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.
In retrospect we see wide swaths of change and their eventual outcomes. If we put cynicism aside we can see progress. In the present moment change is much like staring at a painting at nose-length: we don’t see much at all and feel uncomfortable. Solar, uber, airbnb, smartphones, failing banks and car companies that should be left to fail – all these things upset the way things are done. The upsetting of things is the way of things. When it’s your turn to be upset though….The way things are done is the right way because you are the experts and if everyone would just understand better than they too would pump diesel and sand into aquifers to leak out heated homes and hot stoves. And now the segué: the awareness of change or lack there of (or need there of) has a voice and it’s usually musicians. Musicians are people too and subject to their own affinity for the way things have been done. Then ah, streaming. What’s a musician to do when the world does something drastic? For many it’s been ” if they are giving it away for free then I’ll beat them to it!” And the tunes go on all the streams and YouTube, the emails, the whatever. Into the van for another year and a half, kickstarter, 12 song album and “sign up for the newsletter so you know the one show you’ll get to see this year” If “you teach people how to treat you” is truth, than it’s also true here. Friends, this should be a bit uncomfortable. I suggest there is a better way and although I won’t be able to say which way it will be I’ll say it will be uncomfortable at first. Then it will just be The Way. Trying things is the best way to go about it. Here is my suggestion: instead of putting out 12 songs every year and half funded by a hopeful tour and an appeal for cash to those who already want to buy it you do this: I pay $5 a month to subscribe to your website and every month you release a new MP3, accompany that with a quality video of you singing it and tell me a wistful story from the road I don’t get to be on. At the end of the year I just happily paid $60 (quadruple!) for that CD, you appeased my attention span and you built capital and momentum the whole year through. Will it work? Don’t know. Try it. How are things working out now?
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