Paul Beard Gold Tone Square Resonator
I have added two new instruments to my collection, and I hope to be using them in the studio in my upcoming work. My favorite of the two is my new Gold Tone Paul Beard Square Neck Resonator. It is not one of his expensive hand made models; it is a Chinese knock-off that I purchased through his shop. The workmanship is less than what you might expect for a $1000 instrument: it certainly could have been better. There are scratches under the varnish, the neck is a bit crooked and the finish has some bad spots; but the good news is that it has great tone. In fact, the tone is comparable to resonators costing three times as much. I had it set up at the Beard shop before being shipped out, and the set-up is great. I have been playing it a lot, trying to get used to the differences between this instrument and my Dobro brand resonator. I can tell you that the Gold Tone is far and away a better sounding instrument than my Dobro. I think that if you are looking for a lower end price range resonator, you can’t really go wrong with a Gold Tone. But I would definitely suggest that you buy it through the Beard shop so that they can set it up for you. Music stores often have someone to set up instruments, and most of them don’t know what they are doing. So if you don’t buy it through Beard, then expect to have to take it to a person in your area who has a great reputation with the musicians. I’ll include a few pics below.
Bruce Weber Octave Mandolin
My latest instrument is a Weber Octave Mandolin. I wasn’t as lucky with this purchase as I was with the Gold Tone Resonator. Weber has a good reputation in the mandolin world, so I purchased it sight unseen from the factory, through The Mandolin Store, in Arizona. I studied them quite a bit before the purchase, and liked what people were saying about them. The salesman at the Mandolin Store told me that all the Mandolins they receive from Weber have setup problems from the factory, and that they would do an expert setup on the instrument before shipping it out to me. That didn’t happen, for whatever reason, and the Mandolin has setup problems; such a buzzing frets at the factory recommended string/bridge settings, as well as a nut that is way to tight. It is a bear to get tuned. To keep the frets from buzzing I have to raise the G strings quite a bit higher than what they should be, and that makes it hard to play. I contacted Bruce Weber at the factory and told him of the problems, and he blew me off. He told me his mandolins were perfect from the factory, and that If I didn’t like it, I could fix it myself. It’s too bad he came off like such a prima-donna. He also used a very low grade of wood on the back that is not book-matched from a single piece of maple. Generally, instruments in the $3200 range will have high quality book-matched wood. I asked him why he didn’t use a better grade, and he told me the problem was my attitude, and that he would not be speaking with me again. I guess he can’t tell the difference between disappointment and attitude. And he seems to project his own attitude onto others. Oh well, the exchange was not very productive for either of us.
But, the Weber instruments are mostly machine made, on machines that cut the necks and fronts and backs, so there is a good level of consistency in their quality. It is an above average instrument, with good tone, and a finish that is about average for the industry. There are a few spots where the finish could have used more attention, but, it is what it is. If I had it to do over again, I would not purchase an instrument from them, and certainly not sight-unseen. Live and learn. The Weber company has just recently been bought-out by “Two Old Hippies,” the company that bought-out Breedlove. And the brand will be moved to the Bend, Oregon facility; to be made in the same building as Breedlove and Bedell guitars. I don’t imagine the quality is going to go up on them. It will be interesting to see how Webers, built by “Two Old Capitalists,” will compare to the ones that were made in Montana. Maybe we will be seeing some Chinese Webers in the near future. It can’t be good. When accountants build instruments, quality suffers.
I have made an appointment with a instrument repairman in Eugene, and will be taking the mandolin to him to get it repaired. And no, Weber will not be picking up the bill. I think once I get it fixed, I will be satisfied with it. I mostly want to add it to my studio work, and the low grade wood doesn’t effect the tone: It just isn’t as nice to look at as it should be for that price. I think if I ever buy another mandolin, I will go with Collings (or an independent builder). They use much better wood, and their finishes are better. Collings’ instruments are far superior to Weber’s, so be sure and compare them side-by-side before you purchase one. And by all means, don’t ever purchase a Weber Mandolin sight-unseen: you may be taking your chances.