I am kinda of new and thinking of purchasing a reso. I think have narrowed down to Beard, meredith or scheerhorn. Any opinions please. I like a more of a bassy, darker kind of tone. I am only playing for myself and don't need worry about amplification or cutting through other musicians. I will just be playing for my own enjoyment. Any thoughts from more experienced players is appreciated.
All terrific guitars although Meredith and Scheerhorn (Tim built) has not been made for years.
Just be aware that there are dozens of choices within those builders. Paul Beard alone builds a host of different designs & tonewoods. Each guitar with it's own unique characteristics.
Nothing beats a conversation with the builder. Who better to advise on their own builds?
As a beginner..It's at least 80% in your hands anyways.
Describing sound is a questionable venture at best. One hundred players = one hundred opinions. Since you have a sound in mind, that you're looking for, I would highly recommend that you get the guitar in your hands and play it before purchasing it....if at all humanly possible. There are gatherings at which you can experience many different guitars in one venue. The other aspect of a resonator guitar that has a significant effect on playing enjoyment is the feel and responsiveness of the instrument in your hands. This also has a relationship to the sound that you hear when you play....sort of like driving a car that suits you, rather than just asking which one is the fastest. Take your time....
When I decided I wanted a dobro, the local music store gave me a choice of 2 Regal imports. I picked one, took it home, and it provided years of great pleasure before finally being upgraded. Option A is of course getting the one you want, but if you're stuck with option B it will still be loads of fun.
There are few stores that have any resonators to play. In a big city you might do better.
Shopping is difficult.
At Resogat recently there were dozens of new ones to try. Plus everyone there would have let you try theirs. Beard had a bunch.
The other National resonator meeting is coming up in Nashville. There would be many there.
I really liked the Sheerhorns. Actually all three you mentioned.
Give out your location. Maybe someone is close who could help. Most of us have more than one.
Yeah, like others have said, try to demo some resonators. If that's not feasible, talk to Denny at Beard, or someone at National (Scheerhorn).
If you're after a deeper/darker tone, mahogany might be a tonewood candidate. Especially if you're not worried about amplifying, or playing with a band, as you've indicated.
Weissenborn style guitars can also scratch this type of solo playing itch...
Edited by - JC Dobro on 07/24/2022 18:46:33
Location would, indeed, help.
Beard - a lot of choices.
Scheerhorn - big dough for an original Tim-built Scheerhorn, or less dough for a National Scheerhorn aka Nati-horn, which has been producing Scheerhorn guitars since 2014 when Tim was easing toward retirement.
Meredith - it's been years since Tooter Meredith has built guitars since he changed careers and began building high quality rifles. Merediths will be found as used guitars only and don't come up for sale very often.
Active builders to consider on the higher end of the scale, and this is just a partial list: Rayco, Byrl, Griffis, RedLine, Adams, Appalachian, B & B Resophonic, Peter Mosco.
I play a Clinesmith, but with Todd being very booked up on electric steel guitar orders, it could be a long wait for a resonator. But they occasionally pop up on the used market.
Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 07/25/2022 12:28:30
The best way to decide is to play as many as you can. If you don't play yet, find a pro/teacher that you can travel to and pay them for 30-60 minutes of them demo'ing all their instruments for you to hear.
It would be nice if you put your geographic location in your profile so we might be able to recommend where to go to try resos. Maybe one of the members here lives near you and can let you play on some.
MarkinSonoma and I are fortunate that we have a (relatively) local place to go to try out resos, but even they don't carry a lot of brands so I contacted a few members near me so that could play a half dozen or so before deciding to buy my Beard. When I travel, I always bring picks and a bar with me in case I run into a music store with a reso for sale, or a flash mob bluegrass jam...
Edited by - Oboe Cadobro on 07/25/2022 14:11:32
sorry about that. I live in Canton Ohio
Originally posted by jim1966
sorry about that. I live in Canton Ohio
If it's of any value to you, you are welcome to demo my National Scheerhorn (maple), Beard MA-2, and OMI Dobro. I'm an hour north of you in Cleveland Heights.
These don't particularly meet your "dark / bassy" desires, however. The first two trend bright/modern, the 3rd is old school honk. So perhaps not at all useful.
Acoustic Music Works in Pittsburgh may be worth calling. No idea what they have in store...but they are a Beard distributor.
As Howard put it, 80% of the tone is in your hands, so hearing someone else play an instrument doesn't tell you how you'll sound with it. You're proposing a big outlay without knowing much about what you'll ultimately want in an instrument. My recommendation would be to find a decent used instrument (there was a nice DeNeve here a while back - did it sell?), have it set up right, and start playing. As you progress, you'll get a clearer idea of the sound you're looking for and, if you decide to upgrade, you won't take as much of a beating as if you'd bought new. I owned just about every make during my "catch and release" period, finally found my sound, had the luthier build me a new one, never looked back. I'm completely happy, but it's certainly not the sound I was looking for when I embarked on this journey.
There are lots of great instruments out there. You'd do well to stay away from maple if you're in search of a darker sound. Mahogany, walnut, cherry, and the oh-so-beautiful koa will all sound sweeter, though at the expense of maple's sharpness and ability to cut through the din of a feral jam.
Strings, proper setup, and great technique will really define your tone. The greats can sound good on anything. The rest of us, not so much. Buying the instrument that your reso-hero plays doesn't guarantee that you'll sound like him/her. Ask me how I know...
Badger likes Harlow guitars, and now that we know that Jim (?) is in Canton, Frank Harlow is a road trip of a few hours away in Vandalia, near Dayton. Frank makes excellent guitars.
A longer road trip up to Lansing will bring you to Elderly Instruments, check with them before you go to see what they might have in stock.
Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 07/25/2022 17:24:48
Badger, thanks for the tip.
The name of my next band:
It's an apt description of some of our local jams...feel free to steal it! I expect a T shirt, though.
J.D. Myers is in Warsaw, Ohio. He has built resonator guitars under the "Fishhook" name. Although he has taken a break from building, you never know when he might start up again. In addition, he may have something that you can hear/play on hand....who knows. I would say the sound of his guitars fit pretty much the brief description you expressed. The build quality is excellent with some very esthetic and unique woods utilized. Maybe a call from you would get him going again...that would be nice to see.
Resale on a used guitar is good. Buy a good used one.
Then go to Resogat. Try everything and order the perfect one for you.
At Resogat Paul Beard told the story about making a guitar for Mike Auldridge. As I remember.
He listened to Mike and made a guitar that in his opinion would be just what Mike wanted. No. Mike did not like it. So he made another. Same deal. Mike did not like it. So Paul made the best he thought he could do kind of ignoring Mikes input. He believed Mike would hate it. However Mike said that it was perfect.
Mr. Beard was making the point about communicating about sound is really trickey.
Talking about tone perception is like trying to describe color.
Dane mentioned that he and I have a good store to be able to check out resos in the greater Bay Area (along with badger). He would be referring to Gryphon in Palo Alto. But he is a whole lot closer to that store than I am. For badger and I, it's 2+ hours each way and can include some miserable traffic - so I don't go down there on a whim.
Unfortunately, it's pretty rare for Gryphon to have any high end modern resos in stock. They can sell $6K flattops all day long to Silicon Valley types with fat wallets, but the sales manager there has told me in the past he doesn't like to bring in upper tier dobros very often because they can sit on the rack for a long time and not sell.
I mentioned Elderly and Jamie commented about the store in Pittsburgh, which in looking at their flattop collection, some great guitars - reminds me of Gryphon. But if the online inventory is accurate, all they had from Beard is one roundneck biscuit bridge guitar. And as for the high end, Elderly has a nice quilted maple Rayco right now - and that's it.
Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 07/27/2022 12:26:26
There is a spin-off group on Facebook from the Dobroholics group called Resophonic Sales & Trades.
If money were burning a hole in my pocket for a “right now” purchase there are two used guitars on the site that interest me - a tobacco burst Beard Mike Auldridge, and a mahogany Byrl. I have yet to see or hear a Byrl in person, but Rob Ickes has moved on from Tim-built Scheerhorns and is now playing Byrls, including his own signature model. National still offers a rosewood/spruce Nati-horn, but it is no longer known as the Ickes model.
Unfortunately for us ours is a very small market. Growing but, small.
Is there a place in Nashville? It is not real far from Northern Ohio.
6 hours or seven. I can come up with several reasons to drive there.
I think Howard's recommendation of talking directly to builders is still the best one in the thread. When we have ordered newly built, custom guitars we have typically told the builders what we're interested in and they can often make it happen.
As far as road trips I see that Canton is around 4.5 hours from Beard in Maryland. If one makes arrangements ahead of time and Paul and crew can accommodate, I think that trip would be a great learning experience.
Some of the other ideas like ResoGat - great - but it just happened and won't return until July of next year. ResoSummit takes place in Nashville in November and the price, like many things, has taken a pretty good hike. You also want to have a guitar you've been playing for awhile before you go, even if you're taking the more entry level classes. Otherwise a lot of what happens there will go over your head.
The IBMA in Raleigh in late September is another road trip to consider.
I guess the main thing for Jim is to take some action - any kind of action, to get the gears turning.
So Jim - a lot of good ideas here - it's your turn to let us know what you're thinking after digesting the information. You don't sound like a complete rookie, you've been a member for several years and have entered a couple dozen posts, and I would imagine you have spent some time perusing the hangout in the past.
Ken linked Gruhn and Carter in Nashville. Some possibilities there to go with the 6-7 hour drive, or a short flight. But it really helps when visiting the retail stores to have someone with you that is an experienced player, or to call ahead of time and see if they have someone on staff that is a competent player that can do some demos and show you the ropes.
When I visited National here in California a few years back, they had all kinds of employees who were veteran players of the National roundneck guitars, and even though they were building Scheerhorns there weren't any employees that I came across that struck me as bring avid lap style players.
…as “being” avid lap style players, not “bring.” The editing window had closed when I noticed the typo.
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