Wednesday, 26 October 2011

So-called Art Deco resonator guitar with over-the-top finish and baked bean can detail

There's no denying that the artwork on this old acoustic guitar (a so-called "Customised Resonator Guitar" even) has been beautifully executed. It is supposedly Art Deco inspired, although I think it is rather too busy to fit in faithfully with that genre. The playing cards around the sides of the guitar are really one step too far and lend it a tacky Las Vegas look rather than one of sophistication which I believe was the desired effect.

What really spoils it is the base from a catering-size tin of baked beans that has been inset where the soundhole once inoffensively appeared. I usually try not to sink to lowest common denominators when describing guitars like this, but in this instance all I can think to say is that it looks crap. Pairing this with a second soundhole insert, quite obviously a strainer intended to sit over the plughole in the kitchen sink, does nothing to help matters. Yes, by all means use these elements on cigar box guitars; they seem to make some sense there and indeed are part of the charm of such instruments. But on an instrument that is trying to look sophisticated, such elements could not be more out of place.

Furthermore, shoving the bottom of a baked bean tin into the top of your guitar will not magically transform it into a resonator. The spun aluminium cone of a resonator guitar is a fine piece of precision engineering. Its function cannot be replicated with the bottom of a bean tin with a few holes punched in it. All that is going to do is to create a few more spurious vibrations and cause the guitar to rattle.

You might consider this a nice example of a piece of folk art and that the Buy It Now price of £270 would be money well spent, but personally I'd give it a miss. If it does actually sound any good, it'll be by accident rather than design. Note that in the YouTube video showing the guitar, the video finishes just before the guitar is about to get played. That alone speaks volumes!

G L Wilson

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