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Jazz resonator set up

Bit of a niche topic but I’m curious. I know some of you use resonators for swing and hot club music, but of course it has to be approached differently than on a selmer style guitar. What are you doing in terms of set up? What about playing style?

I’m on my second National reso and while I’ve always been under the impression that phosphor bronze strings are the way to go, after hearing Jonathan Stout swear by monels I’ve got a set coming in the mail. I’ve settled on 13’s as anything lighter doesn’t seem to drive the cone, and I can set the action a lot lower than I ever would on a Selmer copy so the higher tension isn’t a bother.

seeing as resonators in swing are apparently becoming slightly more common I’m curious to hear how others are treating it.


  • MandobartMandobart ✭✭ Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Mandocello, Fiddles
    Posts: 100

    This is timely as I should be receiving a Gold Tone Paul Beard round neck resonator next week. I also like 13's on most of my guitars (not on my Altamira grande bouche though).

    I've been playing Ernie Ball aluminum bronze strings (.013) on my Eastman archtop since March. They deliver a more vintage, loud honk than the Martin retro monels I was using. I'll try them on my reso at some point I'm sure.

  • Greg Ruby in Seattle sometimes plays a National Tricone with a set of silk & steel strings. Sounds and plays great! John Saba at Dusty Strings set it up for him, I believe.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 274

    I've had a National M-1 (wood tricone) for a couple years now and find it surprisingly versatile. When he was teaching at Augusta's Swing Week, Mike Dowling would use his National El Trovador single-cone for everything, and the M-1 has a similar voice (a bit sweeter maybe). In any case, Mike uses a pretty light set, so I've strung the M-1 with a light phosphor bronze set--I think it's 011-049 or so--and find no loss of punch, and it's a bit easier on aging fingers. The only thing I don't like about the M-1 is that left-hand heel damping is nearly impossible, thanks to the way the bridge is arranged.

    Here's Mike comparing the M-1 with the El Trovador--more folky-bluesy than jazzy, but it gives an idea of the voices:

  • Posts: 2,947

    Super nice playing in that video. They're becoming a thing at Django in June, each year recently saw more reso guitars. I can see someone making a hybrid, reso with the cutaway and long scale length.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 274

    Don't know about scale length, but National makes cutaway versions of both the M-1 and El Trovador. If I ever run across a decently-priced used cutaway M-1 with a voice as sweet as mine, I'll buy it.

  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Paris swing, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 260
  • Posts: 44

    I believe Greg Has a custom long scale length so that he can use Argentines

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