Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Little Lighter Fare

I noticed Rev. Paul posted on the new Gibson guitar he got for Christmas; it's one of the Les Paul models.  For you non-guitarists, "Gibson Les Paul" is kinda like "General Motors Chevrolet"; more like a brand than a specific model.  There are many models in the Les Paul line every year, and the style is even produced by other brands, where they're usually called LP style.  For example (standard disclaimers: no relation, just to show what I'm referring to, this instrument will probably give you scabies... etc.).  Counterfeit Chinese copies have become so common that they even have their own name: Chibson.  If you're bored, try entering Chibson in your favorite search engine.   

And, yeah, I have one.  There's a picture on the right column farther down the page.   

Anyway, the lovely Mrs. Graybeard added a new guitar to my collection this Christmas.  Theoretically, I wasn't supposed to know about it, but since we talked about guitars and alternate instruments a lot, it wasn't that big a secret.  The instrument is a Dean Spider Resonator acoustic guitar, and the only Dean guitar I've ever played. 
The finish is quilted maple, and I really love good quilted maple on a guitar.  The back and sides are also quilted maple, and it's a really beautiful instrument that is well-built.  Intonation is perfect out of the box (which is good considering I can't figure out how I'd adjust it). 

Spider resonator is the style of resonator, that large chrome cover with cutouts in it is covering the spider resonator, details at that Wikipedia page.  I've always heard this type of guitar called a Dobro, but that name is copyrighted, like calling any copier a Xerox or any adhesive bandage a Band-Aid.  Historically, the name Dobro was originated by the inventors of the resonator after they left National Guitars, so it was always their trademark.  The latest owner of Dobro guitars is none other than Gibson, as parent company of Epiphone!  Which means this post comes full circle.  (Side note: anybody remember Paul Simon's "Graceland"? - "The Mississippi Delta is shining like a National guitar"?  Picture the reflection off that chrome guitar.)

There's a style of resonator that's intended to be held horizontally on your lap or by its strap if you're standing; this Dean is intended to be held like a conventional acoustic guitar.  Resonator guitars are often played with a glass slide on one finger, and the tone you get is unique - yet recognizable if you listen to any blues or blues inspired music.  Here's where I inject my "too white and nerdy".  My allergist has me use a nasal spray called Dymista which comes in a brown glass bottle.  A few seconds on a tile saw takes off the top and bottom of the bottle leaving a brown glass tube, not unlike a beer bottle neck (except thinner glass).  I'll use the allergy spray bottle as my glass slide.   I need to write something like "The Bad Nose Blues".  

If you've never heard slide guitar in blues before, and even if you have, listen to this piece, which is more of rip-roaring, country-rock virtuoso piece by Sue Foley and Peter Karp. Sue Foley is on the pink paisley Telecaster and Peter Karp is on the National resonator guitar with the glass slide on his pinky.  

EDIT 2051 EST:  I said Sue Foley was playing at "plaid pink Telecaster".  That's paisley.  Hey, they're both words that start with "p".  My typing went on autopilot.  (Yeah, I know, plaid to the bone).


  1. Couple days to practice, then we expect some tunes to be posted.

    Very nice instrument!

  2. curiously, when I was hanging out with bluegrass guys in the 70s a Dobro was a guitar-like insruement that had double violin strings. Perhaps my memory is playing me false...

  3. Anon - I wouldn't be surprised. Since I started reading about them, I've run across an Australian website showing pictures of Dobro-style resonators put into a range from violins to mandolins to bass guitars to Balalaikas to one made in a kitchen sink!