How to Care for Resonator Guitars

Updated April 17, 2017

Resonator guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have high action and square necks. They are played lap-style like a dobro. Some resonators have action similar to that of a regular acoustic guitar.They are fretted and played like a guitar. A resonator guitar may have a wooden body with a resonator, or the guitar body itself may be completely metal. Taking care of your resonator involves regular maintenance and cleaning. Keeping it clean and in good working condition ensures a better-quality tone and sound. You won't have to worry about strange rattles and buzzing noises.

Set up a workplace for the resonator guitar. Place a towel or blanket underneath the guitar to protect the guitar finish.

Remove the strings. Loosen the tuners. Pull the strings out of the tuners and clip the ends with wire cutters. Pull the strings through the bridge and saddle.

Inspect the tuners. Tighten loose tuners with a small Phillips-head screwdriver. If the tuners are too tight, loosen them slightly with the screwdriver. If the tuners seem a little sticky, spray them with a small amount of WD-40. Wipe off any excess oil with a clean rag.

Examine the pitch of the neck. Look down the neck from the headstock toward the saddle. The neck should be straight. If it is bowed or slanted, it needs to be adjusted. Necks on resonator guitars are adjusted with the truss rod. It is best to have a professional adjust the neck if you are inexperienced.

Remove the cover plate. Loosen the two screws that are set at the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions. Don't fully remove them yet. Loosen the remaining screws and remove the cover. Resonator guitars use a variety of resonator styles. Some are single-cone, others have two cones, and some have three. The cones are responsible for the majority of the guitar's sound and tone. Clean the cones with window cleaner and a soft guitar cloth. Replace the cover.

Put new strings on the guitar. Tune it and play a few tunes to see how it sounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel or blanket
  • Wire cutter
  • WD-40
  • Rags
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Guitar polishing clothes
  • Guitar polish
  • Metal polish
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About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.