This is the place to ask Michael Messer and other forum members questions relating to National, Dobro and other resophonic musical instruments. Also questions and comments relating to National, Dobro, Supro, Valco amplifiers. No commercial advertising. To ask Mark Makin questions about anything in the Palm Trees, Senoritas & Rocket Ships thread, start a new thread in National Avenue
Post by Colin McCubbin on Apr 29, 2009 2:08:19 GMT
Not one, but three new Charles Brasher built 1930s resonator guitars (the Aloha, the Silvatone and the Supertone) have emerged from the past in recent months. I've posted pictures of them under the resonator patents section at notecannons...
Also added a new 1920s National (Dopyera) Banjo to the banjo section. (Sorry Mark, another engraving pattern for you to draw, will it never end? )
There's a "Silvatone" at a place called Folkway Music in Guelph, Ontario. I played it briefly last summer, it had all the resonance and tonal beauty of a coffee table. Intersting, but I wouldn't want one. My first resonator guitar was a Brasher Reliance. If people think the Harmony-bodied Trojans and Havanas sound "mushy" and inferior, they really need to try a Reliance to see just how uninspiring a wood bodied resonator guitar can sound. When I bought the thing I was sure that it was some home-made oddity, I could have sworn it was finished with shoe polish. Very hard to be enthusiastic about these guitars once you've actually played one.
I don't really have any information to contribute, unfortunately. The Reliance I had in the mid 90s and the Silvatone I played at the shop are the only ones I've seen "in the flesh" - I think that, at least in the case of the Reliance, the cone was to blame. It literally looked like a pie plate, kinda rough and thin, and definitely stamped, not spun. Someone said that the necks on them were made by Hensel, but I don't really have any facts to back that up. The few Hensels I've seen seemed to be of much higher quality than the Reliance. The Silvatone, on the other hand, had a really nicely made neck but was quieter than a regular wooden flattop.
Post by Colin McCubbin on May 15, 2009 0:17:22 GMT
After talking with Folkways, the Silvatone is heading 'notecannons ways' I'll be very interested in hearing it and seeing the construction etc. As far as I know there are no Brashers in W coast Canada to compare it with, but I'll see if Peter Sloan can bring at least one next time he visits his sister who lives a half mile or so away from me..
It seems we have another Brasher on the market, a Reliance model being offered on ebay in Australia. Curiously, the seller indicates that a decal on the back of the headstock reads "Manufactured by R.S. Williams & Sons Limited."
Post by Colin McCubbin on May 26, 2009 2:40:21 GMT
Yes, a Brasher.. I don't know if he just supplied the resonator and coverplate to Williams, or bought the guitars as acoustics and fitted the cp and reso himself... The Reliance seem the most common instrument, I know of a dozen or so. A couple are without resonators, just straight acoustics..
The "Artist" model that's on the Notecannons website is the 1st resonator I owned and as far as the sound goes,in my opinion, is superb! It has a very unique, big sound and does not sound like a dobro or national at all. I wouldn't say it is mushy or inferior. It has a jangly banjo like sound and is a joy to play. Perhaps I am naive and inexperienced but this nasty old beast has a sound that makes the dogs howl and the cats run for the litter box! ......Or maybe I should just learn how to play it....
The Brasher's are hit and miss as far as sound goes. I have three and the one with the metal biscuit and bridge (Artist model) sounds quite different from the one with the glass biscuit.
One day I will own a good national and may realize how bad this one sounds in comparison, but, until then I am getting many happy miles out of this one.
Colin,if I can manage it I will bring it out to Whistler in July.
Post by Colin McCubbin on May 31, 2009 4:54:18 GMT
The Brasher Silvatone is here, so if you make it out here this summer you can compare it with the Nats.. The neck needs some TLC, at present it can only be played Hawaiian style, so I plan to ship it South to Marc Schoenberger for a neck wringing in his solar hot box(!)...
I think that Don at Nat Reso will want to see it too, so while it is in California a bit of vintage 'Canadian culture' can strut it's stuff...
Played with a bar it sounds pretty damn good, I haven't opened her up yet to inspect the cone and biscuit, I'll add some pics at notecannons when I do.
Colin I'm delighted that you got the Silvatone! Pictures would be great as would a sound sample if you should have the chance. I appreciate and share your interest in these lesser known resophonics. I'm on pins and needles at the moment as I have purchased a Schireson which is in transit. There is a lot of ground to cover yet as I have yet to put my hands on a sure 'nuff vintage National. My experience to this point has been in dissecting and fixing up imports. These resonators as a class are terrific instruments though; ordinary wooden guitars seem relatively mute and lifeless since I discovered the real "top fueler" acoustics.
I recently picked up a wooden bodied Artist resonator. It has C. Brasher stamped on the metal cone and patent number 349662. The comb is metal with a wood base and the biscuit is glass. It has 3 diagonal slots cut on the top, on either side of the upper bouts, above the resonator. It came in the original case with a clear Dobro thumb pick, slide and several finger picks. It belonged to a gentleman in Cambridge, ON. He was the first owner and his son was selling it. I have been trying to find out more about this guitar and came upon your site. I will post some pics in the next few days.
Hello Reso Rebels ! so glad to find this website and appreciate all the information to sponge into my ''shoebox of knowledge'' about Brasher Resos.
I lucked into a Brasher just the other day , the fella said he had a ''home made'' steel guitar , I was curious as I have been thinking of making one myself so..........my curiosity cost me $100 and it did look indeed to be all hand made ....but had a PATENT #349662.....so it is a Brasher Reso . This one is unlike the others I have been seeing . It is a MAUI model but a distinctive shape and has the name George Duncan engraved on it ?... I was reading that Brasher likely only made these Reso's for his band members so maybe this guy was one of them ?......regardless the Reso plays pretty decent once I had refitted the cone center and corrected the nut action a bit . I love the sound , very unique but vintage reso sound all the same . I am curious about the neck as it is unlike the others and is a closed headstock....no names,marks or indications of who made neck but it is like a '' baseballbat '' and appears to be so far ...one piece ?.... I am liking the mystery of the guitar equally to the playing of it !......a word of caution with the old Brashers '' dont drop on foot '' they weigh a ton . I will post pics once I figure out how to ?