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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about The First Equation. The idea being that if you want to go venture out and do something you need to find the math equation that tells the story. We want to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that if we grit our teeth and dream enough it will happen. With just those two things it won’t.
You should, of course, both grit and dream. Admit you don’t know everything off the top of your head and figure it out.But if you pretend that you don’t actually have an amount of income per year that would be your bare minimum, you’re hiding. Like really, write it down. If you find the math equation that says you have to design, print, and sell 6,000 t-shirts a year to live at your bare minimum your dream of being a solo show needs some updating. Not necessarily abandoning, but it needs some modification or you’re wasting your time. You can’t afford to waste your time. Anything else you can waste and recover. Not time. Making a mistake or failing is not the same as waste. Waste requires some pretending and ignoring, mistakes you could ignore if you stared them in the face. Finding The First Equation puts numbers on things, and numbers make you stare long and hard.
Part of that equation is the 75% rule. Don’t get hung up on the number. The point is that when you find that first equation chances are you’re figuring on operating at 100 % of your ability. That’s not real life. Sure sometimes you can operate at full capacity. But….sick? Depressed? Orders down? Family time? Fun time? Those things you think of as ‘incidental’ in the beginning never go away, that’s life. So when you’re figuring things, try to find a way where you can be successful operating at 75%. That might mean changing your expectations, your price, or your plan entirely. If you plan requires you to operate at top performance constantly things get really unfun. Find the First Equation – find things you can put numbers to. Then cut those numbers by 25% – are you still working?
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