Resonator guitar

The resonator guitar is a plucked string instrument from the family of guitars. The design of the instrument is based on the principle of mechanical speaker of the resonator. Or three resonators ( Tricone ) below the ceiling installed in the interior of the instrument body: For Resonator are an individual ( Singlecone English). They have the form of flat funnels and made ​​of aluminum panels. When playing the Resonator guitar strings enable the resonators to vibrate which enhance the sound of the strings like a membrane. Therefore Resonator can be played with greater volume than other types of acoustic guitars.

The resonator guitar was developed in the 1920s in the U.S., to equalize the volume of guitars in the volume of other instruments, in particular that of brass. When at that time very popular Hawaiian music, the guitar was on his thighs played across to player lying ( Hawaiian guitar ). Therefore, had the first resonator guitars instrument necks with square cross-section ( Squareneck guitars). Only later were instruments of the type with semi-circular neck profile on the market that are played as acoustic guitars.


In 1925, the American musician and designer George Beauchamp was at the Los Angeles-based, from Slovakia coming Banjo - maker John Dopyera the construction of a Hawaiian guitar in order. The default Beauchamps was a very high volume of the instrument to be built. Beauchamp and Dopyera developed a guitar, passed their body and neck plate; the instrument neck was like the hollow body. Instead of a wooden ceiling design had as a resonance generator three made ​​of aluminum sheet metal funnel as resonators, mechanically amplified the sound of the guitar. The form of construction with metal resonators built on the invention of the London-based German -born luthier Johann August straw. Straw held since 1900 a patent on the use of a metal resonator with string instruments and plucked strings and asked this since 1901 ago in series. Especially the violins of the brand Stroviol were often used since the beginning of the twentieth century when recording music even in the U.S. recording studios.

With the support of the millionaire Ted Klein Meyer as an investor and the entrepreneur Adolph Rickenbacher, in whose deep drawing press, the metal parts were made, Beauchamp founded with John Dopyera and his brothers, Rudy and Emil company National Stringed Instrument Corporation (Short form: National). The resonator guitar went into production and was a commercial success. Beauchamp and the Dopyeras separated shortly thereafter in the dispute, and the Dopyera brothers formed their own company called Dobro ( " Dopyera Brothers "), which produced Resonator with wooden body. Beauchamp and Rickenbacher continued to sell guitars with metal body, devoted themselves in the late 1920s, moreover, the development of electrically amplified stringed instruments and founded the instrument-making company Rickenbacker, who introduced the first electric lap steel, the famous Rickenbacker Frying Pan in 1932.

Due to the pioneering role of the two companies Dobro and National whose names are colloquially often used as synonyms for Resonator, even if the instruments originate from other manufacturers - Dobro as a term for Resonator, whose body is made of wood, and National for such guitar with a body made metal.

Forms of construction

The Resonator can be according to the number of resonators divided into two groups: Singlecones ( " single funnel" instruments with a single large resonator ) and Tricones ( " triple funnel" instruments with three smaller resonators together by a metal ridge in T-shape are connected ). The Tricone - version represents the original concept, the Singlecone version was developed as an inexpensive alternative later. The Singlecone guitars form depending on the shape of the resonator two subgroups: those with a biscuit cone ( " funnel cake " or kitchen funnel ); the resonator shows with the tip pointing upwards) and Spider -cone ( " spinning funnel ", the resonator is " reversed " in the guitar, the string vibrations by means of a metal bridge, the Spider, transfer ). The biscuit version is the original, the Spider -cone was invented after the separation of Dopyeras and George Beauchamp by John Dopyera account of patent disputes. After Dopyera the company that manufactured the developed instruments he left, he also lost all patent rights to them. Since Dopyera necessary for the construction of instruments with metal body devices could not afford it, he made the body of the instruments made ​​of wood. Therefore be called Dobro usually only instruments with wooden body, as the first models of this type were actually manufactured exclusively by the brothers Dopyera own. The name National for instruments made of sheet metal is derived from the name of National String Instrument Company, the company that originally manufactured these instruments. All three types of resonator guitars differ significantly in sound.

While the resonator always made ​​of aluminum, traditional different body materials are used. The Urvariante the tricone is made from nickel silver, today it is mostly applicable to brass ( Brass Bell ). Singlecones can have a case made of wood, brass, nickel silver or steel. Dobros with Spider- Cone are made of wood. The housing material is noticeable in the tone. In addition to the acoustic resonator guitars such instruments are also made with electromagnetic pickups, the sound can be transmitted as a guitar amp.


Resonator used today primarily in blues and bluegrass. The strings are usually plucked with platelets, which are placed on the fingertips of the hand percussion ( finger picks ).

In blues, the strings are occasionally used like a normal guitar. More common is the blues but playing as a slide guitar with a bottleneck ( bottleneck ) or Slide ( " slider " or " rider "). This indicates a mounted on a finger of the gripping hand of glass or brass tube, the engagement of the strings with the other fingers is still possible. The Resonator are often retuned to an open atmosphere.

In the country music (especially in traditional styles such as bluegrass, for example by Bashful Brother Oswald with Roy Acuff and Jerry Douglas Alison Krauss) derived from the Hawaiian lap steel guitar - playing style is common. The guitar is played with pointing upwards Body Top; the instrument depends on a belt in front of the torso or crosswise on his lap (English: lap ) down. Instead of a patch on a finger slides is a solid metal ingot, bar used for shortening the strings. This play was later transferred to the tabletop design instrument pedal steel guitar. For the Lapstyle the Squareneck construction are used with square neck and a large distance of the strings from the fretboard as well as with an open atmosphere usually Resonator.


  • Various: Resophonic Players of Europe. Produced by the World Resophonic Association ( WRA ), 2005. Nineteen European musicians and a Japanese guest on a CD.


On the cover photo of the album Brothers in Arms of the British rock band Dire Straits a Resonator type National Style O 1937 is shown.