Building a Resonator Guitar: Learning How to Build

Building a Resonator Guitar: Learning How to Build

The e-mail sometimes goes like this: "Hey Matt, I love resonators and have always wanted to make one.  How?"

I totally get the feeling.  I worked at Huss and Dalton guitars for a while and went to a guitar making school, so I had experience with making guitars.  When it came time to make metal body resonators, that was kind of a new story.  I knew the important basics but had never soldered/welded/machined/cut a piece of metal ever.  That's where the digging began.

I had to learn all that stuff by googling, and by just trying things and throwing it away when it didn't work, then figuring out how to make it better.  It was really hard.  It took me about a year to make the first four guitars.  That was full time, I didn't have another job at the time.  I was starting from scratch and I had to gather information from different realms of woodworking and metalworking to understand what I could, but most of it was learned by trying things and failing and just keeping my feet moving.

I don't think you have to build a wood guitar before you build a metal guitar. They are different enough that a lot of the time you would spend on a wood bodied guitar wouldn't transfer.  What I would say is to buy yourself an import guitar to get dimensions from.  Buy it used and sell it later.  Don't think you can do it just by going off an $8 set of plans.

When it comes to the neck it's the same thing. You're just going to have to do it, and understand if you want something that is decent you are going to have to a do a few of them before you get a decent one.  Maple is cheap, start there.

If you are working on making your own resonator guitar and you get into a jam I can certainly do my best to help you. But to get there you're going to have to do a lot of footwork on your own.

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