2005 Beltona Southerner Fiberglass Resonator Guitar

Beltonas are English-made (and, previously, New Zealand-made), hot-to-trot resonator guitars (and ukuleles) made from, basically, fiberglass. Sometimes aluminum and/or carbon fiber is thrown into the mix for various parts, too. As such, they're just as light in the lap as a normal acoustic and that makes them entirely practical and just fun to play. My main complaint with average metal resonators is that they're too heavy for me to enjoy for more than an hour. My main complaint with average wood-bodied resonators is that they sound a bit too woody and mellow, for the most part. It's a hard battle to win but the design of these goes a long way to getting there.

Unfortunately, because of the tendency for new resonator guitars to rapidly dilapidate in the setup department, this thing was an absolute mess when it came in despite looking new, barely-used, and sparkle-shiny. I knew the guts were good, though. The new owner of this guitar was surprised it needed as much as it did but I wasn't -- every traditional-style resonator I've seen has needed the same sort of work once it's left a factory setting even just a few years out. It's due mostly to the design flaws of the original Nationals that have been copied ever since -- namely, a dumb neck-joint design that lets said joint travel too much.

Work included a lot: resetting the neck and fitting a new stabilizer "mushroom" and new screw-mounts for the fretboard extension, new posts for the mushrooms under the dowel near the cone, compensation for the saddle, lots of fret seating and then a heavy-handed fret level/dress, and replacement of all the dots with pearl as I had to replace the 3 in the fretboard extension anyhow.

Coming out of the work, this thing sounds tops and plays beautifully and on-the-dot with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret, strung with 54w-12s in standard tuning. It has a 25" scale, a radius of about 10-12" on the board, and a medium C/V neck shape that's reminiscent of '30s Nationals. The nut is 1 3/4" for the fingerpicking crowd out there.

The blue-sparkle, faded-edge paintjob is amazing.

I love the deco-ish look of the enlarged truss cover.

The tailpiece strings under the lip in this design (as-intended). That's nice because it allows for a block of muting foam behind its lip that kills the string-afterlength overtones.

Did I mention I'm wild for coverplates that have screens in them? I just like the look and the sound and always have.

We added a strap button, too.