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 used to have a ladder braced Gibson LG1. When I miked it at shows it sounded awesome. Great acoustic tone, balanced and cut through nicely. I just listened to some older recordings I made with it and it sounded wonderful – woody, old, and it mixed well. It gave those tracks a feel they would not have had otherwise. It was a $600 student guitar, and was just about opposite of every “nice” sounding guitar you could find. But it was a new sound. It took a really wide swing to get it. It was obscenely quite. It thunked. It ended up being exactly what I needed.
I just got a new Fender telecaster with wide range pickups in it as a present from a customer. At first I didn’t really like it, it was too unlike anything I had played before so everything sounded… weird. Then I started hearing how the low end, especially with flatwounds and overdrive, sounded a bit like a B3 organ. I started trying to play like I was playing a B3. the lows were loooow and the highs were hiiiigh. That contrast made me start playing a bit like a piano, stuff happening underneath with the trebles playing melody. It changed how I play the guitar. And at first I didn’t like it.
When looking for a new sound we get caught up in the minutae. the Ol’ 59 tele pickup vs the T5 tele pickup vs the underwound T5 pickup. The rosewood from this place vs the rosewood from that place. But here’s my most recent sonic revelation- we don’t have enough time for dinking around with the small stuff. If you want a new sound you have to swing wide to find it – listen to things you don’t like, play guitars that take a bit of a learning curve. If you try to control it to much it all sounds the same.
When you work, work. When you rest, rest. When you play, play. If any of these mix you end up just dinking around.
Often times we find ourselves resting while at work. But for the majority of us our jobs are not as hard as they could be. We go into them half-ready because we aren’t rested. Our rest isn’t rest – it’s finishing errands or staring at Facebook or watching TV. We confuse our rest with our play. Playing has some physical or mental effort that goes into it. Our brains our stimulated. I don’t think anyone would describe Facebook or at least the wasteful part of TV time as fun. But it costs us some rest. It’s not really fun but it costs us our play time anyways. So we never play. We don’t ever play so we try to do it while we rest and it doesn’t work. That costs us our rest so we try to rest while we work. Things don’t go well at work so things don’t get done, we make mistakes, and then we complain. How much can we complain if we are really just dinking around?
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