The Dirty 30s Single-0 Resonator is hands-down the best resonator value on the market. Check the description areas on the Maxwell Series Squareneck and the Rattlesnake Roundneck pages for alternatives as well as some general resonator lore, facts, and videos. This page, however, is about the most bang for your resonator buck. It’s about style and tone at a great price. The video demos speak for themselves, and so does the scuttlebutt on the street. Ask around and you’ll find that the Recording King brand is known for vintage styling and tone at the best price around. You can buy a cheaper guitar but it won’t look, play, or sound as good a Recording King. Here’s why…
The Recording King resonators all feature their own exclusive European hand-spun resonator cones. Recording King builds reflect design elements right out of the 1930’s. The Dirty 30s Single-0 Resonator features a 9-1/2 inch cone and biscuit-style bridge. The F-style soundholes ooze with vintage vibe. The vintage tobacco sunburst finish and vintage-style hardware complete the vintage look.
On Action and Tone
The action is factory-set on the high side to accommodate fairly aggressive bottleneck playing. It’s fair to say that the action Recording King and other resonator guitars may take some getting used to for folk and fingerstyle players. One reason the actions tend to be high, besides the bottleneck issue, is because 1930’s resonators were setup that way. Roots Music resonator players tend to agree that a fairly high action by modern standards is essential for traditional sound. It’s well know that higher action on any acoustic guitar increases the natural volume, but the effect on tone comes from how the action affects the playing. After all, tone comes from as much from the playing as the physical attributes of the instrument.
If the action on a resonator guitar feels too high at first for your own playing style, I strongly recommend that you stick with it for a good while before lowering it. Play it a lot and your playing will naturally adapt. You may well discover the virtues of the higher action.
Let’s talk about Size
The relationship between the body size and the tone of a resonator guitar is worth considering. Guitars of the late 19th and early 20th century were generally smaller than later models. The Jumbo and Dreadnought bodies leaked into the market during the 1920’s but didn’t become the mainstay instruments they are today till considerably later. Virtually all of the first round of resonator guitars were small body instruments by modern acoustic guitar standards. If the vintage vibe is the goal, a small body is essential. In addition, resonator instrument designers have found that bigger isn’t necessarily better. It can be argued that the resonator’s natural amplification system benefits from a smaller body, by way of more focused internal reverberation.
That’s a lot of history, and vintage styling and tone to pack into a $350 price tag.