Our recent experience of reviewing the excellent Messer Lightning resonator guitar left such an impression that our attention turned to the possibility of improving a lesser instrument – a flashy and extremely heavy Ozark 3515 that had been sitting unloved for several years. Like most guitars that don’t sound particularly good, it didn’t get played much. Compared to the Messer it was quieter, lacking in bass, treble and sustain, and buzzy to boot. Could we upgrade the Ozark to make it play and sound more like the Messer… and if so, what would it take?
Modding resonator guitars seems to be an increasingly popular pastime. Some claim vast improvements, while others find the outcome hardly worth the trouble and expense. We consulted a few experts in the field, and it seems that absolutely everything is important with resonators. If one component is a little ‘off ’, the whole guitar under-performs. Also, resonators have to be set up just right to bring out the best tone, which means setting the neck angle and the break angle over the bridge as well as the action and choosing the right strings. There seem to be no set rules: things will vary from guitar to guitar and cone to cone.
Undaunted by the mass of information, we decided to have a go. After all, if it turned out that we couldn’t significantly improve the Ozark it might save others from wasting their time and money. On the other hand, we couldn’t pass up a opportunity to disprove all the doubters. So after drawing up a ‘to do’ list it was time to get started.
106 Guitar & Bass FEBRUARY 2012
Contacts www.allpartsuk.com www.newtonestrings.com www.stewmac.com http://michaelmesser.proboards.com www.beardguitars.com www.deltaresonatorcones.co.uk
● Selection of screwdrivers ● Usual string changing tools ● Flat head screws ● 4000 and 6000 grade micro mesh cloths ● Fine needle files ● Centre punch