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.
Sometimes people use the word ‘talented’. I am not that.
I think its a thing, but that’s not me. I know this, and you would too, because the Wall of Shame I had started while I was at H&D with all the mistakes I would make soon had to stop because lack of room. When I taught myself how to build these steel resonators, that Wall of Shame soon became a room, and then I took its contents to the scrap yard and they gave me $7 for it. When I win it’s because I’ve made every mistake, and just so happen to have things go right. If a wait list is the judge, the guitars seem to be becoming a thing. So I went to find talented help, because if I found another me (or didnt find anyone) I’d be writing this while using the Wi-fi in the parking lot at MCDonald’s.
Luckily I didn’t have to go far.
My dad John has been making up the neck blanks for quite some time. He will wake up at 4:30 on a Saturday like he always has, work out and then make a batch of neck blanks before I wake up at 6:30 on a Saturday patting myself on the back. My brother Phil has been building most of the bodies for the past year. Except in looks Phil has been able to surpass me in just about any endeavor. I’ll try things about 29 minutes before he does and then hes quickly showing me how I’m doing them wrong. Adam is the most recent addition and his contribution is two fold. FIrst he disagrees with just about everything I say. So much so, I have The Smithers Test- if I propose an idea and he doesn’t find something to disagree with me on in three seconds I know its a good idea and requires no further discussion. Second he builds everything better than I do. I’ll make a fret holder out of a chewed up piece of plywood, and he will find the nicest scrap piece of flamey maple, proportion it perfectly, seal it and put it to use. The body holder he made for his bench is exquisite. He hung the shop hammock perfectly. The man could make a spoon a centerpiece.
I’m grateful for all of their help and excited for the next year.
Some people come to Mule for a tour, and some people come to Mule for a tour and bring us beer.
We love all people equally, but some people we invite back.
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