The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    If I'm not mistaken, archtops and resonator guitars evolved at about the same time, for similar reasons and share a number of characteristics. They're louder and have a shorter sustain than "standard" guitars.

    Yet I see very few resonator guitars in jazz, if any (I seem to recall a recent streaming concert on WWOZ where one was used, but that was a group of only young females so a bit of an outlier already )

    Question is why?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I’ve always wanted one for slide and blues. Why not jazz?

  4. #3

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    The resonator doesn't look like an archtop, so it can't be used in jazz. It's against the rules.

  5. #4

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    Paging Hep to the Jive....

    I keep my Dobro 33H bell-brass-bodied resonator in standard tuning for my Blues and American duties, unlike many resonator players, who tend to favor open tunings. I'm sufficiently limited as it is without having to re-configure "jazz chords" (all the good ones) on the fly. Also, resonators are LOUD. It's tough enough, keeping the piano player from noticing and therefore disapproving of my existence with my nice, polite ES-175; discretion being the better part of valor, I confine my resonator playing to my solo gigs. Or did, while I was able to gig. Public response was always positive to the flash and the brashness. Made the cover of the area "Arts and Entertainment"section with it, and not because of my movie-star* good looks.

    If I am not mistaken, prior to WWII it was more common to see and hear the resonator in use in big bands.

    * Unless of course, you are referring to King Kong, and then, well, yeah.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 01-16-2022 at 02:28 PM.

  6. #5

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    My tricone has been a loyal companion in many out-of-the-box jazz adventures. I usually leave it tuned to open G, but that's subject to change at whim. A jazzy, swinging rendition of "Sleepwalk" is great on any guitar and stellar with a slide. And it sounds great on a fine resonator.

    Why no (or so few) resonators?-tricone_vertical-jpg

  7. #6

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    THey sure are LOUD, but not as L O U D as an electromagnetic pickup can be

    (Case in point: even with nylon strings my resonator is louder than both my jumbo and the archtop. As heard by my music stand; no idea how they carry individually)

    To people who object they're not archtops I'd point out that 1) they're archmids (the cone is comparable to an arched top) and 2) the business part of the top is typically arched, in biscuit and spider resos at least - the cover plate

    As an aside: there have been a few aluminium violins (and family) built in the previous centuries; are there any ditto archtops? Wonder how they'd sound!

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB
    As an aside: there have been a few aluminium violins (and family) built in the previous centuries; are there any ditto archtops? Wonder how they'd sound!
    How about carbon fiber archtops? Here's a review and associated thread posted by Jim Soloway several months ago.

    Why no (or so few) resonators?-fibertone-jpg

  9. #8

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    There aren't too many in my neck of the taiga, but the ones I've held were intended for slide playing, i.e. with strings far above the fretboard. Apart from loud, I can't find a positive tone attribute, especially for jazz. I may not be alone.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    There aren't too many in my neck of the taiga, but the ones I've held were intended for slide playing, i.e. with strings far above the fretboard. Apart from loud, I can't find a positive tone attribute, especially for jazz. I may not be alone.
    Here’s an old thread on this with a few interesting videos. Check out post #24 for a nice version of Out of Nowhere played plectrum style on a tricone. To my ears, single cone metal body guitars are less well suited to jazz than a tricone. But a well picked tricone or wood bodied Dobro can sound right, especially in good hands - it’s kind of gypsy.

    Slide, on the other hand, is fun for a well chosen jazz tune or two………and no more. It gets annoying quickly, and intonation has to be perfect or it’s simply awful.

  11. #10

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    The ones set up for lap-style slide (which I'd call dobros) can sound absolutely wonderful under the hands of the likes of Jerry Douglas and in the right repertoire (bluegrass...) but I'd agree that their sound signature isn't the most suitable for jazz. Or maybe the big-band kind.

    I asked about aluminium archtops specifically because resonator cones are made out of that metal (as are or were, IIRC, certain loudspeaker cones). I'd expect them to sound very different; I know carbon fiber is a worthy wood replacement that doesn't necessarily sound very different from what I've heard.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB
    The ones set up for lap-style slide (which I'd call dobros) can sound absolutely wonderful under the hands of the likes of Jerry Douglas
    Dobros have wood bodies. Here’s a nice historical summary.

  13. #12

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    In 2020 I received my resonator guitar from John Morton after some months of online detective work: reading up on the history, construction and variants of these instruments, searching out their role in the development of Jazz/popular music after their invention in the early 20's and checking out who plays them today, outside the Blues and Ragtime scene. It was an interesting and fun learning experience - our forum member Jonathan Stout is one prominent player who uses his Tricone for his fabulous chord-solo work. I play in several Old Time/Dixieland Jazz bands and wanted to find an alternative for my Plectrum Banjo (OME Mogul) which is perfectly fine and fitting for this music but sometimes a less strident sound is desirable. An acoustic archtop could probably "cut" it also but the ones with a suitable "good" tone are expensive and fragile. Then I found a clip by Casey MacGill and his musical collaborator John Reynolds and I knew I was on the right track. MacGill plays a 6-string Resonator-Ukulele made by John Morton and after a few emails a deal was made. I'm very fortunate to own this guitar now and sadly John unexpectedly passed away last fall. He was a true innovator and a superb craftsman and as a trained metallurgist he knew all about metals and which type/thickness etc. would be best suited for a modern resonator. My guitar is a single cone model of almost Parlor size but boy is it a note-cannon ! The neck is beefy but comfortable, it looks fabulous and I could not be happier. I use it regularly on stage, with and without a small mic attached, depending on the venue and occasion. I would certainly use it for any Swing-type gig where an archtop in front of a mic would have been the normal choice. Here are a few clips to whet your appetite :



    Attached Images Attached Images Why no (or so few) resonators?-john-morton-jpg 

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    Dobros have wood bodies.
    Indeed, I don't think I've ever seen what I'd call a dobro that didn't have a wood body. But not all wood-body single-cone resonators are dobros; AFAIK dobros also have spider bridges and thus an inverted cone.

    I've been studying a Harry Volpe piece on mine tonight, I think that'll work just fine too.

  15. #14

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    The Argentinian guitarist Oscar Aleman used a National tri-cone resonator guitar in the thirties for swing jazz.

    David Grisman released "Swing Guitar Masterpieces, 1938-1957" on his Acoustic Disc label in 1998.

    Well worth a listen...

  16. #15

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    I have a Tricone cutaway that I’ll sometimes use in loud, unamplified gypsy jams and it crushes everything before it. It’s much harder to play than my Dupont though.

    I’ll also pop a riser nut on it, restring it in E13 and use it for Hawaiian and swing steel.

  17. #16

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  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by sling fever
    The Argentinian guitarist Oscar Aleman used a National tri-cone resonator guitar in the thirties for swing jazz.

    David Grisman released "Swing Guitar Masterpieces, 1938-1957" on his Acoustic Disc label in 1998.

    Well worth a listen...
    Pleased to meet you , sling fever.

    Good taste!

    Now I have a cheap excuse to re-post this:


  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by sling fever
    The Argentinian guitarist Oscar Aleman used a National tri-cone resonator guitar in the thirties for swing jazz.

    David Grisman released "Swing Guitar Masterpieces, 1938-1957" on his Acoustic Disc label in 1998.

    Well worth a listen...

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB
    Indeed, I don't think I've ever seen what I'd call a dobro that didn't have a wood body. But not all wood-body single-cone resonators are dobros; AFAIK dobros also have spider bridges and thus an inverted cone.

    I've been studying a Harry Volpe piece on mine tonight, I think that'll work just fine too.
    To be clear, the headstock of my National Guitar Co. 33H "Hawaiian" repro/copy/homage chrome-plated, bell-brass-bodied resonator guitar says "Dobro." This was before Gibson bought the company that made it. The Dopyera Brothers made resonator instruments under more than one name. I had an original National metal-bodied tenor, now residing with my youngest granddaughter, from which the shadow of the shield badge was still faintly visible. It was a rather austere brownish color. The Dopyera Brothers eventually settled in Tidioute, Pa. on the scenic Allegheny River, a couple dozen miles from my home. The inns, hotels, bars, and ballrooms dotting the shores of said river formed a good chunk of our schedules for some years. It's a small world, after all.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 01-15-2022 at 02:30 PM.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    To be clear, the headstock of my National Guitar Co. 33H "Hawaiian" repro/copy/homage chrome-plated, bell-brass-bodied resonator guitar says "Dobro."
    That was the brand name "Dobro". The generic dobro guitar is a wood bodied, single cone resonator instrument. Here's the story:

    "Emile and Rudy Dopyera formed the Original Musical Instrument Company (OMI), based in California in 1967 to make resonator guitars using the brand name Hound Dog. In 1970, OMI secured the Dobro brand name from the bankrupt Mosrite, which meant the Dopyera family could once again manufacture Dobro guitars using their original name."

    Gibson bought the brand from OMI. Until I got tired of having my leg fall asleep under its incredible weight, I had a brass body Style O with the Dobro brand on the headstock.

  22. #21
    When I saw this thread, I thought of internal resonators on Selmer-Maccaferri guitars.
    The Maccaferri Internal Resonator

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArnoldSchoenberg
    When I saw this thread, I thought of internal resonators on Selmer-Maccaferri guitars.
    The Maccaferri Internal Resonator
    In this case it’s only the name that is the same, the „resonator“ in the Maccaferri guitars is more a reflector, a curved piece of wood. The resonator in these guitars is a spun aluminum cone.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB
    Question is why?
    ...because they sound terrible for post-war jazz styles. With all the IMO, YMMV and other caveats.

  25. #24

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    We always called those dobros when I was growing up. I associated them with bluegrass and country and never gave them a second thought.

    Like others, I’m not crazy about their sound but recognize they can be played well by good players. Yeehaw!

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    ...because they sound terrible for post-war jazz styles. With all the IMO, YMMV and other caveats.
    I wouldn‘t ‘ve used such hard words but yes, it’s kinda hard to imagine some Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson or Weather Report with a resonator guitar banging away in the rhythm section ….?