Feeling an itch - a concert resonator?

mikelz777

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Ah spring, a season of change and seasonal allergies! Only this isn't something I'm feeling in my sinuses. I'm looking for thoughts, opinions and advice. I'm starting to feel that UAS itch again and a resonator is currently the source of that itch. This itch has a bit more going for it because a resonator would have a different voice and different looks than what I already have, particularly if I got a metal bodied one. I've always thought they looked so cool and definitely different! I've been able to reject a lot of other UAS itches because they weren't different enough from what I already have to warrant a buy.

One note of caution on my part. Out of wanting something different I dove head first into the banjolele world and it was a big fail. My gut told me on day one that I shouldn't have bought it and I ended up selling it within 2 weeks of getting it. Fortunately I sold it for what I paid for it so I broke even. I think I had dreams and delusional aspirations of fluently playing folk and bluegrass type stuff which would probably never come to pass and the banjolele sound wasn't something I would want to play on a regular basis. From what I can tell from watching videos of demos, the resonator sound is much closer to a ukulele than a banjolele so even though it has a bit of a different voice, it seems more "mainstream" than a banjolele.

Wood or metal? What are your thoughts? As the sound comes from the resonator does what the body is made of factor into the sound that much? I'd probably be looking at a tip-top budget of $500 and that's a "goin' wild" budget for me. Currently drawing my eye is the Gold Tone metal Resouke or the ResoMaple. They're both beauties! Would anyone recommend these or something else within my price range? Has anyone had any experience with Aiersi resonators? Their antique brass finished resonator makes me drool! I LOVE the look of their metal resonators with the "f"-holes. The Gold Tone ResoMaple, the Sound Smith reso and the Aiersi wood resonator look to be identical. Are they all the same with different name brands? The Sound Smith would be out for me anyway since they only sell tenors. I really like the look of the Gretsch reso but from watching videos my gut is telling me I like the looks more than the sound. Friction tuners would be a deal breaker so sorry Recording King. Right now I'm in the toying with the idea phase but I'd appreciate any thoughts, opinions or advice on concert resonator ukes.
 
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You’ll never know until you try. Though as it is a smaller niche, it may be harder to flip than even the banjo uke.

I tried a resonator guitar (I’m primarily a guitarist) years ago and just didn’t bond with it.

For ukulele, the weight would negate one of the main things I like about the instrument.
 
These may be still FS. Send a note to the UU sellers...
(Sorry about the budget, but these are authentic.)


 
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My buddy @Yukio plays a resonator ukulele. I'm sure he'll give you a shout, now that I dropped his name.
I have both round neck and square neck resonator guitars. Why both? The round neck is played like a regular guitar, and the square neck has a constant 1/2" gap between the strings and fretboard for playing lap slide guitar. The resonator sound primarily comes from the resonator cone. There's some setup unique to a resonator cones, and they are replaceable too. The resonator guitar is great for southern blues, and the slide resonator is a bluegrass staple.
 
These may be still FS. Send a note to the UU sellers...
(Sorry about the budget, but these are authentic.)


Thanks for the suggestions but yikes! I couldn't/wouldn't spend those amounts on any uke! :)
 
I bought a Recording King a few months ago and when researching the market my perception was that some within the same price range were basically the same instrument with different names / hardware etc.
With immaculate timing a retailer dropped about 50 pounds off the price, so that aided my decision. Lucky I jumped when I did, a couple of weeks later they were out of stock and still are and the UK prices for Resos seem to have increased generally.
I lead a uke group and wanted something to be a bit louder than the group for teaching purposes. Like you I tried the banjolele, but it's too loud and too different in tone for this, the resonator has a different voice, but is still a uke sound.
A couple of things to be aware of;
Full Metal Body is a lot heavier than a wooden uke, so if weight is a concern a wood bodied Reso might be a better compromise.
Mine has a very deep neck, my wooden concert uke is about 15mm deep at the 1st fret, the Reso is about 19mm, this may be the same across other brands.
Along with the deeper neck, the headstock is deeper than average. I don't mind friction tuners, but the ones fitted were bargain basement. so I replaced them with Gotoh Planetaries. I bought the longer shaft version, but due to the deep headstock, could only fit them by leaving off the washer.
I wasn't too happy with this arrangement, so this week I stripped the uke down and shaved 2mm off the headstock thickness and about 3 to 4 off the neck. The tuners now fit properly and the neck feels more comfortable. the final finishing coat went on today, so hopefully I can reassemble and restring tomorrow.
Good luck, whatever you decide,
Vintage
 
I bought a Recording King a few months ago and when researching the market my perception was that some within the same price range were basically the same instrument with different names / hardware etc.
With immaculate timing a retailer dropped about 50 pounds off the price, so that aided my decision. Lucky I jumped when I did, a couple of weeks later they were out of stock and still are and the UK prices for Resos seem to have increased generally.
I lead a uke group and wanted something to be a bit louder than the group for teaching purposes. Like you I tried the banjolele, but it's too loud and too different in tone for this, the resonator has a different voice, but is still a uke sound.
A couple of things to be aware of;
Full Metal Body is a lot heavier than a wooden uke, so if weight is a concern a wood bodied Reso might be a better compromise.
Mine has a very deep neck, my wooden concert uke is about 15mm deep at the 1st fret, the Reso is about 19mm, this may be the same across other brands.
Along with the deeper neck, the headstock is deeper than average. I don't mind friction tuners, but the ones fitted were bargain basement. so I replaced them with Gotoh Planetaries. I bought the longer shaft version, but due to the deep headstock, could only fit them by leaving off the washer.
I wasn't too happy with this arrangement, so this week I stripped the uke down and shaved 2mm off the headstock thickness and about 3 to 4 off the neck. The tuners now fit properly and the neck feels more comfortable. the final finishing coat went on today, so hopefully I can reassemble and restring tomorrow.
Good luck, whatever you decide,
Vintage
Thanks for your post, it's useful information! I think that you are right about some reso ukes in the same price range being the same instruments with some slight variances. I'm not sure if the weight thing would be a factor or not. I think the full metal reso would be a bit less than twice the weight of a wood uke so it seems doable. I always play sitting down so weight would be less of a factor than if I were playing standing up. I'll have to be mindful about the neck thickness thing because I'm not a fan of thick necks. I learned that from being a former Pono owner. Maybe a thicker neck is a trait of the Recording King and not a cross-brand trend. Friction tuners would be a deal breaker for me. While I found it kind of fun changing out the tuners on one of my ukes to Gotoh UPTs, I don't want to buy into a project with the added expense of new tuners.
 
I love the look of this one!

resonator-uke-7.jpg
 
I love the look of this one!

resonator-uke-7.jpg
You're right about the weight comparison, a quick check on kitchen scales; wooden concert=730 gms, Recording King=1245 gms.
That translates to 25.75 and 43.9 ounces in old money.
Just completed the reassembly and stringing, the tuners fit properly now and the thinner neck feels better.
Another thing I noticed while weighing both, the Reso fretboard is about 3mm wider at fret1, 37mm with 30mm between strings, against 34 and 27mm on the wood. Not a problem re play-ability, but noticeable when I change from one to the other.

Vintage
 
I used to have an inexpensive full metal body resonator.

I did eventually trade it in, at the time it seemed like the sustain was just too much. Butat the time I was really into hi tempo banjo uke stuff, so maybe that was why it didn't suit me.

A few years ago I got a Kala with a wood body, similar to the Gretch above. Once I changed to low G it was off to Robert Johnson land!!

Its a slippery slope though, next came a full metal body parlor guitar....

She STILL hasn't filed for divorce, so next up will likely be a hollowbody electric.
 
I recently bought a Gold Tone maple tenor from Elderly. I played the same instrument in a concert as well as an all metal concert and tenor. I also played another all metal, can’t remember the brand, not National, that was $3K used. Everyone that listened agreed the one I purchased had the nicest and most distinctive tone.
I was surprised at how much better I thought the maple sounded over the metal. Louder and fuller with a wider range. Far different than the difference between an all metal and wooden resonator guitar, which to me, the full metal guitar outshines the wood.
For what it’s worth!
 
I have a GoldTone full metal Resouke that is a "super" concert (concert body, tenor length neck). I put Baby Baritone strings on it and it sings! I had a National, but sold it because I found myself never actually playing it. Truth be told, for what I was playing, the Gold Tone sounded better (which is insane).
 
I recently bought a Gold Tone maple tenor from Elderly. ... Everyone that listened agreed the one I purchased had the nicest and most distinctive tone.
I was surprised at how much better I thought the maple sounded over the metal. Louder and fuller with a wider range.
You just had to show me that tenor neck/concert body, didn't you!
 
I recently bought a Gold Tone maple tenor from Elderly. I played the same instrument in a concert as well as an all metal concert and tenor. I also played another all metal, can’t remember the brand, not National, that was $3K used. Everyone that listened agreed the one I purchased had the nicest and most distinctive tone.
I was surprised at how much better I thought the maple sounded over the metal. Louder and fuller with a wider range. Far different than the difference between an all metal and wooden resonator guitar, which to me, the full metal guitar outshines the wood.
For what it’s worth!
I'm a concert guy, what were your impressions comparing the concert metal reso vs. the concert wood reso? Were they both Gold Tone?
 
I'm a concert guy, what were your impressions comparing the concert metal reso vs. the concert wood reso? Were they both Gold Tone?
Yes they were both Gold Tones. I thought the wood had better projection and tone. Frankly by a lot. Fit and finish on both was superb and I’m prejudiced against Chinese instruments! Perhaps they use a different cone between the two but I don’t know that.
 
I have a GoldTone full metal Resouke that is a "super" concert (concert body, tenor length neck). I put Baby Baritone strings on it and it sings! I had a National, but sold it because I found myself never actually playing it. Truth be told, for what I was playing, the Gold Tone sounded better (which is insane).
I’m not familiar with baby baritone. Do you tune it GCEA with low G? Is there one or two wound strings?
 
I’m not familiar with baby baritone. Do you tune it GCEA with low G? Is there one or two wound strings?
Romero Baby Baritone strings. Tunes a tenor to DGBE like a baritone. It uses two wound strings.
 
Beltona still might have the concert resonator for sale. It's been a few weeks since I looked at their sight but it still might be there. Just looked----Still there............you know you your going to just looooovvvvvvveeeeee it@!


I've been able to play and handle a couple of wood Nationals. The Mahogany would have been a great buy but I already have a wood resonator. The Koa just wouldn't stay in tune, would have needed some work--price was more than I wanted to pay.

Have seen, held, strummed a little, the Kala offering, not impressed enough to buy it.

From watching reviews the Soundsmith seems like its a little better than the Kala offerings. A friend has the Gretch, he's happy at the price point, I'd rather have a little more.

Owned a Goldtone for a while. Some day's it sang and sounded great. Other days it was dull and dead. I sold it.

Now own a Pohaku==Very Happy!

Maple all around, resonates lively, can feel the wood vibrate. Really enjoy playing it. A few have been made. Might ask Peter H. to make you
one? It's a tenor.

The Goldtone was lighter than the Pohaku--I'd say the Pohaku is a heavy build for an ukulele but then again it's a resonator so one would expect a bit more weight.

IMG_3612.jpg
 
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