While you build everything from flat tops
to electric solidbodies, your Resonator
Electric guitar really stands out as a
unique combination of the acoustic
resonator and electric worlds. How did
you originally come up with the concept?
bunch of things, but with that resonator
growl. So you might only use it for two or
three songs out of ten or so, but it’s going
to add a dimension to your instruments that
you won’t have if you don’t have it. It’s a
really distinctive sound that you cannot get
with any other type of electric guitar.
What do you particularly
like about Lindy’s stuff?
I was teaching a guitar-making class at a
local college, and in every class I got to
keep a guitar that I built. And my son was
on the way, so I thought, “what could I do
that would be a niche market and there’s
not a lot of options for?” I just saw an
opportunity to create what I thought would
be a really superior electric resonator instrument that would be a fusion for regular electric players who want to get that reso vibe,
and have it still feel like a normal electric
guitar in their hands.
What kind of body wood are you using
for the Resonator Electric?
Lindy is the man; he’s never let me down. If
I want something underwound slightly for
twang, or overwound for a little more meat,
he’s got it. He will custom wind pickups any
way I want them, to voice the pickups to the
right tone and spirit for the player.
I’m using poplar right now—it vibrates very
nicely, and it’s light, so it has a jangly quality,
but it’s also very stable.
You’re known for working very closely
with your clients, can you tell us what
the process is like?
You offer a variety of neck profiles and
nut widths on this guitar, but what about
fretboard woods? It appears that ebony is
standard on the Resonator Electric, but do
you also offer maple?
How long did the conception of
that design take?
Not too long. There’s not a lot to it, really.
It’s just a matter of finding the right flow and
look. And when you make guitars, you see
guitars in everything anyway. [laughs]
For readers who might not be familiar,
tell us a little more about where the
Resonator Electric might fit into a
player’s guitar collection.
I really like the tone and stiffness of the
ebony. For those who like the slickness of a
finished maple fingerboard, I hard buff the
ebony to a super shiny gloss. The tone and
sustain of the ebony is crucial for this guitar. In the 13 years I’ve offered this model,
not one has ever been back for a truss rod
adjustment because of the quarter-sawn
grain and choice of ebony.
Well, for people out of the country or out
of state who can’t come here locally, I get
to know them as well as I can. If they have
recordings, I ask them to send me their
records or their CDs. I even get people to
send me actual-size Xeroxes of their hands
and photographs of them holding guitars,
because balance, the size of their hands,
how they hold the guitar are all important.
It’s everything from the nut width, the scale
length, the string spacing to which leg do
they play it on. Let’s say they put the waist
on their left leg—the jack might bump into
their right leg if it’s in the wrong place. It’s
just a lot of ergonomic issues.
Who are your instruments designed for?
And the pickup is a custom-wound Lindy
Fralin, unless there’s another request?
The whole thing about the electric resonator is that it really completes your arsenal
of electric guitars, because it can do things
that a normal electric guitar can’t. It has a
twanginess and a full, deep, textured bottom end that sounds unlike any electric
guitar. You can make it sound like a whole
I use a lot of different pickups, depending
on what people want. If somebody wants a
Tele pickup on the electric resonator, I only
use Lindy’s because he can do custom winding for me that I’m very happy with.
They’re built for anyone whose music really
matters to them. I’ve had a couple celebrities here and they order guitars, and I have
people who are working in grocery stores
and on postal routes—you know, truck
drivers and teachers. And I’ve said no to
a great number of people, because I just
wasn’t connecting with the energy. If I’m
going to hand-make a guitar for somebody,
I want somebody who’s really going to
appreciate the guitar, care about it and use
it and play it and write songs on it—
somebody who will grow with it. I don’t want to
make guitars for people who are going to
hang them in a showcase.
The Electric Resonator is a truly original
design. Have musicians responded well to it?
Well, I made one for Robert Hunter, the
Grateful Dead lyricist, and Lucinda Williams
has one, which she played on Saturday
Night Live once, which was kind of cool. I’ve
made maybe 80 of these things in the last
12 years, and I know that they get handed
around and borrowed and loaned out, and
I’ve heard all kinds of names of people that I
know I didn’t make them for but are playing
these things. Somebody saw one on Oprah,
and I was like, “I don’t know who the hell it
was, but they’re getting out there!”
Scott MacDonald with his Resonator Electric