The Instruments



Some history

The instruments from the Morton shop stem from the tradition of cone- or diaphragm-amplified guitars developed by the Dopyera brothers in Los Angeles in the mid-1920's. The Dopyeras founded the National company, and coined the term Resophonic to represent their novel resonator amplification scheme for fretted instruments. The design owes its central idea to Edison's phonograph reproducer (1877) Phonograph, a system which was also employed in the amplified violins of Augustus Stroh (1899) amplified violin.

The strings of a resonator instrument are supported by an aluminum cone, which resembles a speaker cone with the convex side turned outwards. The Dopyeras also devised the tricone, a design which featured three smaller cones and a T-shaped bracket to distribute the string pressure. Disagreements within National led to a split and the formation of the Dobro company, which altered the cone scheme to avoid infringement. Just so you'll know ... a guitar with the latter design is called a Dobro in common parlance, and uses a cone with a concave center. The strings are supported by a circular cast aluminum lattice with several feet that rest around the cone rim. Morton instruments use only the National design. More historical info and photographs at Colin McCubbin's excellent documentary site: Notecannons

Morton instruments

I have experimented at length with the variables that govern the sound of resonator guitars. These include body material and shape, number and size of cones, cone alloy, biscuit and saddle (which support and position the strings), interior panel supports, neck wood and scale length. My prime objectives are sustain, volume (the #1 reason to have a resonator, for many players), original designs with a classic appearance and a pleasing tone with unique character. Please see the Gallery for a survey of my explorations.

I enjoy the research, but in recent years I have incorporated my conclusions into the most successful designs. I hope to keep these available for sale while speculating about future projects. However I never repeat myself exactly, and minor changes occur with every instrument.

I have great admiration and respect for National instruments, and give them full credit for the entire acoustic, artistic and musical phenomenon that started me on my own work. Offshore factories also produce cheap and mediocre imitations, a backhanded tribute to a great idea. For my part, I try to make only products which are as good as I can possibly make them, do not duplicate the work of others, and offer choices that are not available elsewhere. Please see the model descriptions for particulars.