Gear Views - All manufacturers are listed in the Links section
I play National resonator guitars. These instruments were invented
in the 1920's,
they predate the first electric guitars by several years.
Mechanically amplified instruments,
Nationals were designed to increase volume and cutting power for
guitarists playing in bands.
Because of their superior volume and range, they were widely adopted as the guitar of choice for blues and hillbilly
players who often had to cut through the din of noisy crowds acoustically.
The tone of these instruments is a key decisive factor in the way
I play this music.
The response, sustain and resonance of National guitars lets me
shape the sounds
in ways that would not be possible on a conventinal acoustic or
I favor a glass bottleneck. I feel this material gives the best
tone, and feels best against the string.
I prefer Ian McWee's glass bottlenecks for their smooth finish and
fit. Also, Ian seems to get a certain
kind of glass for his bottlenecks that really has a nice tone.
You'll find Ian's homepage, "Diamond Bottlenecks" listed
in the links section.
I enjoy playing on a heavy string setup.
I feel heavier gauges are
instrumental in bringing out all the sonic potential of the resonator guitar,
and I use and recommend the following
set, high to low: 0.16P-0.18P-0.27W-0.39W-0.49W-0.59W. P is plain, W is for wound.
Bear in mind that this set is not intended for use with standard
I use this set for D and G tuning only.
Refer to the techniques page for more on tunings. I much prefer
Newtone "National" strings.
These strings are the absolute best i've ever tried, they last long
spectacularly warm and rich.
I use Dunlop nickel silver or brass fingerpicks for my index and
middle fingers, and
Dunlop Zookies M-10 thumbpicks. These have a slightly angled blade
that hits the string just right,
and somehow this angle also seems to help in keeping the thumbpick
firmly on, even when hitting
hard, as I often do with the thumb. For me, turning the fingerpicks
on my index and middle fingers was a huge breaktrhough in getting them to work and feel comfortable. I turn them so they
cover more of the right side of the fingertip than the left - seen as if you were holding your right hand up in front of your
face, palm up.