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.
Charley Hicks on Mule Resonator Guitar records every Charley Patton Song
If that’s not a worthy news headline, I’m not sure what is. Charley has #42, and tow more mules, a steel tricone and a brass single cone. And a tattoo of the Mule logo on his index finger. ENthusiastic, eh? He’s a great player and has a stellar voice. And he’s just crazy enough to record every one of Charley Patton’s songs (along with a bunch of other ones) on Youtube. It’s awesome and you should go check it out right. Now. I love seeing all the different ways these resonator guitars get used.
I love ladder braced guitars. I had an Gibson LG that really opened my mind to what’s going on inside the box. Fraulini guitars… same thing. Dale Fairbanks uses X braces, but they are unscalloped and they are my favorite sounding guitars.
To get a drastically sounding different guitar- and drastically inspiring guitar- you have to do something drastically different. And that’s something I get really excited about. I completely support guys tweaking the forward X brace with carbon fiber, tapping, finger braces etc. and see what happens. I think that is awesome. But what gets me really jazzed up is the stuff that is a whole new deal. I can only pick up so many dreadnaughts before I know what to expect. If you’re looking for a different sound, play something different.
Ladder bracing is the combination of ‘drastically different’ and completely traditional. I think guys like Ken Parker and Charles Fox are amazing and awesome. Brilliant. I’m completely obsessed with Ken Parker’s archtop ‘Lucky’. The hurdle (I speculate) they face is explaining to every person who is interested why they do what they do because it uses different neck support systems, carbon fiber here, carbon fiber lattice, etc etc. It’s a lot to take in and it’s so new.
Ladder bracing is new but its old. So old in fact that it’s older than X bracing. There’s a certain appeal to that. And with guitars like Colling’s Waterloo ‘everything that is old is new again.’
The woody thunk you get out of ladder braced guitar reminds me the guitar I’m playing is made from wood and I forget about whether the strings are phosphor bronze or 80/20- it’s just flat out woody body sound. I love it. It adds such a character to the sound, which is what we are kind of looking for right? What is ‘best’? Thats hard to describe…but intriguing? That’s a little easier to know when you hear it. It perks your ear and you dig around a bit. That’s why I love resonator guitars so much. Are they trebly? Sure, but they aren’t defined by that because they have the low end to match. I think thats why a lot of people really love resonator guitars as well. You hear a reso on a track and it pulls you in …. wait what is that? Is that a resonator? Umm…yes…wait… yeah it is. It pulls you in. It makes you listen deeper. And that’s exactly why we play.
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