A friend of mine picked up two beautiful boxes that are good sized, but the lids seem quite thick. I was thinking about making my first resonator out of one of them, but I can't get the mechanics in my head. If you will bear with me, I would like to tell you my plan and let you guys pick it apart.

Plan 1: Paint Can Lid Resonator:

Cut a hole in the box that will let the lid sit inside, and the "lip" of the lid keep it from falling through. Then I'd glue the bridge and saddle to the lid.

--> in this setup, does the paint lid become the soundboard instead of the box lid? Would sound holes be necessary for sound, or make any difference, and if so what difference?

Plan 2: Cake Pan/Bowl Resonator:

Cut a hole in the box that lets the bowl sit in the box, but the lip of hte bowl/pan keeps it from bottoming out in the box. Then, put a smaller bowl or similar shaped piece of metal inside it, upside down. Run a bolt through both in the center to connect them. Put a bridge on top of the smaller bowl. Put a cover plate on top of all of that, that has a hole in it for the bridge to poke up through, and fasten the plate to the box lid. Lots of whole in the plate for sound to exit. Maybe some sort of shield on the plate that covers up the bridge...

--> Will this work? Is this the way to do it? Any glaring errors? Does the bowl replace the box lid as a sound board? If so, can I assume that building up the box and lid where the neck attaches won't be a problem, since I'm not worried about affecting the sound properties of the box lid?

I know this is a lot of questions to put in one post, but I can't find any pictures that show how all the pieces fit together and explain all of this. Someday, I would like to make a tricone setup like someone here did with what looks like tuna cans! Not now though! I'm still trying to figure out the paint can lid!

Thanks in advance for the help.

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Replies to This Discussion

There are a lot of approaches to making resonators; you'll see some very clever builds here on the site. I made one of the paint-can jobs a couple of months ago; it sounds very good. Nice, plunky "dobro" sort of sound. I used two small soundholes as well as the paint-can lid.

I'm building a resonator using an aluminum bowl (from a kid's "camping" set) right now. I'm not going to nest the resonator in another metal container; just going to suspend it about 1/4" from the back of the guitar on a couple of "rails" glued to the back.
I'll use dual soundholes as well.
There are several pages up on how the actual Dobro and National steel guitars are set up.
I have done a few of the paint lids and all you gotta do is cut the hole set the lid and you would need sound holes. never done the bowls or cake pans...seek out ted croker here he's done some nice ones!!

Big Daddy
Thanks for the quick reply.

If you don't mind me asking, how will you mount the bridge/saddle? I am under the assumption that the bridge "collects" the vibration from the strings, and you need some sort of soundboard to act like a speaker. Will your bridge be directly connected to the bowl? I'm wondering if the bowl acts as the soundboard, or if it reflects sound from somewhere else. If you set the bowl directly on the rails, it doesn't seem like it would vibrate, or would it?

I noticed that some resonators have a cone (bowl?) that sits in a sort of ring that extends from the top of the box all the way to the bottom of the box, and this ring has holes in the sides. Then the box has sound holes in it. It even looks like the cone is set so that the center is "up" instead of "down", so that the bridge sits on the top of the cone. At least that seems like how it is set up. It makes me wonder if the cone reflects sound into the guitar and then out of the holes, or if it reflects sound directly out of the top of the guitar...or both.

I would love to see an "expolded" view of a resonator to see where all the parts fit in.
This helped me understanding the mechanics behind the reso stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai7e4SdjFtc

Kudos for Ted for his cool Cohiba Reso, it's really cool.
Mark Werner said:
There are several pages up on how the actual Dobro and National steel guitars are set up.

Would you be so kind to post a link or two to these sites you mentioned? I haven't had much luck finding them. Thanks.
i just want to reiterate how helpful all of you guys are...awesome site.
All the videos by Jim Farris are incredibly helpful. He showed me how to make a good scarf join. He also builds a cake pan resonator. Here is a link to all his videos. Sorry, it is on veoh, and you have to watch ads an see suggestions for other "related" videos to watch. (But I am sure I don't understand how fitting a bra properly has anything to do with cbgs . . .)

http://www.veoh.com/users/jimfrets
Very hi-qual video. This should be posted so the begining builders can find it easier. I suppose a bikini wax also could be used on a guitar? He hee....

Diane said:
All the videos by Jim Farris are incredibly helpful. He showed me how to make a good scarf join. He also builds a cake pan resonator. Here is a link to all his videos. Sorry, it is on veoh, and you have to watch ads an see suggestions for other "related" videos to watch. (But I am sure I don't understand how fitting a bra properly has anything to do with cbgs . . .)

http://www.veoh.com/users/jimfrets
Too bad I'm in Brazilian territory. Veoh blocked our IP's.
Hey im looking to build my first Resonator box guitar. I watched the video of jimfrets and im wanting to build something similar to his ideas. However I want to make a 6 string using a bolt on electric neck. My question is will the way jimfrets reinforces the box be able to hold a 6 string together? Any ideas on how to make this all hold together?

Thanks

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