Republic Mini Duolian


With the new year I thought the attack of the month should be a new instrument that pays homage to the past. I was also looking for a new travel guitar so here was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. While searching eBay for some resonator cones I stumbled upon Republic guitars and their Mini Duolian model. It immediately caught my eye as did their "reso-relic" line which use a chemical process to age the metal. They look mighty good and would definitely make folks do a double take to see if it was an actual vintage dobro.

eBay Auction Description

This is a new Republic "Miniolian" parlor size/travel size resonator guitar. This hybrid guitar has been on the drawing board for over a year now. It was designed by Dr.James Keats, a well known resonator guitar player and innovator. With a degree in chemistry, he also helped develop the technique used on the finish of the Republic Reso-relic. These guitars have thin spruce tops which produce incredible tone and volume for a guitar of this size. Although they are good for slide playing, they are also set up for finger style guitar, with nice action. The necks are wide, making them great for finger pickers. After experimenting with the prototypes, we found that the shorter tailpiece produced much better tone than the standard tailpiece on the larger guitars. The 12th fret neck, slotted headstock, 30's style sunburst finish and parlor size body give it a nice vintage look. With the small case and guitar, these will make great little travel guitars. This is just a fun  guitar to pickup and play.  Check the specs. These guitars come with many upgraded features. Please read all of the feedback from our many satisfied customers and buy with complete confidence. Spruce Top, Rosewood back and sides, Rosewood fretboard, Abalone body and rosette inlay, Bone nut, Maple and ebony saddle, Vintage style open gear tuners, Continental cone and a biscuit bridge

I had already gone the Martin Backpacker route so this was something a bit different although strangely familiar. Purchased on eBay, the seller's description and excellent feedback made hitting the Buy It Now for $299 very easy. Normally I'm skeptical of instruments in this price range but the feedback left by other buyers was quite good besides it looked very cool. Shipped the same day I purchased it was here the following week. I must admit that I did miss that musty vintage smell upon opening its nice duralite-type case.  Smell aside, the first thing that jumped out was the abalone top binding. Further inspection revealed a very nice fit and finish overall with little in the way of discernable flaws. The clear coat is light allowing the wood to breathe. Made of all laminate woods it has an attractive bookmatched rosewood back. The neck has a nice chunky profile with a good width especially for large hands like mine. The hardware
is also of good quality including the fancy slotted peghead tuners. I've always been a fan of slotted peghead guitars and this one maintains the traditional 12 fret to the body design as well. I assume it has a sound well and not sound posts but will investigate next string change. The tailpiece is shorter than the standard reso which Republic states produces a better tone. Guess I'll have to believe them! Overall the quality is top notch but how does it sound?   

My Beard resophonics are the spider-type so this is my first biscuit cone resonator which also made it very appealing. Right out of the case the set up/action is great both for fingerstyle and bottle slide but I would use a nut extender for lap style playing. As for tone, what you hear as the player is not what you hear sitting in front of the guitar as this baby really projects! It has what I would call an old fashion woody tone which captures days gone by. The intonation is right on and even the strings are half decent. All of this for $299?

If you've read my previous G.A.S. attacks of the month you know my buddy Bob. A great player and music industry veteran who runs a notable singer/songwriter night in north Jersey, we share an appreciation of all things resonator (or strings for that matter!). I had just hooked him on the tenor guitar and now threw him this curve! With the Mini Duolian and my ZOOM H2 recorder in hand I headed off to Bob's studio for some afternoon fun. It didn't take long for him to utter, "you know how to pick 'em", and "where can I get mine"! I have no doubt Bob ordered one after I left! We played for few hours switching on and off between his Melobar composite resophonic and the Republic with both of our Zoom H2s going the whole time. The final verdict on playback? We both agreed it was well worth $299, has lots of volume with a sweet old timey tone that fits right in with any blues jam and best of all, a great alternative to the standard travel guitar (albeit a little bit pricier than most). The dura-lite case is larger than most travel guitar cases (or gigbags) and fitting in an overhead compartment on a plane would be an issue. Throwing in the back of the car for the next road trip though is a definite!

I came across the same model under the Aye label being sold in Australia. The only differrence is the 5 star vs the 3 hole pattern on the Republic labeled model. I know it's asian made and 10 to 1 Chinese but it definitely shows the continued improvement in the quality of their instruments. Also I searched the internet for Dr. James Keats the chemist, well known resonator player and innovator of this instrument without luck. Apparently he developed the chemical process for the "reso-relic" line as well. There are so many of these small importers popping up as of late the flood of instruments is almost overwhelming.




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