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I have the freight train blues, boxcars on my mind - Bill Jackson, Freight Train Blues

Author Topic: Resonator strings  (Read 5710 times)

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Offline simonjandrews

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Resonator strings
« on: March 19, 2007, 05:49:43 AM »
this may sound silly but do you put normal acoustic strings on a resonator guitar.cheers.
    your reply will be greatly appreciated.

Online blueshome

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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2007, 06:55:53 AM »
Yes, any kind of acoustic guitar string will do.  Many folks prefer slightly heavier gauges for the top pair for slide playing, but this is all really about personal preference. I suggest you start with a set of 13 gauge and experiment from there. Everyone has their own preferences and opinions - it depends on the guitar, the set up, your touch, playing style etc. so best find out for yourself.

Offline Marshcat

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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2007, 06:56:58 AM »
Not silly at all! A sensible question to ask, in fact.
There's no reason you shouldn't use ordinary strings, of reasonably heavy gauge (15-56? 16-59?), but resonators do sound better with strings designed for the job. I've been using Newtone strings on my Nationals for years and years - check out for an explanation of why they sound good. They also seem to last for ever...

You can try nickel or phosphor bronze strings to see what suits your instrument best. D'Addario and other also make special string sets for resonator guitars.

Happy stringing!

Offline Wailing Wolf

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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2007, 03:30:55 PM »
Being unable to hold down spring-loaded telegraph wires, I refuse to use anything heavier than 12's.  I have therefore strung my National Resophonic "O" with Rotosound Top Tape flatwound Jazz guitar strings 12-52.  There is no apparent loss of poke.  However this set up is aimed at conventional tuned picking, not slide.  These strings were tried as a shot in the dark due to Newtones being very elusive to find in the Lincolnshire Delta.  They will be going on again next time. 8)

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2007, 02:32:12 AM »
Wolf - If you can access the Weenie from Lincolnshire Delta, then you can access Newtone strings.  I've even bought a few sets on eBay in the past.  There are online retailers offering them, or you can contact Malcolm Newton himself at Newtone Strings and buy direct if you take a reasonable quantity.  As they reach pitch at lower tension, you can get away with heavier gauges - and may in fact NEED heavier gauges, especially on short scale length guitars, to stop them being too floppy and buzzing all the time.

Tonally I can recommend them - and as Marshcat says, they also last well.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob


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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2007, 07:25:17 AM »

Back in the 80's when I first started playing I used electric guitar strings (and brand I could scrounge up) on my 33H.

Nowadays I like the extra lite GHS white bronze strings.



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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2007, 09:26:29 AM »
Check out this 1930s ad for National strings:

As you can see, the "Spanish" set has an .11 on top. This is a light set even by today's standards!
Puts to rest the myth that there was nothing but "heavy" strings back in the day.

The "Hawaiian" set is not unlike what most people recommend for resonator guitars these days, I can see how a Tricone might need that kind of tension to keep from buzzing, but a single cone? Don't think so.  Cheap and thin sounding asian resonator guitars can sometimes be made to sound better with heavy strings, but I don't think it's necessary for a National.

I also noticed that there is little, if any, difference in tone and volume on my 1931 National Duolian when I increase the string size. I currently have .12s on the guitar, and in all fairness it doesn't sound louder or fuller with .13s. I prefer nickel strings on all acoustic instruments, resonator or otherwise, never could get along with bronze all that well. I don't have any trouble producing a clean slide tone with .12s and medium action.

Offline Richard

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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2007, 01:18:35 PM »
Out of interest that's the inside back cover of the 1940 catalogue.
(That's enough of that. Ed)


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Re: Resonator strings
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2007, 02:49:23 PM »
I have a luthier/dealor friend who tells me that he get a lot of resonators in for repair when the cone has collapsed after the owner installed fairly heavy strings bringing one string up to pitch while the others are loose.  The thing you need to do to avoid this is to gradually bring all strings up to pitch. Heavy is ok as long as you install this way.

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