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.
The Yes Man. Mocked throughout the cubicles. “Don’t be a yes man.” is used in contexts other than the office to try to instill in people a sense of pushing back, going against the grain, standing up for their own opinions.
Here’s the rub: We live in a world of No. Does anyone really have any trouble saying no? Sure you might not say no to your boss, but you spend the whole rest of the day telling everyone else why the answer is ‘No, that will never work.” It’s many kids first words. Sometimes they say no and don’t even know why. Five minutes before they said yes to strawberries and now its a big fat no, for almost no reason at all. And I think the last part is so important- for almost no reason at all.
A part of psychology is realizing that you are not, necessarily, your thoughts. Sometimes we just think things because our brains are constantly going. This mechanism, when repeated habitually, changes our brains to make them act differently. There’s no rational reason for those thoughts to be there but if they are left there…again, and again… they cause us damage. And the danger is that it ends up becoming who we are without us realizing it. We rationalize the thoughts. We find support. We find other people who think the same and they increase. This negative thinking, decided by a million tiny steps, becomes our character.
Obviously there’s specific questions that need more than just this advice but here it is : Get better at saying yes. Maybe that shitty idea your boss had would actually work if he had a room full of employees who said yes and went about trying to make it work regardless, instead of a room full of no’s. “Maybe we should try this pickup” No. Nothing happens. “Maybe we should apply for this job?” No. Nothing happens. Yes is the only answer that affects change. Something inside you might be saying “Well, it may not be a good change.” That’s a no! Why? Did you try it? How will know for sure? Do you have any experience in doing the thing you are saying no to? Of course it may not work out. It doesn’t even need to be said because you can always try something else. No is poisonous. The whole world says no to you. Friends and family say no, because they don’t want you to do something that will go wrong for you or them. You say no to yourself. Maybe you’re saying no to your own idea ‘That would never work, ‘ “They would never hire me,” etc. WHY?! That’s the worst kind of hypothetical. You can’t tell the future, you’re not the HR person. How can we possibly think those thoughts are credible?
The real work is figuring out how to make things happen. It’s no surprise that’s also where the courage lies. As does progress, and opportunity. Why is standing up for yourself always about saying No? Maybe we should focus more on standing up TO yourself and saying yes.
If you are guitar maker, resonator guitar enthusiast, or are just looking for a good book- Guitar Lesson by Bob Taylor and The Way of the Seal by Mark Divine are two of the most helpful I’ve read this year.
The hard part of running the business is not knowing what questions have to be asked. Anyone can run around and find the answer. The Way of the SEAL asks those questions and has exercises to find the answers. It’s a meaty book.
If you run your own business reading how Bob Taylor started Taylor guitars will be the most insightful, reassuring thing you can read. You. Are. Not . Alone.
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