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Thread: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

  1. #1
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    Default Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I bought a used Johnson Resonator Mandolin on Ebay several months ago & had the misfortune of it needing a new Tailpiece from the get go. I have not been able to find a replacement, but have one on backorder from Elderly.
    In the meantime, I welded the old one & put new Martin Bluegrass 80-20,
    Bronze 11 - 38 strings on the mando.
    I expected as advertised that this instrument would stand out in a crowd, but I find the bark is excessive & harsh especially the A strings & to a lesser degree, the E strings as well. It gets worse as you go 4 - 7 frets up the fretboard. ( I'd hate to get ousted from a jam)
    Has anyone had this same problem & found a solution, like a way to partially mute the resonance from the cone, or switching to a different type of cone than what the factory supplied? Would a different brand of strings help??
    This mando has been worked on before & I wonder if there is supposed to be a buffer ring spacer between the cone & the inner ring, or is it supposed to be metal to metal contact?? Any Resonator mechanics out there??
    Thanks a bunch. AbeF

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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I have not worked on a johnson, but have worked on national guitars. Some have a felt under the cone and some don't. doesn't seem to make a difference in volume. maybe try lighter strings or make a saddle out of mahogany instead of maple. You would have to take it out of the the disk on the resonator. you could make a new biscuit and keep the old one stock. play lighter with a soft pick
    good luck
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Post Re: Johnson Resonator CLANG, not really Bark

    The Johnson cones are pretty nice, and their tailpieces aren't known for failing. Nonetheless, you can buy replacement tailpieces at Elderly.

    Metal-bodied resonator instruments have a particular sound - you either love it or you don't. Ones made of steel tend to be the most strident - try a simple magnet to see what you have. Brass bodies are somewhat more mellifluous, as these things go, and wood is the gentlest. But no one makes wooden ones except National. Some of this is about adapting your playing technique to the instrument, and that takes time. If you like this resonator idea, but this particular instrument isn't doing it for you, try one of the real National mandolins, they're very cool and don't tend to evoke the hostility you're encountering! Loud but sweet, too.
    .
    ph

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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I was going to a Bluegrass jam and told that my gold tone 110 was not loud enought So thw wife bought me a new National resonator and now I'm told it's to loud and sounds like a banjo (tis Bluegrass) so I quit going and now play Blues Jazz ans yes Hawiian
    fred davis

  5. #5
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator CLANG, not really Bark

    Edit:

    OOPS!!

    I missed that we were just talking mandos, not guitars.

    Sorry.

    But here's an old thread:
    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...d.php?p=598704
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  6. #6

    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I play a Johnson Res on and off. Yes it is very loud. It is great for thinking about dynamics, and the sound is containable. Try messing around with a lighter touch and knowing that the "clang" or "bark" is in there. I also play mine with octave strings on the lower courses which helps bite through the loud, lower register. Not everyone likes to use octave strings, but on a reso I feel they sound magnificent.

    I think Paul got it right, the resonator instruments have a particular sound, you either love it or you hate it. You can learn to love it.

    Keep an eye on the neck on that thing, mine did not behave after the first year.

  7. #7
    Registered User Dave Harbst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I bought one(used)a few months ago, just to see how it sounds/plays. I wasn't very pleased with it and decided to mess with it a little to see if I could improve on it. I was willing to put some time and a little material into it, just to see what would happen.

    Even though it's a metal body, it actually sounded too metallic for me, plus the action was way too high and the strings were kind of heavy. I made the following changes: new bone nut, new ebony biscuit(original was actually cracked), new compensated bone saddle, removed the cone and dampened it by simple running a piece of vinyl tape under it where it sits in the pot. I strung it up with GHS Ultra Light strings(09/09 13/13 20w/20w 32w/32w). The scale length is 15 inches, so I thought maybe the lighter strings would be better for it.
    I was pleased with the result. It really sounds pretty sweet now and has much better sustain.
    I can't say the same thing would happen for someone else, but it works for me.

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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    Hello Dave & friends; I'm going to try the "tape on the rim" trick & see what happens. There is a groove in the flange that the cone sits on, & I wonderd if there was supposed to be a rubber/felt insulator in it . So maybe the tape will be the answer . Thank you. Abe

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    Registered User Dave Harbst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    Abe,
    I doubt if there was any kind of dampener or whatever there. It was just my own experiment to use black electrical tape. What I did was carefully run the tape all the way around, avoiding wrinkles in it as I went along. After that, I took a fresh, sharp razor blade and trimmed the excess away before putting the two surfaces together. That, along with the other changes(nut/saddle/biscuit/light strings), really made a pleasing difference for me.
    I own two resophonics: the Johnson and also a 2006 National RM-1. The RM-1 is definitely more powerful and is a great piece of equipment, but for the low cost of the Johnson and a few minor improvements, I think it could be a good starter choice for someone who doesn't want to spend the money on a National.
    Good luck in tweaking your Johnson.
    Dave

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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    Hi Dave: I tried the tape trick. I put 1/4 inch wide strips of "buffalo" tape ( heavy duty duct tape)on the metal flange that the cone sits on, about 1/2 inch apart all the way around.
    This has helped considerably.
    My strings are Martin Bluegrass 80/20 Bronze .011 -.038. You mentioned using GHS light. I'll have to order some, since the local shops don't carry them. I'm also going to try a different biscuit. Thanks for your help Abe.

  11. #11
    Registered User Dave Harbst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    The classical strings are not available at a lot of places. I see that they are available at Just Strings( http://www.juststrings.com/ghs-a240.html)..
    Good luck with your tweaking project
    Dave

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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I have an old Dobro resonator mandolin with light jazz flatwounds on and it is warm and quiet for a resonator.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  13. #13
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator "Bow wow"

    Dobros tend to be a great deal quieter than single-cone Nationals.

    The new National has a typical Gibson 13-7/8" scale, and flies well with J-74s. The Johnson, being a copy of the original Nationals, has a 15" scale, so you need lighter strings. My faves are D'Addario J-73s:

    .
    ph

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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I've used Dr. Tomasik strings on resonator mandolins to mellow them out a bit with good results.

    http://www.myspace.com/billfossmusic

  15. #15
    Registered User KanMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson Resonator " Bark"

    I have a Republic resonator mando that is very similar to the Johnson. I've experimented with various string gauges, and even with light gauge mandolin strings I thought there was too much string tension (due to the 15'' scale). I've settled on light gauge strings, but I keep the Republic tuned down to E-B-F#-C# low to high. The string tension is about right - my left hand doesn't ache the next day. It has a nice deep, dark sound. Works well for blues. I also use a leather strip threaded between the strings between the bridge and the tailpiece to dampen the overtones.

    Bob

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