Orville Johnson demonstrates his custom metal resonator guitar.
by Teja Gerken
September 17, 2015
Guitarists who wish to purchase a custom wood-body guitar have countless options, but if you want a metal-body resonator guitar, your choices dwindle to a small handful. Luthier and metal worker Ron Phillips is one of a very few makers who specialize in individually-made resonator instruments. Having started building guitars loosely based on the National design in 1992, Phillips now offers a wide range of sizes and models, including metal-body ukes and mandolins.
Peghead Nation Blues Guitar instructor Orville Johnson has owned his R.E. Phillips Large Parlor model since 1999. He first met Phillips at the Centrum Blues Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington and was impressed with his guitars. He also liked that Phillips builds virtually everything (except for the tuning machines) himself, spinning the cones, doing the woodwork on the neck, etc.
Johnson’s guitar, which he demonstrates in this video and plays in several of his Blues Guitar course lessons, has a cutaway body made from German silver, a biscuit-style resonator, and an African mahogany neck. He uses light-gauge strings and keeps it set up with action that works well for both slide and standard playing. The guitar is also outfitted with a Schertler pickup.
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