ULTIMATE Resonator Guitar Buying Guide (2022) • Acoustic Tuesday 242

Resonator guitars have so many myths tied to them. They have to be played differently. They’re way too expensive. They are only good for one style. But is any of this actually true?

On today’s episode of Acoustic Tuesday, you’ll get a chance to see my top 10 favorite resonator guitars. This list is made up of many different resonator guitars at different price points. Every guitar on this list is a great bang for your buck regardless.

I love resonator guitars because they have some great punchy tones. Like a banjo, the decay on resonators can be really quick, but as a soon as you add a slide, the tone morphs so much. But this brings us to the first common misconception: resonators have to be played with a slide.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Resonator guitars can be played like a normal guitar. Sure, using a slide gives it a very bluesy or country sound, but in reality, they sound just as good without a slide. You don’t need any different techniques really. 

There’s also a perception that resonator guitars are expensive. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are so many options that don’t have to break the bank. Just make sure to watch the full segment to see my picks for the best affordable resonator guitars!


Featured in this Guide…
– Gold Tone  
– National Guitars  
– RecordingKingOfficial  
– Beard Guitars  
– Gretsch Guitars  
– Mule Resonator Guitars  
– RepublicGuitars  

Featured in the Acoustic Guitar News
– Michael J. Miles  
– Eric Lugosch  
– Adam Grant  
– Chicago Music Exchange  
– Fretboard Journal  
– Old Town School of Folk Music 

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  1. Tony,
    My youngest daughter’s wedding brought family together and in so doing i was reunited with my sister who has played for many years, a granddaughter, a grandson and a visitor from Ireland. We all sat around and gave each person a chance to display their best licks; it was so much fun and can only say that it happened because i worked up the courage to bring my own guitar along and that courage came from the Acoustic Challenge family. Thanks.

  2. Tony,
    I was looking at resonators a while back and stopped. With Covid, they have been hard to find in stores. But after listening to Acoustic Tuesday 242 last last, I put a deposit down for the mule resonator. Big fan of Charlie Parr – saw him in NYC a few years ago. I am very excited, it is for another milestone Birthday. Thank you for helping me move forward..

  3. Tony, as always another entertaining and informative show! What is your opinion of tri-cone resonators in the low-end price point? The trip-cones you mention are not in the under $1500 range but there are some available at that price. I notice you did include some of the low price single cone models that are available.

  4. Hi Tony
    I just celebrated my 42nd wedding anniversary. When you asked about memorable moments through my guitar journey it immediately brought back my proposal to my wife all those years ago. I took my wife to a very nice park brought a blanket some food and my guitar. I played for her my sweet lady by John Denver and then I proposed. I’ve had lots of good memories with my guitar, camping, family and friends but this one really stands out. Thank you for prompting that memory.

  5. Now you’ve done it Tony! I’ve gone and bought ANOTHER guitar, a Gretsch Boxcar Round-Neck resonator.

  6. Now you’ve done it Tony! I just bought ANOTHER guitar, a Gretsch Boxcar Round-Neck. Couldn’t help myself.

  7. Hi Tony, I guess you forgot one of the best resonator guitars, almost completely unknown, but amazing.
    Michael Messer is an English blues musician, he produces his own brand, at an unbelievable price level concerning the quality. I bought a Michael Messer Blues’28 last year, very playable ( slide and fingerpicking) , beautiful sound, and a fantastic look. I had to wait some time ( months) because of Brexit and Covid-issues, but what a surprise!!! For the first time I bought a guitar without playing it, there wasn’t another possibility. I had to rely on the communication with Michael, worked out perfectly.
    Check his website. Have a look at the forum for some comparisons with way higher priced resonators.
    Regards. Luc (Belgium)

  8. My Radio Tone Resonator from the 1990s by National is my favorite, but then it’s the only one I have. It has that rich tone and when I got it I tried a couple of others by Gretch and some other makers I don’t remember and this one had the best and a sweet tone. It’s a biscuit style cone & bridge with an under biscuit pickup wire. It’s great to play in any style but I particularly like flat picking and finger style on it.

  9. A note on “perfectionism”: There’s no point in complaining, no one listens anyway.

  10. Hi Tony, just a quick story to share how the guitar has impacted my relationships with people. I spent my career working at large companies leading their manufacturing operations. When a leader walks the manufacturing floor sometimes people are little bit nervous in speaking with you. The guitar helped me bridge that gap. If I saw someone that had a T-shirt or a cap that was related to guitar or some type of music I would ask them “so do you play guitar?”, or, “will you tell me about that band?” etc. That opened up a great exchange of musical tastes and genres, guitar brands, playing experiences etc. This would also lead to finding a network of people throughout the operation and offices that played guitar. Finally when other people saw that we were having so many conversations they didn’t feel so nervous about having a discussion with me themselves. Then I got to thinking – why not ask folks to share info about other interests (kids, grand kids, camping, fishing, food, etc) and I found that this was also a way to build great relationships. By the way, I am a bit introverted myself so this helped me immensely. So in short guitars and music are great bridges for relationship building – as does asking someone to share about whatever their interests may be!

    1. That’s such good perspective. I’m a natural introvert as well that finds myself occasionally in leadership positions. As an introvert I used to think having lots of things to say is what makes a good conversationalist. Hwoever, its really about asking interesting questions to others that make people enjoy a conversation. Whenever I wear my Amon Amarth T-shirt out and about all the metal fans come out of the woodwork to compliment. So many people out there that I would never have guessed listen to death metal. 🙂

  11. Some folks believe there are no coincidences. Maybe they’re onto something because just yesterday I was drooling over a resonator guitar for sale ad, and then I tune in today to find them as the lead topic on Acoustic Tuesday! Could that be a sign?! I don’t think I’m quite ready yet, but definitely foresee adding such a beast to my guitarsenal one day. For now I’m going to look up those previous episodes about resonators and do some more research. I am 28 days into the TAC experience and truly believe I have found the best guitar learning system anywhere. Thanks, Tony!

  12. Hi Tony, Great show. Love the Resonator countdown. I have two favorites, neither of them made the countdown list. The first is Progreba. So cool looking: maybe even a bit novelty?, but the sound is the thing that hooked me. The second is a resonator builder named Vilehelm Engstom. Again for me it is all about the sound on this one.
    There is so much to learn, thanks again for keep the path to knowledge brightly lit!