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Resonator Conversion?
Author
Post
Charlies3

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 5
Has anyone tried to convert an old "beater" into a resonator? I thought this might be an interesting and not too expensive a project. Any thoughts about whether it is easier to try with a biscuit or spider bridge? Getting parts doesn't seem to be a problem. Seems like the tricky part would be getting the soundwell to be the correct height.

Apr 05, 10 | 5:39 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Charles, it is done fairly frequently and there are some pretty good threads in the archives at MIMF. Basically what is involved is building a sound well, hogging a big hole in the top of your guitar, removing enough bracing to fit the soundwell into the top. The trick that I have heard of to get the soundwell inside is to saw cut completely thru it, give it a little twist and kind of screw it into the guitar. The tops of resos are flat - your 'beater" will be slightly domes so you will need to compensate when you build the soundwell.

Traditional spider soundwells are fairly deep and have holes in the sides, I would think that making one and fitting it without taking the back off would be tricky. The Beard plans show all the dimensions if you want to do a spider and if you would like, I could post some pictures of my old Dobro with the cone removed.

A biscuit is usually one inch from the top of the guitar to the top of the well (best to buy your cone and biscuit and actually measure). I also have a metal biscuit reso and have some pictures with the cone out, you can get an idea of how that works. My recent thread about my tricone shows what I came up with for it

http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/forum/threads.php?id=5451_0_6_0_C

Some other things to think of - saddle height is and location is very important. Most resos have no compensation and intonate terribly - I would suggest cheating the cone a little towards the tailpiece and possibly angling it slightly. You will have a certain amount of leeway on height as you will be cutting string slots in the biscuit or the saddle, but you might also have to set the neck at this time. The cone depresses slightly with tension on a biscuit - not much on a spider. However if you are making it primarily for slide you can be a little sloppy with the action.

Things to remember - biscuits and spiders use different cones and they are different diameters. You will need cone, biscuit or spider (and bridge insert), cover plate, tailpiece - I have a bit over $200 in the metal pieces for mine. Most reso's have neck sticks but I am building mine with a bolt on neck - I haven't decided yet if I'll need any mushrooms. As a slide player I prefer wide flat fretboards - consider that when you choose your "beater". Most reso's are 25.0 scale lenght - but anything should work as long as you position the cone correctly.

Check MIMF, have fun and post some pics.

btw - many people have upgraded cheap Asian resos with spun cones - if you really want to hold the price down find one of them.

Apr 05, 10 | 7:59 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
I found a picture of my biscuit without the cone



and with a nice new NRP cone and carbon fiber biscuit



I know I've got some of the old spider - I'll look tonight

Apr 05, 10 | 8:19 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
OK, here is the insides of my 1932 Dobro



cone and spider in place


Apr 05, 10 | 3:05 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Fwiw, here is a pretty good video on constructing a non-soundwell spider. It might give you some ideas about how to retro fit the support into a standard acoustic. Obviously it would work for either a spider or biscuit if you do the diameter and depth correctly. Note that he fits the bracing with the back off, completely finishes the guitar then as one of the last steps, routes the hole in the top and the ledge for the cone. Much easier if the back is off.

http://www.schoonoverresophonicguitars.com/tour_resophonic_guitars.htm

I'll add that when I routed the top of my tricone I first made a template out of 14 gauge steel on our laser cutter. I made an autocad drawning, sent the dfx file to the laser and used the template to reference the hole to the 12th fret position on the top. Remember that the correct location of the cone hole is absolutely critical to the sucess.

Apr 06, 10 | 7:33 am
Charlies3

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 5
Freeman. Thanks for all of the leads. I'm psyched!

Apr 07, 10 | 12:30 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Your choice of cones is going to determine a lot of things. A spider is 10-1/2 diameter which means it will probably only fit a dread. The little recess that the cone sits on is pretty shallow on a spider - you should be able to get that off the Beard plans. However I'm probably going to pull the cover plate off mine in the next week or so, I'll measure the exact depth for you. I could take any other measurements at that time.

A biscuit cone is 9-1/2 which means it would fit in an OM or 000. The recess is pretty deep - I'm guessing 1". As you know, they have very different sounds. In my humble it would be much easier to fit a biscuit.

Apr 07, 10 | 12:44 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
http://www.mimf.com/library/resonator_conversion.htm

Apr 14, 10 | 11:05 am



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