|Whether you’re listening to some bluegrass, some old country or the downtrodden Delta blues, the resonator guitar is a key component. In each style, the resonator twangs, chirps and slides in a specific manner to deliver that irreplaceable tone. Initially developed by John Dopyera in the 1920s, the fundamentals of the resonator guitar haven’t changed much over time. How many times do you need to really reinvent the wheel, or in this case, the cone?
Today’s resonator guitars usually harken back to one of two companies:
Dobro (a contraction of Dopyera Brothers, but also meaning “good” in
the Slovak language) and National. However, to say that new things or
ideas haven’t been implemented into the traditional instrument would be
a travesty to the current crop of resonator builders. To build upon a
legacy, you have to look back before you move forward.
“Essentially,” says Don Young, CEO and President of National
Reso-Phonic, “we are building the same guitars now as they did back
then. Sure, we have updated technology and newer construction methods,
but the core of the instrument still lies in that initial model created
by the Dopyera brothers. Young doesn’t see the increasing number of
small, independent resonator builders as a threat to his business;
instead, he sees a chance for resonators to regain their status as an
integral part of several musical styles and genres.
“I’m honored not only to act as a stepping stone for current builders to model after,” says Young, “but also to provide them parts and components to aid their projects. I’m just blessed to be in position where I can work with so many close-knit builders outside my own company, within the greater resonator community. We are just honored to have so many builders put us and Dobro on a pedestal.”
After researching and interacting on several online resonator communities, we gathered a list of resoluthiers and dove head first into the resonator world. We couldn’t include everyone, so we tried to feature builders who would reveal the wide range of developments within that world. So, whether you’re looking for a metal-body resonator (Terraplane), a Dobro-influenced model (Beard), a resonator-electric (S.B. MacDonald), a resonator using Scheerhorn parts (Rayco), or just someone who’s been building resonators since before it was cool (Mark Taylor of Crafters of Tennesee), we’re willing to bet you’ll find one that resonates with you (pun intended).