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Mar 22, 2023 - 6:58:37 AM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

Hello dear community!
I'm currently playing a Recording King RR-61, nicely set up with pretty nice, warm and loud-ish sound. I'd be looking for something louder that can cut through better cause my band uses a single ETL to amplify everything and there's a loud Gibson Masertone to compete with hehe.
Long story short, ...Europe, hard to get affordable yet decent squarenecks. Either cheap ones or the top notch Beard stuff, with the one exception in the middle, that is the GT PBS and cheaper, the RR Phil Leadbetter.
I know they're different ballparks, cause of the construction and materials (soundwell vs none, mahogany vs maple, Bear cone vs RR cone, etc etc) but somehow i feel they compete in a way.
There are a few options here to get these two, one being almost double the price than the other but still considering one of these.
Any thoughts? Any feedback and personal experiences are very welcome!
Cheers!

T

Mar 22, 2023 - 7:39:34 AM

wlgiii

USA

1482 posts since 9/28/2010

I'm more familiar with the Goldtones, as I have played them at stores and own an 8 string. They are solid, decent good sounding instruments for that midrange price. They do lack some personality, if that makes sense, but overall are dependable. If you only have a Gold Tone budget (I did with the 8 string), you should still be satisfied. And, you may get lucky and find one with a Beard setup (I did with the 8 string).

Edited by - wlgiii on 03/22/2023 07:39:58

Mar 22, 2023 - 8:27:35 AM

gadobro

USA

64 posts since 11/27/2019

For maximum volume and cut, I'd go with the Recording King Ledbetter and put a new Beard Legend or Scheerhorn cone in it. I think the Beard Legend is several steps above the BC-1 that would be in the Gold Tone, and the RK has a more open construction, which many prefer.

I think you said you were borrowing the RR-61? If not putting a Beard Legend cone in it would be my course of action. I just prefer the aesthetics of it and the soundwell guitars should be able to be heard if the banjo player is conscientious.

Mar 22, 2023 - 8:58 AM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

Thanks guys! Indeed Gadobro, i' borrowing the RK, it hasn't been played and it's opening up nicely but still quieter than any other top notch instrument, plus the owner has heard me playing it and might wanna get it back sooner than expected hahaha. So yeah, i'm looking to get my own instrument.
Really good feedback from both of you guys, highly appreciated! It's unfortunate that they recommend the different instruments in debate hahaha.
Will see what happens if more folks chip in.

Mar 22, 2023 - 10:44:02 AM

gadobro

USA

64 posts since 11/27/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Tomate Palta

Really good feedback from both of you guys, highly appreciated! It's unfortunate that they recommend the different instruments in debate hahaha.


If the Gold Tone wasn't almost double the price I might recommend it. They are very nice instruments. No matter what instrument you get, I recommend upgrading the cone (I've tried and really like the Beard Legend). It's hard to overstate how much of a difference it can make to the volume and tone. 

I think resonators are somewhat different from other instruments. Construction and skill matters, but probably not as much as with a mandolin or an acoustic guitar. From a purely sound perspective, I'm not sure that I wouldn't prefer a RK squareneck with a Beard Legend cone to a Beard Vintage R, etc., with a continental cone (what comes stock on the RKs).

Mar 22, 2023 - 11:58:03 AM

4723 posts since 7/27/2008

In my opinion when comparing the prices when new, the RK Leadbetter is a better value than the Gold Tone PBS. 

Were I looking for a guitar in that price range, I would go for the RK. I have played only a couple of the RKs in stores  and I was impressed. I have played and heard up close a lot of the entry level Gold Tones, and like many guitars some sounded better than others. Obviously the setup at the time, age of the cone etc. is a significant factor in any spider bridge reso.

There is one thing about the RK Leadbetter to be aware of: the nut width is not as wide as a typical dobro - it is 1 3/4" wide. This bothers some players. Of the two I played in stores (this was prior to the pandemic) I don't recall that it bothered me, but these were "test drives" so it's of course different than owning the guitar. But some players definitely do not care for the nut width.  

I have to do a search in the archives here for a conversion job to widen the nut, when I find it I will post a photo in my next post. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 03/22/2023 12:10:14

Mar 22, 2023 - 12:07:20 PM
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4723 posts since 7/27/2008

Link to a thread about the RK Leadbetter nut width last summer:

https://www.resohangout.com/topic/56935

Photos of a conversion job done with a wider nut from Beard's Resophonic Oufitters. Although I think the gentleman did a good job "shaving" down the sides with a Dremel  tool, it looks a little weird to me. And I'm not  big on the 1st and 6th strings  hanging slightly over the edge of the fretboard. 
 




Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 03/22/2023 12:08:16

Mar 22, 2023 - 12:18:52 PM
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MikeS

USA

288 posts since 5/1/2012

I had a Leadbetter. By all accounts it was a fine instrument. I had trouble with the narrow(er) neck and sold it due to that. I am not sure if he is still making music instruments, but Jiri Lebeda was making resos. I have one and it is quite good. Made in Czechoslovakia(sic?) so may be available in Germany-don't know, but you may want to check (no pun intended) into their availability as well. Good luck with your search!

Mar 22, 2023 - 2:18:10 PM
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1749 posts since 4/27/2009

I have an instrument that had a nut that was narrower that I cared for so I made one quite a bid wider for it. The 6th and 1st strings both hang over the fretboard but it really doesn't bother. Never has. Might not be the same for you but you may perhaps get used to it or get used to the narrower nut.

Mar 22, 2023 - 2:31:09 PM
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4723 posts since 7/27/2008

It's my understanding that Jiri Lebeda of the Czech Republic stopped building a number of years ago. I have long thought that he built a very good guitar for the money. 

I came close to buying one around 20 years ago, but that Fall I received a nice bonus check from my job snd I decided to order a guitar from Todd Clinesmith instead. 

The Lebeda was at a shop in Arcata in Humboldt County. A guy there who I believe was the owner - and it is germane to this thread - owned a Wolfe that had previously belonged to Phil Leadbetter. Phil wanted to try and get that guitar back, so I shared  contact  information to put them together. I don't recall if Phil ever did end up with the guitar, Matt Leadbetter would know. 

I would have no hesitation in buying a used Lebeda in good condition if the price was right.  

Mar 22, 2023 - 2:42:14 PM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

Amazing! Thanks so much guys! Loads of info here. And Lebedas really look nice, the website's still up and seems to be running but the price range for a new one is a bit out of my wallet reach (i also need to upgrade my mandolin this year... oh boy...) and haven't seen a second hand in Germany ever. Will definitely keep an eye for 'em.
In the meantime and for 600€, i think i'll have a go with the RK, worst case i'll just return it. Will post comments when that happens.
If there are yet more feedbacks on these two particular models they're still very welcome!
Cheers!

Mar 22, 2023 - 2:50:56 PM
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4723 posts since 7/27/2008

Tomas, do you have a link for the Lebeda site? I couldn't find it earlier.

On the toolbar next to the smiling emoji guy there is a chain link. Copy the Lebeda link you found, click on the chain link and a drop box will appear on your screen - paste the link into the box and then click on OK. 

Mar 22, 2023 - 3:07:20 PM
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MikeS

USA

288 posts since 5/1/2012

Hmmm, I wasn't able to find the web site either. Mine is the Basic model. I paid about half of the price that was listed on the website (less than two years ago). It was/is in pristine condition and came with a really sturdy case (also made in the Czech Republic). So I wouldn't go by the the prices on the website. I am probably biased, but I think it is better than the other two. YMMV.

Mar 22, 2023 - 3:14:43 PM
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wlgiii

USA

1482 posts since 9/28/2010

All these Leadbetter compliments now make me want to switch, except an 8 string model doesn't exist, does it?

Mar 22, 2023 - 3:24:44 PM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

Hey Markin, here it goes. I wasn't aware before but the site seems to have been left like that in about 2008. Dunno if he still makes instrumenst but oh boy if i find one second hand, would run for it!!!
http://www.mandolins.net/lebeda/lebedaguitars.htmlquote:
Originally posted by MarkinSonoma

Tomas, do you have a link for the Lebeda site? I couldn't find it earlier.

On the toolbar next to the smiling emoji guy there is a chain link. Copy the Lebeda link you found, click on the chain link and a drop box will appear on your screen - paste the link into the box and then click on OK. 


Mar 22, 2023 - 3:27:38 PM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

quote:Originally posted by MarkinSonomaLink to a thread about the RK Leadbetter nut width last summer:

resohangout.com/topic/56935

Photos of a conversion job done with a wider nut from Beard's Resophonic Oufitters. Although I think the gentleman did a good job "shaving" down the sides with a Dremel tool, it looks a little weird to me. And I'm not big on the 1st and 6th strings hanging slightly over the edge of the fretboard.

The nut width seems to be actually pretty narrow in the Leadbetter. Mi current RK has a super wide one and it is very comfy. I did play a Scheerhon with the "extended" nut and didn't bothered me at all. If i end up getting the RK will for sure do that upgrade, and why not, a legend cone.

Mar 22, 2023 - 4:40:13 PM

4723 posts since 7/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by wlgiii

All these Leadbetter compliments now make me want to switch, except an 8 string model doesn't exist, does it?


No, It doesn't exist. And I find it highly unlikely that it ever will. I have to believe there is very little money in 8 string resos as far as import guitars go. 

To make the imports worthwhile a model has to be able to do a fair amount of sales volume. When Gold Tone came out with their 8 string  designed by Paul Beard I'm thinking the intention was to offer a more affordable, or maybe a "AA Minor League Level" version of the Beard MAS 8 string. Along with all of his other influences on dobro players, Mike Auldridge was no doubt the inspiration for many players to take up 8 string dobro. On that note, I wish I had a dollar for all of the players who have bought 8 string guitars only to sell them after a relatively short amount of time because they couldn't wrap their head around it. 

I remember in a swing class at ResoSummit 2010 Mike was comparing his signature model 8 to the Gold Tone. He pointed out that the Gold Tone was a pretty good guitar for the money, but it of course wasn't in the same league as his guitar. Nor should it be - purchased new it's three or four times the price of the Gold Tone. 

Mar 22, 2023 - 4:46:50 PM

4723 posts since 7/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Tomate Palta
Hey Markin, here it goes. I wasn't aware before but the site seems to have been left like that in about 2008. Dunno if he still makes instrumenst but oh boy if i find one second hand, would run for it!!!
http://www.mandolins.net/lebeda/lebedaguitars.htmlquote:
Originally posted by MarkinSonoma

Tomas, do you have a link for the Lebeda site? I couldn't find it earlier.

 


 


Yeah, that's what I figured  - it's an old website that has yet to be deleted. When I was searching for it earlier today I came across a For Sale post on The Steel Guitar Forum from  a couple of years ago, a guy was offering his Lebeda for sale that he owned for quite a few years and he wrote that Jiri told him it was one of the last resonators that he built. I have come across similar comments in the past. 

Mar 23, 2023 - 3:19:59 AM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

Aight fellows, latest update. I have been offered PBS for 800€ (street price is 1300€ in Germany) but will be a blind buying cause ebay (reliable though), you know. Now, gotta think fast cause the guy is not the most patient one. The RK i can always return but the other one…

Mar 23, 2023 - 7:21:10 AM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

I‘m thinking… can the soundwell be removed and replaced by posts? I’ve done something similar with a Höfner bass in the past and get along well with guitar making stuff. Would then and the fact that it’s just 800 bucks, the PBS be a better choice? I think i do prefer mahogany over maple cause of the warmth…
Heeeelp please ??

quote:Originally posted by Tomate PaltaAight fellows, latest update. I have been offered PBS for 800€ (street price is 1300€ in Germany) but will be a blind buying cause ebay (reliable though), you know. Now, gotta think fast cause the guy is not the most patient one. The RK i can always return but the other one…

Mar 23, 2023 - 11:12:50 AM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

Ok this is the last question, i swear haha.
I figured both guitars are available at Thomann. So, i guess i get the two and if i like the GT PBS i just return everything and get the used one. The question is, you guys know if they’re consistent instruments or can you get a top notch one and the next is just crap? Any word on the consistency of Gold Tone?
Cheers!

Mar 23, 2023 - 11:21:48 AM
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4723 posts since 7/27/2008

It's a modified open soundwell - considerably more open than a traditional Dobro soundwell. Without actually having experience  in altering the internals or knowing someone who did, I don't have knowledge of  how that would turn out. I tend to think about this with an old American expression - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." 

Description of the soundwell: 

  • Beard open soundwell design for maximum resonance

As far as mahogany vs. maple - these are both laminate or veneer wood guitars. In my experience the  wood characteristics aren't very  noticeable in laminate guitars vs. solid wood reso guitars at this price level. More noticeable in high end guitars like the laminate Finnish birch used in some Beard USA guitars. And according to luthiers, the cone is responsible for at minimum 50% of the guitar's sound. 

Aside from the nut width business, people have been raving about the sound they get from the RK Leadbetter. I don't know if that's because it hasn't been around all that long compared to the Gold Tone, but people have been very pleased with them. 

And there are many happy Gold Tone PBS players out there.  It used to be that one could purchase a Gold Tone from Beard in Maryland and it would receive final assembly and setup at the shop. And later if you wanted to upgrade and the guitar was in good condition, you could trade it in and get credit for the full price and put that money toward a "real" U.S. made Beard guitar. They stopped doing that I believe because they have gotten too busy keeping up with making new guitars. 


 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 03/23/2023 11:24:12

Mar 23, 2023 - 1:57:24 PM
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wlgiii

USA

1482 posts since 9/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by MarkinSonoma
quote:
Originally posted by wlgiii

All these Leadbetter compliments now make me want to switch, except an 8 string model doesn't exist, does it?


No, It doesn't exist. And I find it highly unlikely that it ever will. I have to believe there is very little money in 8 string resos as far as import guitars go. 

To make the imports worthwhile a model has to be able to do a fair amount of sales volume. When Gold Tone came out with their 8 string  designed by Paul Beard I'm thinking the intention was to offer a more affordable, or maybe a "AA Minor League Level" version of the Beard MAS 8 string. Along with all of his other influences on dobro players, Mike Auldridge was no doubt the inspiration for many players to take up 8 string dobro. On that note, I wish I had a dollar for all of the players who have bought 8 string guitars only to sell them after a relatively short amount of time because they couldn't wrap their head around it. 

I remember in a swing class at ResoSummit 2010 Mike was comparing his signature model 8 to the Gold Tone. He pointed out that the Gold Tone was a pretty good guitar for the money, but it of course wasn't in the same league as his guitar. Nor should it be - purchased new it's three or four times the price of the Gold Tone. 


My playing is not in the same league as Mike Auldridge's, so the Gold Tone works out about right.

But back to the Leadbetter and a wider nut- prior to getting the Gold Tone I bought an 8 string project guitar to learn on that someone had converted from a 12 string. It has the wider trapezoidal nut, and the strings hanging over the edge do play tricks on the eyes; it takes a while to get used to.

Mar 23, 2023 - 6:03:31 PM
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Players Union Member

daver

USA

816 posts since 9/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Tomate Palta

I‘m thinking… can the soundwell be removed and replaced by posts?

Can you?  Yes, if you have the skills.  It's been done.  Someone on ResoHangout took the soundwell out of a Johnson (very cheap) reso and replaced it with a cone ledge and posts and was happy with the results.

Should you?  That's a different question altogether.  The unaltered Gold Tone will not lose much value in resale.  The "altered" Gold Tone could lose much of its value (or all of it with catastrophic mistakes).  If the alteration were successful, there is no guarantee that it will sound "better".   And all the while you are altering, you can't play it!

You may be driven to "tinker".  Nothing wrong with that - that's how all the great builders started!  However, if you're looking to play, you will need a good instrument now.  The recommendations have been good, either the Leadbetter or the Gold Tone will likely be an upgrade from the borrowed guitar, and I would be surprised if this were your "forever" guitar, especially if you keep playing!

Now while you're on the quest for a "banjo killer" reso, I might point out that it's theorectically possible for a banjo to be played at volumes less than maximum.  Perhaps it's a concept that could be shared with your banjo player, though it doesn't quite fit in the "Product Reviews and Shopping Advice" forum.wink

Good luck in the quest!

Edited by - daver on 03/23/2023 18:04:27

Mar 23, 2023 - 7:07:09 PM

Tomate Palta

Germany

20 posts since 2/25/2023

@daver that's a very good point. Thanks for the input.

I wouldn't try anything unless really necessary.
In the latest state of this thread i’ve decided to order both and try em. Most likely and cause of all the reading i’ve done, GT should he relatively consistent and if i really like that one then i’ll mostly he fine returning it and buying the second hand one.
I’ll be back from touring in a couple of weeks and will post pics and feedback with both the RK and GT and hopefully a verdict.
Thank y’all really, it’s been super helpful.
Cheers and have a good Friday (3am already on this side of the pond ??).

Mar 25, 2023 - 7:09:59 AM
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255 posts since 8/25/2008

Here is a link on this website that shows a modified sound well conversion and comments about the results. Good luck on your dobro journey!
resohangout.com/archive/21288

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