Instrument Shopping: The Republic Resonator Mandolin

This here is a Republic metal-body resonator mandolin, modeled off of the classic National resos of the 1920s and 1930s. Republics are build in China and then set up in Texas. They are very affordable — $350 for a mando with case — and the owner will set it up as a lefty for me.

I have an interest in the lost art of blues mandolin — a lot of the old-time black string bands had mandolin players, and many of them used oddball instruments like the resonator mandolin or the dreaded mando-banjo. These things are loud, and have a unique tone quality to them . . . I’d use this at the monthly old-time fiddlers’ jam session, and in my spare time work on some of the blues / jug band kinda stuff.


Jeeg said...

Where can we find some audio of these instruments you're posting? Because my level of discernment when it comes to bluegrass instruments is only slight more refined than fiddle/not-fiddle.

PLee said...

Here's a Chinese-made reso mandolin:

And here's a tenor guitar being played in the Texas fiddle backup style:

A mandolin is tuned GDAE, same as a fiddle. Tenors are usually tuned one-fifth lower, CGDA, like a mandola. They therefore sound a little like a mandolin and a little like a guitar.

Speaking of mandolas . . . just got an email from a guy who will build a lefty in my price range. They are the mandolin's big brother...great sound, but I would probably be wiser to upgrade the mandolin first, as it has a bit more of a well-defined role in old-timey and bluegrass music.

And finally, some blues on a beautiful Weissenborn acoustic lap steel.