Resonator guitar at sessions?

Resonator guitar at sessions?

What are your thoughts on bringing a resonator guitar to a session for the purpose of playing tunes (not accompanying). Ok or obnoxious?

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

Never seen it but is really different from a banjo in terms of volume? Banjo is fine, just like any other instrument depends on the player.

Posted by .

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

Depends what you are going to do with it. I often play in sessions with a slide guitarist, and it’s a joy. But he is immersed in traditional music, plays melody, and is very good at it. If you’re planning on strumming accompaniment then probably no.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

For the couple of years or so, I’ve been playing a tenor resonator guitar at sessions. I used to play tenor banjo, octave mandolin or a standard tenor guitar — and sometimes still do. I’ve asked how the musicians I regularly play with like the sound of it and pretty much all say they like it a lot, especially the fiddlers and mandolin players as it is softer and their sound stands out nicely above it — which is fine with me. It has a different sound - kind of a soft harp sound — at least as I like to play it. I am careful not to play too loud — just as I would be with my banjo - unless I’m playing something that calls for volume such as Morrison’s. I play melody and no chords. Obviously, I don’t do triplets the way I would with the banjo. We occasionally lack a 6-string guitar accompanist. In that situation, the tenor resonator guitar, although playing melody, sort of rounds out the sound. I definitely prefer playing it over the banjo for slow airs like some of the O’Carolan tunes - it’s got good sustain and that works for tunes with long notes and rests that tend to die on the banjo. I first became interested in trying the tenor resonator after seeing a youtube video of two older men playing irish tunes — one had a steel-bodied tenor resonator and it sounded very pleasant. Unfortunately, I can’t find the videos now. Anyhow, I’d just suggest trying it with the musicians you play with and see what they think. If they like it, then it’s okay. If you’re lucky (like me), they’ll say they love the sound and you can keep playing it. If they don’t, well, I guess you’d be better off leaving it at home and bring something else to the session.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

Hell no.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

Why not?!!
I use my black Fender Top Hat resonator sometimes at sessions for backing. It adds a slightly different ambience to the std steel string or the nylon string classic or the 12 string. But I regularly play all sizes of ukuleles, banjoleles, cigarbox guitars and ‘zouk type things.
Strummyfings are strummyfings!!

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

@Mark M: he plays Irish tunes with a slide? Fascinating!

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

yes why not -theres a De Dannan album from the 80’s [possibly Mist Covered Mountain] with Alec Finn and Charley Piggott playing the opening track on steel body Nationals - sounds mighty.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

It’s very difficult to play a steady run of fast notes with a slide, and that basically describes most Irish session tunes. As someone who used to play a bit of Blues slide on a Dobro, my hat’s off to anyone who can pull that off at session tempos. The overhand bar/lap Dobro style is a bit quicker than bottleneck for reaching notes, and some Bluegrass Dobro players can play pretty fast. So maybe it would work for trad.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

Really, if you have to ask, you shouldn’t be let within 500 feet of a session.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

Alec Finns and Charlie Piggott play the instruments guitar style, and that works. Anything else requires a hell of a skill.

Do you play tunes on it like you would on a guitar?
Do you hold the instrument as a guitar and play with a slide, blues style?
Do you have it in your lap as a dobro, bluegrass style?

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

When I use the resonator it’s without bottle neck/ slide/ steel. It’s with bare fingers and not flat on my lap bluegrass Dobro stylee, straight forward conventional guitarish like!!!

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

It’s the player, not the instrument. If you see someone turn up to a session with a resonator guitar, yes, there’s a fair chance that they don’t know much about Irish Traditional Music and will play it in a way that does not fit - but it’s up to you (collectively or individually) to choose between assuming that to be the case (and potentially losing a good player) and giving them the benefit of the doubt (at risk of welcoming in someone that detracts from the session). Minimising the element of chance may secure a certain standard in a session, but it can also be stifling.

@MP1996: You acknowledge in your profile that you have strong opinions - an accurate self-observation. You also say you like "listening to music made by people who aren’t trying to appeal to everyone." I think someone that plays Irish Traditional Music on resonator guitar would fall into that category, no? (They are not trying to appeal to you, for one…)

@Conical bore: As jeff_lindquist observes, the OP did not mention playing with a slide.

Re: Resonator guitar at sessions?

There are two resonator guitar players in the Denver, CO area, both of whom are decent musicians and tend to flat-pick the melody line rather than play backup. As CMO says, it’s about the musician, not the instrument.

One of the resonators is a beautiful metal-flake green color, like he took it to a motorcycle paint shop.