A great vintage-style resonator guitar.
by Teja Gerken
November 04, 2019
Founded and spearheaded by luthier Paul Beard, Maryland–based Beard Guitars is best known for its innovative contemporary dobro-style resonator guitars. Beard’s open-soundwell design results in a big sound with great volume and clarity, and the company has also refined its cone design, with the Beard Legend cone now an industry standard. But besides building hot-rodded instruments for dobro stars such as Jerry Douglas, Josh Swift, and Mike Auldridge (all of whom have signature models), the company also builds more traditional instruments. Recently, Beard Guitars introduced a vintage-inspired line of Deco Phonic models that includes three resonators and three flattop acoustics. Peghead Nation dobro instructor Mike Witcher recently stopped by our video studio to record new lessons for his Beginning Dobro and Dobro Workshop courses using a Beard Deco Phonic Model 27, and we took the opportunity to have him demo the instrument.
The Deco Phonic Model 27 is inspired by Mike Auldrige’s vintage Dobro, which he used on all his early albums. As with many vintage Dobros, the guitar’s body is built with birch veneer and has a satin sunburst finish. A nickel tailpiece, “fan” cover plate, and screens over the two soundholes further contribute to the traditional appearance. The guitar also includes Beard’s triple-spun Legend cone and Original #14 spider.
The instrument not only captures the looks of a traditional Dobro, it also delivers the tonal goods. “I love how it sounds,” says Mike Witcher. “It’s very clear, has good note definition, the low-end is clear, and it really projects well. If you’re looking for that 1930s Dobro sound, this thing has it!”
SPECS: Squareneck resonator guitar. Finnish birch veneer top, back, and sides. Solid maple neck. 25-inch scale. Beard triple-spun Legend cone and original #14 spider. Fan cover plate. Golden Age Restoration tuners. $1,600 street.beardguitars.com
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