The Maccaferri Internal Resonator Bleg

June 12, 2008

Nicolai Foss

It is well known that the early Selmer-Maccaferri guitars came equipped with an “internal resonator.” Here is a 1970s CSL copy, complete with the resonator box which can be seen through the soundhole. The resonator had a tendency to rattle after some time of playing, and players usually had them removed. Apparently, few Selmer-Maccaferris survive intact with the resonator.

I have not been able to figure out the functioning of the resonator. The stated purpose was to increase volume, but how did the resonator bring this about? What are the underlying acoustic principles? I have been unable to find info on this, but perhaps some O&M readers know?

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4 Responses to “The Maccaferri Internal Resonator Bleg”

  1. Adrian Says:

    I have recollection of an interview with Mario Maccaferry in Guitarplayer Magazine(mid eighties) in which he stated that he indeed built resonators,but only in his classical guitars.
    He said in that same interview that his steelstrings had sufficient volume of their own and did not need a resonator.

  2. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Hmmm .. the Wiko on the SelMac guitar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selmer_Guitar) does not say that the resonator was only a feature of the classical guitar. The way the resonator is mentioned in other sources (e.g., http://www.gypsyjazzguitars.com/FAQ/gypsyguitars.html) also seems to me to indicate that indeed steelstring SelMacs (i.e., the D-hole ones) did come with a resonator. And later producers/builders have produced steel-string Selmer copies with a resonator (CSL, Michael Dunn).

  3. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Check also this: http://www.lutherie.net/bckgrnd.html
    It seems clear from the context that the resonator was indeed a part of the early steel string D-hole SelMac.

  4. Adrian Says:

    It was 26 years ago that I read the Guitar Player interview with Mario Maccaferri.This is what he said: Quote
    “I found that the sound chamber did not add very much to the projection of tone on the jazz guitar(Meaning his D hole steelstring)
    It was much more agreeable for the player,but for the sound projection -for people listening to it- I don,think it helped at all. But on the classical guitar it had good projected tone.It was a very delicate part of the instrument,so it tended to have some trouble,which is the reason I abandoned it.”Unquote.
    So,you are right in assuming that soundchambers were part of his steelstring.
    Interview in Guitar Player magazine of Febr. 1986.


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