Today I’m giving you some listening suggestions for music made on single-cone, biscuit bridge, or tricone resonator guitars. No square neck lap steel dobro music today.
I’ve been listening to a lot of slide and fingerstyle acoustic blues guitar lately. One of the frustrating things I’ve discovered is the search results for music made on resonator guitars are mostly tunes played on square-neck dobro style guitar, i.e., a single cone with a spider bridge. Jerry Douglass, Mike Auldridge, Rob Ickles, and others are all great dobro players, but that isn’t what I’m looking for at the moment. Even if it were, my favorite tunes by these dobro players don’t come up.
Searching for slide guitar is just as bad. Most hits are for electric slide and still manage to miss the tunes I think most important to know if you want to listen to electric slide guitar.
So, here are some of my favorite resonator guitar tunes on tricone or biscuit bridge, round-neck guitars.
Death Letter (Son House), performed by Son House
Son house performs his own composition in concert on his National Style O. It is a moving and powerful song and worth learning if you’re into resonator blues guitar.
Son House on Spotify:
Walking Blues (Robert Johnson) performed by Toby Walker
Robert Johnson recorded all of his music playing a wood-bodied, flat-top guitar. Rory Block, one of the great modern interpreters of Robert Johnson also plays a standard guitar, not a resonator. But I love this interpretation of the Robert Johnson classic by Toby Walker on a tricone.
Boogie Woogie Dance (Tampa Red) performed by Toby Walker
Tampa Red was one of the early stars who played National guitars with a slide. Boogie Woogie Dance is an instrumental and has been recorded by many contemporary players. Here is Toby Walker again, on tricone. Tampa Red’s recording is here. Mike Dowling and Steve James versions for comparison.
Toby Walker on Spotify:
Tampa Red on Spotify:
Steve James doing Guitar Rag
Steve James doing the Gina Reel
Steve James on Spotify:
Swamp Dog Blues (Mike Dowling) performed by Mike Dowling
This is a favorite tune for resonator guitarists, perhaps because Mike Dowling includes it among the tunes he teaches on a Home Spun Tapes instructional DVD he made.
Mike Dowling on Spotify:
Butt Dance by Catfish Keith
Perhaps you’re noticing the recurring names of resonator artists on this list. Toby Walker, Mike Dowling, Steve James and Catfish Keith are all resonator guitar players and most are endorsers of National Reso-Phonic instruments. I enjoy this tune a lot.
Catfish Keith on Spotify:
Macyn Taylor playing Vaseline Machine Gun (Leo Kottke) on Style O
Leo Kottke plays this on a twelve-string guitar. It sounds great on a National Style O.