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This article was originally published in issue #29
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So it turns out that Dean don't just make guitars that Rock. No, they also make guitars that will treat you to some cool Country and some dirty Blues! This brand new trans black resonator will certainly do both. A Resonator, in case you don't know, is basically an acoustic guitar with a metal speaker cone in the body, which creates a glorious Delta Blues sound that can only be got from this type of guitar. The holy grail of resonators were made many decades ago by National and Dobro and such treasured vintage instruments come with a very high price tag. This good looking alternative, however, was made in China, comes at a very modest cost, and will give you all the resonator mojo you need.
Playing a resonator is much harder than it first seems. Ideally, you should be a fairly competent bottleneck player, because part of the true resonator guitar sound usually combines with some slide playing along the way. Secondly, you need to be confident on an acoustic guitar, and not just any acoustic guitar, but an acoustic guitar set with up a high action to complement your slide playing. Lastly, it seems traditional with a resonator to use some kind of open tuning, of which there are many. So these are all factors to consider if you want to purchase our Dean Resonator in order to create that great Blues sound convincingly. But if you've got the chops, or are seriously about trying to develop them, then this could well be the right guitar for you.
What amazes me is how guitar like this can be put together at such a low price. The top back and sides of the Dean are quilted ash, but it looks like quilted maple, which is a luxurious wood. In any case, to make these guitars in bulk, Dean must have scored a big consignment of this highly figured wood, which nowadays is not an easy task. In fact I am impressed by the quality, depth and consistency of its appearance overall. The translucent black stain and gloss poly finish certainly makes it pretty in a modern look kind of way. There are also natural and distressed oil finished available.
Scale length is 24 3/4" and we have 19 frets on a very dark piece of rosewood. Again, dark rosewood to me means quality, although on very close inspection, there are tiny traces of filler around the fret work and inlays which would lead me to believe that it possibly might be stained darker than it naturally is. But please don't quote me on this, it is pure speculation and this rosewood board could very well be naturally dark. The frets are not the nicest I have seen and are fairly small and thin, but really this guitar is all about using a bottleneck and keeping the use of frets to a minimum. Which is why we have a man's high action and heavy strings, so if you do want to do some delicate acoustic style picking, it will take a little more effort than usual! Obviously, every guitar is adjustable to how you would personally like things, but this particular review guitar is definitely asking to break out your bottleneck.
I have played a few resonators over the years, and some - the really expensive ones, of course - really grab the notes and sing. This guitar does sound cool but the resonance wasn't as good as some I have played, which made me work a little harder than I would have liked. Saying that, I would happily pick this up in the studio if I needed the very cool tone that a resonator makes.
There are no electronics in this one, so it's all about your mic placement. Actually we found when filming that it sounded just as good wherever we put the mic. The single spider cone in the body is what makes the magic happen, and the sound made when combined with a slide is so iconic and creates instant mojo.
This is a very modestly priced guitar (especially if you check out the street prices, rather than the quoted MSRPs) and for what you get, it is a bargain. Chinese manufacture keeps costs low and this will get those Delta Blues moments done with no problem. Definitely worth a look!