December 12, 2023

Guitar Materials & Innovation – Resonators and Hole Heads

In May I mentioned the awesome talent invested in Mattsen resonators after having tried one out at Mojo Sound in Wellington. Mattsen are made in Neslon, Aotearoa, New Zealand and if you are ever here you should visit Russ Mattsen at his studio and play one of his exquisitely crafted resonator guitars – they really are something else.

I thought I would have another look at interesting guitar technologies that involve innovations in materials. We`ve already had a look at the Carbon Fibre Handle so today I`m going to push the envelope and have a quick look at some NZ resonators that are made of  some rather innovative and distinctive materials, as well as another guitar that has a few extra holes in it the black bird rider.

Beltona resonators  are made in New Zealand too and are moulded from glass reinforced RESIN and coated with an automotive paint finish. They feature a coverplate moulded from carbon fibre.

This material reduces weight even further and is stronger than metal. The coverplate sound holes are now more open to give even more power and response. Indeed, guitar giant Mark Knopfler owns one so they cant be bad, and they definitely look pretty damn hot too.

The discovery of the advantages of resin over metal were in the areas of sound projection, weight, strength and ease and speed of production.

With the success of this development, Beltona had moved from producing both types of instruments to concentrating solely on those made of resin by 2002.

Next up we have the Blackbird Rider – it`s got a name that`s more bluesy than your granpappys dead warthog playing harp in a barrel of illegal whiskey.     MOONSHINE!     Anyway these instruments are manufactured from a SINGLE PIECE CARBON FIBRE moulded body with extra ports and sound-holes added into the headstock. The entire structure therefore acts as sound chamber for amplification of the vibrating strings.

Modern design technology comes into play whereby foam models are converted to CAD designs then a virtual model is fine tuned and refined until ‘perfection’ is found and a negative model then made for the hand layering of the carbon fibre body.

The rider is light and portable with steel strings or nylon strings whilst the OM is a more traditionally shaped guitar although again with a headstock that features as a sound port – a part of the unique hollow bodied approach to construction. Visit their website and check these things out! Save the trees…man.


Jake Edwards

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