What prompted you to start
building resonator guitars?
I’d say not just resonator guitars, but specifically metal-bodied resonators, because
that really narrows down the field and
competition, which was definitely a reason
I was drawn to them. I’ve built every style
of guitar in my 36 years of building, but I
wanted to get back into it again and I saw
that market as a huge opening.
Besides the reduced competition,
what else drew you to creating
I always loved the sound and tone of those
guitars. In addition, it’s truly a challenge to
work in metal rather than wood, so that keeps
me on my toes. For me, it’s been a learning
experience shifting to metal, and that keeps
things interesting, always being a student.
Like woods, there are a variety of metals
that builders can use. What metals do you
I use brass and nickel-silver.
Why those particular metals?
Well, there’s a tonal difference in any type of
metal used for instruments. In my experience
as a total hand-builder on these, you got to
be able to move the metal fairly easily. I’m
not saying steel is out, but it’s definitely a lot
harder to move, mold and work with.
What type of cones do you use
for your resonators?
My guitars can take either a National-style
cone or Dobro-style spider cone, which I
believe gives my customers a choice, depending on their preferences and playing style.
Why do you offer resonators as
single cutaway models?
To give players the ability to get the upper
range for upright-style playing because
with a body style like that you can play all
the way up to the last fret. On a typical
resonator, at the 12th or 14th fret, you are
limited on your range, but with a single cutaway model a player can pretty much play
up and down the entire neck.
Do your customers tend to play with that
upright-style, or do you have players that
use your instruments as a lap guitar?
Oh sure, one guy specifically that comes to
mind is Arlen Roth, who plays a Terraplane
model across his lap. I’m currently working
on a traditional metal-body, square-neck guitar for Cindy Cashdollar, and she’ll play that
across her lap, too.
Can you describe your patent-pending
string anchoring system?
I always had this in mind, even before I started
building the tailpieces on these resonators,
to bring the strings very close to the saddle,
so there isn’t much of a break angle off the
bridge and not a whole lot of string tension
being transferred. Of course, as the guitar
gets older, the strings with a typical tailpiece
could be in a direct line as it comes off the
bridge, so I have a nice break angle with the
right amount of tension on it, and it’s actually
very simple design.
What type of advantage does
this metal give a player?
It’s just as easy to change the strings on
this tailpiece as any other, but what I have
noticed in other metal-bodied guitars—you
get rattles off the tailpiece. My current
anchoring system removes all that unnecessary rattling and jangling.
With your . 44 Special model, you use brass
for the body. What’s the advantage this type
of metal provides a player?
The brass offers a warmer tone than a steel or
And with the different metals you offer,
what seems to be the popular choice?
All my instruments that are made of brass
can be nickel-plated. You can get the shiny
look of a nickel-plated guitar with the sound
of brass. The plating doesn’t alter the tone
of the brass at all.
What kind of pickups do you implement
into your guitars?
I generally use off-the-shelf pickups made by
Jason Lollar, but as you’re aware, Jason will
modify them to get the exact tone I’m looking
for. The pickups are fairly similar in both positions, but I believe he uses a different wire for
the bridge pickup, so the tone can be darkened up a little bit.
Why should someone choose a
Because they’re beautiful [laughs]… you plug
them in and they play like a dream. They
move so much air that these guitars remind
me of a Hammond B3—big, beautiful thick
tones that come out of my instruments.
How deep can customers get into custom-
izing or tinkering with a guitar?
Everything is custom on these guitars. You
can mix and match features, remove something or come up with a new idea. I have a
pretty standardized neck, but I’ve even varied from that. And even once the guitar is
built, the cones are interchangeable. I want
to build them their guitar.
How much do you outsource
for parts and other materials?
I pretty much hand-build everything except
the cones, tuners and pickups.
Who are some current artists
that play your guitars?
I’ve built guitars for Sonny Landreth, Arlen
Roth, Johnny Winter and Cindy Cashdollar.
What’s your building philosophy?
It’s just like my philosophy on just about
anything in life and career: give it 100
percent, and make sure the customer gets
exactly what they want.
Photo by Brandon Fontaine
With Sonny Landreth and a . 44 Special model.
Photo by John Peden.