This guide to the best resonator guitars should help you find something that works for your needs. These are excellent guitars, but they’re quite different from regular acoustic instruments. Here’s all you need to know about the resonator.

Quick Look: Best Resonator Guitars

#1 Best Resonator Guitar Overall: Gold Tone PBR-CA

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If you enjoy blues, bluegrass, country, folk, and similar music styles, you’ll probably want to own at least one resonator guitar. This is the ideal instrument for these styles of music. The resonator produces a unique tone when compared to other guitars.

What Is a Resonator Guitar?

The resonator guitar is often called a steel guitar or a dobro guitar. It’s different from a regular acoustic guitar because it has a lot of metal pieces.

These metal pieces or resonators transfer vibrations from the guitar strings through this metal in a cone shape. These cones are either a spider, biscuit, or tricone style.

a guitarist holding a resonator guitar

The instrument was created in 1927 by John Dopyera and George Beauchamp. They formed the National String Instrument Corporation and produced their brand name “National” guitar.

Today, this acoustic instrument is still popular. This guide to the best resonator guitars will help you pick one to meet your needs.

Types of Resonator Guitars

There are several different types of resonator guitars. Some resonators are made out of wood, while others are made out of metal. You’ll have to decide which type you want.

There are also resonators that you use on your lap and ones you can use like a regular acoustic guitar. They’re called squareneck and roundneck, which are described below.

Wood Resonator Guitar

This instrument has a wood body along with the metal resonator parts. It’s one of the most common types of resonator guitars on the market.

Metal Resonator Guitar

The metal resonator guitar has a body that’s made out of metal. The neck is still wood, but the body features metal resonator parts and has a metal frame.

Square Neck Resonator

This type of resonator guitar is played on the lap. The player will use a slide to produce the sound and instrument tone. It’s often used in bluegrass music.

Round Neck Resonator

The round neck resonator is played like a regular acoustic guitar. You can use a regular pick, slide, or your fingers to play this type of resonator.

Best Resonator Guitar Brands

There are several manufacturers of resonator guitars. Here are some of the better ones that you might want to consider buying an instrument from.

Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch was founded in 1883 and has been making guitars since the 1930s. They’re based out of Georgia in the United States. They make a wide range of instruments, including resonator guitars.

Recording King

This company has been making guitars since the 1930s. The instruments are put together in China but inspected in the United States before being put up for sale. They offer a wide range of resonator guitars in various price ranges.

Gold Tone

They started production in 1993. They originally made banjos, but now they also make resonator guitars and other instruments. They’re based out of Florida in the United States.

Beard Guitars

Beard Guitars started production in 1985. They’re based out of Maryland in the United States. They make a wide range of resonator style guitars as well as other instruments.

Top 10 Best Resonator Guitars Overall

The instruments outlined below all make solid choices. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your playing level or budget.

1. Resonator Gretsch G9200

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 15.75″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Mahogany, padauk, ebony, gloss finish
  • Best for: Beginners that want an easy to play resonator guitar

The Gretsch G9200 is a good introduction to resonator guitars. It’s easy to play, has a great tone, and comes in at a low price for any beginner. It has a spider-style bridge and solid tuning machines, making it a good choice.

Pros:
✅ Round neck
✅ Medium jumbo frets
✅ Vintage tailpiece
✅ Great tone
Cons:
❌ Low cost
❌ No case

Why I Recommend It

I like that the neck on this guitar is a V shape and comfortable to hold. It has a good tone for its price, so beginners will feel comfortable and have fun playing it. You can’t get much better for this price as a beginner.

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2. Recording King RR-41-VS

  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Fingerboard radius: 15″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Mahogany, padauk, sitka spruce, gloss finish
  • Best for: Beginner/intermediate players looking to pick up a resonator guitar for a low cost

The Recording King RR-41-VS is a resonator guitar that has a bone nut and saddle, so it stays in tune and sounds great. The pedestal soundwell projects a loud tone, so this guitar resonates with the tone you need. It has a biscuit-style bridge and is made of solid wood.

Pros:
✅ Nice tone
✅ Solid construction
✅ Bone nut and saddle
✅ Easy playing
Cons:
❌ No case
❌ No extras

Why I Recommend It

The Recording King RR-41-VS is a nice low-cost resonator. It has a good tone and craftsmanship. You won’t pay a lot for it, and it’ll give you the sound you need as a beginner player. It has what you need to sound great.

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3. Rogue Classic Spider Resonator

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 16″
  • Frets: 21
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Mahogany, spruce, rosewood, gloss finish
  • Best for: Those with a minimal budget

The Rogue Classic Spider Resonator is a simple guitar, but it has a good sound for the price. It’s ideal if you don’t have a lot to spend but want to try this type of guitar. It’s made with good wood and is the perfect introductory guitar.

Pros:
✅ Solid wood
✅ Decent tone
✅ Bass tailpiece
✅ Nice position markers
Cons:
❌ Tuning pegs could be better
❌ No case

Why I Recommend It

The Rogue Classic Spider is a simple resonator guitar designed for beginners looking for their first guitar in this style. It has a good tone, the neck is comfortable, and it has a reasonable price.

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4. Gold-Tone Paul Beard PBS Roundeck Resonator

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 18″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: Optional
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Mahogany, select wood, ebony, gloss finish
  • Best for: Intermediate players that want a reliable resonator guitar

The Gold Tone Paul Beard PBS Roundneck is the perfect guitar for styles such as bluegrass and blues. It has a great tone as well as an easy-playing neck. You can get it with a pickup if you prefer.

Pros:
✅ Comes with a case
✅ Great tone
✅ Nice tailpiece
✅ Die-cast machine heads
Cons:
❌ A bit expensive
❌ The finish could be a bit better

Why I Recommend It

The Gold Tone PBS Roundback comes in at under $1,000, making it a good choice for an intermediate player. You can get it with a pickup if you prefer, and it has a good tone for many different musical styles.

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5. Regal RC-43 Antique Nickel Plated Body Resonator

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 16″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Steel, rosewood, gloss finish
  • Best for: Intermediate or advanced players that want a solid resonator guitar

The Regal RC-43 is a solid guitar for intermediate players. I like the biscuit bridge and all-metal construction. It has a good tone and the reliability that you want. The open-gear tuners also help to stabilize the tuning.

Pros:
✅ Open gear tuners
✅ Great tone
✅ Nice neck
✅ Solid construction
Cons:
❌ No case
❌ No extras

 

Why I Recommend It

The Regal RC-43 is an exceptional resonator guitar. The all-metal construction provides an excellent tone. It’s easy to play, and it has a nice comfortable neck. The open-gear tuners help keep this instrument in perfect tune.

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6. Recording King RM-993 Resonator Guitar

  • Scale length: 24.4″
  • Fingerboard radius: 12″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation, satin finish
  • Material & finish: Rosewood, mahogany, bell brass
  • Best for: Intermediate players that want a steel body resonator

The Recording King RM-993 is a solid guitar. It has a biscuit bridge, a bone nut, and a handspun resonator core for a great tone. It won’t break your bank account, so it’s a good choice for any intermediate player.

Pros:
✅ Good tone
✅ Metal body
✅ Solid tuners
✅ Bone nut
Cons:
❌ No case
❌ Worn finish look

Why I Recommend It

The Recording King RM-993 is a nice resonator guitar for a good price. I like the bone nut, as it keeps the tuning stable. The body is a little smaller than normal, so it’s comfortable to hold, and it produces a nice tone.

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7. Gold Tone PBR-D Paul Beard Resonator Guitar

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: N/A
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Maple, ebony, high gloss finish
  • Best for: Advanced players that have a lower budget

The Gold Tone PBR-D is a nice looking resonator. It has solid tuners and produces a great sound. It’s designed for a professional but has a lower cost than some guitars. I like the inlays, which add to the great look of this instrument.

Pros:
✅ Die-cast tuners
✅ Solid maple wood
✅ Good neck
✅ Attractive finish
Cons:
❌ No case
❌ A bit expensive

Why I Recommend It

The Gold Tone PBR-D looks like it’s worth more than it is. You get a great tone out of this guitar, and it’s built with solid wood. It has a great sunburst finish and is the ideal choice for any professional with a modest budget.

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8. Beard Guitars Deco Phonic Model 57 Squareneck

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 16″
  • Frets: 19″
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation, case
  • Material & finish: Maple, morado, birch veneer, gloss finish
  • Best for: Professionals looking for solid resonator tone and reliability

For those looking to play lap steel, the Beard Deco Phonic Model 57 is the right choice. This guitar is comfortable to play, and it has an excellent tone, thanks to the solid wood design.

Pros:
✅ Good tuners
✅ Excellent tone
✅ Nickel tailpiece
✅ Bone nut
Cons:
❌ Expensive
❌ Strings may need adjustment

Why I Recommend It

This guitar has solid tuners, an excellent tone, a bone nut, a nickel tailpiece, and it’s easy to hold. This is an exceptional squareneck guitar for any professional that wants a top-quality resonator.

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9. Beard Guitars Copper Mountain Roundneck Resonator

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 16″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation, gig bag
  • Material & finish: Composite, birch laminate, ebony, gloss finish
  • Best for: Advanced players looking for a superior roundneck resonator

The Beard Copper Mountain Roundneck is the ideal resonator for those that want to play lead guitar. I like the cutaway, as it makes it easy to access the higher frets. It’s made with solid wood, sounds great, and is easy to play.

Pros:
✅ Cutaway
✅ Easy to play
✅ Solid wood
✅ Bone nut
Cons:
❌ No hardshell case
❌ Expensive

Why I Recommend It

The Copper Mountain Roundneck from Beard is a good guitar. It’s not too often you can find one of these instruments with a cutaway. I also like the bone nut, as this helps stabilize the tuning. This guitar is a clear winner.

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10. Gretsch G9221 Bobtail Roundneck Resonator

  • Scale length: 25″
  • Fingerboard radius: 15.75″
  • Frets: 19
  • Pickup type: N/A
  • Body shape: Resonator
  • What’s included in the box: Guitar, documentation
  • Material & finish: Steel, mahogany, padauk, satin finish
  • Best for: Intermediate/advanced players with a modest budget

The Gretsch G9221 is an amazing all-steel resonator. It has a bone nut, die-cast tuners, and an excellent tone. The neck is made with solid wood and is comfortable to play with. It’s a good choice for intermediate or advanced players.

Pros:
✅ Die-cast tuners
✅ Bone nut
✅ Spider bridge
✅ Great tone
Cons:
❌ No case
❌ No extras

Why I Recommend It

You get good tone, reliability, and performance with the Gretsch G9221. This is a superior all-steel resonator guitar. The spider resonator core produces a high-quality sound that’s perfect for many different styles.

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Best Beginner Resonator Guitars

Here are a few options to help you find the best beginner resonator guitar. These instruments are low-cost and give you the decent sound you need to begin experimenting with a resonator.

  • Rogue Classic Spider: This is a simple resonator guitar for any beginner. It has a good tone, a comfortable neck, and a low cost.
  • Recording King Dirty 30s Resonator: This is a low-cost resonator guitar with a nice rosewood fretboard, a decent tone, and an affordable price for any beginner.
  • Dean CE Cutaway Resonator: This guitar sounds great. It has a pickup, modern looks, and a low price tag.

Best Intermediate Resonator Guitars

At the intermediate level, you have more options available to you. Here are a few of the best intermediate resonator guitar options that you might want to consider.

Best Resonator Guitars for Professionals

When it comes to the best resonator guitars for professionals, the sky’s the limit for you. These instruments have everything that you need. You’re going to spend a whole lot more money, but it’s worth it in the end.

Best Resonator Guitars Under $2,000

A wide range of resonator guitars under $2,000 are on the market. Here are three of the better ones you might want to choose.

Best Resonator Guitars Under $1,000

You’ll find quite a few excellent resonator guitars under $1,000. Here are a few instruments that you might want to consider.

  • Regal RC-43: Features an all-metal design, a great tone, a solid wood neck, and easy playability for under $1,000.
  • Gretsch G9240 Alligator Roundneck: This guitar has a nice finish, a good neck, a great tone, and medium-jumbo frets for added playing comfort.
  • Recording King RM-991-S Tricone: Made with superior metal construction, it has great tone and a quality tailpiece. It’s easy to play and comes in at just under $1,000.

Best Resonator Guitars Under $500

There are many options when you’re looking for the best resonator guitar under $500. Here are three options that will save you a lot of money yet sound great.

  • Regal RD-30T: This guitar is easy to play It’s made with solid wood, has a spider bridge, and will save you a lot of money.
  • Gretsch G9200: This instrument features solid wood construction, an excellent bridge, good tuning pegs, and a high-quality sound for under $500.
  • Recording King RR-36S-VS: This guitar is made with solid wood. It has an excellent tone, easy playability, and an affordable price.

Best Cheap Resonator Guitars

There are several resonator guitars on the cheaper side of the price spectrum. Here are some of the best cheap resonator guitars that you can buy on the market.

  • Rogue Classic Spider: This is an excellent choice for the first time beginner, as the guitar sounds great, is easy to play, and doesn’t cost a lot of money.
  • Dean CE Cutaway Resonator: Simple resonator with good tone and performance for not a lot of cash
  • Regal RD-30T: East to play resonator with a decent tone, wood construction, and a low price

Best Steel Resonator Guitars

You can get steel resonator guitars or ones made out of brass. Steel tends to have a raw tone, while brass tends to be warmer. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to use a steel resonator guitar or one made out of wood.

You have quite a few options in the market when it comes to this type of resonator. They have a regular wood neck, but the body is made out of steel or brass. Here are a few options.

Best Wood Resonator Guitars

Many resonator guitars are made out of wood. They have a regular wood neck as well as a wood body. The resonator portion of the guitar is made out of steel or brass.

The look and the feel of wood is important. You’ll have to decide whether or not you want a wood resonator or one made out of steel. There are quite a few options, so here are a few to get you started.

  • Gretsch G9200 Boxcar: This guitar has a round neck, an excellent bridge, a superior tone, a smooth finish, and medium jumbo frets for easy playability.
  • Goldtone PBR-CA Roundneck Resonator: This instrument has a cutaway so you can access the higher frets, a great tone, chrome hardware, a Paul Beard tailpiece, and an affordable price.
  • Recording King RR-75PL-SN Phil Ledbetter: This guitar has an excellent tone, a nice neck, a solid wood construction, and it makes the perfect choice for anyone that wants to play lap steel or slide.

Best Squareneck Resonator Guitar

A squareneck resonator is a guitar that’s played on the lap. The strings are far too high off the fretboard to be used when you sit down. You want this type of resonator if you plan to play lap steel. Here are some options for you.

Best Roundneck Resonator Guitars

The round-neck resonator guitar is played like a regular guitar. You can play it sitting down or standing up. This is ideal if you want to play a lot of chords or do some soloing using a resonator guitar. Here are a few options.

  • Regal RD-30T: This instrument has a reasonable price, a good neck, a nice finish, solid chrome hardware, and the tone you want in a roundneck resonator guitar.
  • Beard Guitars Deco Phonic Model 27: Comes with a built-in pickup, birch veneer construction, an excellent tone, a bone nut, and a protective case
  • Recording King RM-991-S Tricone Roundneck: The same version as the Recording King Squareneck Tricone, but you play it as a normal guitar sitting down or standing up

Resonator Guitar Parts & Accessories

There are several different parts on a resonator guitar that you need to know about. Here are the main parts of this type of instrument.

An up-close of a resonator guitar on the wall

Neck/Headstock

The neck of the guitar is where the frets are laid. The neck attaches to the body of the guitar. The headstock is where you find the tuning pegs. This is where the strings are wound around so the instrument can be tuned up.

Guitar Body

The guitar body of the resonator is either made out of wood or metal. This part is attached to the guitar neck, which is usually glued on.

Resonator Bridge Coverplate

This type of guitar has a resonator bridge cover plate. There are several types, such as tritone, spider, and biscuit. These give the resonator guitar its unique sound. The strings pass through the middle part of this bridge.

Tailpiece

This part is at the end of the guitar body. This is where you attach the ball end of the strings. These then go through the bridge, up to the neck, and attach to the headstock tuning pegs.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Resonator Guitar

Here are a few points to consider before you buy a resonator guitar. You should always think about whether you want to use one on your lap or use one sitting down like a regular guitar.

Level of Experience

Before you buy a resonator guitar, you should think about your overall guitar experience. You probably don’t want to spend a whole lot of money if you haven’t used the resonator before. You may or may not like playing one.

Beginner Resonator Guitars

When looking for the best beginner resonator guitar, you may not know what to buy, so this guide will help you. At this level, this is an entry point to resonator instruments. You’ll get a decent sounding guitar at this price, but it won’t be great.

Intermediate Resonator Guitars

At the intermediate level, you have more options available to you. These guitars will be made with higher-quality materials, sound better, and last a long time.

Pro Resonator Guitars

At the pro level, you probably know what you want. There are quite a few guitars available in various price ranges with options to suit your needs as a professional musician.

Size

Most resonator guitars have a size that’s about the same as a regular acoustic guitar. Some may have a cutaway near the body for easier access to the higher frets.

Wood

There are several types of wood used to make resonator guitars. Here are some common woods used:

  • Laminate or veneer: This is layers of various tonewoods. The make and model will determine the type of wood used.
  • Rosewood: This wood is used for the fingerboard, as it’s smooth and easy to play. Newer guitars may use ebony, which is similar.
  • Maple: Maple is often used as the guitar neck, as it’s hardwood and has good tone and resonance.
  • Mahogany: This wood is often found on the back and sides of the guitar. It has a good tone and warmth to it.

Finish

Resonator guitars have a lot of metal parts, so not a whole lot of finish is used. If the guitar has a wood body, then typical lacquer or shellac is used to protect the wood.

a resonator guitar on the wall

Color

Most resonator guitars have natural colored wood or are all metal, so there aren’t a lot of color options for this type of instrument. Some of them may have a burst style color on the top for a little bit more variety.

The Overall Tone & Sound

Resonator guitars have a distinct sound. You’ll hear this sound in bluegrass, country, roots blues music, and acoustic music where there is a slide guitar. The sound is almost haunting when you hear it.

Price

There are various price ranges when it comes to resonator guitars. You can expect to spend anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars anywhere up to several thousand. This will all depend on the brand and model that you buy.

Budget Resonator Guitars

A budget resonator guitar will have a basic sound and tone. You can expect to pay anywhere between $200 to $400. These instruments are designed for beginners who are just getting started with resonators.

Midrange Resonator Guitars

A mid-range resonator guitar will have better wood, a better tone, and more options. You can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1,200 or a little bit more. These will have a great tone, performance, and reliability.

Top-End Resonator Guitars

You can expect to pay anywhere between 1,200 and $3,000 or more for a top-end resonator guitar. These instruments have the best sound, the best quality wood, and a superior performance compared to all the other guitars.

Buying New vs Used

If you have never bought a resonator guitar before, you should probably buy one that’s new. You won’t have to worry that there’s something wrong with it. If you have experience with this type of guitar, you can always purchase a used one.

What’s in a Resonator Guitar Box?

When you get your guitar home, there may be several things in the box depending on the make or model that you buy. Some things should be included in your guitar box.

a resonator guitar in the box

Case/Gig Bag

Your resonator guitar may come with a case or gig bag. Not all guitars ship with one, so you might have to buy it separately.

Checked-by Tag/Documentation

In the box, you should have a checked-by tag. This is checked either by the manufacturer or the store where you bought it to ensure the guitar isn’t flawed. You should also receive some sort of documentation or manual.

Allen Wrenches

You may also find a few small tools in the box, such as allen wrenches. You can use these to adjust various parts on your guitar, such as the truss rod.

Extras

When you buy a resonator guitar, you may want to pick up a few of the following items:

  • Picks or thumb picks
  • Slide
  • Extra strings
  • Case (if not included)
  • Tuner

Resonator Guitar Brands to Avoid

You should avoid guitars that are low cost, such as any brand under $100. You won’t get much for less than a couple hundred dollars when it comes to a resonator. You’ll waste your money and have a poor quality guitar.

Go for brand names as much as possible. This ensures that you get a good quality guitar that sounds great and is easy to play.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

How Much Do Resonator Guitars Cost?

Resonator guitars vary in price, according to your playing level. You’ll find an instrument out there no matter what level you’re at currently. Here are the basic costs for resonator guitars:

  • Beginner: $200-$400
  • Intermediate: $400-$1,200
  • Advanced: $1,200+

What Are the Best Resonator Guitars?

Here is a list of the top three resonators in the beginner, intermediate and advanced category. All of these models would make excellent purchases.

Gold Tone PBR-CA Paul Beard Signature: Best For Advanced Players

The instrument has an accessible cutaway so you can hit the higher frets. I like the tone of this guitar and the easy-playing neck, great hardware, ebony fingerboard, and affordable price.

Gretsch G9200 Boxcar: Best for Intermediate Players

I like this instrument because the price is affordable. You get a nice smooth wood finish, great hardware, and an excellent tone. It’s an all-around reliable resonator that you’ll enjoy for many years.

Regal RD-30T: Best for Beginners

This guitar is an excellent choice for beginners. It has the sound and tone that you want thanks to a great neck, easy playability, a spider bridge, a bone nut, and an affordable price.

Where Are the Best Resonator Guitars Made?

Most resonator guitars are made in the USA. There are several companies that make exceptional instruments. Since country and bluegrass are popular styles in the States, this is where you’ll find most of these manufacturers.

What Is the Best Sounding Resonator Guitar?

The Gold Tone PBR-CA Paul Beard Signature is a superior resonator guitar. I like that it has a cutaway to hit the higher frets on the instrument with ease. It’s easy to play and sounds great, but costs a whole lot.

Where to Buy Resonator Guitars

There are several locations where you can buy a resonator guitar. They come in various price ranges, so you’re sure to find something that meets your needs. Here are three of the top choices when it comes to purchasing them online.

Amazon

Amazon is always a good choice. They have an excellent selection and a reliable shipping service, and you can return products if they don’t meet your needs. They have something for all playing abilities.

Online Music Retailers

Another place to purchase these guitars online is through Guitar Center. This is probably one of the better retailers, as they have a huge selection of instruments. You’ll also get a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Your Local Music Store

You may also want to purchase one of these instruments through your local music store. If you already have some experience playing this type of guitar, this is a good option.

If you don’t have a lot of experience, take someone that knows something about these guitars. You don’t want to end up disappointed after buying something that isn’t going to work for you.

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In Conclusion

I hope this guide to the best resonator guitars helps you find an excellent instrument. I like the resonator for playing blues-style music, as this is my favorite style. They’re also great for bluegrass, country, and other music too.

Please share, like, and comment on this guide. I want to hear from you. Let me know what you think about resonator guitars and what works for you. Enjoy your new guitar, and have fun playing.