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May 30, 2008

Shiny Objects Of Desire



I definitely have an obsessive personality. Back in the day, I used to have a basic steel-body resonator guitar which had a decent action and which sounded the business. I sold it for next to nothing when we moved back to the UK from the States. Stupid, stupid thing to do. If you have a nice guitar, don't sell it. If you need some cash then sell a frikkin' kidney, instead... you have two!

The other day Tim dropped the hint that maybe the birthday equivalent of Father Christmas... or the Tooth Fairy... whatever, might have a shiny surprise in his sack this year... presumably I have to be a good boy to qualify for such treatment?

I absolutely love steel-body resonators, both in terms of the way they look and their distinctive metallic sound. I really want either a genuine Dobro (now owned by Gibson) or a National tricone. Either one... I'm not fussy. The only problem is the price. I have a sneaking suspicion that the ol' birthday budget may fall short of the wedge required for such esteemed brands. Nevertheless, my obsessive personality has had me scouring the 'net for shiny, shiny guitars.

For those who don't know, resonators were first conceived as a way of mechanically amplifying guitars so that they could be heard above louder instruments, such as horns, or to cut through background noise in clubs. They never really established themselves due to the advent of electric guitar technology. Resonators look similar to acoustics as far as body shape goes, but in fact they work in a very different way. In regular acoustics, the vibration of the strings is transferred to the body of the guitar which vibrates in sympathy, generating the sound. In resonators, the string vibrations are transferred via a saddle to one or more aluminium cones, which act like speakers. The body of the guitar is effectively the speaker cabinet. Single (large) cones will be louder, whereas multi-cone models (eg a tricone) tend to have more resonant harmonies and hence give a richer sound with more sustain.

Ach, you know, I wouldn't even mind a non-USA brand like Amistar. They make some very pretty toys!

6 comments:

Cynnie said...

oh..took me forever to figure out what you were talking about ..dobro!

we called them piepan guitars in the south..
( usa south..btw)

Dave Jacoby said...

In bluegrass circles, they're known as The Instrument Formerly Known As Dobro, or TIFKAD.

Me, of course I'd love a National. It's a guitar, I want it. But really, it's not like there's such a thing as a tone metal, so I'd happily take an offbrand. Knowing me and my current stock of guitar, I'd end up with a Fender....

Kenski said...

I actually saw a fairly well liked steel body fender resonator which was $500 or something (which is cheap when you convert to UK pounds)... didn't have the 'pretty' factor, though.

Kenski said...

I actually saw a fairly well liked steel body fender resonator which was $500 or something (which is cheap when you convert to UK pounds)... didn't have the 'pretty' factor, though.

Axe Victim said...

Man, my wonderful Mrs. Axe bought me a mint condish early serial number Yamaha SG2000 without the coil taps for my birthday a few years ago. I was hedging for a Paul but had fallen in love with two grans worth of Gold Top. She was going to buy it for me but I haggled and fell out over £50.00 in the end. What a doll my missus really is. I never play the bloody Yamaha though. I hate the pick ups. Way to harsh for my tastes. Had no idea at the time. And don't even talk about the weight of the thing.

Further on up the road said...

My son despite being pretty much an out and out metal head has a thing about resonator guitars - what's that all about. Metalica on a National? LOL