#1
I'm looking to buy my first Reso, and currently leaning towards a Dobro. I'm pretty much a beginner (been playing around 4 months) Anyone have a view or recommendation for a good resonator?
#2
I own an Ozark 3515 BTE and the tone and resonance from it makes me wet. Highly recommend it, beautiful instument, with the added advantage of the lipstick pickup
#3
Very important question: round or square neck? Round neck would be for playing like a conventional six string, square would be for playing like lap steel.

The round neck makes it possible to play regular guitar or bottleneck style slide. It's popular with blues people, particularly those looking to get an old timey sound. They can be tuned to any 6 string tuning, be it standard, open D/E, open G/A, dropped D, etc.

Round necks come in many different materials which can mainly be divided into wood and metal. Metal has increased brightness and volume (if I remember correctly) but are significantly heavier. Also they come in three styles of resonators: tricone, single cone with a biscuit bridge, and single inverted cone with a spider bridge. The resonator type is probably of no real concern on your first instrument, but I would suggest avoiding metal bodied instruments for your first reso (unless you specifically want that sound) as they are heavier and there are less instruments available.

The square neck makes it impossible (for all practical purposes) to play it like a six string, but allows for higher tension (and therefore tighter strings, which are better for slide due to both increased tension and the increased thickness that is possible; the high D string for example is often a 15 or 16) than would be possible with a round neck. They are pretty much always all wood, with mahogany sides and neck and spruce top being fairly common. Usually they have a single inverted cone (spider bridge).

Square necks are played like a lap steel and usually have very high string height (since the strings are not intended to touch the fingerboard or frets (if present). These are almost always tuned to open G, but usually with higher low strings (GBDGBD), but can be tuned to open D or an "extended" tuning like C6 (CEGACE, with much lighter strings) or E7 for increased options as far as chord voicings and 3rd and 6th diads.

These are generally used in bluegrass, but are also occasionally found in country (though the pedal steel has almost universally replaced it in this genre, but is enjoying a resurgence in popularity), Hawaiian music (as a replacement for the electric lap steel, western swing (again, replacing lap steel), and sometimes blues.


That all being said, I really dig the stuff Regal (which is distributed by Saga Music, and most people I know also are fond of their other brands such as Blueridge, Kentucky (I have a KM-160 myself), and Trinity College) is making, particularly with the low end stuff. They make both metal and wood bodied instruments, and most of their wood bodied instruments are available in both round neck and square neck and a variety of different finishes.

http://www.sagamusic.com/products/show-guitars.aspx?brand=regal

Also keep in mind that the prices shown are the MSRP, and so the actual costs should be probably 20% or 30% less than that.
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#4
As theogonia says.... That's your prime consideration. Others are... Wooden body vs. metal body, and internal pickups or no.

The wooden-bodied instruments are more common in country/bluegrass type playing, the metal bodied jobs are popular with blues artists. Not that you're tied into any genre... Bob Brozman played more different styles than you can shake a stick at on his Nationals.
A real National is quite pricey.... There are lots of lesser priced items nowadays that are pretty decent.
I've got a cheapie, a "Rogue" brass-bodied instrument. Here's a little video review I did:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zT9JDk-SW-A
#5
Quote by theogonia777
A lot of good stuuf snipped.


Just adding a bit. There are three basic types of cone, dobro (spider), national (biscuit) and tricone. All three can and have been used as both squareneck and roundneck. The dobro style cone is the one most commonly used for country lap steel, but tricones have been preferred for other lap steel genres like Hawaiian. biscuit style cones have been used in squarenecks, but have never been very popular.

In addition to cone types there are also different materials. Dobros are usually wood, but have also been made in aluminium and brass. Tricones have mostly been metal, German silver, brass and recently steel, as have biscuit cones, though wood bodied biscuit cones are also fairly common.

Hardwickcolin, what kind of music are you interested in playing and how much do you want to spend? Price and tone do tend to be related in resos, unlike, IMO, acoustics and electrics. Most would choose dobro for country and biscuit for blues. IMO, tricones are the most versatile and lend themselves to a wide range of styles, but like the nasal whine of good dobros if that is what you want. Also, In the lower price ranges there is a great risk of workmanship issues and poor tone with wood bodies than metal bodies. If you choose a roundneck you can do temporary/reversible conversions to lap steel, using a nut raiser or lapsteel converter capo, but a squarenck can't be played easily in the Spanish position.

Having said all that, Regals seem pretty good in the lower price ranges. I have a Republic Miniolian which sounds great, but it needed a lot of work to get it in good working order - including gluing up the soundwell, which was delaminating and falling apart.
#6
Quote by Tony Done
If you choose a roundneck you can do temporary/reversible conversions to lap steel, using a nut raiser or lapsteel converter capo


While this is true, squarenecks tend to like thicker (mainly because a reso with a slide playing single notes tend to be quiet compared to a noisy fiddle or banjo), and therefore tighter strings. For example, high D and E strings (depending on whether you are in D/G or A/E) typicall run 15-18, while the low strings will run 52-58 for a low G or 58 up until as much as 68 for a low D.

Naturally, such tight strings would not make a round neck particularly happy.

Also the slightly wider neck of the square neck tends to facilitate easier slants due to the reduced bar angle that is required, but that's another story.

I have used round necks as lap steels plenty though, and they certainly are passable.

Still, I'll take my MSA Classic over a lap steel, electric or reso, any day.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#7
Quote by theogonia777
While this is true, squarenecks tend to like thicker (mainly because a reso with a slide playing single notes tend to be quiet compared to a noisy fiddle or banjo), and therefore tighter strings. For example, high D and E strings (depending on whether you are in D/G or A/E) typicall run 15-18, while the low strings will run 52-58 for a low G or 58 up until as much as 68 for a low D.

Naturally, such tight strings would not make a round neck particularly happy.

Also the slightly wider neck of the square neck tends to facilitate easier slants due to the reduced bar angle that is required, but that's another story.

I have used round necks as lap steels plenty though, and they certainly are passable.

Still, I'll take my MSA Classic over a lap steel, electric or reso, any day.


Agreed, never use typical heavy dobro strings on a round neck. The situation is even worse with a nut raiser because of the extra torquing effect.

FWIW, I use 13-56 strings, tuned to open D or G on flattops or sometimes open E or A on resos.

Here's a pic of my instant conversion capo, a piece of bamboo skewer and a Planet Waves NS capo. The guitar is an old cedar-toped Matton 225, I chose it for slide playing, and sounds pretty good for that: