An innovative resonator guitar with excellent acoustic and amplified tones.
by Teja Gerken
May 25, 2017
Luthier Paul Beard’s Maryland-based company Beard Guitars builds some of the finest and most coveted resophonic guitars around. Beard’s squareneck dobro-style instruments are played by many of today’s top resophonic guitarists and the company also makes roundneck models that can be played with standard guitar techniques. Beard’s new Copper Mountain line offers both squareneck and roundneck guitars at considerably lower prices than standard Beard models, and we recently had a chance to check out a Roundneck Copper Mountain that included an optional pickup package. (Check back for a Peghead Nation demo of a squareneck model soon.)
The most distinctive and unusual feature of Copper Mountain guitars is their backs and sides, which are made from a composite material instead of wood. The solid black back is shaped like a traditional body, so the composite material doesn’t give it an unfamiliar feel or appearance. More traditional construction elements include the guitar’s laminated Finnish birch top, maple neck, and ebony fingerboard, and the resonator combines Beard’s triple-spun Legend cone and original #14 spider.
The Copper Mountain base models don’t include electronics, but our demo instrument had a dual pickup setup with a Fishman Nashville Series pickup mounted in the bridge and a Lollar Silver Foil magnetic pickup mounted to the top. The two pickups are routed through a Fishman Powerchip onboard preamp powered by a nine-volt battery.
Played acoustically or with amplification, the Roundneck Copper Mountain is a really fun guitar. The guitar’s stock setup makes the action low enough to comfortably fret with the fingers and high enough to play with a slide. The spider-style resonator creates a sound closer to that of a dobro than most roundneck resonator guitars (which often have National-style “biscuit” resonators), and the result is very cool note clarity, a nice midrange punch, and plenty of volume. Plugged in, the guitar offers astonishing tonal variety. While the Fishman bridge pickup essentially delivers a louder version of the acoustic sound, the Lollar adds more of an electric guitar quality, and depending on how the tone controls are set, delivers a warm and fat sound or an assertive bite that will cut through any mix.
Although the Copper Mountain is more affordable than other Beard guitars, it clearly doesn’t compromise on tone, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile resophonic guitar.
SPECS: Roundneck resonator guitar. Laminated Finnish birch top. Composite back and sides. Mahogany neck. 25-inch scale. Beard triple-spun Legend cone and original #14 spider. Fan cover plate. Enclosed chrome tuners. Fishman Nashville Series and Lollar Silver Foil pickups. Fishman Powerchip preamp. $2,450 as shown (base models without electronics start at $1,700). beardguitars.com
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