Mule Resonator Guitars
Custom handmade resonator guitars
My name is Matt Eich and I, along with my brother Phil and Adam Smith, build handmade steel and brass bodied single cone and tricone resonator guitars. After witnessing Kelly Joe Phelps play his resonator at a show here in Michigan I left wondering if I could use my guitar making skills I learned at Huss and Dalton Guitars to make metal bodied resonators. They are just so much guitar: volume, range of tone, look- and potential. I wanted to do them differently. I wanted them to sound more guitar like, meaning more warmth and low end. I also wanted them to look the materials they were made from- the raw steel and brass, with a patina I've developed over the years. I'm so excited to be able to offer them to players. Options like a P90 pickup, a tricone in a single cone body like the very first National guitars... I'm having the time of my life building these instruments and hearing what players like Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Kelly Joe, Charlie Parr, Jeffrey Foucault, Jason Dennie, Jay Lapp and so many more players I've had the pleasure to get to know during the building process. When you send an e-mail, you get me. My brother Phil will send build pictures as your guitar goes through the work. That's part of the experience and story. I'm happy you're here and if you have any questions please e-mail me at email@example.com
The guitar made it here alright, no problems at all. In fact it was pretty close to being in tune as well. And, shoo-boy, what a stunner!! Such a beautiful thing, Matt! Just wonderful, between the wood choices and the way you’ve finished them, and the great metal-work work. Eeeh yow, I love it, I love it. The shape and size of the neck is awesome, too. Now I kinda wish I had a steel-string guitar with that same neck on it. So comfortable in my hands. Yeah; a steel string with the Mule’s neck and a 12 fret joint. That’d be a good feeling guitar. Such a great sounding guitar, I love it. A musician friend of mine, Cahalen Morrison, was over here a few days ago and he played it and loved it, too. Both the sound and the look in equal measure, both awesome. He also (as do I) loved the fact that it was quite literally “The Mule.” We both figured you nailed that one right on the head.
Peace and Blessings,
So in 1927 National made a proto-type guitar that was a tri-cone fit into a single-cone body, it was some kind of test I think and they never made a production model out of it. My Mule is just that, a tri-cone set into a single-cone stainless steel body and the sound is somewhere right in between the two designs. I'd never part with my National, but this guitar doesn't really sound anything like it, and I've found that I'm using the Mule a lot these days. Matt did a fantastic job all around on this guitar, the neck feels like I've played it for years, and it's got a custom made P-90 that really sounds nice and not overly electric. I love the sound, and it's versatile, changing from sharp to growl to mellow depending on where your right hand is.
I've been playing two or three hours every day. Open D and C a half step down feel best to me, but G rings nicely there too. It's Incredible to me - having scarcely played a steel guitar except in shops - how nuanced and sensitive to attack the cones are, how each seems to pick up different combinations of volume and frequency to generate distinct overtones. I can play quiet or hard or between to the two and it's like I have three or four different guitars. Running through my rig - essentially tape echo, trem, verb, and OD - the colors multiply. Particularly dialing up the wow and flutter on the tape echo creates some note decay with the slide that feels like a whole new tool.
the craftsmanship is just beautiful. I'm really happy to have it. When I get a chance to shoot some useful video - something you can use on your site - I certainly will.
Every idea has another side of the coin. Do you know any ‘coin flippers’?
“Let’s take the dog for a walk. ”
“We can’t , my mom might call.”
“Let’s try this new product, it might reach more people than we have now.”
“But it could bomb.”
“Let’s start working out more. ”
“But we might be taking time away from more important things. ”
To every idea ever proposed in the history of the world there is another side of the coin. The fact that there is one doesn’t automatically negate the original idea. Sometimes the coin flip reaction is illogical, sometimes it contains guidance- helps establish a line that could be crossed, or a test of effectiveness, and sometimes it’s just fear of failure.
When this happens, ask why. Try the ‘why five times’ thing. Ask questions. Now that I notice ‘the coin flip’ it irritates the heck out of me. I’ve thought about whatever idea it is for days, planned it out and in five seconds someone says “well you might…” etc. The emotional reaction isn’t effective. Ask people questions to justify their position. It will help you clarify your own and just maybe help people see that their gut reaction is based on something other than the facts of the matter.
Seth Godin has a phrase that goes something like, “My job is to attempt things that might fail.” If the other side of the coin is failure, you’re on the right track.
One of the most awesome parts about being a maker is instant feedback. When I sand a neck, it has scratches or it doesn’t. When the guitar is set up, it buzzes or it doesn’t. It’s not arbitrary, someone else’s judgement call, and I don’t have to wait to find out. I do something and I know how I did- instantly.
I also love systems. If there isn’t a system in place for keeping track of finances, keeping track of orders in regards to price increases, I can’t learn anything. Then I’m dependent on happening to notice things, and then happening to remember. The system doesn’t have to be right or perfect, in fact when its not its precisely how you learn. I’m a maker but I’m also an owner and as such I find myself running from shiny thing to shiny thing. Take this morning, I was making a neck blank but then remembered I didn’t get an order of switches. Back to the computer, on and on. I wasn’t following the system I have in place of making stuff first and doing computer stuff at the end of the day. The system works.
Are there ways we can make systems to provide instant feedback for other parts of our lives and businesses? How many times do we just show up and wing up and keep making the same mistakes, or don’t learn anything but just blindly directing our effort? There’s so much waste involved. I heard from a friend of mine that used to work in process engineering that if you switch tasks it takes about 12 minutes to get up to speed. How much switching/relearning/not noticing do we do? Don’t expect yourself not to switch, or to notice more. Make a system. Then learn.
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