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Moonshine Resolectro: from wall hanger to back in rotation...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by moonshinegtrs, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    I built this back in 2008, it was the first thin body resonator bass I had ever built (I had been building acoustic/electric with thicker bodies as well as a set neck thin body resonator guitar since 2000).

    I was never really happy with the passive electronics; the lipstick pickup looked cool but was low output (as Dano pickups should be) and it never really matched up with the piezo.

    Still it didn't sound bad, just different. I played it out from time to time including my wedding in 2009...

    But after awhile it just became a decoration for my shop then finally put in a gig bag and basically forgotten about.

    Recently I put together an acoustic group to play restaurants, coffee shops, etc.. Originally I was going to use my Tanglewood ACB (a really nice bass with updated electronics) and a Hadean Uke Bass (I had a 20" scale model that I really liked, I ended up selling it and getting a 24" model) but the new Hadean Uke bass had problems from the start (the A string tuner broke as I was tuning it for the first time... Rondo is sending me a replacement). There is also the intonation issue (Bridge saddle is straight across as opposed to being slanted the correct way).

    Even with the issues, I really like the larger Uke bass. I will make a new bridge with the saddle in the correct position and allow the string action to be slightly higher. The problem is I am slammed with orders (not really a problem per se... ;)) and have no time to waste working on my own instruments... You ought to see me personal "repair pile", I told my wife if I was to kick the bucket to auction off the entire shop and inventory in one lot, the person that gets it will be one happy camper.


    A couple of days before the gig my Son commented on a picture I had posted on FB about an acoustic gig coming up this weekend. He asked if I was going to play the other resonator bass I still own; a full scale reso bass with an oversize body (the Beast). It's a beautiful, big ass bass. very over the top. I love it but I didn't want something so "flashy" for a stripped down style gig. Plus the idea for this band is to have a small footprint and as I mentioned, the Beast is a big bass.
    (Self gratuitous Beast pic...)

    His comment made me think of the Resolectro bass I had stashed away, I dug it out and it was in not too bad condition; the neck had a slight overbow, there was some places where the top was starting to separate from the rim of the body and it was in need of a setup.

    At first, I decided it was too much trouble, as I mentioned earlier I wasn't overly thrilled with the way it sounded. I had planned to redo the electronics and add a pre amp/buffer; years ago I had ordered a Schatten Artist II preamp for this bass but never bothered to install it.

    Cut to 3am Friday morning, I woke up thinking about the bass. The more I thought about it the more awake I became so headed to the shop and got started on it.

    Here it is as I'm taking it apart...

    Here it is with the cover removed; It's cool to see how much the clear coat has yellowed.
    (you can see the separating in the top/rim in this pic)

    I had forgot about it but I discovered that the bass had intonation problems (live it wasn't much of an issue as I usually stay in the "money spot" but I tried to use it in the studio and it quickly became apparent). I modified the bridge saddles, the original saddles were maple with ebony caps but this time I used rosewood and moved the contact area back until the intonation was dead on (I realized early on when I built this bass that I didn't take the string height into account when marking the placement for the bridge... Lesson learned).

    As mentioned earlier, the low output of the lipstick tube pickup didn't help with the overall sound of the bass; without an EQ the piezo by itself transfers the sound of the aluminum spyder part of the resonator assembly, this is the larger 10 1/2" Dobro or spyder style of resonator (the aluminum cone sits inside of the body like a speaker and the aluminum spyder supports the bridge saddles above the cone. It is held there by and the tension between the two is adjusted via a small diameter machine screw that mounts between the bridge saddles). The other popular resonator style is the 9 1/2" National or biscuit style of cone; this cone sits around 1 1/2" into the resonator body and the cone protrudes out of the top opposite of the dobro style (think of a speaker mounted backwards with the magnet sticking out of the enclosure), the bridge saddle is mounted into a slot in a small wooden disc (or biscuit) that is attached to the top of the resonator cone via a small wood screw from inside of the cone.

    Roughly, the larger 10 1/2" Dobro style cone sounds warmer with more sustain while the smaller 9 1/2" National style cone sounds brighter with a more percussive sound.

    There is also a third style of resonator cone: the Tri cone. It is a combination of both of the other styles using three small cones and uses an aluminum T shaped spyder to mount the saddle above the cones. I've haven't used this style... Yet ;).

    This concludes Moonshine's simplified guide to resonator cones... :D
    Sorry for the rambling.

    Anyhoo... Because the piezo is mounted on the aluminum spyder, with no EQ it sounds bright... very bright and metallic.

    combined with the single lipstick tube pickup (which along with being low output, the Dano pickups are known for being bright and jingly), the overall amplified sound was too bright and clean which is how the tapewounds ended up on it. I could get a good sound but it was obtained by some serious tweaking of the EQ knobs on my amp. I decided to go ahead and install the Schatten preamp and look for another pickup to help me towards the sound I was hearing in my head for this bass...

    I have always been a fan of the early P bass single coils and I really like Seymour Duncan's Quarter Pounder version; overwound, hot and kind of nasty sounding... Perfect for what I was looking for.

    I had never thought about it until now but when I sat the SCPB3 over the Lipstick tube I was surprised to find that they were basically the same dimensions! The Single coil P has an extrusion where the coil wires attach to the leads but this bass is hollow so it slipped right into position. I also had to make a 3/4" riser block to fit under the SCPB3 due to the lipstick tube's adjustment screws are through the back of the bass body. I wish everything was that simple.

    I replaced the original pots and added a third hole to the body; originally it was a passive volume and tone and the tone pot had a push/push switch built in to activate the piezo. It worked okay except that you could hear a bright mechanical "clank"... the sound of the push switch physically operating. it wasn't extremely loud but loud enough to be annoying.

    I changed the controls to Vol. (SCPB3), Vol. (Piezo) and tone (SCPB3 only) I did not put a tone on the piezo. The controls for the SCPB3 are passive leading into the preamp.

    I did a quick set up on the bass but other than adjusting the neck the bass was in good shape. I also glued up the separations in the body, I'm leaving the finish as is, I like it this way (the pearloid that I used for the headstock veneer is real nitrocellulose; it ages/darkens quickly). I also replaced the metal knobs (amazing how heavy they are!) and replaced them with Gibson style top hat knobs... that go to Eleven! (cheesy I know)...

    I used it for the whole show Saturday night.

    It has a really cool unique sound; very acoustic, it sounds like a resonator but the SCPB3 gives it the bottom end that is needed for this sound to work. You can blend between the two pickups by manipulating the volume controls (like a jazz bass) and the tone helps to warm it up as well. I'm extremely pleased with the way it came out.

    There was some audio and video recorded at the gig, I'll try to get a sound clip posted.

    Moonshine :bassist:
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
    cool breeze, dbsfgyd1, 40Hz and 18 others like this.
  2. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Fantastic writeup, and a sincere thank you for the mini guide to resonator systems :) but, um, how is the thin reso bass less flashy and over the top than the big one? It's aqua/turquoise/whatever that is, for Pete's sake! :D
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  3. Mark76


    Dec 1, 2015
    I kind of want one.

    Make sure you do. Our perseverance deserves a reward :p

    Did anyone ask after the bass after the show?
    Fat Freddy and moonshinegtrs like this.
  4. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Ha! I put a SCPB single-coil at the end of the neck of a Dean acoustic bass.... yeah, it brings the "thump." Deam ABG 2.JPG
    n4vgm, johnson79, nixdad and 2 others like this.
  5. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    That's Badass!

    Moonshine. :bassist:
  6. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    Hey you have your perspective and I have mine... :D

    The green one is short scale and more subdued (IMHO, YMMV, ETC...) while the yellow one is long scale and 5 1/4" deep and (more) brightly colored...

    If you happened to notice in the pictures between the wedding day gig and last Saturdays hair has been lost and pounds have been gained.

    Having a rotund bass player holding onto a rotund bass does not make for an attractive stage setting.

    Not that the thin green one helped that much either...

    Moonshine. :bassist:
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  7. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Very nice, Moonshine! Thanks for the detailed info. I added a lipstick pu to a short scale Resonator bass which works pretty good. Not thrilled w/ the short scale neck [too small for me] and need to find a proper set of strings to make it work better [hopefully].
  8. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    Point taken... I do tend to ramble, even when writing (as I tell my wife "if you think it's bad out there, you ought to be in here! :woot:)

    Yes, I had a few people come up and comment about it, some even beyond "that pretty green guitar with the hubcap on it".

    I'll take any compliment I can get.
    Mark76 likes this.
  9. Grumry


    Jul 6, 2016
    That's awesome!
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  10. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    I'm still searching for the right strings myself.

    I put an old set of flatwounds on it today then changed over to a new set of Labella white tapewounds... i think i'll go back to the black ones.

    I'd like to try a set of low tension flats... TI's maybe?

    Moonshine. :bassist:
  11. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    I was thinking TI flats since I have more than a few old [and I mean old] sets laying around. Some here on TB say they've used long scale TI's on short scale basses without problems. Might give that a try.
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  12. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    If you do, please post and let me know your results.

    Moonshine :bassist:
  13. jaymelewis


    Jan 6, 2010
    Fillmore, CA
    looks awesome dude!
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  14. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    Thanks Man!

    I built a few of these after this one (larger acoustic style ones as well) but haven't done any in several years. I've been wanting to get back to these (hoped to at the beginning of this year) but other work has prevented that from happening (not a bad thing!). I am talking with a couple of prospective customers about this style of reso bass, with any luck I'll have new ones out early next year.

    It's good to be in a band setting where the sound of this bass fits perfectly.

    Moonshine :bassist:
    Fat Freddy likes this.
  15. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here's my Fender Bucket-T with an EMG pickup near the neck (includes a blend knob to mix with the stock piezo in the bridge as well.)
    moonshinegtrs and Fat Freddy like this.
  16. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    I REALLY want one :D:hyper:
    moonshinegtrs and nixdad like this.
  17. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue

    Oct 9, 2016
    It's gorgeous! Such a unique and exciting design.

    Kinda wouldn't mind playin' one of those myself.

    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    @moonshinegtrs - I absolutely live for stories like this one! Thanks for sharing and taking the time to do such a detailed write-up. Lots of good info in there. Learned something about resonators I never knew. How cool is that?

    Thx again! :thumbsup:
    moonshinegtrs and Fat Freddy like this.
  19. dbsfgyd1

    dbsfgyd1 Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Richmond , Va
    That is a really cool piece. Thanks for posting.
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  20. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars

    @nixdad That's one cool set up! How does it sound?

    Are you running the EMG through the preamp or are you blending it after the preamp?

    Very Cool! I love stuff like this.

    Moonshine :bassist:
    Fat Freddy and nixdad like this.

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