, wood w spider, and of course wood and metal w biscuit.

Great sounds from Keb. He is the 'Happy Blues'man.

I have Dobro's and (resos) in both configurations - each has their own sound 'flavor'.

I just got an Adams - 8 string, 22 1/2" wood body tuned to G6th (has a great baritone sound!) He custom made it for me.

Try A6th tuning for a little brighter sound. I would suggest using next lighter gauge strings - experiment.

Thanx,
Jim
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Tony Boadle


From:
Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland
Post Posted 29 Oct 2017 4:37 pm     Reply with quote

If it's of interest, I play a Gretsch Roots Series wooden body resonator (with built-in pickup) as a rhythm guitar on stage, it plays so well, and sounds absolutely brilliant. It's parlour size, easy to hold and switch to banjer in a hurry. The workmanship is excellent and I honestly wouldn't choose another guitar for stage use.
Oh...and it looks good too!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 31 Oct 2017 6:09 pm     Reply with quote

I play all four types - roundneck metal (example - National Duolian) and wood (Many vintage National and Regal models), and squareneck both.

Round neck resonators - both types - are most prevalent in blues and blues-based styles. There are always exceptions, but that's where the bulk of them are used. Metal-body instruments are the most heavily preferred - and good ones are far more expensive than "commodity" instruments like cheap imports (IMO cheap metal-body instruments are not worth buying).

Metal-body squarenecks - especially "Tricone" types - are very popular in Hawaiian music. That's where I primarily use my old National M-3.

Wood-body squarenecks ("Dobro" is a brand name, not an instrument or style type) used to be almost exclusively found in bluegrass (and somewhat in country) circles, with a bit of overlap into swing and other styles. Mike Auldridge and later Jerry Douglas were the two that really opened up the floodgates of use in different styles of playing.

Good quality resonators of any type are not cheap. Even installing high-end cones/spiders/biscuits/saddles in cheap instruments only does so much - the basic construction is extremely important. I've found very few current "production" instruments to be good buys - especially when it comes to squareneck wood body resonators. There are many custom builders, and used instruments are often found in the $1000-1500 range that are exponentially better than new instruments selling for around $1k.
_________________
No chops, but great tone
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Art Beard


From:
Camp Verde, AZ
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 5:05 pm     Dobro Reply with quote

Jan Conover had a original Dobro for sale that looked real sweet. I think it was $950 or so .look his up in search. Tell him Art sent u lol. Art
_________________
"like an old stallion, lonesome for freedom, still trying to out run the wind" Seals,Setser,& Davey
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Paul Seager


From:
Augsburg, Germany
Post Posted 6 Nov 2017 10:36 pm     Re: Dobro Reply with quote

Art Beard wrote:
Jan Conover had a original Dobro for sale

Thanks Art, I looked at the photo's, nice but I am a long way from NJ! Having tried a couple of entry level instruments and compared it to the "real thing" (belonging to a friend) and I think I am going to save my cents and wait till I have enough for a better instrument. Looking at the local market, there is a huge hole between entry level at €600 and the next level (€2500+) and that must be there for a reason!

\ paul
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 12 Nov 2017 10:24 pm     Reply with quote

The price difference you are talking about sounds like cheap Chinese imports vs custom instruments from small shops. I would not recommend either source.

You can get a MUCH better instrument than the cheap junk by searching for 1970's/80's OMI Dobros and anything older. Most of the OMI's from that period are pretty decent. I have a '79 all-mahoganysquareneck with fancy inlay, and if I were to find a replacement it'd probably be priced in the $1000-1500 range. Plain ones like D60 squarenecks are usually $700-1000.

You can even find prewar Dobros - both squareneck and roundneck model 27's and some 37's - for under $1000, maybe $1500 at most for a very nice one (anything priced higher is either an odd collector's model or a seller simply asking for too mcuu money).

Vintage roundnecks work just fine set up as squarenecks - I just picked up a 1930's model 27 roundneck in excellent condition for $800 on eBay. It's set up with an extension nut and plays/sounds great. I've seen much of the same kind of pricing on eBay's European sites.

IMO you would likely find a much better instrument for a good price looking at older used Dobros. Just avoid anything after around 1993 (and do not buy anything with the name "Hound Dog!) - Gibson bought Dobro the following year and started cheapening things very quickly.

Just as an example, this is the 30's Dobro Model 27 I just bought. It needed nothing but a new nut, new strings and a bit of cleaning:



_________________
No chops, but great tone
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Paul Seager


From:
Augsburg, Germany
Post Posted 13 Nov 2017 5:07 am     Reply with quote

Jim Sliff wrote:
... You can get a MUCH better instrument than the cheap junk by searching for 1970's/80's OMI Dobros and anything older.

Nice looking instrument Jim. To your comment on new instruments, in Europe the lower end choice is: Hound Dog, Gretsch and Recording King (I don't count the no-names). After that things jump into the Beard or National price category.

To finding a used instrument your advice may hold true in the US. But here anything that is an old, American musical instrument is vastly overpriced in comparison to the home market. Many European vintage dealers travel to the states, buy there to resell here!

That said, your advice will be taken and I will search the usual sources. Who knows, on a future business trip to the US, I may strike lucky!

Thanks \ paul
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post Posted 14 Nov 2017 4:13 pm     Reply with quote

This is a very good deal. A maple Appalachian for $1100. A professional quality instrument with the big modern sound.

No, I have not played this particular guitar but I have played a couple other Appalachian maples. Solid wood, not laminate. Tom Warner's guitars are very reasonably priced for the level of quality. This would be around $1700 new.

This guitar is in a way different league than the Chinese Gretsch imports, or any number of OMI Dobros from the '70s to the early '90s.

https://www.resohangout.com/classified/9640







_________________
Mark
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 14 Nov 2017 7:44 pm     Reply with quote

That maple Appy is an absolute steal - it's a custom-made instrument crafted by a well-respected builder, Tom Warner.

He uses nothing but the best materials - mine is solid broadleaf maple - normally installs Beard cones, #14 spiders and his own sound baffle and an open soundwell with soundposts. Also a deep body and big, modern tone. The kind of instrumnet that makes you play a *lot* longer than you planned (a good thing).

I've heard quite a few of his and IMO they are equal in tone, volume and appearance to Beards and similar higher-end resonators I've played. I've been playing for 40+ years and am way too picky.

And I've heard one quite a bit...

...I had him build it earlier this year! An absolutely stunning, tremendous sounding guitar. And yes, it cost me more than $1100.... Whoa!

For $1100 you'd be searching for years to find another $1100 resonator like that.



_________________
No chops, but great tone
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  

Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction,
steel guitars & accessories

www.SteelGuitarShopper.com

Steel Guitar Music
Instrumental steel guitar CDs for your permanent collection
www.SteelGuitarMusic.com

Please review our Forum Rules and Policies

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 South Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Support This Forum


BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles for Band-in-a-Box
by Jim Baron
HTTP