Price paid: C$ 320
Purchased from: Kingston Sound Works
Sound — 8
So I don't think it will be fair to talk about this guitar's sound in one big lump of all it's possible tones, instead I am going to break this into three sections: Acoustic, Mini-Humbucker and Piezo. I will also spend a brief moment talking about the blend feature at the end. Acoustic: I have to admit, when I first got this guitar I thought the resonator would just be for show and the guitar would be maybe on par volume wise with a normal electric guitar, maybe a tad louder do to some open space inside. To my surprise though this thing is actually able to fill medium size rooms un amplified in anyway. It is about on par volume wise as a banjo which was a great plus. Tone wise I am also amazed, it is responsive on all frets and all strings equally so there is no real competing between the high and low ends when a Chord is strummed. Something it can do that my Seagull acoustic was never able to do is actually make hammer-ons and pulls off audible while unplugged. Though it may seem trivial having the ability to do that makes it a jem to use while performing unplugged or through a mic. The guitar also has a very small amount of bite to it's tone which for a guitar like this is a very welcome feature. What I am sure most people wanting to guy this guitar will want to know is how it plays slide. Now obviously this being an electric guitar means it will have pretty low action so slide will be a little difficult to play unless you have a really steady fretting hand. Playing slide with this guitar acoustically produces a very thin sound desirable for delta blues sounds, what I will warn you about though is the high end becomes a little overwhelming with a slide so you might want to venture down their sparingly. Mini-Humbucker: For the Mini-Humbucker I am using my Line 6 Spider 4 on the Twang Green (60's Fender Blackface Twin Reverb), Class A Green( Divided by 13 JRT 9/15) and Metal Green (Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier) settings. Twang Green Clean: I find in this tone the gutiar makes for a great chicken picking guitar, the sound is definitely not for chords but when one or two notes are going at once it makes a good balance and accent. It resembles the slide tone of the guitar acoustically quite a bit I find. Adding a bit of reverb doesn't really fix the overly brightness of chords on this setting but dose help make them fit in a little better giving them a more ethereal tone. Twang Green Drive: Two words: Too Bright! I've been trying to find some way to use this tone for a while now but the guitar is very bright single noted when over driven, in contrast chords are too full and dark, it is really weird to say the least. The best I was able to get for emulating a sound was rolling the treble almost all the way down trying to get a Jimi Hendrix "Purple Haze" esque sound, but even then the notes were a little too bright to work. Class A Green Clean: Now this is more what I am talking about, chords sound good, single notes are also very nice, it is just an over all great tone to use and shows off what this guitar can do well. Fiddling around with the reverb is not really needed as a compensator but definitely helps accent the sounds this setting produces. For any clean Chord progressions this really is the sound you want. Class A Green Drive: 80's punk rock, again very good for chords. Just bright enough to hear everything but not so bright that it gets annoying. Metal Green Clean: Needless to say for a Metal Channel on clean, it is quite weak. It sounds good just no real need to say anything here because it is almost like a quiet version of the Class A Green channel. Seeing as there is not much good or bad I can say about this channel I am just going to move on. Metal Green Drive: The tones you can get for classic rock on this setting is just amazing, none of them pitch perfect but it really brings this guitar to life. In fact, this setting kinda helps with the whole no bridge pickup on the guitar for solos which is plus. Overall I am not against the Mini-Humbucker they put in this guitar but it is most of the times very bright for emulating tones. It is almost as if they tried to make the neck position sound like a bridge position but just made some halfway point instead. It has places it is good but you need to work around the limits quite a bit. Piezo: I am playing the Piezo on the Clean Red (Marshall JMC-900) Setting, not because it sounds better than any other amp setting but it just is more or less the average of all settings which are all pretty close in tone I find. Clean Red Clean: This sounds like a very different guitar than the acoustic sound it gives. There is no longer any bite to the tone, very high end heavy and very sensitive to touch. Seriously, even a slight touch with the finger on the strings and this thing picks it up like it is being smashed on the ground. Turning down on the volume helps a lot but it is a little annoying when you need to get some more power to the sound. Clean Red Drive: Kinda useless, the acoustic tone is not really strong enough to actually put the amp into the traditional overdrive tone, instead it just a volume boost. Blend: The Blend works as so, all the way where 0 should be isolates the sound on the mini-humbucker, at around 2 gets a good electric sound with some hollow body tone, around 6 makes the tone sound like two guitars at once which is useful, between 6-9 does not have much point because the piezo does not sound like anything useful with the undertones of the mini-humbucker and 10 is pure piezo. Around the 2 position on the Class A setting with slight distortion and treble rolled back a little is where I prefer for slide because again slide just over powers in treble and the lack of bite makes it a little underwhelming without distortion.
Overall Impression — 7
I love the guitar, don't get me wrong. It is interesting sounds great and looks great too, it's just this one issue with the bridge kinda ruins it. I would still recommend it for someone wanting a first resonator guitar or maybe just something interesting to bring on stage but get the bridge fixed before you do. If it were to get stolen or lost I would probably look for a better reso-electric hybrid like the Eastwood Delta-6 or the Fender FR-50CE. Over all I still like the guitar, but it has obvious problems and is still not horrible for the price. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 1
So here is where it is going to hurt, this guitar although would look fine has a lot of reliability issues and they all stem from the same place. See the bridge is a piece of rosewood placed in-between a wooden base to prevent it from moving forward and back. What the design neglected to take into account was that the bridge still moves right and left a lot. So much so that the string tension along actually pulls the bridge all the way towards the low string end and makes a huge buzzing sound unless you de-tune, readjust the bridge and the now pulled tail piece and then return the guitar. Tuning and intonation are obviously an issue because of this and I am not sure why the bridge is not glued or pinned in place, maybe because of the piezo but even so I would rather a bad piezo than bad intonation and tuning issues at all times. In addition the saddles are a little poorly cut and it seems my G-string is about to cut through it's hole to the point that if it bends it will pop right out. I have brought this guitar on stage before and it worked but had I not detuned and retuned right before the show it would have been intolerable so no I would not trust this guitar without a back up and probably not even trust it if it has been more than a few hours since it's last readjustment. Everything else on the guitar is solid and works but this one issue kinda ruins the whole thing.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Factory set up... Well when I first picked up the guitar in shop there was a little bit of buzz coming from inside the guitar, when I asked the store manager about it he said he would look into it. Turns out inside the cone there were some loose parts and it was causing an uncontrollable buzz. It was an easy fix but if it was so easy I don't get why this was not fixed before I got my hands on it. The pickup is adjusted a little lopsided where the high string end of the pickup is almost on level with the pickup ring while the low string end is more where a neck pickup should be. Looking at my other guitars this doesn't seem to be normal so I am not sure why this was done. Wood grain, finish and routing all seem to be great, I can't find any gaps near the bridge or neck joint and the wood is so well matched it is near impossible to tell pieces apart on the back of the body. Frets are all placed nice, nut is snuggly held in it's proper space with not protrusions on either side and all the inlays are centered.
Features — 9
From what I have been able to dig up this guitar was made in China in mid to late 2011. It has a total of 21 medium jumbo frets. The Body features a single cut away starting at the 19th fret and the heel of the neck is under the 15th fret. It is a Resonator body but tucked away inside a body about as thin as a Les Paul body if not a little bit thinner due to having a flat top. The body is made of Poplar on all sides and the neck is made of maple with a rosewood fretboard. Finishes include Antique Sunburst and See Through Red, my model being in the Antique Sunburst finish. The body is made it have a telecaster-like top section while growing out into a more acoustic like bottom to accommodate the size of the resonator, as a result this guitar will not fit in most regular electric guitar cases. The guitar has a fixed bridge made of rosewood hidden inside the resonator, it also has a metal tail piece sitting on the back of the guitar holding the strings in place. Coming stock with an unnamed Mini-Humbucker in the neck position and a Piezo pickup inside the bridge. The guitar has Volume, Blend and Tone controls which allow for controlled mixing of the Piezo bridge with the Mini-Humucker at the cost of a more traditional switch set up. The guitar also features unnamed Chrome diecast tuners. Included with the guitar was an acoustic guitar gig bag. Over all I am giving this guitar an 9 out of 10 in Features as it is a good bang for your buck though some of the features here were implemented poorly and result in major playability issues which I will explain in the Reliability & Durability section.