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s.a.m.
Long Way Around

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 18

Keeping a Nat'l Reso Delphi in tune

Hi -

I own a '96 Delphi Nat'l Resophonic - keep it in D tuning - use 12 gauge strings - used to use 13's but was advised by a tech that the 12's would mean less neck tension therefore lower action, which I wanted.

Problem is, I find I'm constantly tuning - at the very least after every song. I replaced the original tuners with another set from Nat'l - I believe they're Gotoh's made to look like old Nat'l tuners but I still find it frustrating to have to keep tuning all the time.

(This rarlely happens when I play a standard acoustic)

I wind my strings about 4 times around the tuning post.

I play in a Jimmy Page-ish / Chris Whitley style in that, I'm not playing polite ragtime, but playing a tad more aggressively, yet not bashing the living hell out of my beloved guitar.

Any tips or info would be immensely appreciated.

Thanks,
Sam

www.myspace.com/livesammo


PS - Mucho thanks to Chris Whitley for the inspiration! It's great to have this forum to communicate with fellow fans.

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Old Post 04-06-2006 05:48 AM
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Coz
Living With The Law

Registered: Mar 2003
Location: currently working in Phoenix
Posts: 32

out of tuning

If your having that much trouble keeping yourself in tune I would do 2 things. 1st. get the guitar professionally set up by a reputable guitar tech, ask around and you'll normally get someone that everyone in town uses. DO NOT take it to someone who does not specialize in acoustic instruments or has never seen a National before. This should do the trick.

2nd Have the guitar tech show you the best way to change/wind your strings. I could explain it but it may get lost in the writing but here it goes.

attach string at base
pull string through and attach through tuner tight by hand (no wraps yet)
with finger on nut pull down slack to third fret.
bend excess (left for lower strings, right for higher)
when winding pull string up so there is tension from the very first wind.
first wind goes over hole the next three go under the excess string coming out the hole (so it's one up and usually 2 1/2 under.
Clip the end.

Sorry hard to explain on paper but when this method was taught to me some 2 decades ago it has never failed me and amongst my Gretsch's with their tempremental bigsby tremelo's, Les Paul workhorse, my cheaper Regal resonator and my new National Resolectric I am the envy of all my guitar friends cus I never, and I mean NEVER go out of tune, and I beat the piss out of guitars with my heavy finger picking, strumming etc.

Hope this helps

Coz

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Old Post 04-16-2006 05:15 PM
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s.a.m.
Long Way Around

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 18

thanks - for the tuning info

Coz -

My Delphi was set up by someone Don from Nat'l recommended to me so I wouldn't have to ship it to Cali.

I'll try your technique - It's a bit tough to get without the visual but I think I know what you're doing.

The slightly contrary info I got from Nat'l and some other players was to simply wrap the string around 4 times.

Does this apply to 3 on a plate slotted tuners? Or are yours the standard?

Thanks again, the info is greatly appreciated. Once I can lick this I'll be mucho excited.

Strangley enough, I saw a video of Chris Whitley playing live and he was tuning mid-song so I found some comfort, but assumed it might've been his older model Nat'ls being tempermental.

Sam

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Old Post 04-16-2006 05:41 PM
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Coz
Living With The Law

Registered: Mar 2003
Location: currently working in Phoenix
Posts: 32

I've had every imaginable combination of tuners on 40 something year old guitars from gretsch's and gibsons etc I have always found the one over 2-3 under technique flawless.

If it's any indication I recently pulled a guitar out of a case after 2 years. (yeah I know I should have loosened the strings if I wasn't playing it for 2 years) fact is the neck was still fine and the strings perfectly in tune.

Like I mentioned I'm known to be a VERY heavy handed plucker/strummer/bender and I rarely if ever go out of tune.

Last week had an outdoor gig at a benefit and the other guys are all concerned about tuning and being out in the heat (live in Phoenix and it's already in ther 80's) I never gave it a second thought. Stayed in tune the whole show.

Good Luck to you.

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Old Post 04-16-2006 06:10 PM
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Beyond Blues
Living With The Law

Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Stockholm via NYC
Posts: 56

Hey!
I really think this problem is in the string gauge...
The tech guy definitely miss-informed you, in regards to neck tension. Nationals (I own four) work best with heavier gauge strings, so at the very, very least 13's to keep the resonator happy, 15's to get the most out of working those cones...
This (15's) is only if you intend to keep the Delphi in open D or G tuning.
These guitars were built to handle it!
You will notice a definite improvement keeping her in tune...

12's are waaaaaaay off the mark in regards to having your National workin' up to speed... this is NOT a matter of personal taste, but time & road tested experiance.

I know you want the ease & lower action thing, but you also need to understand the capacity of the instrument you have.
You'll get used to the x-tra tension...

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Old Post 04-16-2006 08:29 PM
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s.a.m.
Long Way Around

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 18

Tuning continued

BB -

I started off w/ 13's.
Didn't mind the gauge - my neck was close to needing a reset so my tech shaved down the biscuit a tad to lower the action.
(I don't play much slide.)

I think that's why he made that comment.
He's worked on many resonators and has built some of his own (http://www.customguitars.com)
so I'm pretty sure he's aware of the capacity. I just think he wanted to prevent the neck from pulling any further away.

I'm going to slap on some 13's this week and see how it goes. It'll definitley sound fuller and I don't think the minor change should cause any problems.

I'll post my results in case anyone else has a similiar issue.

Thanks again,
s.a.m.

PS - What model Nat'ls do you have?

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Old Post 04-17-2006 03:41 AM
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Beyond Blues
Living With The Law

Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Stockholm via NYC
Posts: 56

Hey,
No disrespect intended to the tech guy... (stunning guitars BTW!)
It's just one thing I know that makes the new Nationals greatly improved over the vintage ones is the tuning & intonation issues (Even CW gave to using a new NRP style O in the last few years...).

I have a 1930 Triolian (same a CW's but with the original maple fret board).
A 1937 National woodbody Rosita (sweeeet & a fat neck).
A model 97 NRP Tricone (main touring reso built like a tank!)
& just a few days old a New NRP Style O Replicon...

The new style O is the only one that I experimented by putting lower gauge strings on (13's so I can tune standard and in open D/G for gigs where I only want to lug one heavy National!) and it does pull out of tune much more easily...
The ones with 15's, never a noticeable problem (well, the older ones get a bit cranky…)
When I first started using resonator guitars (gawd! 20+ years ago!), I was using 12’s & then gradually over the years increased the gauges in search for more tone & stability. Now it is practically impossible to go back!

I’ve actually got my own custom gauge set of strings here in Stockholm for open tunings on resos, where lower action/fretting with or without sliding is desired…
http://www.jam.se/resonatorgitarrer.htm (scroll down just a wee bit on the page).
Not boasting (I get no money to endorse…), just that I had to create something that didn’t exists here for folks who play these fantastic instruments, but are limited to acoustic guitar standard gauges or “resonator strings” that are like barbed wire & only intended for sliders…

BTW, Is the problem in the treble strings with regards to tuning?
Then I would suggest a standard 13 set but exchange the high E for a 14… (maybe also an 18 for the B).
It’s a good start to stabilize the strings and keep the tuning consistent when grabbing those strangs, without killing your fingers.
Also, there is a great acoustic guitar forum specificly geared ´for resonator inst's; http://www.guitarseminars.com/cgi-b...+Forum&number=1
It is extreemly useful in regards to trouble shooting the complexity of a national.

Anyway,
Hope some of this is useful…
B
PS, I just checked your myspace page...
Hey man, I grew up in Brooklyn!
Lived there most of life up till 8 yrs ago.
Tiny woild bruddah!

PPS, listening to your "Bitchin'..." Right on bro!

Last edited by Beyond Blues on 04-17-2006 at 08:38 AM

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Old Post 04-17-2006 08:17 AM
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s.a.m.
Long Way Around

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 18

Tuning Results

B.B. & Coz

Thanks for the info.

I put 13's on my Delphi and it's been behaving better. Not to mention the improved tone...

A friend also suggested to add a loop (almost like a knot/ noose) around the string before the winding process. Although I didn't do this on my Nat'l yet, I did do it on my acoustic and it really held tune well.

Thanks again,
s.a.m.

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Old Post 04-28-2006 06:29 PM
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Beyond Blues
Living With The Law

Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Stockholm via NYC
Posts: 56

Excellent!
The only thing with the "loop" on a slotted headstock is it can be a bitch when changing strings to unloop (folks around here really know I'm from B'klyn when I gets frustrated).
I usually just make sure there are more than 4 winds & there is no space between...

On my new style O the B string keeps popping out of the slot when I pick a little too hard.
Don't want to file a deeper slot because the action is just right...
So there is always something to tweak with these tin cans!
B

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Old Post 04-28-2006 06:39 PM
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s.a.m.
Long Way Around

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 18

A possible fix...

BB -

Does it pop out of the biscuit or the nut?

I had the same problem with my low E string slipping off the biscuit bridge and (although it's frowned upon)
I understrung it under the tailpiece to create more tension at the bridge and it worked. If you do this you'll want to put some felt under the string to prevent scratches to the surface.

Cheers,
s.a.m.

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Old Post 04-28-2006 07:24 PM
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Beyond Blues
Living With The Law

Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Stockholm via NYC
Posts: 56

hmm? I'll give that a try...
Under stringinging on just the B shouldn't be a threat.
Thanks!

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Old Post 04-28-2006 10:01 PM
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Beyond Blues
Living With The Law

Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Stockholm via NYC
Posts: 56

OK, tried it but it didn't work out.
The stress from just the B string pulled the saddle up & leand against the cover plate which muted the tone of that string...
Was worth a go though!
thnx

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Old Post 04-28-2006 10:25 PM
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s.a.m.
Long Way Around

Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 18

Finally Corrected the Tuning Issue

by sending my Delphi to Nat'l Reso in Cali (the mothership)
for a neck reset.

That's why it wouldn't stay in tune.

Those guys did a kick ass job. I would strongly recommend sending your Nat'l there if you need work done.

Thanks for your tips.

Cheers,
Sammo


www.myspace.com'livesammo
www.livesammo.com

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Old Post 02-04-2007 04:46 PM
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