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The resonator guitar reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

259 reviews in the archive.

Schoonover Schoonover Review

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Submitted by Pablo (see all reviews from this person) on 1/30/2021

Where Purchased: from the builder

Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: 3500.00 ($US)

Sound

I play modern bluegrass, and enjoy playing hard in a loud ensemble and also very held-back and sweet where that's what is needed. I love Josh Graves and I love modern players who really milk the tone and vocal qualities out of whatever guitar they're playing.

How does it suit your music style (and what is that style)?
The Schoonover guitars use an open body design, no sound posts or soundwell, and Kent Schoonover has his own spider design. The guitar has a wide range of voices, from snapping and barking, to very ribbony and smooth, playing up away from the bridge.

I mike it but mostly play without a mike, without a pick-up

This guitar has abundant volume and rings nice and clear when I pick it hard. It sounds great with older worn-in bronzewound strings, but I like to keep 'em pretty fresh, cause I like the snap and the sizzle.

This is my second Schoonover reso (still have the older one in quilted maple, with a lot of scars from years of use). This one is the first brandnew instrument I ever owned. It's got a lot more depth and . . . depth. The guitar is like a well of music, and depending how good I am about reaching in and scooping, this new dobro just seems to keep offering more and more across the range.

I don't really go with numerical ratings: what are they based on? I haven't played every builder's guitars, so don't think about a 1-10 scale.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This Schoonover came set up. It arrived right when NYC was getting hammered with the virus, so the guitar has been played a lot in the past 11 months, but hasn't needed set-up — to my ears. If it needed attention, I'd probably ship to Bobby Wright. He did magic on my older Schoonover when I first got it in 2007.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

You can see Kent Schoonover's artistry in wood and finish if you spend some time on his facebook. We consulted on this guitar after I played a nice new tobacco colored Schoonover that Mike Witcher had at the ResoSummit. Mine has a warm red honey color on the flame maple with tortoise binding. It came here in its solid Cedar Creek case, perfect out of the case.
https://www.facebook.com/Schoonover-Resophonic-Guitars-129719334395105/photos/532615254105509

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a guitar that turns heads in a jam session or on a stage (not too many stages this year, though!) Usually the first thing people comment on is the sheer projection of the voice. Then if I'm playing it at all well, they talk about the musical qualities — timbre, and texture.
These Schoonovers are super solid. Nothing wobbly about 'em. This one is going to be treated better. But I really put the older quileted maple guitar through a lot of rough wear and it always stood up. Every repair I ever did was just to hide my own strap-lock failures, or sudden turn around in a tight kitchen (yes, granite tops).

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

I've sent the older guitar back to Kent for work, and he did beautiful inside cleats and then buffed it up nicely. I love talking to him on the phone when we spoke about the build. It means a lot to me that he's a picker from way back, himself, good fingerstyle guitarist and banjoist, and knows instruments as music makers.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The thing to know about the Schoonover is the inside build — the way the spider is supported without a wood tone ring or posts. Also the fact that this luthier makes his own cast aluminum spiders. He set this guitar up with a Beard Legend cone, and a Beard cover plate (regular fan pattern) and with good open-back Waverly tuners. I asked for a synthetic bridge (Beard makes a Shockwave bridge insert that gets the voice I like). Nothing here needs an upgrade.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I was stunned to look on Reso Hangout and find no previous Schoonover reviews. There are a bunch of these guitars out there. If you spend anytime watching dobro players on YouTube you can see Schoonovers in some very good hands. 

Up above, I mentioned the voice of the guitar. Trad bluegrass is what I love, so all the usual instruments are important in the mix. But for myself, what I want to do with music comes from the strings, the spider / cone, and the slide and the picks. I want to hear a vocal quality — not just a bunch of metallic sounds — whether it's gentle and almost whispering, or standing up and calling out. The Schoonover is a very vocal guitar. 

I don't have a herd of instruments, so this review is about loving this guitar. But I had the older one (quilted maple) for a long time and when it finally came around to ordering a new instrument from the luthier, this is what I wanted.

I highly recommend the Schoonover resophonic guitar.

Overall Rating: 10

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