View Full Version : Resonator/dobro mandolins
Ever since I heard Rich del Grosso's mandolin blues album, I wanted a resonator or twangy blues mandolin. Of course, I liked the National he plays on the album, but it's too pricey for just a bit of a lark. The Classifieds now feature a Dobro mandolin and there are some metal mandolins from "Republic" or "Recording King" on ebay that also look intriguing. I'd want a playable mandolin with the funky sound a bonus and it would be fun to have one to take on camping trips or vacations where a more expensive mandolin would be a bad idea.
Any thoughts out there?
The Republics are a good buy at $200-300 (they're essentially Johnsons), and Frank is a good guy to deal with. The necks are good (longer scale than typical mandolin), the workmanship is satisfactory, the sound -- with some tweaking -- is probably just what you're looking for. I bought mine on ebay, then bought another directly from Republic to give to my bandmate. He calls his "the warhammer."
I just bought the Ward brand resonator mandolin from the classifieds and it's pretty cool. I have it in the shop right now getting the frets worked on a little but it played pretty good when I got it.
I wanted one ever since I saw Sam Bush with his. I think I'm gonna have a whole lotta fun with this thing once I get it the way I want it!
Bernunzio has a couple of the National 1930's chrome or nickel-plated mandolins, but at $2K+, you're right they're a bit pricey if you're not sure you're going to make this one of your main axes. The new National wood-bodied resonators are just short of $2K, and all the evaluations I've seen have been very positive.
The Asian-made ones (Johnson, Republic etc.) are good enough to give you a feel for what a reso mando sounds like. They're sturdy, and although quality control has been a bit of a problem, mostly decent for the price. If you get one, and are considering an upgrade but don't want to go too high, I believe you can purchase a replacement resonator cone from National Reso-Phonic in California. Those who've replaced the original cone on a Johnson/Republic with a National cone, have reported an improvement in tone and volume.
My $0.02 : If/when you know you want a resonator mandolin, rather than "settling" for less, or (IMO) worse yet "souping up" a PacRim with a new cone (seems kinda like putting a bigger engine in a VW - it's still a bug!), just get a National. If you don't like it (not sure why you wouldn't!, assuming you want a ResoMando), you could easily sell it and not lose $$. I know of several people who want mine - not for sale!
And if it's the Vintage Vibe you want, you may want to think again. ResoMandos from the 30s were not great instruments and most have deteriorated over time - they cost major $$ to buy (Collector's Factor) PLUS $$$$ to refurbish. End result might still be less TONE than a National ResoMando AND lots more $$.
NFI - just one whose "been around the Reso block" and who loves his RM1 !!
I don't really have MAS, but I have been looking for a camping mando. #I ran across this post and did a little research on Republic instruments. #
I got the following information from the Acoustic Guitar Forum:
The company's owner is Frank Helsley. #The guitars and mandos are made in a small shop in China. #The cones are made in Germany. The instruments are shipped to Republic's shop in Texas where they are inspected and set up before being shipped to the buyer. #The reviews on the guitars on the forum were very positive. Frank also states that he has worked on reso-phonic instruments for 35 years.
Here's a link to the website: Republic (http://www.republicguitars.com/home.html)
I decided to go for it. #At $269 (with case) + $25 shipping it was too good a deal to pass up.
By the way, in the forum, Frank mentioned that he has engraved, metal body squareneck tri-cone guitars, although I did not see any on his web-site. #Hmm.......
When do you expect delivery? At that price point, I believe a LOT of people here will want to hear your review . . . ! Best luck for a good instrument.
I did a "buy it now" on e-bay, so I don't know when it will arrive. According to the e-bay blurb, he had three mandos left - now two.
I will write a review after I've lived with it a little.
With all the fuss about imported instruments having "American" names, you gotta love the name (and logo) for Republic. That concert uke looks very nice on the website too. I wonder if it's that good in person. I've never been a great fan of Johnson resonators.
I did a "buy it now" on e-bay, so I don't know when it will arrive. #According to the e-bay blurb, he had three mandos left - now two.
I will write a review after I've lived with it a little.
Kan, have you received your Republic reso-mando yet?
I'm dying to hear your review. I'm on the fence, but very close to pulling thr trigger on either one of these or a Johnson.
I have a Johnson reso-uke that I really love. I iknow there was a lot of QC issues with these, but I ended up with a good one.
No, it's no National, but I simply can't afford one.
I somehow expect the Johnsons and Republics are made in the same factory, possibly with the exact same specs. I'm not sure if there'd be a difference between them, and the price is about the same.
Would love to hear what you think of the Republic. Or hear more from anyone who's played one.
I have owned both Republic and Johnson resonator mandolins. The only difference I could see was that the Republic has an adjustable truss rod, where as the Johnson has no truss rod. The neck on the Johnson is blond and the Republic is dark. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif